April 02, 2010, 9:31 AM — The reality of cloud computing has always been a lot more about the nuts and bolts of data-center operations than about the metaphor of on-demand computer power flowing from anonymous sources somewhere on the other end of the network connection.
Still, it's a bit too meta when you realize that cloud-computing platforms are often made up of other clouds.
OS-independent virtual application-appliance vendor AppZero, for example, built its service on the existing IaaS (Internet as a service) offering from GoGrid, which itself is an owned spinoff of traditional data-center hosting provider ServerPath.
The Source for the Force
SaaS groundbreaker Salesforce.com runs entirely from data centers owned by Equinix, one of the world's largest co-location and data-center hosting providers--whose 2800 customers include hundreds offering cloud-based infrastructure, application or content services using Equinix' 50 data centers as a base.
Equinix co-location competitor Rackspace bought virtual-private-server provider Slicehost, online storage provider JungleDisk and e-mail service Webmail.us to help it compete--primarily in the consumer and SMB market--against infrastructure-as-a-service providers such as Amazon.
Oddly, both Rackspace and Amazon's S3 service rely on Equinix data centers, though to differing degrees. Amazon's cloud billows entirely from Equinix facilities, while Rackspace rents space, bandwidth or compute power only in locations it has no facilities of its own. Much of the rest of the Internet's data- and content-backbone runs from Equinix, however, including services from Citrix Online, AT&T Verizon, MSN, Level3 Networks, About.com, Akamai, America Online, Electronic Arts, Yahoo and Paypal.
Companies such as Terremark -- which offers one cloud service for small groups and another for enterprises -- are more impressive in many ways than Equinix, which only provides the platform, Mark Kelleher, managing director of financial analysis firm Brigantine Advisors told the Wall Street Transcript.
Equinix has turned itself into an enabler of both cloud providers and carriers, building itself a vendor-neutral business in the process, however, Kelleher says.