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.

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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