What are the differences between Rackspace, Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services? Are there other key players I don't know about? Where do they fit in?
When comparing cloud providers, you will want to examine the benefits, limitations and any bonus items each service provider offers.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a full suite of offerings and is one of the oldest and most popular platforms out there. Their services include compute and storage with Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3). One of the most important features AWS offers is a robust set of services and monitoring tools, and pricing that can meet the needs of all business sizes.
Google provides Google Compute Engine and data storage services. However, the current Google offering has limited features compared to other service providers such as AWS. Google is best for high-performance computing or other analytical applications, but if you are looking to load balance across multiple servers, then Google Compute Engine would not be the best option.
Rackspace provides both computing and storage services. They will host databases and provide file storage over the network. One benefit to Rackspace is that a customer can choose from public, private or even hybrid cloud services.
With Rackspace, a customer can easily create remote monitoring and management.
Additional options include Microsoft Azure, an easy-to-use infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform that can run Linux virtual machines as well as Windows instances. It is similar to other service providers out there, but there are limitations because it still is a Microsoft platform.
IBM and HP each provide their own IaaS offerings as well. IBM's Smart Cloud and HP's Converged Infrastructure both cater more toward enterprise customers. Both are hybrid solutions and best for development teams who want to integrate their existing IT infrastructure with cloud. Both IBM and HP are new in the IaaS space. If you currently are not an IBM customer, this IaaS solution might not be the best choice.
Overall, the easiest cloud providers to use and deploy are AWS and Rackspace. They cater to multiple business structures -- from small and medium-sized businesses to enterprise customers. They have a track record of innovation and offer a complex assortment of services.
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Sheryl Kitchen, Ph.D. asks:
What cloud provider do you use, and how did you choose it?
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