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The cloud service provider market is evolving into two distinct camps. The first is exemplified by well-known CSPs such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. CSPs that operate at that scale build their own custom infrastructure to keep the cost of operating at massive amounts of scale under control.

The rest of the market is made up of smaller CSPs that mostly buy commercial IT infrastructure or white-box systems via distributors. To bolster this segment of the market, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) has announced that it is expanding a Cloud28+ program, which promotes the services of CSPs that rely on HPE infrastructure. Originally only available in Europe, the Cloud28+ program is now being expanded globally.

HPE clearly has a vested interest in promoting usage of application workloads deployed in the cloud on its infrastructure. That effort is more important than ever now that HPE has abandoned its own ambitions to become a leading CSP.

Specifically, HPE is attempting to promote CSP adoption of x86 servers based on a composable infrastructure architecture, which is more flexible in terms of the types of application workloads that can be deployed on it.

“It makes it simpler to set up a self-service portal for multiple types of applications,” said Paul Miller, vice president of marketing converged data center infrastructure.

As an HPE partner that competes with AWS and Microsoft Azure, Ruben van der Zwan, CTO of Amsio, a CSP with operations in Europe and the U.S., said that the fact HPE is promoting Amsio services factors heavily into the decision to use HPE servers and storage systems.

Amsio aims to provide IT organizations with more of a white-glove managed experience than they can get from AWS or Microsoft Azure, van der Zwan explained. He added that Amsio makes it a point to compete against AWS and other CSPs on service rather than on price because most organizations find using a cloud service to be a significant challenge.

“The idea that the cloud is easy is a misconception,” said van der Zwan. “It requires mastering wildly different skills sets.”

Obviously, HPE is not the only IT infrastructure provider aiming to compete for workloads running in the cloud by relying on CSPs that provide differentiated services on top of the IT infrastructure they provide. It will be interesting to see just how large this second-tier segment of the CSP market can grow at a time when a small handful of CSPs clearly dominate the category.