SoftLayer IaaS: Can Cloud Simplicity Beat Amazon, Rackspace?

SoftLayer Technologies may not be the first company that comes to mind when the words "cloud infrastructure" are spoken, but the company is hoping businesses will make the shift from the more commonly named providers once it gets a chance to spout its wisdom and show how it can simplify things for customers.

Although George Karidis, chief strategy officer at SoftLayer, doesn't consider the company as being a direct competitor to the likes of Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Rackspace (NYSE: RAX), that's essentially what the IaaS provider is presenting itself as. SoftLayer looks for customers that have outgrown the limitations of other providers -- when they need something that scales in a way that's not possible with competitors, he said.

There's also an element of confusion that Amazon, in particular, creates with its myriad pricing schemes (not exactly an uncommon complaint about one of the leaders in the space). With simplification being a recurring trend in the overall IT space for a few years now, SoftLayer is trying to bring some of that simplicity to the cloud.

In promoting customer wins, Tarmin quoted a prepared statement from AppFirst CEO David Roth: "Confusing pricing schemes, long term lock-in contracts and performance bottlenecks were pretty much all we saw when we contracted with other big cloud providers. Our solution is constantly streaming data from thousands of servers residing in more than 70 countries worldwide and we can’t afford a sub-standard platform."

AppFirst apparently tried two other cloud providers before turning to SoftLayer.

Karidis noted that customers look to SoftLayer as their cloud "factory," in that what SoftLayer provides helps them in turn generate revenue. It's likely customers of competitors look to their providers in much the same way, but SoftLayer really wants to differentiate itself from the competition.

And that's the crux of the competition issue. Factor in price, features, ease of use and a variety of other factors that companies have to sift through, hopefully with the help of a trusted partner who can help them wrap their brains around the chaos, and it's not easy to see which vendors provide the best for an individual company. Sounds like a good channel opportunity.

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