IaaS Cloud Computing Providers: Notes and Mind-maps

The IaaS landscape is far from mature. Providers vary greatly in terms of the service, features, and markets they serve. As outlined in the mind-map, the key points below are of the strengths and weaknesses noted based on Gartner research and my own observations. It’s interesting to understand the varying SLA’s and that none of the major vendors but some of the smaller offer 100% SLA. The virtualization technology Citrix Xen, open source KVM, and VM Ware are the predominant choices. Some providers are geared toward niches: Disaster Recovery, Government, Compliance (e.g. HIPAA) while others are general purpose. The leader in the market is Amazon AWS but in my opinion CSC has the best enterprise offering. Hosting.com has a unique feature to pay less for VM’s that are not used, which is great for DR. Rackspace is embracing the open source movement and I believe they are on the right path to compete with the big boys. For more observations, see the mind-map or it’s bullet point form below.

IAAS Vendors Mindmap

IAAS Vendors


  • Amazon Web Services
    • Strengths
      • Paid by the VM (no contract)
      • Xen virtualized
      • DC around the world and for US gov’t
      • Also offers cloud storage, CDN, and PaaS services
      • Market and thought leader
      • Largest pool of capacity (good for batch)
      • API access and many 3rd party management tools
      • Large partner ecosystem – licensing and packaging s/w to run on EC2
      • Compliant – PCI, SAS, FISMA etc…
      • Good for Cloud native, batch, big data, e-business, test and dev
    • Cautions
      • Best effort cloud
        • highly variable EBS performance and between VMs
        • weakest SLA of top providers – 99.95%, capping at 10% of annual bill
          • Requires customer to run in at least 2 AZ’s
          • Does not include EBS
        • Be careful with modeled network charges
        • Forum based support is free and enterprise class support is 10% uplift to bill
      • Only basic ACLs for controlling network access (rather than full-fledged firewall service)
      • No managed services but available via partners
        • Adding automated infrastructure management (e.g. RDS) but does not provide core functions of ‘turn key’ use case
      • No colocation but available via 3rd party (Equinix)
      • For better terms, sign an enterprise agreement (0 dollar contract)
  • AT&T
    • Strengths
      • Paid by the VM, cloud storage, CDN, colocation, managed hosting, VMWare virtualized
      • Good for multiple workloads requiring managed services, cloud experimentation for small teams and use with other AT&T services
      • Focused on hybrid (not pure) cloud
        • VMware
    • Cautions
      • Developer centric offering, low SLA (99.9%), awkward UI, proprietary API w/o 3rd part tool support
      • VM provisioning time long and weak RBAC
      • De-emphasis on self-service
  • Bluelock
    • Stengths
      • Mid-market, vCloud Datacenter for public and private IaaS w/ optional managed services
      • Supports vCloud Global connect – federation between vCloud DC providers
      • “Portfolio” tool provides monitoring and IT financial management
      • Good for e-business, general business, test and dev
    • Cautions
      • Prime target for acquisition
  • Carpathia
    • Strengths
      • Focus on mid-market and gov’t and emphasis on compliance
      • Citrix Xen virtualized and also offers private cloud, US gov’t cloud, storage, colocation, managed hosting
      • Primary differentiator is compliance (FISMA, DIACAP, HIPAA, PCI, C&A)
      • Also offers VMWare virtualized option and options to mix with Xen
      • Good for significant compliance requirements and public sector
    • Cautions
      • Focused on managed services (not self service)
      • Limited brand awareness outside of public sector but this is changing
  • CSC
    • Strenghs
      • vCloud DC, optional managed services
        • Public multi-tenant, private single tenant – both in CSC DC
        • Private single tenant in customers own DC
        • Standardized architecture across public and private
        • Top 5 market share in VMWare hosting
        • Strong roadmap for enterprise IT operations management tools including automated managed services
        • CloudLab for developers – IDE integration, network simulation
        • Generous with offering trials
        • Good for general business, test and dev, cloud-enabled DC transformation and transition
    • Cautions
      • Support and account management weak, parent company slow and may interfere
  • DataPipe
    • Strengths
      • Hypervisor neutral on Citrix platform in public/private variants w/ optional managed services
      • Offers colocation and managed hosting and a suite of managed services on top of AWS
      • Low cost Kernel-based VM (KVM)
      • Can use Stratoshpere in conjunction with AWS
      • Good for hybrid hosting, supplemental infrastructure in conjunction with AWS
    • Cautions
      • Emphasis on managed services
  • GoGrid
    • Strengths
      • Xen virtualized public/private, optional managed services plus storage, CDN partnering with EdgeCast and managed hosting
      • 100% SLA
      • Successful blend of self service and managed services
      • Eases licensing and allows partners to build on top of each others software stacks
      • Good for cloud native apps, e-business, hybrid hosting big data, test and dev
    • Cautions
      • S/w is dev all in-house which may make it hard to compete
      • RBAC limited and only basic ACLs, firewall extra
      • Offer own API but not many 3rd party tools
  • Hosting.com
    • Strengths
      • Mid0market, VMWare virtualized plus private cloud, colocation, and managed hosting
      • Specializes in cloud DR
        • Uses VMWare Site Recovery manager for synchronization and optional EMC SAN for replication
        • Cost effective parking feature to run VM inactive mode for a fraction of cost of running VM
      • Automated Managed Services
        • Workflow driven automated patch management system
        • Portal based service catalog
          • 1st offering is pre-configured SharePoint as managed service
      • Contracting flexibility w/ minimum revenue commitments
      • Good for cloud DR including continuous availability facilitated by using IaaS as secondary DC
    • Cautions
      • Growing via acquisitors and may be an attractive acquisition
  • IBM
    • Strengths
      • Paid by the VM, KVM, colocation, managed hosting, private cloud
      • Integrates well with other IBM tools
      • Lot of partnerships with independent software providers (ISV)
      • Good for orgs with deep investment in IBM, cloud native, test and dev, or batch
    • Cautions
      • Best effort, dev centric towards new cloud native apps and test and dev and low SLA 99.9%
      • Forum based support with enterprise 10% uplift of bill
  • iLand
    • Strengths
      • vCloud Powered w/ focus on DR using VMWare Site Recovery Manager
      • Offers hosted virtual desktop
      • Good for Cloud DR
    • Cautions
      • Potential target for acquisition
  • Joyent
    • Strengths
      • paid by the VM, KVM
      • Emphasis on performance (and its analytics)
      • On verge of PaaS with its SmatOS
      • Good for cloud native apps that need performance
    • Cautions
      • No self-service network security, single account model
      • Highly dev centric with emphasis on API and emblement of 3rd party tools
  • NaviSite
    • Strengths
      • VMWare Virtualized with optional managed services, colocation and app management
      • Strong self-service and RBAC and workflow
      • Integrated performance monitoring, auto-scaling
      • Good for general business apps, test and dev
    • Cautions
      • Acquired by Time-Warner in 2011 but unclear long-term vision
  • OpSource
    • Strengths
      • paid by the VM, VMWare Virtualized with optional managed services
      • 100% availability
      • ISV partnerships
      • Good for e-business, cloud-native, hybrid SaaS, test and dev
    • Cautions
      • Geared toward hosting use cases for web apps (not general purpose workloads)
  • Rackspace
    • Strengths
      • Paid by the VM, Xen w/ managed hosting, hybrid hosting, private cloud, storage, PaaS, monitoring, virtual desktop, and SaaS SharePoint and email
      • Primary sponsor of OpenStack (open source cloud stack)
      • Good support and easy to use and low cost
      • Large eco-system of vendors likely to compete with VMWare, MS, and Amazon that enables 3rd party management tools support
      • Good for Hybrid hosting where IaaS is supplemental to dedicated infrastructure, test and dev
    • Cautions
      • Dev centric, best-effort and geared toward hosting use case
      • No self service security features
      • Migrating from proprietary to open cloud stack
  • Savviis
    • Strengths
      • Public/private VMWare virtualized w/ optional managed services and colocation
      • Offers different price points, SLAs
      • Strong customer portal w/ strong security features
      • Strong automated managed services including on-demand DB from Oracle and MS
      • Good for general business apps, test and dev
    • Cautions
      • Overly diverse product portfolio (multiple flavors of single and multi-tenant)
  • SoftLayer
    • Strengths
      • Focus on small business, paid by the VM Citrix Zen w/ storage, CDN, private cloud, colocation, dedicated hosting and managed hosting
      • Thought leader and deep investment in managed services / exceptional portal
      • Strong monitoring and alerts from failure
      • Ability to integrate with 3rd party authentication (VeriSign) and free vulnerability and PCI compliance scans
      • Good for e-business, test and dev, self managed hybrid hosting
      • API Supported by RightScale
    • Cautions
      • Focus on small business w/ smaller consultative sales
  • Tata Communications
    • Strengths
      • Citrix xen based, public w/ colocation and managed hosting
      • Supports AWS API
      • Strong RBAC and financial tools and free VPN
      • Good for cloud native, test and dev, and cost-conscious customers
    • Cautions
      • No managed hosting, 99.95% SLA by SLA credit cap of 20% of bill
      • Low brand awareness w/ focus on Asia
  • Terremark
    • Strengths
      • 2 VMWare virtualized Offerings and vCloud Express and offers managed hosting and colocation
      • “Enterprise Cloud” – Strong focus on self-service VDC and good for general business apps, test and dev
      • “CaaS” focused on hybrid hosting and customers that need some managed hosting with VDC – can provision VMs and dedicated servers w/ metering by the day (not hour) – good for hybrid hosting, general business apps
      • vCloud Express – for developers and quick POC’s
    • Caution
      • Weak customer service
      • Split product portfolio may cause difficulties
      • Integrating Terremark w/ Verizon
      • vCloud DataCenter only offered as private cloud IaaS
      • Future strategy is hypervisor neutral
  • Tier 3
    • Strengths
      • vCloud Powered
      • A lot of new custom functionality
      • Two tiers of SLA – 99.9% and 99.999% w/ replication to second DC
      • Scriptable templating for deployment “Blueprints”
      • Good for e-business, cloud native, general business, test and dev
    • Cautions
      • No vCD UI
      • Very small but innovative, prime for acqusition
      • Limited brand awareness and marketing
  • Viracore Systems
    • Strengths
      • vCloud express complements its private cloud IaaS
      • Unified management portal
      • Good for non-mission critical, small-scale web apps, test and dev
      • vCloud Express
    • Cautions
      • SMB focused, lacks feature depth including self-service load balancer, monitoring, VPN and weak firewall
      • Guaranteed CPU not RAM
      • Limited brand awareness

7 Responses to IaaS Cloud Computing Providers: Notes and Mind-maps

  1. Philip Palmer says:

    Hi Eric,

    Have you looked at CloudShare?

  2. bob says:

    Surprised you have not included Sungard.

    Sungard is a Fortune 500 company that’s partnering with SAP,Cisco and Amazon to provide cloud services.


  3. @Philip Palmer, @Bob

    The following criteria was used for inclusion:

    They must provide IaaS services – the ability to start a “raw” VM on a variety of operation systems (e.g. Windows, Linux) and install any type of software, server, or middle-ware.
    They must be enterprise class in terms of support (24/7), SLAs, offered in at least two data centers, and ability to quickly scale. There must be at least 1000 VMs in production or more than $10 million specifically in IaaS revenue.

    If CloudShare and Sungard meet all of those requirements, I would be happy to review them.

  4. Ryan O'Leary says:


    I ran across this post and wanted to correct one thing: RightScale does support the SoftLayer API as of last year.



    Ryan O’Leary
    Product Manager

  5. Tim Coote says:

    I’m intrigued by the emphasis on SLAs. Surely for IaaS, the key is to assume poor SLAs and architect the application accordingly?

    If a whole provider goes down, you fail over to somewhere else.

    The example that springs to mind is Netflix’ experience with AWS – which you’re rating as a poor SLA: they had to build the chaos monkey just to get the failure rate up to the point that they could test their application level failure models and failover approaches.

    In my experience, enterprises kid themselves when they buy IT related service levels, and usually pay through the nose.

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