A new report (which was not yet made public at press time) analyzes a sub-category of IaaS vendors that offer automated, multi-tenant services for scale-out cloud hosting, virtual lab environments, self-managed virtual data centers, and turnkey virtual data center services. Rackspace, AT&T, Savvis, Terremark, Verizon (with its home-grown Computing as a Service), and OpSource are the big names in this market.
"The separation [of these segments] is grounded in the fact that some vendors provide very good infrastructures without any services and others get the managed services right, but don't have very good clouds," Leong says.
The traditional, old-school telecom carriers are sometimes seen as dinosaurs, but Coyle says they shouldn't be discounted. "Just think of who controls all the bandwidth, right? It becomes a no brainer then," Capgemini's Coyle says.
The carriers have another advantage over cloud newbies: long-term relationships with enterprise decision makers. "When it comes to the cloud sale into big enterprises, we already have a seat at the planning table as a trusted service provider," says Steve Caniano, vice president of AT&T's hosting and cloud services.
AT&T, British Telecom and Verizon lead the pack of carriers in the cloud to some degree, but in terms of building out reliable IaaS-focused data centers, Verizon is the most advanced, Coyle says. He argues that the point of the Terremark purchase was not the extra data center footprint, but the management services that Terremark wraps around its IaaS.
Managed services are where the real money lies for cloud vendors, says Coyle, adding that the Amazon's of the world are driving prices down so low that the carriers will not be able to compete on raw compute power alone.
"IaaS companies are starting to realize they have to offer these managed services - or at least create APIs so you can have management software plug in and monitor these clouds like you do your internal assets -- to get into the enterprise and pull in their next level of business," Coyle says.
Rackspace was so confident that customers would be willing to pay for these wrap around services like application deployment, deep system monitoring and unified hybrid cloud management, that the company spearheaded the OpenStack project to make basic IaaS platforms interoperable.
As vendors try to hone their competitive edges, customers are finding that they're not limited to one IaaS provider.
Shelton Shugar, senior vice president for SaaS at CA Technologies, oversees IaaS vendor selection. "You have to factor in each IaaS's scale, global footprint, quality, price and the flexibility in which they can adapt to your particular project.'' The answers to those questions will vary with the scope of each cloud project.
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