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Introducing the key cloud computing platforms

Cloud computing has been called, among many different things, "platform as a service." This specific name represents the fact that, to the user or developer, a cloud computing service looks like a "virtual system" on which applications are developed or run. Some platforms support only public cloud computing service use, others support only the creation of private clouds and a few support a mix of both.

Those who develop for, or deploy applications on, cloud computing resources both public and private may have to make a decision on which specific cloud computing platform to use. The wrong choice could negatively impact everyone involved, so it's important to look at the choices carefully and consider short- and long-term issues in your decision.

Here are the key cloud architectures available today:

  • Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, is probably the most generalized and best-known of the cloud computing service offerings.
  • IBM Computing on Demand or Blue Cloud is a highly enterprise-focused cloud computing offering that, because it is related to and built with the same technology sold to enterprises, can cross over between public and private cloud applications.
  • Microsoft's Azure cloud computing, based on Microsoft Vista and .NET technology, includes both cloud computing and cloud-hosted extension

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  • services. It also supports public and private cloud computing plans.
  • Sun Cloud, like IBM's offering, is available both in public and private cloud forms. Since Oracle is acquiring Sun, this offering may change over time.
  • Salesforce.com's Force.com cloud is easily integrated with Salesforce.com's application tools.
  • Google's AppEngine cloud offering is targeted particularly to web developers and web hosting applications.

In addition, there are a number of open source cloud computing tools, and several of these work together with cloud services already available. These include Eucalyptus, Nimbus and Hadoop.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tom Nolle is president of CIMI Corporation, a strategic consulting firm specializing in telecommunications and data communications since 1982. He is a member of the IEEE, ACM, Telemanagement Forum, and the IPsphere Forum, and is the publisher of Netwatcher, a journal in advanced telecommunications strategy issues.

This was first published in May 2009

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