Three paths to the federated cloud: Which is right for you?

Cloud federation shows that there is strength in numbers. This is especially true for smaller and midsize service providers that, as part of

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a federated cloud, can deliver more advanced, ubiquitous and scalable services as a collective than each could on its own.

Federated clouds enable providers to join forces to improve their individual prospects for long-term growth and sustainability -- positioning them to compete against industry giants like Amazon or Google. Although the technology and market for cloud federation is still maturing, its rapid and splintered development means that cloud providers should watch this space vigilantly to identify if and how it makes sense to join a federated cloud.

It remains to be seen just how and when the federated-cloud vision will ultimately be realized, but the key to success will lie in the business model -- not in standards and technology. It's true that cloud platforms, such as OpenStack, are likely to help shape this market, but they will not provide the impetus for cloud federation adoption on their own. As always, profitability is king.

Three approaches to the federated cloud

In this three-part tip series, we will cover three companies that have staked a position in the federated-cloud market and highlight the potential benefits or drawbacks of their partnership opportunities.

Although these three aren't the only players in federated cloud, each one offers a different business model that potentially blazes a trail for cloud federation. Despite their differences, all three share two characteristics: Each has created a proprietary software platform upon which service providers can build cloud services, and each has assumed the role of the broker, bringing together suppliers and consumers of cloud resources while providing requisite usage tracking and billing.

SpotCloud: Federation through a cloud services broker's marketplace

Learn how SpotCloud uses a federated cloud to bring together buyers and sellers of commodity Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) resources, as well as how this ecosystem can benefit participating providers.

OnApp: With federated cloud, CDN services possible for providers

Find out how OnApp is enabling cloud providers to federate their resources and use each other's excess capacity to offer global content delivery network (CDN) services that rival Amazon's CloudFront CDN offering.

Tier 3: Cloud federation enables providers to expand service footprint

Understand how Tier 3 licenses and centrally manages its platform to federate cloud providers' resources, enabling them to expand their geographic reach and scalability for cloud computing services.

About the author: Rebecca Wetzel is a principal with NetForecast and also president of the marketing consulting firm Wetzel Consulting LLC. She provides data communications industry insight and helps vendors and service providers develop successful marketing strategies.

This was first published in July 2012

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