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Small cloud providers making inroads across big cloud landscape

While two or three familiar names may account for more than half of the infrastructure-as-a-service cloud market, smaller providers have carved out their own place by paying close attention to their customer needs.

Jeff Rowe | May 28, 2018 12:00 am

“The big hyperscale players are trying to do a little bit of everything for everyone, and they’re doing it at massive global scale.” 

That’s according to Dave Bartoletti, VP and principal analyst at research firm Forrester, in a recent piece by Fast Company writer Steven Melendez.

On the other hand, notes Melendez, “smaller players have scored success by targeting enterprise companies seeking reliable places to host high-end software tools and startups looking for cheap, easy, and reliable solutions. On some level, every cloud infrastructure company is ultimately selling access to computers where customers can run programs and host files, but, by offering support and other services, they’re able to compete with those massive rivals despite their economies of scale.”

For example, New York-based cloud provider DigitalOcean is “known for its heavily customizable virtual machines called Droplets, which developers can use to host anything from web servers to back-end data crunching operations, though the company also offers other tools like scalable data storage.”

Taking another approach, cloud provider Virtustream, “was created specifically to focus on the needs of enterprise companies migrating complex, critical systems from their own data centers to cloud servers.”

It offers service-level agreements guaranteeing system availability, with financial penalties if it fails to perform, and works closely with customers to migrate their existing software to the cloud, often over a period of months, and verify the systems continue to work as desired. Dedicated experts can help clients maximize their efficient use of the systems and even help diagnose performance issues. 

The goal, says Sean Jennings, a Virtustream cofounder and the company’s senior vice president of solutions architecture, is to give customers the confidence to move even vitally important systems off their own premises and into Virtustream’s cloud.

“We’re finding, over time, fewer and fewer applications that need to be on prem,” he told Melendez.

In short, as Melendez sees things, “while the major players may continue to dominate the cloud industry, the overall digital infrastructure market is still growing at a rapid rate–global revenue was up 31% to $22.1 billion in 2016, according to (a) Gartner study–meaning there’s still plenty of room for other companies to get a piece of the action.”