11 cloud computing vendors to watch

Cloud computing looks to be a "classic disruptive technology," says Forrester Research in an interesting new report published Monday. For enterprise IT shops, cloud computing still poses some real risks, including an almost complete lack of service-level agreements and customer references, plus some genuine security and compliance concerns, according to Forrester. But even so, IT shops are tapping into cloud services for targeted projects: "There's a high likelihood that developers inside your company are experimenting with it right now," writes senior analyst James Staten in the report,"Is Cloud Computing Ready for the Enterprise?".

Which cloud computing vendors should be on your radar screen now? In its report, Forrester cites 11:

1. Akamai
2. Amazon
3. Areti Internet
4. Enki
5. Fortress ITX
6. Joyent
7. Layered Technologies
8. Rackspace
9. Salesforce.com
10. Terremark
11. XCalibre

Akamai, Amazon and Salesforce will be the most familiar to enterprise IT. Akamai offers application performance services that speed up apps for users of cloud services, while Amazon offers the Amazon Elastic Compute Service (EC2) and storage in the cloud. Salesforce is pushing hosted apps and what it calls Platform as a Service, to help developers create new software in the cloud.

Terremark, Layered Technologies, XCalibre and startup Enki all play more behind the scenes in the hosting business that fuels and manages the cloud.

Also prominent at the moment is 3Tera, maker of AppLogic, which Forrester describes as "cloud computing infrastructure software" and a "grid engine." Basically, this is enabling software that lets a hosting provider put customer software in the cloud with a minimum of fuss, for starters. AppLogic works on physical servers and virtualized ones, enables cost-based reporting, and runs many applications "without redesign or reprogramming to a grid API," among other benefits, Forrester notes. Check out the report for more details on all the vendors and Forrester's take on the competitive landscape.