The rest of the list is composed of ideas, notions, and whimsies delivered through the Internet. Some might take issue with the whimsiness of Apple's iOS 7. If there's anything that's meant to be seen and touched, it's an operating system like iOS. This is a fair point, but the operating system is software that's more and more an extension of the cloud. It's downloaded from the cloud, and it interacts with the cloud. It's really a portal to a bigger, ephemeral universe of services than a thing -- which makes it all the more compelling.
We also included old favorites from Microsoft. Some people may remember Microsoft Office as an item you could touch because it arrived on plastic disks and came with license keys. Those days are fading, and now Office is available as a subscription service from the cloud, where it joins cloud-based versions of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. Microsoft Office 365 wraps them all together in a tightly integrated package for businesses of all sizes.
The link between computer and tangible box is growing ever more tenuous. Riverbed's Granite renders real storage almost as ephemeral as the cloud by "projecting" it over the WAN from the data center to servers in the remote branch office. The storage lives in the data center, where it's easy to back up and secure, but as far as branch office users are concerned, it's accessible locally -- at LAN speeds.
Two of the winners this year, the Nutanix NX-3000 virtualization appliance and the PernixData FVP "flash hypervisor," enable simpler slicing and dicing of computing cycles so that one real box can pretend to be many virtual servers. Both products help you squeeze more virtual servers into less space -- PernixData by clustering server-side flash to reduce I/O pressure on the SAN, and Nutanix by eliminating the SAN completely.
We also salute the technology that makes it possible to juggle all of these servers. Puppet and Salt are two packages that organize the creation and configuration of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of servers be they real or virtual, in the data center or in the cloud. They spin up new machines, install software, add patches, and shut down the machines that aren't needed. There are now so many of the "machines" that we require tools like these to keep everything straight.
Our list is also filled with services for fashioning your own cloud services. GitHub lets you offload the job of organizing code. Cloud Foundry and CloudBees are two ways to avoid the tedium of standing up servers and configuring software stacks, instead letting you dive straight into the work of developing applications.