Amazon, Google, and Microsoft Aren’t the Only Cloud Innovators Around

When it comes to data center expertise, many tech professionals would say that Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and yes, Facebook are driving most of innovation. These companies design much of the hardware and software that they run in their own massive data centers.

There’s no arguing with that perception, but make no mistake: The big cloud players don’t have a monopoly on data center disruption, according to Al Sadowsky, research vice president for 451 Research. Instead, a raft of other, smaller players are doing their bit to make data centers more efficient, more adaptable, and easier to manage.

That’s important to remember, because while many corporate applications are moving to a public cloud like Amazon (amzn) Web Services or Microsoft (msft) Azure, we are still early in the cloud era and many businesses still want to control their own infrastructure for some jobs.

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Sadowski cites the work that Equinix (eqix) is doing with its home-grown data center management software. This software gives customers a view into how their workloads are operating and the physical conditions at the various Equinix facilities. Equinix operates about 179 data centers around the world used by many customers.

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But there are other interesting infrastructure plays out there. Backblaze is a feisty startup that made waves by claiming to store customers’ archival data storage data cheaper than any of the name-brand cloud providers. (Anecdotal accounts from customers back that up.) The company builds its own storage hardware to facilitate that and has even made the design specifications available to anyone who wants to build their own.

The San Mateo, Calif. company launched its B2 storage service a year ago, and many are impressed. Because Backblaze specializes in data backup, it has a set usage pattern which lets it tailor its offering for that sort of work, says Sebastian Stadil, CEO of Scalr, a San Francisco cloud monitoring company.The…

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