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The best Cloud computing services

Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user. The term is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the Internet. Wikipedia

Top 25 Cloud Computing Service Provider Companies (2021)

Cloud Service providers are vendors which provide Information Technology (IT) as a service over the Internet. Cloud computing is a term which is used for storing and accessing data over the internet. It doesn't store any data on the hard disk of your PC. Cloud companies helps you to access your data from a remote server.

Top cloud providers in 2021: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, hybrid, SaaS players

Cloud computing in 2021 has become the de facto choice of IT due to digital transformation shifts accelerated by remote work and the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's a look the cloud leaders stack up, the hybrid market, and the key SaaS players.

Cloud computing in 2021 has become the go-to model for information technology as companies prioritize as-a-service providers over traditional vendors, accelerate digital transformation projects, and enable the new normal of work following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

And while enterprises are deploying more multicloud arrangements the IT budgets are increasingly going to cloud giants. According to a recent survey from Flexera on IT budgets for 2021, money is flowing toward Microsoft Azure and its software-as-service offerings as well as Amazon Web Services. Google Cloud Platform is also garnering interest for big data and analytics workloads. But hybrid cloud and traditional data center vendors such as IBM, Dell Technologies, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and VMware have a role too. 

Meanwhile, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Adobe, and Workday are battling SAP and Oracle for more wallet and corporate data share. Salesforce and ServiceNow launched successful back-to-work enablement suites and cemented positions as major platforms. 

Also: The best web hosting providers: Find the right service for your site   

Key themes for 2021 include:

    The COVID-19 pandemic and the move to remote work and video conferencing are accelerating moves to the cloud. Enterprises increasingly are seeing the cloud as a digital transformation engine as well as a technology that improves business continuity. As work was forced to go remote due to stay-at-home orders, tasks were largely done on cloud infrastructure. Collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet became cogs in the companies' broader cloud ecosystem. Zoom not only lands subscription revenue, but also runs on cloud providers such as AWS and Oracle.

    Multicloud is both a selling point and an aspirational goal for enterprises. Companies are well aware of vendor lock-in and want to abstract their applications so they can be moved across clouds. The multicloud theme is being promoted among legacy vendors that have created platforms that can plug into multiple clouds -- often with a heavy dose of VMware or Red Hat. (See: Multi-Cloud: Everything you need to know about the biggest trend in cloud computing and Multicloud deployments become go-to strategy as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud grab wallet share),

    The game is about data acquisition. The more corporate data that resides in a cloud the more sticky the customer is to the vendor. It's no secret that cloud computing vendors are pitching enterprises on using their platforms to house data for everything from analytics to personalized experiences. 

    Artificial intelligence, analytics, IoT, and edge computing will be differentiators among the top cloud service providers -- as will serverless and managed services. 

    Every flavor of cloud vendor wants to be a management layer to manage your other clouds. Public cloud vendors such as Google Cloud Platform and AWS have offerings to manage various cloud services. Traditional enterprise vendors such as Dell and HPE do too. Which platform becomes that "single pane of glass" for cloud management will be positioned well. 

    Sales tactics that play to fear, uncertainty, and doubt will be the norm. Right around AWS re:Invent, there appeared to be a mindshare battle in the press as the big three sniped at each other across multiple industries. Google Cloud has been hiring executives to sell into industries and has ramped its Anthos hybrid cloud effort to close its AWS and Azure sales gap. (See: What is cloud computing? Everything you need to know)

    There's a sales war happening by industry. Cloud providers are going vertical to corner industries. Gartner's Magic Quadrant report on public cloud providers noted that the "capability gap between hyperscale cloud providers has begun to narrow; however, fierce competition for enterprise workloads extends to secondary markets worldwide." Indeed, the financials from AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud have all been strong.

Cloud computing companies services range from full application development platforms to servers, storage, and virtual desktops. Here is a handpicked cloud service providers list. This cloud provider list contains various types of cloud computing services that are available in the market.

List of Best Cloud Computing Companies

Company name Link for more details

Amazon Web Services

Kamatera Cloud






WP Engine



1) Amazon Web Services

AWS is Amazon's cloud web hosting platform which offers fast, flexible, reliable and cost-effective solutions. It is one of the top cloud service providers which offers a service in the form of building block which can be used to create and deploy any kind of application in the cloud. It is the most popular as it was the first to enter the cloud computing space.


2) Kamatera

A cloud server tool developed by Kamatera is very much similar to a physical server. It operated in a virtual infrastructure cloud, making it highly flexible and cost-effective. This cloud server pricing is based on pay as you use model a standard in the industry.


3) Linode

Founded in 2003, Linode is the largest Independent Open Cloud Provider with over 800,000 customers in 196 countries. Get industry leading price-performance and deploy more with our Linux virtual machines, global infrastructure, and simple pricing. No surprise bills, no lock-in, and the same price across every 11 data centers.

4) Serverspace

Cloud works on innovative hyperconverged vStack platform based on superior Open Source technologies. Lightweight bhyve hypervisor and OS FreeBSD with simplified codebase help build new generation virtual machines.


5) Cloudways

Cloudways provides managed cloud hosting to agencies, stores, and SMBs. The platform has partnered with top cloud providers including AWS, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, Vultr and Linode. Experience the freedom to build, deploy and manage applications including PHP, Laravel, WordPress, and Magento without requiring any knowledge of cloud server management. Cloudways users can focus on business growth without worrying about the technical complexities of server management, security, and maintenance.


6) LiquidWeb

The liquid web offers cloud Sites which is a managed hosting platform which offers creatives freedom to build and launch websites without the need to learn cPanel or server management.


7) SiteGround

SiteGround is a managed cloud hosting provider that is reliable and high performance. The host uses SSD and deploys ultra fast network with 100% Renewable energy.


8) WP Engine

WP Engine is a platform for WordPress hosting. This platform enables you to create a professional-looking website. It has built-in latest version of PHP and HTTP2.


9) DigitalOcean

Digitalocean's droplet is a scalable computer service. It is more than just virtual machines. This cloud platform offers add-on storage, security, and monitoring capabilities to run production applications easily.


10) Vultr

Vultr is a cloud service that provides software that is ideal for a web application or development environment. It offers fully automate dedicated servers with zero virtualization layer.


11) CloudSigma

Cloudsigma is a flexible cloud server, and virtual private server hosting solutions. It offers a straightforward and transparent approach for pricing. You can easily stream at multiple gigabit speed from their cloud servers.


12) Rackspace

Rackspace is another useful cloud computer service tool. It offers services like hosting web applications, cloud files, cloud backup, database, and cloud server, etc.


13) MassiveGrid

MassiveGrid offers Virtual and Dedicated Private Clouds. With Virtual Private Clouds, helps users to have the flexibility to manage their resources in their environment according to their business needs.


14) Microsoft Azure

Azure is a cloud platform which is launched by Microsoft in February 2010. This open source and flexible cloud platform which helps in development, data storage, service management & hosting solutions.


15) Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud is a set of solution and products which includes GCP & G suite. It is one of the top cloud service providers which helps you to solve all kind of business challenges with ease.


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16) VMware

VMware is a comprehensive cloud management platform. It helps you to manage a hybrid environment running anything from traditional to container workloads. The tools also allow you to maximize the profits of your organization.


17) Salesforce

Salesforce cloud computing offers multiple cloud services like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, etc. It is one of the top cloud computing companies which helps you to accelerate production of your environment.


18) Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud offers innovative and integrated cloud services. It is one of the best cloud service providers that helps you to build, deploy, and manage workloads in the cloud or on premises. Oracle Cloud also helps companies to transform their business and reduce complexity.


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19) Verizon Cloud

Verizon Cloud computing platform allows you to control your infrastructure with advanced set-up and customization options from a single user interface.


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20) Navisite

NaviSite provide cloud services for enterprises and mid-sized businesses by using the best IT technologies.

It is one of the top cloud computing companies which offers a range of cloud service solutions like Cloud Infrastructure services, Cloud desktop, and hosting services.


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21) IBM Cloud

IBM cloud is a full stack cloud platform which spans public, private and hybrid environments. It is one of the best cloud providers which is built with a robust suite of advanced and AI tools.


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22) OpenNebula

OpenNebula is a cloud computing platform. It is one of the top cloud computing companies which allows you to manage heterogeneously distributed data center infrastructures. It helps you to manages the data center's virtual infrastructure to build private, public and hybrid implementations.


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23) Pivotal

Pivotal cloud foundry which is shortly known as PCF is a proven digital solution for businesses. It is one of the best cloud computing providers that helps you to move faster toward a software-driven future.


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24) Dell Cloud

Dell offers a cloud platform, cloud-enabled infrastructure, models, and serves in a single place. It allows your own or selects from reference architecture, integrated and public cloud platforms.


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25) LimeStone

OnePortal Rapid is built with the latest open source technology to offer fast, feature rich, highly scalable cloud platform.


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26) Quadranet

If a cloud which was developed by Quadranet is fully scalable and reliable cloud infrastructure, the tool is billed hourly based on your line resource size which you can view a break down of the cost associated with each resource.


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What is a Cloud Provider ?

Cloud Providers are companies that provide Information Technology (IT) as a service over the Internet. A cloud company offer

✔️ How to select the best Cloud Service Provider?

Following factors should be considered while selecting a cloud company.

💻 Is my data secure with a Cloud Computing Company?

Since data is stored remotely rather than your premise, apprehensions about data theft and privacy are obvious. But most cloud computing companies encrypt data while in transit or at rest. Also, their employees only get logical access to your data. Most companies adopt very strict protocols to ensure data security, confidentiality, and privacy.

If your data has peculiar security requirements, you could opt for a hybrid cloud where some data is stored with the cloud provider while some at your own premises.

With that backdrop, let's get to the 2020 top cloud computing vendors. 

Infrastructure as a service

Amazon Web Services

The leader in IaaS and branching out

Amazon Web Services AWS advertisement ad sign closeup in underground transit platform in NYC Subway Station, wall tiled, arrow, side

AWS was the early leader in public cloud computing and has become a major player in AI, database, machine learning and serverless deployments. 

View Now at AWS

AWS was the first to offer cloud computing infrastructure as a service in 2008 and has never looked back. It's launching new services at a breakneck pace and is creating its own compute stack that aims to be more efficient and pass those savings along.

AWS has expanded well beyond cloud compute and storage. If processors based on Arm become the norm in the data center, the industry can thank the gravitational pull of AWS, which launched a second-generation Graviton processor and instances based on it. If successful, the Graviton and the Nitro abstraction layer can be the differentiator for AWS in the cloud wars. 


Invent 2020, a virtual conference, AWS outlined custom processor roadmap, database advances and a bey of tools that solidify its lead in the cloud market. CEO Andy Jassy also took aim at Microsoft Azure in his keynote as well as Oracle and touted an AWS annual revenue run rate approaching $48 billion. 

While 2020 will be the year known for Amazon's ability to deliver goods during COVID-19 lockdowns, it's still worth noting that AWS delivers the most operating income in the company. 

The biggest question is whether enterprises are going to worry about AWS' dominance as a digital transformation enabler. For now, AWS is becoming everything from a key AI and machine learning platform to call center engine to edge compute enabler. 

Some key developments include:

    AWS: The complete business guide to Amazon's cloud services 

    Cloud alters pecking order among enterprise technology vendors

    Best cloud storage services in 2020: Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and more

While AWS growth rates have been slowing relative to rivals, the base of revenue is much higher. There is little evidence that AWS isn't gaining a larger portion of the enterprise IT cloud-spend. AWS has hybrid cloud partnerships with the likes of VMware, developers, ecosystem, and large enterprise customer base to remain in the lead. 

Here's what you need to watch with AWS in 2021:

Microsoft Azure

A strong No. 2, hybrid player and enterprise favorite

Microsoft Azure, along with Microsoft's software-as-a-service effort and its footprint in enterprises, make the company a strong No. 2 to AWS. As enterprises pick preferred cloud vendors, Microsoft will be an option. 

View Now at Microsoft Azure

The cheap and easy storyline is that Microsoft Azure and AWS are on a collision course to be the top cloud service provider. The reality is that the two foes barely rhyme. 

Here's why:

    There is still no publicly available data on Azure sales. Azure is the part of Microsoft's cloud business that most rhymes with AWS, but is buried in the commercial cloud. 

    Commercial cloud is a roll-up of multiple services from Microsoft. Enterprises are likely to buy a buffet that includes Azure but isn't totally focused on it. That said, Microsoft's commercial cloud is on a $53.2 billion annual revenue run rate in the third quarter, up from $50 billion in the second quarter. Exiting the fourth quarter, Microsoft commercial cloud was on an annual revenue run rate topping $57 billion. 

    Microsoft Azure benefits from its software-as-a-service footprint. The reality is that we could easily take Microsoft out of the IaaS category and put it in the SaaS section since most of the revenue is derived from Office 365, Dynamics, and a bevy of other cloud services that are software-based over infrastructure. 

    Nevertheless, Azure and its AI, machine learning, and history in the enterprise make it a formidable player. Azure has edge computing efforts.

The COVID-19 pandemic provided rocket fuel to Microsoft's cloud business as a bevy of enterprises used Microsoft Teams for remote work. In addition, Microsoft wrestled with capacity issues due to demand. Those capacity issues continued throughout 2020. Microsoft addressed capacity issues at its Ignite conference after Gartner gave Azure high marks, but raised concerns about outages. 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella argued that the company's cloud unit sits in the middle of digital transformation efforts. "We have seen two years' worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and to sales and customer service to critical cloud infrastructure and security, we are working alongside customers every day to help them stay open for business in a world of remote everything," said Nadella. 

To understand Azure's competitive advantage, it helps to know some history courtesy of ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley:

Simply put, Azure enjoys an incumbent role with enterprises as a cloud service provider, but pricing will blend multiple monetization models and bundles. The real battle between AWS and Microsoft will revolve around enterprises that go multi-cloud but want one preferred cloud service vendor. Will AWS or Microsoft be the preferred vendor? In that environment, Microsoft is a known commodity that can plug into Salesforce, which picked Azure for its Marketing Cloud, as well as other incumbents such as SAP, Oracle, and Adobe. In addition, Microsoft can pair its cloud offerings into its Microsoft 365 effort, which is a cloud and enterprise software buffet packaged for various industries but may have hidden costs if not negotiated properly. 

Microsoft has also honed its ground game for hybrid deployments as it has deep partnerships with server vendors to create integrated stacks to target hybrid cloud and private cloud. Azure Arc, Azure Stack, and Azure Stack Edge are all examples of these hybrid efforts. Some efforts of note include:

In the end, the Microsoft Azure battle with AWS will boil down to a sales war and thousands of foot soldiers pitching enterprises. You may become a Microsoft cloud customer via Teams, Office 365, Dynamics, Azure, or some combination of them all. The reality is that you'll have both top cloud service providers in your company and neither one will own the whole stack. Multi-cloud efforts will begin with having Microsoft and AWS in your company. The wallet-share trench war begins there. (See: Can AWS be caught? Here's how its cloud computing rivals can improve their chances)  

Google Cloud Platform

A strong No. 3 with a $11 billion annual revenue run rate, but building out its sales scale and industry approach

Google Cloud Platform and its Anthos platform is working to break into digital transformation budgets. Meanwhile, the cloud provider is looking at expanding in its key verticals such as retail and financial services. 

View Now at Google Cloud

Google Cloud Platform is coming off a year where it built out its strategy, sales team, and differentiating services, but also had performance hiccups. However, Google Cloud is getting a lift via COVID-19 and Google Meet and setting up a strategy to manage multi-cloud workloads. In 2021, you can expect Google Cloud to continue to expand its footprint.

Must read:

With an annual revenue run rate of $13.6 billion, Google Cloud Platform has been winning larger deals, has a strong leader with Oracle veteran Thomas Kurian, and is seen as a solid counterweight to AWS and Microsoft Azure. Kurian appears to be building out an Oracle-ish model where it targets industries and use cases where it can win. Think retail, where customers leverage Google ads, as well as cloud compute without worries about Amazon. Think education. Think finance. 

In the first quarter, Google Cloud stumbled onto a hit with Google Meet, which became very popular with remote workers. Aided by Zoom security hiccups, Google rushed into the video conferencing market and coupled Google Workspace with Google Meet. In the second quarter, Google Cloud built out its ground game and targeted multi-cloud as well as industries. 

Must read:

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said COVID-19 was an inflection point for digital shifts. "Ultimately, we'll see a long-term acceleration of movement from businesses to digital services, including increased online work, education, medicine, shopping, and entertainment. These changes will be significant and lasting," he said. 

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Meanwhile, Google Cloud Platform has been building out partnerships with key enterprise players such as Salesforce, Informatica, VMware, and SAP. The company is also combining its G Suite and Google Cloud sales efforts. 

The Google Cloud Platform strategy requires a team that can sell vertically and competes with the sales know-how from AWS and Microsoft. Kurian has surrounded himself with enterprise software veterans. (See: Former Microsoft exec Javier Soltero to lead the Google G Suite team)

A recent hire is Hamidou Dia as Google Cloud's vice president of solutions engineering. Hamidou was most recently Oracle's chief of sales consulting, consulting, enterprise architecture, and customer success. Google Cloud also named John Jester vice president of customer experience. Jester will lead a services team focused on architecture and best practices. Jester was most recently corporate vice president of worldwide customer success at Microsoft.

Also: What makes Google Cloud Platform unique compared to Azure and Amazon

Alibaba Cloud

The primary cloud option in China

Alibaba has scaled rapidly with a bevy of enterprise partners. What remains to be seen is whether Alibaba can expand beyond China. In either case, Alibaba has a lot of runway ahead. 

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If your company has operations in China and is looking to go cloud, Alibaba is likely to be a key option.  

Alibaba's cloud annual revenue run rate is $7 billion exiting its most recent quarter. Perhaps the most notable disclosure was that 59% of the companies listed in China are Alibaba Cloud customers. Meanwhile, Alibaba is building out its next-gen cloud as well as capacity in China, EMEA, and elsewhere. 

While Alibaba Cloud flies under the radar for customers that are primarily focused on the EU and US, companies operating in China may use it as a preferred cloud vendor. To that end, Alibaba Cloud is forging alliances with key enterprise vendors and is seen as a leading cloud service provider in Asia. 

Must read:

The catch with Alibaba Cloud is that US-based customers are likely to run into politics, data concerns, and trade wars, but it's quite possible that Alibaba Cloud can jump the rankings based on revenue just because the Chinese cloud market will be massive. 


With the battle between the hyperscale cloud vendors underway, you'd think that the legacy infrastructure players would recede to the background. Instead, the likes of IBM, Dell Technologies, and HPE aim to become the glue between multicloud deployments that feature a blend of private and public clouds as well as owned data centers. After all, most enterprises are looking at a multicloud strategy.

The two multicloud enablers in this mix are open source pioneer Red Hat, owned by IBM, and VMware, which is owned by Dell Technologies. Toss in Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Lenovo, and Cisco Systems for solving select issues and you have a vibrant hybrid and multi-cloud space to consider. Here's a look at the key players that aim to be the point guards of the public cloud and how they'll connect to the hyperscale providers. 


Big Blue looks to Red Hat to juice hybrid cloud deployments and growth

IBM headquarters located in SOMA district, San Francisco

With a $34 billion bet on the Red Hat acquisition, IBM is hoping to juice its revenue growth. 

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IBM outlined the rationale for the $34 billion Red Hat purchase and its strategy for turbo-charging its growth in the future. 

In 2020, IBM doubled down on Red Hat and is spinning of its managed services unit in 2021. Here's the setup for IBM going into 2021:

CEO Arvind Krishna has said IBM's big bets revolve around hybrid cloud, automation and AI. He has also said that the spin-off of the managed infrastructure unit will give IBM more focus. 

    IBM CEO Krishna: Every company will be an AI company

    IBM CEO Krishna outlines grand plan: Technical prowess, growth, client focus

Krishna North Star for IBM goes like this:

    I want IBM-ers to lead with a more technical approach. I want our teams to showcase the value of our solutions as early as possible. Likewise, there must be a relentless focus on quality. Our products must speak for themselves in terms of user experience, design and ease of use. My approach is straightforward: I am going to focus on growing the value of the company. This includes better aligning our portfolio around hybrid cloud and AI to meet the evolving needs of the market.   

Dell Technologies/VMware

VMware is the linchpin of Dell Technologies cloud platform

Dell Technologies is using portfolio company VMware to tie its product lineup together and be the glue of multi-cloud deployments. 

View Now at VMWare

VMware has an incumbent position, key partnership with AWS, and a parent in Dell Technologies that is using the cloud management platform to power its own platform. VMware has a knack for evolving as the cloud ecosystem shifts. For instance, VMware was focused primarily on virtualization and has fully adopted containers. VMware powers legacy enterprise data centers, but has extended to being the connector to public cloud providers after being a leader in private cloud deployments. In addition to its lucrative AWS partnership, VMware also has partnerships with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. And for good measure, VMware has integrated system partnerships with multiple hardware vendors. 

The company's VMworld 2020 virtual conference also highlighted how the company is eyeing AI workloads via partnerships with Nvidia as well as architectures such as Project Monterey to scale them. 

Recent headlines give a flavor for VMware's evolution and where it fits into the enterprise mix:

So, where does Dell Technologies fit? Like IBM and Red Hat, Dell Technologies is looking to VMware as the software glue to give it a cloud platform that can span internal and public resources. VMware is the linchpin to the Dell Technologies' cloud effort. 

Dell Technologies' long-game for the hybrid cloud revolves around a leadership position in integrated and converged systems, a vast footprint in servers, networking, and storage, and VMware's ability to bridge clouds. Dell Technologies is also aiming to delivery everything as a service. 

    Dell Technologies launches cloud console, eyes everything-as-a-service via Project Apex

    Dell builds tighter VMware integrations for cloud, app modernization

At Dell Technologies World conference in Las Vegas, the company outlined a hybrid cloud strategy that aims to knit its data center and hybrid cloud technologies with public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and IBM Cloud with more to come. The effort is dubbed the Dell Technologies Cloud. VMware is also launching VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, which will include vSphere, vSAN, and NSX running on Dell EMC's infrastructure. 

In addition, Dell Technologies is launching a data-center-as-a-service effort where it manages infrastructure in a model that lines up with cloud computing one-year and three-year deals. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC is also designed for companies running their own data centers, but want a cloud operating model. Dell Technologies data center as a service effort is built on a VMWare concept highlighted last year called Project Dimension.

Enterprises are likely to be either in the Red Hat or the VMware camp, and both companies have big parents that have the scale into private clouds and hybrid data centers. 

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

HPE is looking to connect cloud to edge computing

The new Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) corporate headquarters, San Jose, Silicon Valley

HPE is looking to be a hybrid and multi-cloud player, but its secret sauce may be extending to the edge with Aruba. 

View Now at HPE

Hewlett Packard Enterprise's hybrid cloud strategy revolves around its stack of hardware -- servers, edge compute devices via Aruba, storage and networking gear -- and its various software platforms such as Greenlake, SimpliVity, and Synergy. HPE prefers the term "hybrid IT" over multicloud, but its approach rhymes with what IBM and Dell Technologies are trying to do. The catch is that HPE doesn't have the scale that Red Hat and VMware have. 

    HPE GreenLake launches HPC cloud services, aims to accelerate mainstream adoption

Nevertheless, HPE has key partnerships with Red Hat, VMware, and integrated and converged systems with cloud providers. HPE's stated goal is to offer its entire portfolio as a service over time. HPE CEO Antonio Neri outlined the strategy in an interview with ZDNet. Neri said:

    We want to be known as the edge-to-cloud platform as-a-service company. And in that there are three major components. One is, as-a- service because obviously customers want to consume their solutions in a more consumption driven, pay only for what you consume. And that experience, at the core is simplicity and automation for all the apps and data, wherever they live.

    Obviously, the edge is the next frontier. And we said two years ago that the enterprise of the future will be edge-centric, cloud-enabled and data-driven. Well, guess what? The future is here now. The edge is where we live and work. 

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Where HPE's approach to hybrid deployments is differentiated is in its Aruba unit, which provides edge computing platforms. HPE aims to extend its cloud platform to edge networks. That cloud-to-edge approach could pay off in the future, but edge computing is still a developing market. In the meantime, HPE is tapping into Azure for management talent. 


Keith White, a former Microsoft executive, will lead HPE's Greenlake business, which aims to help transform the company into an as-a-service juggernaut.

HPE is also looking to address container management and sprawl with its BlueData software. 

Cisco Systems

Hybrid cloud through a network and API prism

Cisco is taking a network-centric approach to multi-cloud and hybrid deployments. 

View Now at Cisco Cloud

Cisco Systems has a bevy of multi-cloud products and applications, but the headliner is ACI, short for an architecture called Application Centric Infrastructure. Cisco is also melding AppDynamics, cloud management, and DevOps. 

Not surprisingly, Cisco's approach to multi-cloud is network-centric and ACI focuses on policy, management, and operations for applications deployed across cloud environments. 

Cisco has partnerships with Azure and AWS and has expanded a relationship with Google Cloud. Add in AppDynamics, which specializes in application and container management, and Cisco has the various parts to address hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. In addition, Cisco is a key hyper-converged infrastructure player and its servers and networking gear are staples in data centers. 

Must read:

Software as a Service

Software as a service is expected to be the largest revenue slice of the cloud pie. According to Gartner, SaaS revenue in 2020 is expected to be $166 billion compared to $61.3 billion for IaaS. 

For large enterprises, there are a few realities. For starters, you're likely to have Salesforce in your company. You'll probably have Oracle and SAP, too. And then there may be a dose of Workday as well as Adobe. We'll focus on those five big vendors and their prospects. It's also worth noting that some of the previous vendors mentioned are primarily SaaS vendors. Microsoft Dynamics and Office are two software products likely to be delivered as a service. Your roster of software providers is as diverse as ever.

Here's a look at the leading cloud software vendors.


The leading SaaS provider bulks up, Salesforce Tower entrance, San Francisco, Salesforce's goal is to be the center of your customer data universe. 

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Salesforce's ambitions are pretty clear. The company wants to enable its customers to utilize its data to provide personal experiences, sell you its portfolio of clouds, and put its Salesforce Customer 360 effort in the center of the tech world. In 2020, Salesforce expanded its reach with, a suite to enable workers to head back to the office during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent developments highlight Salesforce's approach to invest through a downturn. Salesforce also said it will acquire Slack to connect its various clouds. The company outlined its 2021 ambitions at its Dreamforce conference:

Salesforce executives have outlined the road to doubling revenue in fiscal 2025. Indeed, Salesforce has acquired or built out what could be an entire enterprise stack as it pertains to customer data. Its acquisition of Tableau may also be transformative since the analytics company has a broader footprint and gives Salesforce another way to reach the broader market. 

Also: Salesforce launches Salesforce Anywhere, app that embeds collaboration, data across platforms

What remains to be seen is whether Salesforce's Customer 360 platform can bring all of its clouds together in a way that prods enterprises to buy the entire portfolio in a SaaS buffet. At its analyst meeting, Salesforce noted that it had one customer in its top 25 with five clouds from the company, no customer with six, and a handful with three or four clouds. Slack will also bring more customers and reach to Salesforce.

Salesforce will need its top customers to adopt more clouds if the company is going to get to its $35 billion revenue target in fiscal 2025. 

Salesforce's current lineup consists of clouds for integration, commerce, analytics, marketing, service platform, and sales. Service and sales clouds are the most mature, but others are growing quickly. Salesforce's Einstein is an example of AI functionality that's an upsell to its clouds. In the end, Salesforce sees a $168 billion total addressable market. could add more to that tally.

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Betting SaaS, autonomous database leads to infrastructure too

Oracle is moving its on-prem customers to the cloud and also finding some new audiences. 

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Oracle does infrastructure. Oracle does platform. Oracle does database, which is increasingly autonomous. Despite its IaaS and PaaS footprint, Oracle is mostly a software provider when it comes to cloud. With the addition of NetSuite, the company can cover small, mid-sized, and large enterprises. 

While Oracle came into 2020 as an afterthought in IaaS, it has had an eventful second half of the year. Oracle landed Zoom as a reference customer for its cloud and is seeing momentum. Oracle also is in the running to be the premier technology partner of TikTok.

Must read:

    Oracle rolls out improvements across SaaS applications

    Oracle Cloud targets more HPC, adds Ampere for first Arm offering

    Oracle brings the Autonomous Database to JSON

    Oracle's Cloud VMware Solution becomes generally available

    Oracle brings its full lineup of cloud services to data centers

Edward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect, said in an interview that the company is expanding its hyperscale reach for IaaS and plans to hit 36 facilities by the end of the year. While SaaS is core, Oracle is also landing new users with infrastructure and a free tier. "A lot of conversations we have are about SaaS, but enterprises need to build SaaS using the tools we have so they look at the platform. And everyone is looking for a fast, reliable and cost-effective compute," said Screven. 

In other words, IaaS players start with compute and storage and move up the stack. Oracle can start at the high end and work back into infrastructure. "AWS was first, but we have a lot of customers with experience already with Oracle Cloud," he said. Screven said that Oracle Cloud is seeing more developer interest due to a free tier.

The big win for Oracle's cloud business will be SaaS and autonomous database services. Oracle's cloud is optimized for its own stack, and that will appeal to its customer base. Oracle's Cloud at Customer product line is also appealing to hybrid cloud customers. Oracle will put an optimized autonomous database in an enterprise and manage it as if it was its own cloud.

Will Oracle go multi-cloud and partner with frenemies? Yes and no. Microsoft Azure and Oracle are partnered to combine data centers and swap data with speedy network connections. Oracle isn't likely to partner with Google Cloud given its court battles with the company. Oracle isn't likely to cozy up to AWS either.

For enterprises, Oracle's cloud efforts will be powered by SaaS and it will be a player in other areas. It's unclear whether Oracle's bet on what it calls Generation 2 Cloud Infrastructure will pay off, but its enterprise resource planning, human capital management, supply chain, sales and service, marketing, and NetSuite clouds will keep it a contender.  


Continues to show cloud gains

SAP is leveraging a neutral approach with partnerships with all the leading IaaS vendors while converting customers to its HANA platform. 

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SAP CEO Christian Klein is looking to keep its cloud momentum, expand HANA and Qualtrics and battle Salesforce, Oracle, and Workday. Klein is also looking to focus SAP and simplify.

Klein said:

    Instead of doing everything ourselves, we are co-innovating. We have always been the leading on-premise application platform. Thousands of partners and customers have built applications and extensions on SAP for almost 50 years. Our intention is to repeat that for the cloud to position SAP as the leading cloud platform to transform and change the way enterprises work in the digital age. To get there, we have put a lot of work into our cloud platform over the past 12 months, and we will continue to invest in innovation. The time when SAP developed and engaged with customers in silos are over. 

SAP's 2021 plan is to migrate its customers to the cloud faster and create one data model. Klein added:

    We will bring the full force of our business applications and platform to drive holistic business transformation. By enabling our customers to seamlessly design, evolve or in win new business models with agility and speed. To do so, all our main solutions will adopt the cloud platform and share one semantical data model, one AI and analytics layer, one common security and authorization model and the same application business services such as workflow management, with our cloud platform, powered by SAP HANA. Process can be changed, enabling agile workflows. Innovations and extensions can be developed quickly by customers and partners accessing our open platform, using exactly the same data model in business services as our own SAP app. We are convinced that the real value driver of intelligent enterprises in the cloud will be the ability to adapt and on new business model holistically end-to-end with one consistent data model.   

Must read:


Expansion from HCM to financials paying off

Workday became a leading enterprise cloud player via human capital management software, but is expanding its footprint with financial applications. 

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Workday has more than 3,000 customers and the human capital management software vendor is increasingly adding financial management customers too. As a result, Workday is among the cloud vendors gaining wallet share, according to a Flexera report. 

The company is at an inflection point where it is selling more clouds and has a big market to chase as it courts mid-market companies. While the SaaS menu at Workday is decidedly more limited than what rivals SAP and Oracle offer, the company enjoys tighter focus. 

Workday co-CEO Aneel Bhusri said that his company is entering an expansion phase that rhymes with the Salesforce playbook. Workday ultimately sees its financial platform being the equal of its HR footprint. Planning and procurement are other new areas. Ultimately, Workday's SaaS challenge will be to sell multiple clouds to customers.

Bhusri said:

    "I would point you to the transition that Salesforce went through. They're 6 years older than us, one of our best partners. They went from being a sales company to a sales and services company to a sales and service and marketing company and platform. Now they've got analytics. We're going through that same journey and growth rates kind of ebb and flow as the different pillars take off." 

Workday is infusing machine learning and automation throughout its platform.  


From Creative Cloud to a marketing, analytics, and data platform

Adobe's cloud plans revolve around expanding its customer base and total addressable market as content and data increasingly merge. 

View Now at Adobe

Adobe has been a well-established cloud vendor among content creators and marketers, but a plan to focus on digital experiences and data management will put it on a collision course with the likes of Salesforce, Oracle, and SAP in areas like marketing. So far, so good. 

The company continually expands its addressable market. 

    Adobe's Document Cloud gunning for DocuSign, digital workflows

    Adobe launches AI tools to track omnichannel, spot anomalies quicker

    Adobe to buy marketing software firm Workfront for $1.5 billion teams with Microsoft, Adobe on joint enterprise CRM platform

    Everything announced at Adobe Max 2020: Creative Cloud gets collaborative, Illustrator for iPad, and more

For enterprises, Adobe's plan to dramatically expand its total addressable market can be a good thing -- especially if the company can be used as leverage against incumbent providers. 

The company is also looking to be a key part of your data and digital transformation strategies. Adobe has hired former Informatica CEO Anil Chakravarthy as head of its digital experience unit. The move highlights how Adobe sees data integration as key to its expansion. "Every single business is going through the same digital transformation that we were lucky enough to go through almost a decade ago. And if a company cannot engage digitally with the customer, understand how the funnel, all the way from acquiring customers to renewing them, can be done digitally, they're going to be disadvantaged," said Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen. 

A workflow platform finding new industries and use cases

Under CEO Bill McDermott, ServiceNow has honed its ground game and expanded its market as a platform of platforms. 

View Now at ServiceNow ServiceNow

ServiceNow had a strong 2020 and emerged as a SaaS provider delivering growth and becoming a platform of platform for various workflows.

Although ServiceNow is best known for its IT service management platform, it has expanded into a bevy of other corporate functions. In addition, CEO Bill McDermott has aimed the ServiceNow platform at industry specific use cases. McDermott said:

    Before getting into our strong results, here are a few trends shaping the overarching environment for ServiceNow. This unprecedented environment is breaking physical supply chains. It is exposing the weak links in the old value chains, illuminating how companies struggle cross-functionally to deliver the workflows that create great experiences for customers, employees and partners. The world is experiencing a seismic shift from the obsolete business process evolution to the new workflow revolution. 

Must read:

    ServiceNow's workplace safety suite integrates with Uber for Business

    ServiceNow launches four-app suite to manage the move back to the office

The game plan for ServiceNow is to be a digital transformation engine by connecting systems of records to be a system of action. The plan has been working as its Paris release of the Now Platform has integrated features designed for industries.

One key example is how ServiceNow has aimed its platform at back-to-work management efforts. Among the key 2020 developments for ServiceNow:

    ServiceNow embeds workflows into Microsoft Teams

    ServiceNow scoops up data management firm Sweagle  

    Cisco, ServiceNow announce integration for workplace contact tracing

    ServiceNow integrates with Amazon Connect, eyes cloud call center market amid remote work's new normal

    ServiceNow buys Loom Systems to extend AIOps capabilities

    ServiceNow revs its updated Now Platform for AI, automation powered workflows

    ServiceNow's David Wright on innovation, expansion, and AI  

<h2>Cloud services: 24 lesser-known web services</h2>


    Top cloud providers in 2021: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, hybrid, SaaS players

    The best email hosting services: G Suite and Microsoft 365 are not your only options

    Best cloud storage services in 2020: Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and more

    What is cloud computing? Everything you need to know

    OneDrive tips and tricks: How to master Microsoft's free cloud storage

    Why cloud gaming is the future of Xbox (CNET)

    26 Zoom tips to improve your video conferences (TechRepublic)

    Grafana Cloud adds free tier

    Big Data Analytics

    Grafana Cloud adds free tier

    Mimecast says hackers abused one of its certificates to access Microsoft accounts


    Mimecast says hackers abused one of its certificates to access Microsoft accounts

    Why Parler's revival on public cloud is complicated and unlikely


    Why Parler's revival on public cloud is complicated and unlikely

    Cockroach Labs closes $160M Series E funding round

    Big Data Analytics

    Cockroach Labs closes $160M Series E funding round

Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Managing the Multicloud

Cloud computing in the real world: The challenges and opportunities of multicloud

Multicloud is here to stay. The next step is to make its more sophisticated incarnations easier to deploy and manage.

Charles McLellan

By Charles McLellan | December 1, 2020 -- 15:31 GMT (07:31 PST) | Topic: Managing the Multicloud

The challenges and opportunities of multicloud

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As organisations embark on their digital transformation journeys, modernising business processes and optimising IT infrastructures, it's clear that cloud computing services, along with automation, orchestration and data analytics, will become increasingly important. 

Special Feature

Special Report: Managing the Multicloud (free PDF)

Special Report: Managing the Multicloud (free PDF)

More companies than ever are using multiple cloud providers. In this special report, ZDNet provides best practices for managing multiple clouds, and practical advice for picking the right vendors and tools to help you manage a multicloud environment.

These trends are well underway -- for example, in F5's 2020 State of Application Services Report (February 2020), nearly a third of respondents reported that over half of their applications will be in the cloud by the end of 2020. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly accelerate this cloud migration process. 

SEE: Nextcloud Hub: User tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic    

But, as F5's report details, enterprise application portfolios are typically a mixed bag, including four main architectures: three-tier web and mobile (40%), client-server (34%), microservices/cloud-native (15%), and old-school mainframe/monolith (11%). This means that the details of cloud migration will vary depending on an enterprise's particular mix of application types -- both external- and internal-facing. 

Drilling down, F5 found that most enterprises (76%) use some combination of traditional (3-tier/client-server/monolith) and modern (mobile/microservices) architectures, while 21% use only traditional and just 3% use only modern; 18% use all five architectures and 11% use just one. 

App portfolio heterogeneity is the reason why, when respondents were asked "How does your organisation decide which type of cloud is best for your application?", the top answer was on a 'case by case, per application' basis. It's also why three-quarters of F5's respondents reported that they had applications in two or more cloud providers, and why over a third said that refactoring legacy applications for modern environments is a priority for digital transformation. 

This mix of application architectures in a typical organisation's portfolio "highlights the fact that multicloud will be the norm for the long term," F5 says. 

This article provides an overview of the issues surrounding multicloud environments, following a similar exercise in 2019. For more detail on the current state of play in this area, check out the remainder of this ZDNet/TechRepublic special report. 

Multicloud challenges

In an ideal world, application workloads -- whatever their heritage -- should be able to move seamlessly between, or be shared among, cloud service providers (CSPs), alighting wherever the optimal combination of performance, functionality, cost, security, compliance, availability, resilience, and so on, is to be found -- while avoiding the dreaded 'vendor lock-in'.

"Businesses taking a multicloud approach can cherry-pick the solutions that best meet their business needs as soon as they become available, rather than having to wait for one vendor to catch up," John Abel, technical director, office of the CTO, Google Cloud, told ZDNet. "Avoiding vendor lock in, increased agility, more efficient costs and the promise of each provider's best solutions are all too great to ignore."

That's certainly the view taken by many respondents to the survey underpinning the 2020 State of Multicloud report from application resource management company Turbonomic. In particular, respondents from organisations that see themselves as 'leaders' in terms of the ability to leverage new technologies to advance their business goals were the most positive about multicloud: 

Data: Turbonomic / Chart: ZDNet  

The ideal may be seamless cloud-hopping, but there are plenty of real-world challenges involved in migrating applications to the cloud, and managing them in a multicloud environment. In F5's survey, the principal one, by some distance, was Maintaining security, policy and compliance:   

Data: F5 / Chart: ZDNet 

Flexera's 2020 State of the Cloud Report states that "Due to its complexity and dynamic nature, the multi-cloud environment brings many challenges, such as assessing the suitability of on-premises apps for migrating to the cloud". Specifically, Understanding app dependencies emerged as the top cloud migration challenge, followed by Assessing technical feasibility and Assessing on-prem vs cloud costs:   

Data: Flexera / Chart: ZDNet  

When it comes to overall cloud challenges, as opposed to migration, the top four in Flexera's 2020 survey were Security, Managing cloud spend and Lack of resources/expertise. Managing multi-cloud made the top challenges list, but some way further down:   

Data: Flexera / Chart: ZDNet  

In Turbonomic's 2020 State of Multicloud report, cultural and/or operational factors, and the complexity of managing hybrid/multicloud environments were the foremost challenges faced by organisations:   

Data: Turbonomic / Chart: ZDNet   

"Bottom-line, cultural change is a prerequisite for managing the complexity of today's hybrid and multicloud environments. Teams must operate faster, dynamically adapting to shifting market trends to stay competitive. This new reality requires tighter collaboration between teams, as well as a maniacal focus on the customer experience and how it impacts the business," the Turbonomic report said.

SEE: Digital transformation: The new rules for getting projects done

Google Cloud's John Abel also identifies complexity as a key barrier when it comes to multicloud: "Perhaps the biggest cause for hesitation around multicloud adoption is the complexity of deploying more than one cloud platform, and it's particularly difficult to do without hindering productivity or innovation. To overcome this, open-source technologies such as Kubernetes can aid the orchestration of containers to limit disruption with each new implementation and enable development teams to efficiently move workloads around."

How many clouds, and which ones?

The use of multiple clouds is by far the most common pattern among enterprises, with 93% adopting this strategy in Flexera's 2020 State of the Cloud Report (87% hybrid cloud, 6% multiple public cloud). This continues a long-standing trend:  

Data: Flexera & RightScale (pre-2020) / Chart: ZDNet

Among the 87% of enterprises with hybrid cloud deployments in 2020, the most common combination is multiple public and private clouds (53%), followed by multiple public/one private (33%), one public/multiple private (7%), and one public/one private (7%). 

In 2020, Flexera reported that organisations, on average, were using 2.2 public and 2.2 private clouds, and were experimenting with a further 1.2 public and 1.7 private clouds. Here's how these numbers have varied in previous years: 

Data: Flexera & RightScale (pre-2020) / Chart: ZDNet

Cloud usage, particularly of the public cloud, has steadily increased since 2016, while experimental deployments have fluctuated, generally at a lower level. 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is still the leading public cloud in Flexera's 2020 survey. However, the rise of Microsoft Azure since 2016 is notable, leaving Google Cloud some distance behind in third place: 

Data: Flexera & RightScale (pre-2020) / Chart: ZDNet

Among private cloud providers, VMware vSphere remains the leader, with Microsoft's Azure Stack showing a similar trajectory to its public cloud counterpart and claiming second place in 2020. Other prominent private cloud offerings are the open-source OpenStack and VMware's vCloud Director, while AWS Outposts nearly doubled its adoption rate between 2019 and 2020:   

Data: Flexera & RightScale (pre-2020) / Chart: ZDNet

In Turbonomic's 2020 State of Multicloud survey, Microsoft Azure was the leading public cloud (61%, up from 52% in 2019), with AWS relegated to runner-up (53%, down from 55% in 2019). The third most-used cloud type was 'Private cloud self-service and elasticity with containers and/or VMs, on-premises and/or hosted at an MSP' (38%, down from 45% in 2019). Respondents mostly used one (33%) or two (30%) clouds in 2020, with 29% using three or more:   

Data: Turbonomic / Chart: ZDNet  

"As organizations (and cloud offerings) become more sophisticated with cloud services, we can expect this graph to shift right," the Turbonomic report said. 

What about on-premises?

Although multicloud will become the norm, there's still a place for the on-premises data centre, at least in the near term, either as part of a hybrid cloud strategy or to host legacy applications that, for whatever reason, are not suitable for migration to the cloud. 

SEE: 10 tech predictions that could mean huge changes ahead

For example, in the Forrester/IBM report The Key To Enterprise Hybrid Multicloud Strategy (January 2020), a survey of 350 global enterprise IT decision makers found that more than half of mission-critical workloads and 47% of data-intensive workloads will still be run either on-premises or in an internal private cloud in two years. 

The main reasons for using on-premises resources to host workloads focus on compliance, concerns about data in transit (cost, latency or security), and application/infrastructure performance: 

Data: Forrester & IBM / Chart: ZDNet

According to the Forrester/IBM report, organisations also "use on-premises and private cloud to side-step bureaucratic processes and kick-start development efforts". 

Concerns about data are clear in Flexera's 2020 State of the Cloud report, which shows that non-sensitive data is far more likely to end up in the cloud than corporate financial or consumer data. Only a quarter (26%) of respondents were prepared to put all or most of their corporate financial data in the cloud, for example, compared to nearly half (46%) who wanted this sensitive information to remain fully or mostly on-premises: 

Data: Flexera / Chart: ZDNet

This concern over sensitive data, and the desire to keep it safely on-premises, underpins moves like Google's 'hybrid AI' offerings, such as Speech-to-text On-Prem, which has recently become available on its Anthos platform. "By bringing AI on-prem, customers can now run AI workloads near their data, all while keeping them safe," Google Cloud's John Abel told ZDNet. "Hybrid AI simplifies the development process by providing easy access to best-in-class AI technology on-prem."

Multicloud cost management

A key problem for organisations using multiple clouds is keeping a handle on costs. Cloud pricing is complex and fast-changing, and billing models vary between cloud platforms, yet cloud services can easily be accessed and provisioned -- often by business units acting independently of the IT department. This is a combination that can result in unexpected and uncontrolled costs. 

For example, in Flexera's 2020 State of the Cloud report, survey respondents estimated that 30% of their organisations' cloud spend is wasted, while Flexera puts the wastage figure at 35%, based on analyses of its customers' cloud spending. 

The major public cloud providers -- Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform -- all offer native tools to manage costs, and these will suit organisations that limit themselves to one public cloud platform. However, third-party tools could potentially do a better job of multicloud cost management. 

Analyst firm Gartner recommends a hybrid approach: IT managers should use the cloud providers' native tools first, identify gaps in functionality, and then address these with third-party offerings. When it comes to third-party tools, Gartner suggests favouring vendors that offer "sophisticated analytics that ensure high-quality insights", and that IT pros should "plan for multicloud, and prioritize solutions with higher feature parity between platforms". 

Last year Gartner compared five leading third-party cloud cost management vendors -- Apptio, CloudCheckr, Flexera, Turbonomic and VMware -- and generated the following summary, noting that "the cost optimization market still has many unexplored areas": 

In its more recent How to Manage and Optimize Costs of Public Cloud IaaS and PaaS report (March 2020), Gartner says: "Third-party cost management tools provide functionality that can exceed what cloud providers natively implement. Furthermore, their support for multiple cloud platforms allows organizations to implement a multicloud management strategy". The analyst firm adds that the provider-independence of these tools will allow them to continue to receive investments going forward. 

Missing from the above analysis is the biggest component of cloud spending worldwide: software-as-a-service, or SaaS. In Gartner's most recent forecast, SaaS spending is expected to rise from $101.48 billion in 2020 to $138.26bn in 2022 -- 36.2% growth over two years. However, IaaS and PaaS will grow faster over the same period, at 59.9% and 57.4% respectively. Total spending on public cloud services is expected to grow by 18.4% to $305bn in 2020/21 and by 18.8% to $362.3bn in 2021/22: 

Data: Gartner / Chart: ZDNet

Because it's particularly easy to deploy, SaaS is the most likely category of cloud spend to get out of hand. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that allow organisations to discover, manage and optimise their SaaS subscriptions. Leading SaaS cost management tools include Zylo, Torii and Augment. Among the broader-based vendors, Flexera offers SaaS Manager, while Apptio has recently added SaaS cost management to its Cloudability offering. 

Managing the multicloud

An organisation may report that it's using multiple clouds, but that doesn't necessarily mean its applications are moving freely between different cloud providers. That not only requires cloud-native applications built around containers and microservices, but also multicloud management tools, which are still evolving.

SEE: IT Data Center Green Energy Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

For example, in Flexera's 2020 State of the Cloud survey, the most common multicloud implementation was Apps siloed on different clouds (55%), although data integration and workload mobility between clouds, and apps that span public and private clouds are also represented: 

Data: Flexera / Chart: ZDNet

Although the use of containers is widespread, with 65% of organisations using Docker and 58% using Kubernetes (the Docker orchestration tool) in Flexera's 2020 survey, respondents also reported multiple challenges related to their use, headed up by Lack of resources/expertise, Security and Migrating traditional apps to containers:   

Data: Flexera / Chart: ZDNet  

In Turbonomic's 2020 State of Multicloud survey, respondents reported that 26% of their environments were running containerised applications, rising to 40% within 18 months, and that 28% of containerised apps were 'mission critical'. 

Given that advanced multicloud architectures have yet to become widespread, and the challenges surrounding containers, it's not surprising that only around a third of Flexera's respondents are using multicloud management tools: 

Data: Flexera / Chart: ZDNet  

"Managing different cloud systems can certainly be a challenge, particularly if multicloud adoption develops in an ad hoc manner rather than being planned from the ground up," said Google Cloud's John Abel. "To manage processes and workflows across different cloud services, many organisations look to cloud orchestration software to host and coordinate cloud services from different providers."

This is a new battleground for the leading cloud providers such as Google (Anthos), IBM (Red Hat OpenShift) and Microsoft (Azure Arc), as well as third parties.

F5 2020 State of Application Services Report 

~2600 worldwide 'across a range of industries, company sizes, and roles'

Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report                     


750 'cloud decision makers and users' worldwide, (554 enterprise, 196 SMB)

The Key To Enterprise Hybrid Multicloud Strategy 

Forrester / IBM

350 'global decision makers for IT infrastructure environments'

Turbonomic 2020 State of Multicloud 

938 users (50%), director/managers (41%) & executives (9%) 

There are many reasons why organisations make use of cloud services from multiple providers -- accessing the best functionality for particular purposes, hedging bets against outages, avoiding vendor lock-in, and more. However, the ease with which cloud-based infrastructure can be provisioned, and software subscriptions taken out, also means that multicloud deployments are likely to evolve semi-independently of the IT department, with potentially negative consequences.

Organisations face many challenges in the quest for free movement of application workloads across different clouds. Prominent among these are: the heterogeneity of enterprise application portfolios, with significant numbers of 'legacy' apps requiring significant refactoring to migrate to the cloud; security concerns; cost control; lack of resources and expertise; the need for cultural changes in IT teams; and management complexity. 

But multicloud is undoubtedly here to stay. The next step is to make its more sophisticated incarnations easier to deploy and manage. To this end, Google Cloud's John Abel sees a key role for open-source APIs in enabling future multicloud developments: "2021 will see a continuation of an ever-evolving workplace, and businesses will need to remain agile, responsive, and able to adapt to survive...To enable multicloud deployments, build new environments and modernise old ones, the open-source community will dial up investment in container and serverless functions, creating a spike in global demand."