New Q3 data from Synergy Research Group shows that HPE maintained a narrow lead over Cisco in the strategically important cloud infrastructure equipment market, while Dell EMC is now challenging the top two after the completion of their historic merger. Meanwhile, ODMs (contract manufacturers) in aggregate continue to increase their share of the market, driven by continued heavy investments in data centers by hyperscale cloud providers. Microsoft and IBM round out the group of top cloud infrastructure vendors. HPE and Cisco have been in a closely contested leadership battle in this market for the last sixteen quarters, over which time their total revenues are virtually identical. Across the different types of cloud deployment, Cisco continues to hold a commanding lead in public cloud infrastructure while HPE has a clear lead in private cloud.

Total cloud infrastructure equipment revenues, including public and private cloud, hardware and software, are poised to reach $70 billion in 2016 and continue to grow at a double-digit pace. Servers, OS, storage, networking and virtualization software combined accounted for 94% of the Q3 cloud infrastructure market, with the balance comprising cloud security and cloud management. By segment, HPE has a clear lead in the cloud server segment and is a main challenger in storage, while Cisco is dominant in the networking segment and also has a growing server product line. Dell EMC is the second-ranked server vendor and has a clear lead on storage. Microsoft features heavily in the ranking due to its position in server OS and virtualization applications, while IBM maintains a strong position across a range of cloud technology markets.

“Growth in private cloud infrastructure is slowing down as enterprises shift more attention and workloads to the public cloud, but that means that there is a continued boom in shipments of infrastructure gear to public cloud providers,” said John Dinsdale, a chief analyst and research director at Synergy Research Group. “For traditional IT infrastructure vendors there is one fly in the ointment though — hyperscale cloud providers account for an ever-increasing share of data center gear and many of them are on a continued drive to deploy own-designed servers, storage and networking equipment, manufactured for them by ODMs. ODMs in aggregate now control a large and growing share of public cloud infrastructure shipments.”