Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Integrating the Hybrid Cloud

The 15 most important hybrid cloud vendors

Hybrid cloud is growing in the enterprise, and these 15 vendors are leading the charge.

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As more and more companies move to the cloud, the all-or-nothing decision whether to choose between a fully private or fully public cloud strategy is increasingly being replaced by the flexibility of a hybrid cloud solution.

But how does an organization determine which cloud vendor to go with on its journey to the hybrid cloud? Based on past and current investigation by Tech Pro Research, and anecdotal evidence, we have compiled a list of the top vendors involved in hybrid cloud deployments.

SEE: Hybrid Cloud: Benefits, roadblocks, favored vendors (Tech Pro Research)

Very few vendors actually provide a full end-to-end hybrid cloud solution. However, many offer critical pieces of the full solution that make them powerhouses in hybrid cloud. Here are the top vendors in this space.

Microsoft

Microsoft is one of the few vendors to offer a true hybrid cloud solution. There are three core products: Azure, Windows Server, and Microsoft System Center. The company has proven itself as an on-premises provider, and its reputation is growing as a public cloud provider as well.

Another big reason Microsoft takes the crown as the top hybrid cloud vendor is its flexibility and integration with existing product lines. The Windows Azure Pack covers most of the bases regarding IaaS, DBaaS, and PaaS. Microsoft shops will especially make use of the management capabilities of SQL Server as well.

Amazon

Amazon's Amazon Web Services (AWS) division is, hands down, the juggernaut of the public cloud space. The massive number of customers on Amazon's platform, and the range of tools and features available, makes it one of the top contenders in the cloud space.

AWS is known as a public cloud solution, and does not provide all the required components for a full private cloud implementation. However, Amazon does offer integrated networking via the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) and, via a group of partners, Direct Connect as part of its solution.

Other Amazon partners provide backup and private storage, data integration, security and configuration management. Combining AWS capabilities with those of partners like NetApp, F5, Splunk, Trend Micro, and Chef makes for a top-end hybrid cloud deployment.

VMware

VMware is still relatively new to the cloud space, but its depth of experience with virtualization and vendor-agnostic approach make it a fierce competitor. VMware's approach to hybrid cloud is almost the opposite of AWS's, in that it's known for its private cloud products and utilizes a network of partners to deploy a fully hybrid solution.

The private cloud portion is powered by VMware's vSphere. The 'public' aspect of VMware's hybrid solution is vCloud Air -- made available through the vCloud Air ecosystem of 4,000+ partners, with companies like CenturyLink and Claranet leading the charge.

Google

Google competes primarily with AWS and Microsoft Azure in the public cloud space, with its Google Cloud Platform. Like AWS, Google relies on a deep partner network to help fill out its hybrid cloud solution, but the size and customer base of Google Cloud Platform earned it a top spot on this list.

With its background in data, Google tools like BigQuery are useful additions for the data-savvy ops team. And, given that Google shares many of the same partners that AWS utilizes in its hybrid cloud, users can expect similar types of integrations to be available.

Rackspace

Rackspace is another hybrid cloud vendor that works with a host of other vendors and products. Known for its focus on infrastructure, Rackspace offers dedicated database and application servers, and dedicated firewalls for added security.

Rackspace's hybrid cloud solution is held together by RackConnect, which essentially links an organization's public and private clouds. While it does offer VPN bursting and dedicated load balancing, Rackspace's catalog of additional tools and applications isn't as comprehensive as some of the competition.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Toward the end of 2015, HPE made a major announcement that it was throttling back on public cloud and instead focusing on hybrid cloud offerings. HPE's Helion offering is focused on what it calls the Right Mix, where businesses can choose how much of their hybrid strategy will be public and how much will be private.

HPE's private cloud solutions have a strong basis in open technologies, including major support for OpenStack. However, the company also leverages its partnerships with AWS and Microsoft Azure, among others, to provide some of the public cloud aspects of its hybrid cloud offering.

EMC

EMC's hybrid cloud got a major boost in mid-2015 when the company acquired cloud management company Virtustream for $1.2 billion. EMC's strength in hyperconvergence and plethora of storage options make it a good vendor for operations-heavy organizations who like to play a part in building out their own solutions.

In terms of hyperconvergence, EMC has made many strides in the hardware space with its hardware solutions such as the VCE VxRack, VxBlock, and VBlock solutions. The company also offers a ton of security options, but still relies on partners to provide the public cloud end of the deal.

IBM

IBM's Bluemix hybrid cloud is a valuable option, thanks to its open architecture, focus on developer and operations access, and catalog of tools available through the public cloud. Organizations looking to more effectively leverage data will find Watson and the IoT tools especially helpful.

Using a product called Relay, IBM is able to make your private cloud and public cloud look similar, increasing transparency and helping with DevOps efforts. The company's admin console and syndicated catalog are also helpful in working between public and private clouds.

Verizon Enterprise

What many in IT don't realize is that most of the major telecom providers have cloud offerings of their own. Verizon Enterprise, the business division of Verizon, offers three customizable cloud models including a hybrid solution.

Verizon Enterprise has a strong product in terms of disaster recovery and cloud backup. It also has a cloud marketplace and offers authorized Oracle integrations on Verizon cloud deployments.

Fujitsu

Fujitsu is another hybrid cloud provider built on another vendor's offering -- in this case Microsoft Azure. Fujitsu Hybrid Cloud Services (FHCS) are a combination of Fujitsu's Public S5 cloud, running on Azure, and a private cloud, which is powered by Microsoft Hyper-V and can be deployed client side or in a Fujitsu data center.

The offering provide standard tools like workload bursting, as well as the ability to split a workload by geography.

CenturyLink

CenturyLink is another telecom company that provides cloud services. The company advertises its service as a public cloud that is 'hybrid-ready'.

Since it basically only provides the public cloud portion of a hybrid cloud deployment, CenturyLink is focused heavily on integrating with existing systems. Automation and containerization tools make it a good fit for shops that are exploring DevOps.

NTT

Japanese telecom giant NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone) might fly under the radar by most IT leaders' standards, but it shouldn't be overlooked. The company's hybrid cloud solution is focused on security and privacy, with HIPAA, FISMA, and PCI compliance at the forefront.

NTT's hybrid cloud has enhanced monitoring and additional security via Trend Micro. A plethora of optional features are available to further customize the deployment.

Cisco

Much like VMware, Cisco is known for its private cloud products and offers hybrid solutions through a partner network. Customers stitch their clouds together with the Cisco Intercloud Fabric, which allows users to manage workloads across their clouds.

Cisco's partner network includes companies like Accenture, AT&T, and CDW, among many others.

CSC

Another up-and-comer in the hybrid cloud space is technology and professional services provider CSC. CSC's BizCloud is its private cloud component and it partners with companies like AWS to provide the public cloud layer.

SEE: Hybrid cloud is no solution to AWS unreliability (TechRepublic)

CSC's big focus is on its Agility Platform, which connects different clouds together. The company uses adapters to make it easy to work with multiple providers.

Hitachi

Hitachi offers cloud storage on demand and compute-as-a-service via its Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) division. Solutions are offered in outcome-based service-level agreements with a focus on customer choice.

Hitachi also offers convergence tools and is a gold member of OpenStack, which signifies its commitment to open technologies.

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