July 23, 2012, 2:12 PM — Close your eyes and think of the cloud. Odds are Amazon quickly comes to mind -- for good reason. By some estimates, Amazon Web Services holds 70% of the IaaS (infrastructure as a service) market, providing compute, storage, and networking services, usually on a pay-per-use basis, to hundreds of thousands of customers. Amazon's cloud has become an extension of many organizations' infrastructure, often for application development and testing, but also for compute-intensive analytics and even ongoing production workloads. Credit Amazon for popularizing IaaS and making it affordable, accessible, and broadly relevant to the current generation of IT.
But in the past two months, three giants have lumbered into the game: HP, Microsoft, and Google.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Amazon's cloud feels the heat from Google, HP, Microsoft. | Stay on top of the current state of the cloud with InfoWorld's special report, "Cloud computing in 2012." Download it today! | Keep current with the cloud via InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]
HP launched its beta of HP Cloud Services on May 10 -- the first public IaaS service to run on OpenStack, the open source "cloud operating system" generating huge buzz. Then, on June 6, Microsoft quietly revealed that Windows Azure would no longer tie its fate to PaaS (platform as a service) alone and would jump into IaaS. Finally, on June 28, Google took the wraps off Google Compute Engine, a long-awaited IaaS play that will enable customers to rent a piece of Google's legendary infrastructure.