Best positioned cloud infrastructure supplier
In Techaisle’s recent SMB Cloud Computing adoption survey, respondents were asked “which of the following do you think is best positioned to deliver cloud infrastructure solutions”. IBM was rated as being “best positioned to deliver cloud infrastructure solutions” by 24% of small businesses, and 23% of midmarket firms. Microsoft is similarly entrenched, seen as best-positioned by 21% of companies with 1-99 employees and 33% of midsized enterprises. Given that Cisco is stronger in larger accounts than in the small business market it is the third-ranked cloud infrastructure vendor in the small business segment, cited by 19% of small accounts, but just 11% of midmarket companies. Clearly, Cisco’s brand equity is helping to support its position in a market where it has sparse actual presence. AWS is viewed as best-positioned by 10% of both small and mid-sized firms, putting it slightly ahead of Dell in both markets. Perhaps as a consequence of its high-end cloud product line, HP is not viewed as a leading cloud infrastructure vendor in the small business segment but is still the third-most prominent brand in the midmarket.
Who is ‘top of mind’ for converged infrastructure?
Major system vendors have been proactive in positioning discrete systems for the converged infrastructure market. The Techaisle SMB Virtualization and Converged Infrastructure study research shows that Cisco has been the most effective vendor at building a reputation as a supplier of converged infrastructure. In an open-end response question, 55% of SMB converged infrastructure buyers recognize Cisco as a leading provider in this space and another 12% refer to VCE, which is built on Cisco servers as a leading converged infrastructure brand. Cisco (and all vendors) have lower recognition from the SMB channel, but if the 19% for VCE is added to Cisco’s 25% brand recognition SMB channel’s awareness of Cisco converged infrastructure products is similarly far ahead of the recall levels for its competitors.
After Cisco, IBM (with products now owned by Lenovo) and HP are the next most widely recognized suppliers of converged infrastructure by SMB end-users and the SMB channel, followed by Dell. SMB buyers and SMB channel partners commenting on software-only suppliers of converged infrastructure mention Microsoft, though if VMware’s OEM presence is added to its brand recognition (VMware is core to both VCE and Dell’s EVO:RAIL product line), it has more awareness presence within both the SMB buyer and SMB channel markets than Microsoft. Oracle has a solid converged infrastructure position within the channel, but is relatively weak from a brand perspective in the SMB market. Both EMC and NetApp are cited as converged infrastructure players by the channel, but neither (aside from the VCE reference, which includes EMC) appears in the SMB end-user results.
Business stability and end-to-end solution
In Techaisle’s SMB Channel Partner Trends study, asked to rank the most important criteria for vendor partnerships, SMB channel partners responded by highlighting two issues – business stability (51%) and end-to-end solutions (42%).
Business stability has been challenging for some of the industry’s top firms: HP has recently split its business in two, IBM divested its server business, and Lenovo acquired IBM’s server business (greatly expanding its product portfolio). End-to-end solutions are also a challenge. HP’s split means that its formerly-comprehensive portfolio is no longer supplied by a single business entity. Dell offers solutions spanning client and server products, Lenovo is now able to do the same, and Cisco can claim breadth across servers and networking, though it still has holes in its client and storage stories; but none of these firms can fairly claim to also deliver compelling cloud offerings, unless Cisco’s connected cloud strategy is counted in this category – meaning that if “end-to-end” extends into the cloud, there is no fully-qualified vendor. In fairness, Microsoft’s span of influence stretches from smartphones to tablets to PCs to servers and into the cloud with Azure and applications such as Office 365, but Microsoft is not a leader in the smartphone and tablet space, and relies on partners to deliver client and data center hardware.
It might be fair to single out Dell as the vendor that currently offers the best combination of stability and end-to-end product solutions – but it would also be fair to point out that Dell changed its ownership structure in late 2013, so its stability and continuity lack longevity. It is probably fairer to see the important criteria data set as highlighting a “market basket” that each vendor can configure in different ways to support their SMB channel outreach.
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