Looking beyond the big Cloud Players

Dinakaran Sankaranarayanan


Looking beyond the big Cloud Players

As we delve into the Cloud landscape, we get to hear news about the big cloud providers like AWS, GCP, Azure, Oracle, IBM or Alibaba etc. All of these services are from big tech companies that offer a wide variety of services with varying levels of sophistication when it comes to offering features, value for money, ease of use and management.

Beyond these big providers, there are other companies in the Cloud making their mark. Though the long term viability of the service or companies are still unclear, it is useful to understand these providers and the specific value they bring to the market. It is also a given that the big cloud providers at times copy the services offered by these providers that are usually niche and help to solve certain use-cases.

While there are a lot of companies offering managed services in the cloud like Mongo DB, Redis, Elastic etc who have successfully commercialized their open-source software and other sets of products that are offered as Software As a Service SAAS model, I’m restricting in this post with few of the offerings where we can build and deploy code.

Digital Ocean

Digital Ocean is a company that offers services similar to AWS, GPC and Azure, has been there for quite some time. One of the main advantages is simple and transparent billing. But they do not provide a wide range of services like the big cloud providers.


One of the well-known PAAS - Platform As A Service provider. Heroku also championed the Twelve-Factor app listing down the main constituents that are essential for building and managing applications in the cloud. Even though some of the factors are applicable for certain scenarios and use-cases only, it gives an insight into the ways how applications should be designed, built and managed in the cloud.


Infrastructure provider. Just provides virtual servers that can be used to build out services on the cloud. It is mostly in the Infrastructure As A Service IAAS side of the cloud. With cloud-native development gaining steam and with preference to containers and serverless technologies, it should be interesting to see how the market for a pure IAAS grows over the next decade.


Vercel helps to build and deploy front end web apps built using web frameworks like React, NextJS easily into the cloud. The service is vertically integrated. It has CDN integration as well and offers edge service to deploy apps and services for improved latency. This service is rolled out by the creators of NextJS framework and takes a 360-degree shift to do executing and compiling javascript as little as possible in the browser. Server-side rendering of javascript for better performance is the most defining attribute of this service


Netlify is another company that champions the idea of JAM stack. Javascript - API’s - Markdowns. This is also focussed on bootstrapping front end applications with ease of setting up CI-CD pipelines, deployment and good integration with services like Github

Github Pages/Actions

Github originally envisioned as a code version control service is now extending itself into developing as a platform for software development. With the launch of GitHub Pages, hosting web content like websites, blogs were made super easy. And GitHub Actions is helping with on-demand Build and Deploy service that can be easily integrated with any cloud provider with powerful extensions.

Cloudflare Workers

CloudFare was a Content Delivery Network CDN to start with similar to AKAMAI. But with the proliferation of CDN services offered by public cloud providers like AWS, GCP etc, CDN only as an offering is becoming less and less attractive. And this is one main reason Cloudflare Workers is used to building and deploying applications on top of their existing CDN service as an Edge service. This approach nicely fits with the JAM stack.

As the Cloud space is maturing, it should be very interesting to see how these services and market evolves. Many of the nice and edge use-cases that are underserved by the big cloud providers could get launched in the next few years and have the chance of becoming successful.