Cisco, HP, and IBM find hidden fortune in the cloud

While public cloud providers seem to dominate the market at the expense of traditional vendors, the truth is not so simple

I spend a fair bit of time pushing back on the lack of cloud progress from larger enterprise providers such as IBM, Cisco Systems, and Hewlett-Packard. However, could these companies actually be successful in the cloud through the infrastructure business only? If so, can they keep it up?

The latest figures from Synergy Research state that Cisco and HP are the leaders in the cloud infrastructure equipment market.

Cisco continues to lead in the public cloud infrastructure space, selling networking equipment to those who build public and private clouds. Cisco is making major bank on the networking segment of the cloud market. Many predicted that cloud providers and enterprises would prefer lower-cost networking equipment, but that does not seem to be the case.

At the same time, HP leads in private cloud, according to the research. HP’s dominance is down to its position in cloud servers, both public and private. In the last quarter alone, it earned $13 billion from its cloud hardware and software.

IBM moved further down Synergy's list, though it still showed strong sales last year.

What does this mean? While I’ve been criticizing the traditional enterprise hardware and software players, perhaps they had it right all along. Cloud computing causes changes, and with changes, buyers typically upgrade infrastructure -- and that seems to be playing into the hands of the traditional enterprise infrastructure providers.

I've predicted that cloud computing would drive the larger traditional providers into the ground, leaving room for the public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft to explode.

But what could actually be happening is that cloud is driving growth and opportunity in other areas of a company's IT spend, not only to the public cloud -- that at least some of the traditional enterprise providers are quickly learning how to take advantage of that fact.

Lesson learned: Making money in cloud computing does not always mean having to become a cloud.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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