November 26, 2013, 11:21 AM — Enterprises are expected to significantly ramp up their pursuit of internal private clouds within the next year and HP, Cisco and Microsoft have the strongest product offerings for those deployments, according to a new Wave report by research firm Forrester.
According to a Forrester survey of more than 2,300 IT hardware buyers, about 55% of them said they plan to build an internal private cloud within the next 12 months; another 33% have already started. The momentum represents the "next step along (the) virtualization journey," says Lauren Nelson, author of the report. "Over the past two years private cloud has shifted from concept to reality," she says.
As organizations realize the benefits of private clouds, the market for products serving these deployments has intensified. Forrester evaluated almost 30 providers offering private cloud platforms, but took a deep dive into 10 of them. HP came out on top because of its breadth and depth of services for private clouds, while Cisco and Microsoft were also named leaders.
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IBM, VMware and BMC represent a middle class in the market, Forrester says, because their offerings each focus heavily on their existing portfolios and less on tying together heterogeneous platforms, Nelson says. Another class that includes Eucalyptus Systems, Citrix, CA Technologies and ASG focus on niche core competencies and lack the variety of features compared to the other platforms. Nelson does note that if customers are looking to use their existing investments or if one of those features that a vendor focuses on is important to a customer then the platforms in the lower tiers of the Wave report can be a good fit for some customers.
Private cloud has a variety of advantages beyond virtualization, Nelson says. For one, private clouds can provide self-service access for employees to infrastructure resources. For example, if a developer needs a certain number of virtual machines, they could spin those up without having to contact an IT representative to provision them. This allows organizations to embrace the devops trend. Automation of infrastructure provisioning is also monitored in a private cloud to provide insights into what services are being used most.
HP was named the leader for its overall private cloud services, Nelson writes. The company's core private cloud platform is HP CloudSystem Enterprise Suite, which is an OpenStack-based management platform for building private clouds. Forrester notes the platform's leading user experience and granular features in addition to core must-have functions.
Cisco has weak market adoption for its private cloud platform but it also has what Nelson considers one of the strongest visions and strategy for its platform moving forward, focusing on application life cycle transforming IT into being a service provider itself. Microsoft is seen by Forrester as having a strong public and private cloud offering between Systems Center and Azure and solid plans to focus on an application-centric vision for handling operations too.
An emerging trend in the private cloud market is the integration of more application life-cycle management tools, Nelson notes. IT operations administrators provide blueprints of how applications should be designed to run them in the private cloud, or they provide preconfigured applications and offer those to users in a self-service catalog.
One area that still needs a lot of work is hybrid cloud integration, Nelson says. Private cloud platforms today, for the most part, provide only limited functionality for managing both internal private clouds and public cloud resources that sit outside a customer's firewall. At the most, platforms typically offer the ability to provision Amazon Web Services resources in the public cloud. But, advanced functionality such as the ability to manage multiple different heterogeneous environments (public and private), from multiple vendors under a single pane of glass are still being developed by providers. There are some exceptions - for example Microsoft has strong connections into its Azure cloud services, while Eucalyptus is focused on providing connections into the AWS's cloud.