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.