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Niche cloud computing environments gain steam

By offering more targeted services, niche cloud environments are gaining traction within multiple vertical markets.

With all the hoopla surrounding hybrid clouds, another cloud market trend has flown under the radar -- niche or 'boutique' clouds. These smaller cloud computing environments target specific industry segments, such as video editing and healthcare data management. And for some use cases, these targeted services are an ideal cloud computing choice.

Adobe, for example, moved its editing suites to the cloud, representing a major step for that business segment. Adobe migrated an entire customer base that uses workstations with licensed copies of its software to a low-cost, pay-per-usage cloud service. Because more users can afford the Adobe tools, user base growth offsets the lost revenue from license renewals.

Another niche cloud gaining popularity is virtualized HPC installations and supercomputer clouds. From a user perspective, these clouds are almost as successful as Adobe's, but more fragmented. They allow multiple users to access the supercomputer resource in parallel, which loads the system more efficiently and dramatically reduces costs. The pay-per-usage model and ease of access makes fast parallel computing available to a broader range of researchers.

Meanwhile, Nvidia created a GPU-based cloud service that is available from many providers or as a reference architecture. GPUs are ideal for massive parallel processing, which supports simulations, astronomy and analytics, among other use cases.

Nvidia's niche cloud serves a number of purposes. First, it's a resource for production computing. Second, to help users get comfortable with GPU usage in analytics, it acts as a sandbox. Finally, Nvidia's cloud service is a reference design that can characterize user workloads for those who want to build their own GPU cluster.

Niche clouds for vertical markets

To satisfy vertical market segments, there's a different class of cloud providers. Healthcare or legal cloud services, such as such as Law Office Clouds, Uptime Legal Systems and Athena Health Systems, are attracting new users. These services align with regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and understand specific market segment needs.

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