2011 has been an interesting year for cloud computing. Traditionally, cloud computing can be divided into three categories:

While SaaS has been around for some time (Salesforce.com started in 1999!), we are seeing an increase in adoption of IaaS and some heavy development in the PaaS world.

Now that 2011 is coming to an end, this is also the time for lists. So here are my 3 top 3’s of cloud computing.


3. GitHub

Distributed version control systems are gaining track rapidly, with Git leading the way. GitHub provides Git as a service, and offers unlimited repositories for open source software. It provides an excellent interface that stimulates social coding. This means it is a great incentive for open source development.

2. Dropbox

Well, who doesn’t use Dropbox? Dropbox offers a filesharing service that is easy to use. There are two reasons for the success of Dropbox; it is easy to start with 2GB of free space, and it provides clients for almost all platforms.

1. Google Apps

Google is trying hard to get us all to work in the cloud, and their Google Apps service is their way to do so. They even have a free service for private use. Google Apps provides a full application suite including e-mail, calendar and docs. GMail is massively adopted and has been a game-changer since introduction in 2004.


3. OpenStack

When talking about IaaS, people immediately think about the Amazon AWS platform. But what if you don’t like their terms-of-service, or simply want to create something similar in your own data center? Enter OpenStack. If there is one DIY IaaS framework that has momentum, it is OpenStack. It is backed by no less than 144 companies, and best of all, it’s open source.

2. jclouds

If all the IaaS frameworks and providers and all their different APIs are giving you an headache, jclouds is the framework for you. The jclouds API provides an abstraction of the different cloud-specific implementations. Currently over 30 providers are supported, including all the usual suspects (Amazon AWS, OpenStack, Azure, etc).

1. Amazon AWS

The undisputed number 1 of IaaS is of course Amazon AWS. Ever since the introduction in 2002, Amazon AWS is the reference implementation for IaaS. It sets the standard and the rest of the IaaS providers are merely trying to catch up. Amazon also doesn’t sit still, it constantly adds new services to its platform (and is slowly growing into a PaaS). It is available around the globe, with data centers in almost every continent.


3. Heroku

Heroku is a fully hosted PaaS platform. It supports lots of languages, and it completely hides the infrastructure (servers, instances, etc) from your applications. It has a partnership with Facebook, creating the Heroku Facebook App Package, which enables quick development of Facebook apps. I think it is one of the best examples of a public PaaS.

2. CloudFoundry

CloudFoundry is being developed by VMware. After acquiring SpringSource back in 2009, this is the next logical step for them. CloudFoundy is positioned as the Open PaaS. While most PaaS solutions limit the choice of frameworks and infrastructure services, CloudFoundry tries to be open and extensible. And best of all, you can use the micro edition for development, the private (open source) edition in your own data center and the hosted edition as a public PaaS (or even a hybrid setup).

1. ???

We are seeing lots of development in this area with all different flavors of PaaS platforms and services. We have even built custom PaaS platforms for our customers based on the traditional application servers (JBoss, WebLogic, etc). But there is still lots of work to be done, before full stack solutions will be readily available. So, I think there is no number 1… yet.

And beyond...

2012 looks like it will be a good year for the cloud. I am very curious to see what the PaaS providers are going to bring to the table. Projects like OpenShift, CloudFoundry and Stratos are looking very promising, and I can’t wait to dive into them.

What are your top cloud services? Or which ones do you think that will become the next best thing? Feel free to add them to the comments below.