The converged infrastructure (CI) market appears to be in a state of explosive growth. Oftentimes, it’s hard to differentiate momentary spurts from prolonged trends, but the growth being experienced among CI platforms not only appears to be strong, but one that will be sustained well into the future.
Put simply, converged infrastructure platforms take virtualization, storage, and compute technologies and combine them into a single system. This development capitalizes on the desire many companies have for greater simplicity in managing their IT infrastructure. With so many new demands being brought on IT departments, the need for combining multiple components into one easy-to-use system is great. The numbers regarding CI sales show these trends are the real deal.
According to the analyst firm IDC, sales of what it refers to as the Integrated Infrastructure and Platforms market increased impressively in the fourth quarter of 2014. That quarter saw CI sales increase to $1.8 billion. That’s an increase of more than 30 percent in terms of year on year growth. As impressive as those numbers were, the same growth continued on into the first quarter of 2015, where global CI sales topped $2 billion for the first time, a year on year growth increase of more than 8 percent. From these figures, it’s clear that the converged infrastructure market is booming, even if it doesn’t make the same kind of attention grabbing headlines as cloud computing. And as with any rapidly growing market, competition among vendors has gotten intense.
Infrastructure, or the hardware, makes up the majority of these sales, and there are plenty of vendors trying to chisel out their space in what is still an evolving marketplace. Based off of IDC’s statistics, there are three leading vendors when it comes to CI sales. Topping the list is VCE, followed by Cisco/NetApp, then HP coming in third. Being such a relatively young market, it should probably come as little surprise that the order of these vendors has changed in recent months.
For example, Cisco/NetApp was the leader in CI sales in the first quarter of 2014, but was soon supplanted by VCE. In other words, the competition is fierce and, unlike the cloud computing market, there is no clear frontrunner. The lack of a dominant vendor might actually be a good thing for the marketplace as a whole. Vendors are more determined than ever to shore up their support and attract new customers. That means more affordable pricing, better management capabilities, and more technological improvements. The result is a more appealing market for customers to explore, leading to even more growth in the future.
It should also be noted that the sales statistics show that while three vendors stand on the top of the market, the “All Others” category still makes up a sizeable portion. Everyone appears to be benefitting from the increased demand. So while vendors fight with each other to carve out their own slice of the pie, the pie as a whole is getting bigger, allowing all kinds of products and solutions to come to the surface. As the market sorts itself out, the best offers will naturally rise to the top.
While it’s easy to predict that growth will occur in the years to come, what does the future hold for CI sales? Considering that much of converged infrastructure’s growth is driven by more businesses adopting the cloud, and that the cloud is only getting more popular, the explosion we’re currently seeing is set to continue. Some are even predicting tremendous growth throughout 2016 as more companies become familiar and comfortable using CI solutions. That growth will likely extend across the globe as businesses in other regions work hard to use converged infrastructure for their own operations.
Part of the reason more companies are considering using CI is that is correlates with other trends, such as increased server virtualization and greater use of flash storage. This, in addition to the cloud, have made the need for converged infrastructure greater than ever before. The growth for the CI market may be relatively easy to predict, but how it all shakes out in the end and who will emerge as the reigning vendor are questions that remain unanswered. For now, businesses have a lot to think about as they contemplate the improvements converged infrastructure can offer.