The 20 Coolest Cloud Storage & Data Center Vendors

Regardless of whether storage or data center infrastructure are part of a wider cloud offering or are the actual focus of the service, they are the keys to building a successful cloud business. No cloud platform, whether offered directly to customers or via a service provider, can ignore the value of high-performance, scalable, and low-cost data storage. A customer's data is its crown jewels, and safety of that data is a primary yardstick against which a successful cloud is measured. At the same time, an efficient, well-managed, and flexible data center is the foundation on which not only a cloud service is built, but on which all cloud services are delivered.

Stay tuned for more of CRN's 100 Coolest Cloud Computing Vendors of 2012 and check out last year's top cloud vendors.

Abiquo’s enterprise cloud software play has more layers than an onion, giving customers and MPSs the ability to build and manage a cloud every step of the way, regardless of whether those clouds are private, public, hybrid, multistack or multi-hypervisor.

The computer giant is new to the cloud, but made a splash at CES with the launch of AcerCloud, a cloud service that offers access to media files from any device and, as Acer said, “securely connects all personal smart devices for anytime, anywhere access.”

AppAssure’s software unifies backup and replication across cloud, virtual and physical environments with the promise of instant and 100 percent reliable data and application recovery. And its ability to work across most major hypervisors makes it an up-and-comer to watch.

The term “big data” gets thrown around a lot, and Appistry is bent on demystifying big data with its Ayrris offering, which unlocks the ability to capture, store, manipulate and analyze massive amounts of data and turn it into actionable intelligence.

Apple made a major cloud push in 2011, anchored by the launch of its iCloud cloud service that syncs data, content, tunes and video among devices. Apple also bulked up its cloud data center presence so it can be a cloud kingpin in the future.

SaaS-based WAN optimization start-up Aryaka is banking on what it calls its WAN optimization-as- a-service platform, which has been tailored for speeded-up cloud computing environments. With $15 million in funding it snagged last year, Aryaka can take that cloud WAN optimization to new heights.

Box has been a breakthrough cloud storage and file sharing up-and-comer, and in 2011 blazed many a new trails with key hardware partnerships—HP desktops, LG Android smartphones, and more—and launched a full-on channel strategy to break into businesses.

Carbonite is one of the fastest-growing companies in the cloud storage space and has become a household name among consumers and SMBs looking for automatic online backup solutions. Carbonite is poised for continued growth, as the company last year launched an IPO.

With a tagline of "your ally in the clouds," CloudAlly broke onto the scene with cloud backup offerings for Google Apps, Salesforce and more. CloudAlly promises centralized daily backups of all domains and accounts, unlimited Amazon S3 storage, and one-click restores and exports.

Dropbox can’t be denied. While it’s consumer-focused at its core, savvy business users have leveraged Dropbox cloud storage, and file syncing and sharing for years. And now that it’s targeting businesses with its Dropbox for Teams, it will get into the enterprise the right way.

EMC has built itself into a cloud-storage Clydesdale with Atmos. Atmos gives enterprises and service providers the ability to store, manage and protect global and unstructured content at scale and is a building block for a private, public or hybrid cloud storage environment.

Boasting data centers in 38 markets across 13 countries, Equinix is a cloud company’s cloud company. Aimed at service providers, Equinix lets cloud service providers target their own customers with rapid deployment of reliable cloud computing services built on top of its massive global footprint.

Hitachi Data Systems is out to prove that all data has value, whether through infrastructure clouds, content clouds and information clouds. Hitachi provides the keys to create an integrated infrastructure to support all types of storage from traditional IT-to-cloud delivery.

Owned by EMC, Mozy takes online backup up a notch. Mozy offers backup services for continuous or scheduled backup with the belief that backup should be a set-it-and-forget-it feature. And Mozy is quick to point out that data is encrypted.

Nirvanix focuses on one thing and one thing only: Cloud storage. Whether public, private or hybrid clouds, Nirvanix delivers enterprise-class cloud storage offerings for customers who demand security, reliability and redundancy and can’t risk a second of scheduled or unscheduled downtime.

Riverbed has turned its attention to cloud services with a solution set that the WAN optimization vendor says virtualizes applications and increases performance levels, giving applications the feel that they’re local. Coupled with its Whitewater cloud storage offerings, Riverbed is ready for the cloud.

When it comes to ScaleXtreme, the key word is scale. The company offers cloud-based server automation for distributed data centers. The company prides itself on offering a simple and scalable unified automation platform to build and control physical, virtual and public cloud servers.

StorSimple offers cloud storage for Windows and VMware infrastructures that integrates cloud into on-premise app, and offers a single appliance for tiered storage, archiving, data protection and disaster recovery. StorSimple vows that it can cut costs by up to 80 percent compared to traditional storage.

Symform pulls no punches and says it reinvented cloud storage. With its patented Symform Storage Cloud, the company offers unlimited cloud storage for a flat fee and guarantees to protect data in ways that are faster, more secure and more reliable than its competition.

A virtualization Hercules, VMware has wielded its cloud might to launch cloud-focused offerings that include vCloud Director and other plays. And now, with VMware putting its foot in the platform game with Cloud Foundry, the virtualization trailblazer continues to attack the market.

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