Tier 3 is all-in with the cloud. In addition to having a pay-by-the-virtual-machine IaaS, the company also offers a database as a service and has integrated VMware's Cloud Foundry platform as a service (PaaS). It's even extended Cloud Foundry PaaS framework to support .Net through a project named Iron Foundry. Gartner says Tier 3 has good features and an easy-to-use portal, plus an innovative and ambitious roadmap with a strong SLA.
Tier 3 has a premium service offering in which virtual machines automatically replicate to other data centers and it has a feature named Blueprints, which helps customers deploy complex, multi-data center infrastructures. The challenge for the company, Gartner says, is that it just isn't one of the big tech companies, and therefore could be limited by its small salesforce and low brand awareness. Gartner also says all these factors make it a prime target for a potential acquisition.
More information: Tier 3
Rackspace - The OpenStack cloud
Rackspace has bet big on OpenStack, which Gartner says is mostly a strength for the company, but it warns that OpenStack's future is not only uncertain, but that the broader open source cloud deployment project can proceed, and succeed, with or without Rackspace also succeeding, given that Rackspace has ceded control of the project to a newly formed foundation.
MORE RACKSPACE: Rackspace lets users build customized virtual networks
Still, though, Rackspace has the second-largest market share in the cloud, provides excellent customer support -- what it calls fanatical -- and offers low-cost entry points into the cloud, making it ideal for experimentations. It uses Xen to virtualize its cloud, and has object storage, CDN and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings. Its goal is to provide hybrid cloud connectivity with customers who use OpenStack in their on-site private clouds. Its traditional strength in the managed hosting space gives it a strong customer base to sell its cloud products into, Gartner says.