It seems to many that Amazon is one of the largest and best etailers in the planet, and that might be their only understanding about the company. However, Amazon is far more than just selling stuff over Internet. What’s beyond everyone’s perception about Amazon, is that under the hood, the Seattle-based company is pretty cool with all its cloud-computing offerings and could be deemed as the cradle for many Valley Startups.
Surprised? Not really. Amazon has been leading the cloud computing forefront for quite a while through Amazon Web Service (or AWS) that consists of a disparate collection of cloud-based products ranging from cloud computing/servers (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2), content delivering (Amazon CloudFront), cloud-based storage (Amazon Simple Storage Service, or S3), networking (Amazon Virtual Private Cloud), database (Amazon Relational Database Service, or RDS, Amazon SimpleDB and so forth) to even payments and billing (Amazon Flexible Payments Service, or FPS). Both startups and large corporations can choose whatever they need for their products. Twitter, Apple, Netflix, Flipboard, Foursquare, Yelp, Washington Post, 37Signals, Talkbox, IBM are among some of the most prominent adopters of Amazon AWS.
Two years after Amazon launched AWS in 2006, Google debuted a similar service Google App Engine (GAE) in 2008 to offer 3rd party developers with free access to the search giant’s mighty computing infrastructure.
Chinese Clouds on the Rise
After realizing the potential behind cloud services, Chinese Internet companies like Baidu, Shanda and Sina all tapped into the trend of freeing up their own computer power to anyone in need of affordable, ubiquitous and powerful computing power.
Sina, the Chinese portal which are thought to be strong in media business and weak in technology stuff, claimed to be the first to launch the first public cloud in China dubbed Sina App Engine, resembles Google App Engine, an integral of its SinaCloud initiative.
SAE as of now supports PHP programming language only, by leveraging on its convenient SDK, one can easily launches his/her products to the public with no need to take care of servers or IDC choosing stuff.
Sina also has a private cloud for enterprise customers.
Alibaba, the largest Chinese ecommerce company set up a cloud computing subsidiary Aliyun in 2009. Aliyun to date offers four main categories of cloud service including elastic computing, cloud engine, data storage and computing service, cloud-based security and more like cloud-based advertising, cloud-based search and cloud-based map.
On top of these, Aliyun also presented a game cloud that powers up many gaming companies.
All these cloud offerings from Alibaba shared some common features like high-performance computing, flexible pricing model, easy-scaling capability, load balancing and so forth.
And Shanda, the prominent Chinese gaming vendor also has a wide collection of cloud products ranging from computing, storage, monitoring, database to content distribution to let 3rd parties utilizing its Internet infrastructure.
The Shanghai-based company touted its offerings as the first ever pay-as-you-grow cloud servers in China.
As these portal site, gaming and ecommerce company marched aggressively towards cloud technology, on the contrary, Baidu the search company which has been long hailed as a technology-driven company lagged behind its peers in that realm.
The Beijing-based company which owns more than 80% of Chinese search market didn’t launch its own cloud initiative till September of last year, and the service dubbed “Baidu Open Cloud Platform” is still in private beta testing phase. Its features and services are quite limited as compared to other peers. As of now Baidu could offer only cloud storage and messaging service through its “Open Cloud Platform” while cloud environment and relation service are said to be coming soon.
Consumer-Oriented Cloud Computing Thriving
Except for those business-oriented cloud computing platforms, cloud offerings targeting ordinary digital populace are also thriving.
Take cloud input methods as examples, Tencent and Sogou all launched their browser-based input methods, you don’t have to install anything onto your computer, with those input methods enabled within your browser, you can type Chinese characters.
Input method is just one living example of disruptively employing cloud-based service in consumer-centric Internet products, another one is Xunlei Cloud VOD. Normally, you need a download client like BitTorrent or whatever to download bt files say movies and TV drama. Now with Xunlei’s Cloud VOD, you can just copy and paste the bt file’s online URL onto the service and have it played directly online, no need to download anything to your hard disk.
Tencent has explored further in the path towards personal cloud service, its browser-based Q+Web now operates like a full-fledged operating system now. You can launch apps from it, adding or deleting all kinds of apps (music, video, reading and so on)developed by 3rd party developers at your will.
Mainstream Chinese Cloud Computing Platforms and Cloud-based Services
Sina Cloud http://sinacloud.com/
Grand Cloud http://www.grandcloud.cn/
Baidu Yun http://yun.baidu.com/
Xunlei VOD http://vod.xunlei.com/