The number of cloud providers and virtualization solutions have shot up in the past few years, making ‘Cloud Technology’ and ‘Virtualization’ two of the most used terms in the IT industry. But before you go about looking for the best solution for your business, it is best you get a broad perspective of what ‘The Cloud’ and ‘Virtualization’ really is.
When a service, a piece of hardware or a platform that you use, is hosted by some other company on their data centre which you connect to via a network (online or LAN), you are accessing the cloud. It is as simple as that. When you access an online word file from your computer at home, you’re connecting to Microsoft’s cloud.
Creating a virtual version of a physical device like a server, or a software like an OS, that mimics the actual hardware or software is virtualization. Your hard disk is a physical device that your operating system divides into virtual containers, the C drive, E drive etc. This is the crudest example for virtualization.
Who are the top 5 Cloud and Virtualization technology providers for 2017? Let us take a look:
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS has quickly become one of the largest on-demand cloud providers in the world. Amazon offers more than 70 cloud based products that include database, security, storage, compute, developer tools and analytics. Consumers have the flexibility to use resources as and when needed, being charged with a pay-per-use concept. AWS data centres are located in 16 geographical regions, allowing for a high level of redundancy and availability.
Adobe, Netflix, Airbnb, Coursera online education are some clients who have leveraged AWS to scale their business. At the re-Invent keynote held in 2015, Amazon revealed that their subsidiary AWS has more than a million active customers, spanning across 190 countries, every month!
Microsoft was quick to get into the cloud computing game, with its cloud providing service Microsoft Azure (previously called Windows Azure). Azure is extremely simple to use and you can have a virtual machine with your desired configuration set up and running within seconds. Microsoft offers cloud hosted products for networking (Virtual Networks, VPNs, Azure DNS etc.), Computation (Virtual Machines, App services), Databases (Microsoft SQL), Identity+Security (Azure Active Directory, Key Vault) and more.
Microsoft has made migrating to the cloud easier by hosting some of their well know, widely used products like SQL and Active Directory on the cloud, making it easier for administrators to learn and implement.
Microsoft boasts of over 600 cloud products and supports hundreds of customers like the Essar group, Geico, Hitachi, Citrix and NBC News. By hosting their popular Office package in the cloud, every word, PowerPoint or excel user is literally a client of Microsoft cloud.
Google Cloud Platform
Google Cloud Platform by Google provides the same platform as a cloud-service, as the one used internally for hosting products like YouTube and Google search. Just like its major competitors, Google offers cloud solutions for compute (Virtual Machines), Storage, Networking, Big Data, Machine learning and more. All their products are ‘scalable’, which means as your business and data grows, the resources on the cloud product automatically grow to prevent service disruption. They offer a free trial for any of their products and complete guides to all of their resources.
Spotify, Motorola, Ubisoft, Wix, Sony music and Philips are only some of popular brands who leverage Google Cloud Platform.
Now a subsidiary of Dell technologies, VMware successfully launched virtualization of the x86 architecture in 1999 and is one of the first companies to achieve this feat. Along with hardware virtualization, VMware also provides cloud services, like data center and cloud infrastructure with vSphere, network and security with NSX, Desktop and Application virtualization through Horizon apps and cloud, and enterprise mobility management through their extremely popular product Airwatch.
VMware’s strongest selling point is its desktop virtualization product vSphere. Unlike conventional virtualization solutions, VMware’s vSphere is not installed on an OS, but rather the hardware comes with key OS components like the kernel built in. VMware has offices in over 15 countries and supports over 500 customers such as Amway, ANZ bank, Shutterfly, Dell EMC and Sprint.
Salesforce is an American cloud computing company most popular for their CRM product. Founded in 1999, they started off as a specialist in SaaS (Software as a Service) products.
Their CRM tool is essentially an aid to boost sales and productivity by leveraging smart analytics provided by the tool. It consists of the Sales cloud, Service cloud, Data cloud, Marketing cloud, Community cloud, Analytics cloud, App cloud and IoT. They have a product and a custom interface to cater to each of the cloud components. Customers access the interface online, which means it can be done from any device and location making it extremely mobile.
As per their 2015 annual report, Salesforce has over 150,000 customers including some major brands like Activision, Aston Martin, EA, GE, Spotify and Vodaphone.