When the whole concept of cloud computing first came to the fore, Amazon was clearly one of the pioneers. It correctly surmised that it could defer much of the associated expense by getting as many companies as possible to help pay for those IT investments.
In the case of data storage, that strategy gave rise to an Amazon Simple Storage (S3) service that caught most IT hosting companies off guard. But now those companies are responding with offerings of their own designed to undercut Amazon on both price and flexibility.
Case in point is a company called Cloud Leverage, a provider of cloud computing services that is largely funded by Netriplex, which provides IT hosting services. Cloud Leverage is looking to challenge Amazon specifically on three fronts. The first is price: Its service costs 5 cents per gigabyte with no fees for transferring data in and out of the service. Amazon not only charges more to store data, but to defer its network bandwidth fees, it charges clients every time data is moved in or out of the cloud.
The second area of challenge is choice about where data is stored. Cloud Leverage lets customers store information at any of its nine data centers, which in many instances has both performance and data governance implications.
Finally, Cloud Leverage does not require customers to store data using a specific API. Customers can store data in any native format they choose, including Windows, Macintosh and most mobile computing device applications. Those services also include sychronization capabilities. That means customers don't have to adjust their applications to be compatible with a specific API as Amazon does.
According to Cloud Leverage President and CTO Jonathan Hoppe, Cloud Leverage is just getting started. The company plans to add more robust services later this year, including enhanced application acceleration, load balancing, DNS management and security services.
Amazon has the wherewithal to address these challenges. But it's clear that what started out a clever ploy to cover its internal IT infrastructure costs is now a full-fledged business attracting savvy rivals with the means and the IT skills to compete effectively.