The Structure 50: The Top 50 Cloud Innovators


In five short years, cloud computing has gone from being a quaint technology to a major catchphrase. It all started in 2006 when Amazon began offering its really Simple Storage Service and soon following up with its Elastic Compute service.

Just like that, the concept of on-demand, programmable infrastructure that could be accessed over the Internet became a reality. Infrastructure as a service has been talked about, alternatively in hushed and gushing tones. Grid computing, utility computing, on-demand computing — they were all ways to describe what Amazon Web Services had delivered.

Fast forward to today, when Amazon and others are moving at Internet speed, trying to offer better security, faster networking, more compliance and a host of other products that are attempting to meet the demands of startups, consumers and enterprises alike. It’s not perfect, as Amazon’s two-day outage earlier this year attests to, but it’s certainly good enough – and getting better.

We launched our Structure conference in 2008 because we saw the cloud-based infrastructure revolution was going to create new opportunities. As observers, we’ve talked to hundreds of people about cloud computing and its ecosystem. On our Structure channel, we cover the gear and software that comprises the cloud, the services and the people who are changing the industry.

Now for the first time, we’ve decided to condense that knowledge into the Structure 50, a list of the 50 companies that are influencing how the cloud and infrastructure evolves.

These are the ones to watch — at least in 2011. You’ve heard of some – such as Amazon or Dell. Others – such as Nicira or Boundary – are probably not yet on your radar. But they should be. All of these companies, big or small, have people, technology or strategies that will help shape the way the cloud market is developing and where it will eventually end up.

To the companies who made it on the list, congratulations. For others who missed out, in the future anything is possible. And for those who are still drawing their plans on a piece of paper, we are patiently waiting for you to change the world.

For a PDF version of the list (to print out and take with you) check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

Om Malik, Katie Fehrenbacher, and Cortney Fielding contributed to this report.



Hi, it would be really useful to see a small bit of blurb beside each company link to describe the innovation that merited a place on the list. Can this be done in retrospect please.


Mark Floisand

All lists create discussion. However, I invariably find a couple of companies on a list that I have never heard of, that are indeed highly interesting, whatever the criteria for inclusion. The Structure 50 was no exception – thank you.

Nicole Solis

Thanks, everyone, for all these great suggestions. Just one request: if you work for the company you’re recommending, please disclose that. We don’t mind people tooting their own horns (in fact, I’m sure people would appreciate your inside perspective), but we just want to make sure other readers know that you have a connection to the company.


Sorry, but how come I don’t see NetSuite in this list? NetSuite is probably along with the original fathers of the whole cloud concept as we know it today.


Just curious why Cotendo is left out while many others (including Streamingmedia’s Dan Rayburn, Gartners’ Lydia Leong, MIT Technology Review, and many more) named Cotendo as a hot company to watch due to the development of groundbreaking technology in order to accelerate all types of content, on-demand, through a single webbased interface. Cotendo offers a global CDN from the tap, or better yet, CDN-as-a-service (even a roll-back can be done on-demand). Furtermore Cotendo moves business logic to the cloud and closer to end users and reduces origin-server calls by up to 90% while delivering instant scalability:

Check out previous lists:

Shea Steinberg

One company that is not listed but definitely should be is Practice Fusion. They are revolutionizing the Electronic Health Record sector by offering a free product to medical providers and are now the largest EHR community in the US. Plus they are always hiring, so its a great opportunity to be a part of.

Dick Alderson

I’m surprised at the omission of EMC from your list. Considering that EMC is the primary shareholder of VMware; that EMC is a major investor along with Cisco, VMware, and Intel in VCE Company which is a joint venture focused soley on developing and implementing private cloud infrastructures; and, considering EMC provides key underlying technology to many of those companies on your list. If you are interested in researching EMC’s involvement in cloud, visit

Moses J Perez

I think you’re missing a few more important ones: EMC, VCE & NetApp…

Nicole Solis

Moses, you work for VCE (through EMC), right? Can you tell us about some of the ways that the teams you work with are advancing cloud technology? I’d also love to hear your insight on NetApp. What do you see them doing that will change how we think about the cloud over the next year or more?

We have such a great opportunity here to make this list a living list in the comments. This is a chance to brag about your company’s innovations or commend those of your industry colleagues. So please do share what companies you would have put on the list, but also share what you see these companies doing that no one else is doing.


Just stumbled across this site yesterday. From reading the comments, all I can gather is that Mr. Malik is highly defensive and offers no legitimate explanation for how this list was generated. I will await your antagonistic response to this comment, Mr. Malik…

mike from

I think a pretty good point has been made in a few of these comments – it would be interesting to see maybe a background paragraph on each of these providers just detailing what they are doing in the cloud space that is innovative.

Amr Awadallah

Derrick/Stacey, I think Yahoo should have been included in this list given their Hadoop contributions, it wouldn’t exist today without them. Yahoo is certainly a Cloud innovator in my book.


Simple question that most of the comments are asking, and ignored by the authors, is “What is the criteria” to reach this list. Liking, luck or a criteria based on some fundamental filtering mechanism ? Just mentioning Forbes 500 and closing eye on the way and mechanism that Forbes uses and publishes to reach the list is not a professional way of “creating” a list of best 50 companies.

Nicole Solis

Thanks to everyone for your comments. Lists like these always inspire a great debate, and the passion we’re seeing here is great for the cloud industry.

I wanted to address a few points that some of you have raised about the purpose of the list and our methodology.

1) This is not a ranked list
When we first talked about doing the Structure 50, we wanted to highlight innovation within the cloud industry — companies that had great ideas and products that maybe hadn’t caught on yet, but would help shape the direction of cloud computing over the next year or more.

So, our methodology involved sifting through a list of companies we thought were doing interesting and innovative things, followed by some healthy debate with our editorial team and industry experts. We used all that feedback to compile our final list. That’s a hard thing to quantify, so we acknowledged upfront that this is a subjective list, with language like: “All of these companies, big or small, have people, technology or strategies that will help shape the way the cloud market is developing and where it will eventually end up.”

2) This list is about future potential more than current performance
We could have created a ranked list of IaaS, PaaS or server vendors based on metrics like customer base, revenue, etc. Part of the problem is that, for many startups and private companies, that data isn’t available, so we’d be forced to limit ourselves to the larger companies. Those larger companies don’t often break out their cloud revenue from their other revenue, so the methodology would be problematic. Also, it would necessarily exclude many startups.

This list is about the potential of ideas more than a company’s current or past performance. That’s why we included a company like Boundary Networks on this list. There are no available numbers for Boundary, but we believe that it is doing something our readers should know about.

3) This list is not intended to be comprehensive
The cloud market is as nebulous as its namesake. As some of you have said, if we intended this list to be comprehensive, we would have to define “cloud” to explain why we chose some and left out others. We intentionally didn’t do that. In choosing these 50 companies, we wanted to share 50 innovations with our readers. Of course, there are many more exciting things happening in this market that we couldn’t include. We invite you to share them in the comments.

4) No matter what, some people will be unhappy with our choices
This is our list. Not everyone will agree with our choices. Do you think we should have included another company? Let us know. In the comments, tell us why you think that company or its technology is changing the future of cloud computing. We genuinely want to know what you think, what trends you see in the cloud space and who you think the next big players will be.

Lists like these are meant to spark discussion and encourage debate. So we invite you all to join in. But we have two requests: 
– If you have an affiliation to the company you’re recommending, that you mention that to our readers.
– Keep it civil. After all, this is a great opportunity for us to learn from each other and hear each others’ opinions.

Nicole Solis
Managing Editor, GigaOM


Hi Nicole,

First, thank you for the clarification. That’s precisely the sort of information that would have been helpful to publish with the list. It sets your readers’ expectations, especially in this day and age when every public statement ends up under a microscope.

Second, perhaps this is nit-picking but it is a “ranked” list in that it promises the “Top” 50, even if in no particular order. That suggests that all other organizations, whatever the criteria used, are not worthy of the top spots. Perhaps in the future you might consider simply calling it “GigaOM’s 50 Cloud Innovators to Watch”. Then you’re not claiming they’re at the top, but simply feel they’re worthy of one’s attention.

It’s certainly a good reference list visitors to this site can use as a starting point for their research into “the cloud”.


This list is so random. You need to define “Cloud” to justify your list. What were the criteria?

Om Malik

Is it random because your company is not included in the list? If that is not the case, make a coherent argument for what are trying to say. We cover this industry on a daily basis and based on our reporting which includes talking to a lot of informed folks through the entire ecosystem . Thanks again for your comment.


It is random, and my company is on the list! – There is no criteria for inclusion.


We cover this industry on a daily basis and based on our reporting which includes talking to a lot of informed folks through the entire ecosystem .

I work in this industry everyday and you have not provided any context for inclusion – its a list, thats all nothing more nothing less.

Alfred P

EMC, who in the last few years have strongly embraced ‘The Cloud’, and owners of VMware, RSA, Atmos & Isilon should have made a list called (infra)structure 50!

Om Malik


Nothing is static and over next few months things are going to be fluid and the 2012 list is likely to have many new players.

Phil Horvitz

Derrick – I know we’ve chatted before, but would like to see you highlight the companies who are hard at work plowing the path and overcoming the obstacles for Cloud adoption by Government. Govt is under tremendous pressure to adopt Cloud and the infrastructure providers are only a piece of the solution required.

Maybe consider doing this in a future article.

Tom Bowling

This is a completely useless list without a basis for how the list was built. Is it a list of banner advertisers that you like? Who had the best website’s you visited or more concrete data like Market Share.

Graeme Wright

Seems like a very US centric view of the cloud world.

Scott Maxwell

This seems like a somewhat random list to me, although I do like how you set it up to get more advertising clicks by requiring me to click through to see your (really weak) rationale for some of the companies on the list and I like how you included some larger companies that don’t seem to be driving innovation but could become advertisers and drive your revenue. (Unfortunately, lacking a good explanation of why they are on the list, I can’t help but wonder why they really are on the list and I have learned that “following the money” is a reasonable possibility).

You have some great content, but this list is not a very good example…while some of the companies should be on the list, it really isn’t clear why you chose others (instead of their competitors) and your lack of clarity doesn’t help. Really makes me wonder what is going on?

Scott Maxwell
OpenView Venture Partners

Om Malik


Thanks for your comment. I understand that your company, Skytap is not on the list and you might have a reason to be unhappy. However, to make wild acquisitions and casting aspirations on other people’s business is not a wise strategy and definitely not a place to start a discourse and a reasonable exchange of ideas.

Thankfully, the world is a large place and we shall meet and have a reasonable conversation. However, next time, do remember, it is easier to reason than sling mud.

Scott Maxwell

OM, Good point on slinging mud and you are right to point out that I was wrong to guess your intentions. The question that I actually have is how you arrived at your list, as it could be a good learning opportunity since I can not come up with a set of filters that gets to it. We have several portfolio companies not on the list, but I have a much longer list of what I consider to be really interesting cloud related companies that are not on your list and companies that are on your list where your rationale is not clear. The interesting thing about lists like this is at least partially the criteria for getting there (i.e., what is it that you find important?). If you don’t publish you criteria then I will look forward to meeting and having a reasonable conversation.


Nicole Solis

Hi, Scott–

Please do share your thoughts on what companies you think are the most innovative. I’m sure our readers would love to hear them. (I would.) We didn’t mean for this to be the be-all end-all list (see my explanation below), and it would be fascinating to find out what you, as a VC, are looking at when you choose which companies to invest in. (But please do disclose it if you’re recommending one of your portfolio companies.)

Also, we went back and forth on the formatting of this to make it as reader-friendly as possible. In the past, we’ve treated similar lists as one big long post, but that requires readers to either read it all sequentially, or to constantly hit “Back” to get to the TOC at the top of the page. We heard from readers that that was a frustrating user experience, and with so many more companies, we felt it would be even more frustrating. So this time, we tried the multi-page approach. We’ll learn from what worked and what didn’t with this formatting and apply it to the next one.

All best,

Scott Maxwell

Thanks for the clarification in your note below. Frankly, I find what most companies are doing to attack the cloud infrastructure quite interesting and there is a significant amount of innovation going on right now. (There are a number of different angles that companies are pursuing and that number is getting larger every day.) I couldn’t begin to prioritize some of the great companies and their attack angles, and frankly I wouldn’t because I don’t want to have to respond to all the comments that might be generated!

I would still be interested in your thought process for what you find important in your list and not on your list, however, even if it is somewhat intuitive (which isn’t a bad thing, but would be good to understand). Perhaps OM will tell me if I buy him lunch?


Katie Fehrenbacher

@LB, There wasn’t an official nomination list this time around, but please feel free to send us suggestions for next year’s list.


With all due respect, if you’re going to do a Top 50 list (of anything) you might as well just include everyone Derrick. Offering a Top 50 is all but meaningless or useful.

It’s a bit like telling us about the top 50 sports cars of the new millenium or the top 50 coupon sites.

Om Malik


I would like to answer you but I am not even sure what the comment is. Have you heard of Fortune 500, Forbes 500 etc.


I thought the comment was pretty clear, Om. It’s a pointless list that accomplishes nothing at all, at least not from my point of view.

Let’s not equate it to Forbes and Fortune. Forbes ranks based on “sales, profits, assets, market value, and employees.” Fortune’s list is “ranked by gross revenue after adjustments made by Fortune to exclude the impact of excise taxes companies collect.” All hard numbers.

And your list? What is it based on? Perhaps revealing that information would help your readers understand how your team chose the Top 50. The value is in the metrics, not in the list.

LeRoy Schubert

I have to agree. What are the criteria? Even Forbes and Fortune use objective data to do their ranking. Your list appears to be completely subjective. What are then innovations that put these 50 companies on the list? Does making a server qualify Dell? Then why not HP? And, is that really relevant? If enterprise capability is important to Cloud then why is Oracle not on the list?

Next time around you might refer to NIST’s definition of cloud computing and use that to conduct evaluations.

Derrick Harris


Given the number of companies that touch cloud computing in some respect, 50 seems like a perfectly fair list size. There are probably 20-30 IaaS and PaaS providers alone, only we didn’t constrain ourselves to that group of companies.


I agree. However as I (and others) pointed out earlier it isn’t the size of the list but its lack of transparency that destroys/diminishes its value.

The only appropriate response from GigaOM would be an explanation that helps site visitors understand the specific criteria (whether objective or subjective) used to calculate the ranking.

If you truly care to offer a valuable ranking of any type, it is imperative that you accompany it with a description of GigaOM’s criteria and methodology.


Was there a nomination system for this list, or was it solely decided by editors?


Dang, didn’t have enough time to reach out to you guys about from @mudynamics. Great list though and congrats to all those that made it! It’s an exciting time to be on the cloud, for sure.

Joshua Goldbard (ThePBXGuy)

Hey folks,

Really enjoyed this post. It looks like you guys put a lot of effort into this list.

I feel like we’re in a very specialized ebb of the iterative development cycle. I believe we’re going to see more specialized data center configurations before some new technology disrupts the field at which point we’ll return to more generalized data center implementations.

Read more of my conclusions here:


P.S. Keep up the great work!

Derrick Harris

As Stacey noted, the process of choosing 50 companies out of hundreds that touch the cloud space is very difficult. It would have been very easy to just list every IaaS and PaaS provider, but that’s not what we’re aiming for.

We wanted a broad list of companies that are doing new things in the cloud, regularly pushing the bounds of existing technologies, or that are influencing how the cloud is taking shape. I’m sure there are strong arguments to be made for other companies — and I’ll gladly listen to them — but we think we have a good list.

Dave Henderson

You left of Skytap Cloud a leading SaaS + IaaS provider yet you included Facebook?

Om Malik


As an FYI, do you represent Skytap is some capacity? If yes, why don’t you send a formal email to the editors.

Dave Henderson

No. I was also going to comment about Terremark? You have Verizon on there and even though Terremark was acquired by Verizon, Verizon sells both offerings today. Just seemed odd that you would have Facebook in the ranks? Also, no mention of Savvis or CSC? I just don’t get it.

Stacey Higginbotham

Facebook is in there because of the influence its Open Compute project could have on cloud hardware deployments. Verizon/Terremark led the crowd in and Verizon has also innovated on pricing and some networking elements. It’s always a difficult process to winnow these things down, but we think this is a great list.

Comments are closed.