HPE, Cisco, Microsoft Lead Data Center Infrastructure Market

Third-quarter numbers compiled by Synergy analysts show the global market nearing $120 billion, driven by cloud computing environments.

data center

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco Systems continue to be the top hardware vendors in a global data center infrastructure market that is nearing the $120 billion mark, according to analysts with Synergy Research Group.

At the same time, Microsoft remained by far the number-one software maker in the space in the third quarter, with almost a 70 percent share of the market. VMware, in second place, held less than a 20 percent share.

Cloud computing is a key driver behind the continuing growth in the data center infrastructure space, according to the Synergy analysts. Public cloud providers are currently pushing the demand, though the rise of private clouds will become an increasing factor.

"The mass adoption of public cloud services has created the need for widespread deployment of hyperscale data centers and has led to record spending on service provider data center equipment," Jeremy Duke, Synergy's founder and chief analyst, said in a statement. "While the market dynamics are different for private cloud, it, too, will drive enormous changes in the investment patterns for enterprise data center hardware, software and services."

The influence of the cloud and the need for hyperscale infrastructure resources can be seen in the types of products that are most in demand, according to Synergy's numbers, which were released this month. The largest single product segment was rack servers, which accounted for 34 percent of the total market, the analysts found. The highest growth was seen in such individual product segments as virtualization software, blade servers and integrated security platforms.

Included in Synergy's definition of data center infrastructure are servers, server operating systems, storage, networking, network security and virtualization software. In addition, the research firm also divides the market into three segments: enterprise data center hardware, service provider data center hardware and data center software.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is continuing to gradually grow its share of the enterprise hardware segment. It now owns 24 percent of the market, with Dell coming in second with about 14 percent. Cisco was a percentage point or two behind Dell.

HPE was created Nov. 1 when Hewlett-Packard split in two. HPE sells enterprise IT solutions and services, and HP Inc. focuses on PCs and printers.

The service provider hardware segment is much smaller than the enterprise market, but it's growing much more quickly, according to the analysts. The enterprise segment, which accounts for more than half of the overall market, is essentially flat. Cisco is dominating the service provider segment due in large part to its history as the world's top data center networking vendor.

At the same time, the company has an expanding server business based on its Unified Computing System (UCS). The revenue growth in its server business is outpacing the overall server market, according to Gartner analysts. In the third quarter, Cisco's revenues grew 13 year-over-year, while revenues in the worldwide market increased 7.5 percent. In addition, Cisco grew revenue faster than the top two server makers, HPE (9.1 percent) and Dell (9 percent).

Data center software is the smallest of the three segments, and Microsoft—with its dominant Windows operating system and its Hyper-V virtualization platform—owns more than two thirds of it. VMware is the only other vendor with substantive market share, Synergy analysts said.