50 cloud innovators to watch

GigaOM's list of the top 50 cloud innovators shows there is no shortage of innovation in the cloud computing space. Blogger Rick Vanover shares his thoughts on cloud technology innovation and solutions.

If you are interested in cloud solutions, check out GigaOM's list of the Top 50 Cloud Innovators. The list includes a number of companies that you may not necessarily associate with cloud, such as Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Intel, Citrix, and VMware, as well as some brands that may seem like the typical data center and IT operations providers; this is because all clouds are not created equal, and cloud doesn't necessarily mean sending everything out to some nameless computer platform on the Internet. Many environments are leveraging cloud technologies for a robust private cloud, which can include all of the key public cloud characteristics: on-demand provisioning, self-service, consumption-based pricing, the quickest time to market, and other agile features.

When I survey the cloud computing landscape, sometimes it's difficult to figure out what these technologies actually do, much less how they could help my IT administration or infrastructure management efforts. I find that the best way to understand how a cloud solution works is by identifying the problem it solves and then backing into how it's relevant to the traditional IT environment.

In my opinion, a cloud technology innovates by removing obstacles to common cloud technology solutions. Perhaps it is an advanced data migration tool that handles changes within a file at the block or region level rather than transferring the entire file again to optimize bandwidth. Another example is a tool that can deliver a federated model across public cloud providers to provide seamless failover for an application or computer platforms to accommodate the loss of public cloud. These examples aren't incredibly novel ideas, but they give you an idea of what I think makes a solution relevant for the everyday environment to allow cloud technologies to become a realistic alternative to the modus operandi.

What cloud technologies do you consider innovative and relevant to your IT work? What cloud innovator would you add to GigaOM's list? Post your answers in the discussion.