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As OpenStack backers gather in Vancouver, the fight to win business workloads ramps up with Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.

By Barb Darrow
May 18, 2015

If you are an information technology professional and haven’t had your fill of cloud computing hype, er, information, brace yourself: There is lots more on its way.

This week, the OpenStack Foundation and seven thousand or so of its closest friends will gather at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver to talk about how the open-source cloud framework is suited for a variety of cloud deployment choices.

Do you want to put your own workloads on dedicated infrastructure? Then an OpenStack private cloud is for you. Or if you need the scale of a massive public cloud, you can put workloads on an array of public clouds around the world. And they all run on, you guessed it, OpenStack.

Foundation members like Red Hat RHT , IBM IBM , Rackspace RAX and Hewlett-Packard HPQ will do their best to show that OpenStack is totally baked and that their own particular version of OpenStack is best for big customers. Walmart WMT , TD Bank TD , American Express AXP and others also will be on hand to talk about their OpenStack work.

But it’s not just OpenStack: Starting next month, Google GOOG will launch a slate of live events in New York, London, Tokyo, San Francisco and elsewhere. The goal? To show that the Google Cloud Platform, which has gained adherents among startups, is also appropriate for bigger, corporate workloads.

Google’s got some work to do there. While Google services like BigQuery for analyzing huge data sets and the new Google Cloud BigTable database are undoubtedly of interest to big companies, many are still unsure that providing cloud services to customers is a priority for the Internet search and advertising giant. But it’s starting to get some interest.

“Many of my federal clients are looking closely at Google Cloud Platform and are acutely interested in having multiple options for public cloud,” said Kenneth White, Senior Vice President, R&D at Dovel Technologies, a Washington D.C.-based technical consultancy. “We are seeing a small, but steady increase in R&D and proof of concept projects on GCP.”

There also is Microsoft MSFT , which is coming off a trio of events geared for users, developers, corporate IT folks that all pitched Azure as the best corporate cloud for their respective needs. Microsoft, by virtue of its huge corporate customer list, has a good entry point for its cloud. (Check out Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s take on the cloud opportunity for IT.)

But looming over all these contenders, is Amazon AMZN Web Services, by far the largest provider of cloud services. Amazon is already gearing up for its annual AWS Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas come October. Last year that event featured speakers from Coca-Cola KO and other large companies that were moving some of their work to the Amazon cloud.

Individual developers in startups and bigger companies have flocked to various Amazon cloud services since they started rolling out in 2006, but in the past three years the company has made a concerted effort to woo corporate buyers with a range of higher-end database, data warehouse and other services as well as better ways to connect in-house corporate data to the Amazon cloud.

Earlier this year, a survey of 930 corporate cloud customers by RightScale found that Amazon led the cloud computing pack with 50% share, up a tad from 49% for the previous year. Microsoft Azure logged 19% up from 11%. Google infrastructure posted 5% up from 4%.

Despite some reticence by big companies to put important applications and data in a public cloud, almost everyone agrees that the trend is inevitable, the advantages of flexibility and cost are too big to ignore. Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst Lydia Leong will probably shed more light on the competitive landscape when she releases her closely-watched cloud rankings soon.

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