Deciding which private cloud providers are the leading private cloud companies is somewhat complex. When it comes to the public cloud, it's pretty easy to figure out which companies are the leaders. Amazon Web Services dominates the market with Microsoft, IBM and Google trailing and several niche players farther down the list.
But the private cloud market is far more diverse – in part because it takes a lot of different types of products and services to build a private cloud. Some vendors sell cloud-ready hardware, others sell cloud software and still others sell virtual private cloud services.
As the cloud computing market has matured, attitudes toward the private cloud have clearly changed. Early on, say in 2010, there was a reluctance among businesses to migrate to the public cloud, certainly some foot dragging. As companies weighed the pros and cons of cloud deployment, they were far more comfortable with private cloud; in essence it was an extension of the traditional in-house datacenter.
Now that public cloud computing is fully mainstream for businesses of all size, some experts forecast that private cloud will fade away. As companies offload a greater percentage of their infrastructure to the public cloud, building and maintaining private cloud is seen as less desirable. On the other hand, the private cloud sector remains strong. At the least, businesses need to hold some data in-house for compliance purposes, so it’s likely that the private cloud will always have a place.
While the private cloud market isn't as large as the market for public cloud services, it's still very substantial. According to Technology Business Research, companies spent $41 billion on private cloud computing in 2014, and that total will likely grow to $69 billion by 2018, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 percent.
This article looks at some of the private cloud leaders in this rapidly growing market, detailing their product offerings and their various strengths.
Best Private Cloud Providers
By most estimates, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is a key leader in the private cloud market. According to Wikibon, HPE accounted for 7 percent of the true private cloud market in 2015, which put it in a tie for first place. And Synergy Research said that HPE was the biggest provider of private cloud hardware in the second quarter of 2016, comprising more than 20 percent of the market.
HPE's private cloud offerings span hardware, software and services. Many of its private cloud solutions are sold under the "Helion" brand name, and they include the Helion Cloud Suite software, Helion CloudSystem hardware, Helion Managed Private Cloud and Managed Virtual Private Cloud services, as well as many other products.
The Wikibon report said that VMware was tied with HP for first place in the true private cloud market for 2015 with 7 percent of the market. And Forrester named VMware a leader in the private cloud market. VMware says that more than 500,000 enterprises use its technology to power their private clouds.
VMware is, of course, best known for its virtualization software that runs many private cloud environments. It also offers the vRealize Suite Cloud Management Platform, which can manage both private and hybrid clouds, and Cloud Foundation, a software-defined data center platform designed for private clouds.
Even before its purchase of EMC, Dell was a leading vendor of servers and other hardware used to build private clouds, and with the merger, the company has cemented its position as a private cloud leader. In Wikibon's estimation, EMC alone had 6 percent of the true private cloud market in 2015, and Synergy Research estimated that EMC and Dell together accounted for more than 15 percent of the private cloud hardware market in the second quarter of this year, putting them in second place behind HPE.
Dell's private cloud offerings include virtual private cloud services, cloud management and cloud security software, and a variety of cloud consulting services.
Wikibon placed Oracle in three-way tie for first place in the true private cloud market for 2015. Like HPE and VMware, Oracle captured about 7 percent of the private cloud market. The company's outspoken executive chairman and CTO, Larry Ellison, recently unveiled Oracle's bold plans to challenge Amazon Web Services in cloud computing, saying "Amazon's lead is over. Amazon's going to have serious competition going forward."
Oracle's Private Cloud solutions include its Cloud Platform, applications, infrastructure, lifecycle management tools and integration services. It also offers Managed Cloud Services.
In August 2016, Technology Business Research named IBM "number one in private cloud." According to Wikibon, IBM had 4 percent of the true private cloud market in 2015, and Forrester labeled IBM a leader in private cloud software suites for the first quarter of 2016.
IBM's private cloud solutions include hardware such as IBM Systems and IBM Storage, hosted private cloud services, IBM Cloud Managed Services, cloud security tools and software like Cloud Manager and Cloud Orchestrator. It also has cloud solutions and services for its System z mainframe platform.
Synergy Research Group's report on cloud market leaders for the second quarter of 2016 placed Microsoft number one for private cloud software, comprising more than 40 percent of the market.
Many private clouds run on Microsoft's Windows Server operating system and its Hyper-V virtualization technology, which is integrated into Windows Server. The company is pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy, which encourages enterprises to integrate private clouds in their own data centers with the company's Azure public cloud computing service. To that end, it offers Microsoft Azure Stack, which allows companies to replicate the Azure service in their own data centers.
Synergy Research Group reported that Cisco was the third largest provider of private cloud hardware in the third quarter of this year, and Wikibon said that the company had 3 percent of the true private cloud market in 2015. In its Forrester Wave for Private Cloud Software Suites in the first quarter of 2016, Forrester named Cisco a "strong performer."
While best known for its networking hardware and solutions, Cisco also offers a variety of cloud software for analytics, infrastructure automation, cloud management and orchestration, development and cloud security. Those offerings include its Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite, Cisco CloudCenter and the Metapod, a production-ready cloud stack that Cisco deploys and operates in enterprise data centers.
Unlike the rest of the vendors in this slideshow, NetApp is primarily a storage vendor. Still, the Wikibon true private cloud report puts NetApp sixth in the private cloud market with a 4 percent share.
NetApp's private cloud storage offerings include NetApp Private Storage (NPS), the AltaVault Cloud-Integrated Storage backup solution that can run on public or private clouds, and StorageGRID Webscale Object Storage, which also runs in public or private clouds. It also offers NetApp Private Storage for Cloud and FlexPod converged solutions, which combine hardware from NetApp and Cisco and can be used in private cloud environments.
Named a "leader" in the Forrester Wave analysis of private cloud software suites, Red Hat offers a variety of private cloud solutions based on open source software. Like Microsoft, it is emphasizing a hybrid approach, encouraging customers to deploy private cloud resources that make it easy to integrate with Red Hat's public cloud services.
Red Hat's private cloud offerings include the Red Hat Cloud Suite management and development platform, Cloud Infrastructure software, CloudForms cloud and container management software, Red Hat Virtualization, Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Gluster Storage. The company also offers a variety of services to help customers deploy and manage private and hybrid clouds.
Amazon Web Services
The undisputed leader in public cloud computing, Amazon Web Services (AWS) doesn't have as broad a private cloud offering as most of the other vendors on this list. It does, however, offer a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) service that runs on its public cloud infrastructure. VPC allows organizations to isolate their cloud instances from those of other organizations in order to meet security and compliance needs. VPC also gives administrators greater control over the cloud environment, and it provides the option to create a Hardware Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect enterprise datacenters with AWS.
Private Cloud Providers Comparison Chart
Private cloud market share figures from Wikibon.