Originally posted on Gigaom:

Amazon Web Services(s amzn) is, by all accounts, the largest cloud service provider by far, although good luck finding third-party numbers to verify that. Amazon, like most of the big cloud providers, doesn’t disclose much about current or planned data centers.

New research from Accenture analyst Huan Liu estimates that Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) runs on a whopping 450,000 servers. Amazon does not break out AWS revenue, but some say it could already be a billion dollar business.

So, stipulating AWS as No. 1, here are seven cloud rivals that could give it a run for its money over the next few years.

1: Rackspace: (s rax) While Rackspace encompasses managed services and pure hosting businesses, it’s also a major cloud provider with actual, paying customers.  Measuring by revenue and VMs, Rackspace currently has a lock on the No. 2 slot by a wide margin, said Gartner…

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