Remember when you used to look up and see things in the clouds? A cumulonimbus Valhalla, or a pirate ship, or a frighteningly real representation of your third-grade teacher? Those were the days. And now there's a new kind of cloud that you just can't get away from. Seems like in everything I read and everyplace I turn, there it is. The cloud. There is no escape. So it's probably a good time to develop a basic understanding of just what this cloud is, along with the major players.
"The cloud" is just slang for an advanced server network that puts a massive amount of information, more than could ever be stored in your home or office, at your Internet-connected fingertips. Entire businesses can run from the cloud. The companies that provide the necessary infrastructure and software to keep the cloud running are called cloud providers. A lot of companies are scrambling for space on the cloud, but there are three players that really stand out to me right now.
No. 1 in the cloud
I never thought of Amazon.com
Growing in the cloud
You don't have a lot of cash on hand -- $134 million compared with Amazon's $8.76 billion -- but you love me more than any other company in the world, and your customer-service motto, "Fanatical Support," means a lot to me. Knowing that your sales have grown at an average of 30% a year since 2007 and that analysts expect your net income to climb nearly 50% this year doesn't hurt, either.
Knocking on the door
Who's nipping at the heels of Boss Cloud and Rackspace? Yet another company I never expected: Verizon
As time goes on, you'll continue to read about large companies buying smaller ones in an effort to immediately increase their cloud-provider capacity. Infrastructure isn't the only place to watch, though. The cloud-security sector is also growing by leaps and bounds. Even if you choose to ignore the cloud, keeping an eye on how it affects the companies you follow is a good idea.
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