Up-and-Coming Cloud-Hosting Providers

The cloud -hosting concept is in its infancy, yet providers are already beginning to pump the market for customers and market share.

Cloud hosting is the practice of running Web applications in a "cloud" — a collection of external, virtual servers that are interconnected, either on a corporate network or via the public Internet. The idea behind cloud hosting is to give customers a resource that is highly scalable, reliable and available, with little or no regard to the system's underlying technology or physical location.

Here's a look at five cloud-hosting providers and what they offer potential customers.

Mosso : Arguably the best-known cloud-hosting provider, Mosso is using financing and technical expertise provided by hosting giant Rackspace US Inc . to bring its service into the business mainstream.

Mosso is staking its future on a $100-per-month service package that includes the online software required to create sites, databases and email accounts. The offering also includes 50GB of SAN (storage area network) space, 500GB of monthly bandwidth and 10,000 compute cycles — a measurement of how much processing time a customer's applications require on the Mosso cloud. The company notes that 10,000 compute cycles are roughly equivalent to the monthly capacity of a server with a 1.2 GHz modern processor. Phone and live-chat support are also included in the $100 package.

Etelos Inc .: Etelos is positioning its Etelos Share service as a way for customers to inexpensively and reliably store and collaborate on files. The company notes that Etelos Share is not a public publishing system but a business file-sharing service.

Currently in beta mode, Etelos Share is priced at $4.95 per month for each installation, regardless of the number of users. Disk storage above 5GB costs 34 cents per gigabyte.

RightScale Inc .: RightScale's approach to cloud services is to provide a platform that lets customers create scalable Web applications running on AWS (Amazon Web Services). An automated cloud-computing-management system is designed to help customers create scalable applications with minimal effort. The company claims that its offering is the only end-to-end management platform for AWS that includes everything needed to get a scalable, reliable, high-performance Web application up and running quickly. The RightScale Platform is available in editions that start at $500 per month for managing up to 20 simultaneous virtual servers, with a one-time setup fee that starts at $2,500.

GoGrid : GoGrid describes itself as " ... the world's first multi-server control panel that enables you to deploy and manage load-balanced cloud servers in just minutes." GoGrid promises that customers can quickly deploy multiple Windows or Linux Web servers and pay only for the server time and data transfer that they use.

A Web-based control panel is designed to give customers the ability to easily configure free hardware load balancing, and it provides the ability to add or delete servers at any time. Pricing starts at 19 cents per hour, with prepaid packages available.

3tera Inc .: 3tera's Cloudware offering aims to serve as a flexible architecture for customers who are interested in developing and running large-scale cloud applications. Cloudware is designed to be vendor agnostic under Linux, Windows or Solaris, allowing virtually any third-party vendor's software to be incorporated into a Cloudware-enabled system.

Cloudware is based on 3tera's AppLogic grid operating system. Thanks to its open nature, the Cloudware architecture will permit almost any existing Web application to run in a cloud without restricting customers to a specific language, software library or interface. The company plans to deploy its technology in stages over the next year or so. Pricing has not yet been announced.