Big Differences in Classes of Cloud Computing

Michael Vizard

One of the issues with cloud computing these days is that there is a general assumption that somehow all clouds are relatively equal. In reality, there is a world of difference between what, for example, Amazon offers and what IT executives think of as an enterprise-class cloud computing platform.

What's interesting about that gap in capability is that it's starting to attract the attention of more traditional IT organizations. For example, Echostar and its Hughes subsidiariy recently combined their collective IT resources to offer a cloud computing platform for enterprise customers.

According to EchoStar CIO Mike Marcotte, one of the things that differentiates the Hughes Cloud Services & Hosting solution is that it allows customers to climb on to a robust IT infrastructure that was built to support mission-critical applications used widely by EchoStar across its telecommunications and military-related operations. Better still, Marcotte notes that EchoStar runs its own MPLS network, which means the EchoStar cloud can easily rise to meet most performance challenges.

In contrast, Marcotte notes that cloud computing providers such as Amazon will not stand behind anything in the way of a meaningful service level agreement (SLA). By the same token, Marcotte says that because EchoStar has access to its own network resources, there's no need to gouge customers by charging excessive fees for accessing network resources that most other cloud computing providers are simply reselling on behalf of a telecommunications carrier.

The similarities between the EchoStar cloud computing playbook and the original Amazon plan for selling excess compute capacity are striking. But Marcotte says the big difference is that instead of dealing with a faceless entity in the cloud, IT organizations will be dealing with an IT team that has been dealing with the same cloud computing management and security issues they have for years, which is a level of customer service and expertise that companies such as Amazon are not willing to provide.

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