Cloud computing has grown multifold over the past several years and business enterprises are spending billions of dollars for cloud migration.

In 2020, spending on cloud environments, including public and private, increased 34.4% from a year ago.

  1. What is a Cloud Provider?
  2. Which is the best among the leading cloud providers? 
  3. Who is a cloud broker?
  4. How to choose a cloud provider?

Q. What is a Cloud Provider?

A cloud service provider is an organization that offers infrastructure, network services or business applications from its data centers, that constitute its cloud.

There are several forms of services that cloud providers  may offer “in the cloud”:

  • SaaS programs often referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS), run in the cloud. Presently SaaS vendors offer a wide array of technologies, such as productivity suites, CRM software and human resources management software over the Internet. Eg. Google Applications, Salesforce. 
  • A computing platform for hosting or application development, known as Platform as a Service (PaaS). It offers a total development and deployment ecosphere in the cloud, including, testing, debugging, QA, and deployment tools & services. Eg. Apprenda, Red Hat OpenShift. 
  • An entire network or a computing infrastructure, called Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). In this model, the infrastructure components could consist of storage, servers and networking as well as a virtualization layer. Eg. E.g: Amazon Web Service, Microsoft Azure. 

Today, the majority of the cloud computing providers offer all of these services.

However, the divisions are not always stark, as many cloud computing service providers are offering multiple packages. For example, Rackspace, which started as a web hosting company, is now offering PaaS or IaaS. 

Cloud providers can also be categorised as a public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud providers.

  • A public cloud offers SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, to organizations on rented data center spaces. This portion is shared with other organizations. 
  • A private cloud comprises a cloud data center with sections rented to organizations that are not shared with other enterprises.
  • In the hybrid model, an organization uses both public and private clouds. 

Meanwhile, many top cloud services providers have started to focus on specific verticals.

  • Major cloud providers

The cloud services market at present has a gamut of providers. The top few from cloud computing providers’ list:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS), 
  • Microsoft Azure, 
  • Google Cloud, 
  • Alibaba Cloud, 
  • IBM Cloud (SoftLayer),
  • Oracle,
  • Salesforce,
  • SAP, 
  • Kamatera, etc. 

The two leaders, Amazon and Microsoft, are followed by Google, Alibaba, and IBM. According to Gartner Magic Quadrant, AWS leads Microsoft and Google cloud as far as IaaS is concerned. 

Other leading cloud service providers include Cisco, Citrix, Rackspace, and Verizon (which acquired Terremark). 

Interestingly, though Apple and Salesforce are also big players in cloud providers list, they are mostly focused on delivering their own applications rather than hosting applications for others.

Let us now zoom into  the first three, major cloud providers:

  • Amazon Web Service (AWS): It offers a wide variety of infrastructure services: storage, database, computing power, networking, etc. Complicated, trustworthy, flexible and scalable applications can be built using these features. 
  • Microsoft Azure: Previously known as Windows Azure, its services are used for designing, deploying, and managing applications, through a network spanning, world wide.
  • Microsoft Azure is one of the fastest-growing companies in the cloud providers’ list. Interestingly, Microsoft Azure was launched years after the release of AWS and Google Cloud but is still one of the parties vying for the top position in this space. It is a strong No. 2, hybrid player.
  • Google Cloud Platform: One of the leading cloud providers, Google Cloud, similar to AWS and Azure, offers a large array of services in various fields such as storage, database, AI and machine learning, virtualization, DevOps, Security, and so on. 

It runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses for its end-user products. This cloud platform is basically used for Google search and YouTube.

Q. Which is the best among the leading cloud providers? 

With so many players around, picking up the best cloud services provider isn’t easy and basically boils down to the phrase: “it depends.”

As of July 2019, according to Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, AWS leads the race in its ability to execute, but Microsoft’s Azure has managed to carve out its name as a top visionary. Google occupied the third spot in the cloud computing providers list followed by Oracle, Alibaba, and IBM.

Q. Who is a cloud broker? 

Ans: A Cloud Broker is a third-party individual or a business enterprise, who apart from negotiating the relationship between cloud providers and cloud consumers, also manages the use, performance and delivery of cloud services. In short, a cloud broker as an intermediary between the purchaser of a cloud computing service and sellers.

A cloud broker generally works like a typical broker. They help cloud buyers to evaluate and select a cloud vendor or solution based on the specific requirements. In such a scenario, a cloud broker has delegated the authority to distribute services across multiple vendors in an effort to become as cost-effective as possible. 

When a cloud broker provides a customer with an API and UI, they are sometimes referred to as cloud aggregators.

In addition to acting as an intermediary, a cloud broker, sometimes called a cloud enabler, might also provide: 

  • Facilitating the deduplication, 
  • Assisting with data lifecycle management, and
  • Encryption and transfer of a customer’s data to the cloud sphere. 

Besides, another type of Cloud Broker, nomenclatured as cloud customizer often selects cloud services on behalf of a customer, integrates it and presents the new – offering, under its own brand. 

In a simple case, a cloud buyer or an organization may hire a cloud broker at the beginning of a project and pay it an hourly – fee for the time occupied..

Q. How to choose a cloud provider?

Among the other parameters, choice of top cloud services providers for enterprise depend on the size of the business, IT infrastructure, current computing platform and the goals set  for the future. Significant attention should be paid to evaluate whether the services offered by any cloud provider aligns with the business strategy and goals of enterprises. 

Conclusion

Cloud computing is the new buzzword of the Internet space, as a series of vendors try to occupy the top slot. Today, whether it’s an application, infrastructure, software, services, products, or even operating systems, everything is finding their ways into the cloud.

Cloud computing has now gained maturity, going multi-cloud, and is expected to become more focused in their respective verticals. 

With a myriad of options coming from cloud providers, it can turn – up into a minotaur’s maze, while trying to figure out the right cloud provider for an organization. Herein comes the role of a cloud broker. 

The business model adopted by a cloud broker is still evolving and in future, we may find them occupying a significant role in the cloud computing arena.

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