Major Cloud Providers for Computer Networks - dummies

Major Cloud Providers for Computer Networks

By Doug Lowe

Hundreds, if not thousands, of companies provide cloud services you can use for your computer network. Most of the cloud computing done today, however, is provided by just a few providers.


By far the largest provider of cloud services in the world is Amazon. Amazon launched its cloud platform — Amazon Web Services (AWS) — in 2006. Since then, hundreds of thousands of customers have signed up. Some of the most notable users of AWS include Netflix, Pinterest, and Instagram.

AWS includes the following features:

  • Amazon CloudFront: A PaaS content-delivery system designed to deliver web content to large numbers of users.

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud: Also called Amazon EC2. An IaaS system that provides access to raw computing power.

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service: Also called Amazon S3. Provides web-based data storage for unlimited amounts of data.

  • Amazon Simple Queue Service: Also called Amazon SQS. Provides a data transfer system that lets applications send messages to other applications. SQS enables you to build applications that work together.

  • Amazon Virtual Private Cloud: Also called Amazon VPC. Uses virtual private network (VPN) connections to connect your local network to Amazon’s cloud services.


Google is also one of the largest providers of cloud services. Its offerings include the following:

  • Google Apps: A replacement for Microsoft Office that provides basic e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet, and database functions via the cloud. Google Apps is free to the general public and can even be used free by small business (up to 50 users).

    For larger businesses, Google offers an advanced version, Google Apps for Business. For $5 per month per user, you get extra features, such as 25GB of e-mail data per user, archiving, and advanced options for customizing your account policies.

  • Google Cloud Connect: A cloud-based solution that lets you work with Google cloud data directly from within Microsoft Office applications.

  • Google App Engine: A PaaS interface that lets you develop your own applications that work with Google’s cloud services.

  • Google Cloud Print: Allows you to connect your printers to the cloud so that they can be accessed from anywhere.

  • Google Maps: A Global Information System (GIS).


Microsoft has its own cloud strategy, designed in part to protect its core business of operating systems and Office applications against competition from other cloud providers, such as Google Apps.

The following paragraphs summarize several of Microsoft’s cloud offerings:

  • Microsoft Office 365: A cloud-based version of Microsoft Office. According to Microsoft’s website, Office 365 provides “anywhere access to cloud-based email, web conferencing, file sharing, and Office Web Apps at a low predictable monthly cost.” For more information, check out Office 365.

  • Windows Azure: A PaaS offering that lets you build websites, deploy virtual machines that run Windows Server or Linux, or access cloud versions of server applications such as SQL Server.

  • Microsoft Business Productivity Suite: A SaaS product that provides cloud-based access to two of Microsoft’s most popular productivity servers: Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SharePoint. The suite lets you deploy these servers without having to create and maintain your own local servers.