As smaller cloud providers become more focused on their niches, the quality of their services improves, their prices decrease and their usership expands. But in many cases, the larger providers offer a wider range of services to the consumer. Can the niche providers keep up with the larger competition?

The "Big Guys" — Amazon, Google and Microsoft — are known for their massive coverage of the cloud computing market. They dominate a huge portion of the industry, and often come to mind when a company considers cloud computing. But they don’t necessarily provide the same granular, in-depth services as some of the smaller companies.

Some examples of niche providers include:

  • Mezeo (cloud storage software compatible with most existing hardware)
  • EMC Atmos Online (private cloud solution with proprietary software and hardware)
  • Eucalyptus (private cloud software)
  • Nirvanix (enterprise cloud storage)
  • Rackspace (comparably large to the Big Three for hosting, plus storage)
  • Digital Ocean (cloud hosting for developers)

The Variables: Depth of Features vs. Range of Features, Price

Niche providers are built and maintained for a specific purpose - to build IaaS - but aren’t as capable as the larger companies when it comes to additional features. Because they are more focused on a certain area, companies can easily choose them based on their provided service. This also means that there is less overhead to maintain their services, and their operational costs are lower, which is reflected in their prices.

But when choosing between available cloud providers, price isn’t always the most important factor. Companies do weigh prices when considering hosting online versus building their own digital infrastructure, but not as much when choosing which cloud service to use. In many cases, the company with the most impressive feature list is the winner, and since the larger ones have greater capability, they are more likely to be chosen.

However, large cloud providers like the Big Three compete with each other to have the richest set of features, which means their prices are higher to support the multiple services. Amazon is investing in drones, Kindle technology, smartphones and television. Google is investing in self-driving cars, Google Glass and much more. For companies that don’t have more than one or two specific needs from their provider, this is a large factor. Why pay more for extra features if they aren’t useful?

On the other hand, a large company has broader needs on a larger scale, so one of the bigger competitors might be a better option.

Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better

These variables are the main reason the big cloud companies haven’t driven the niche providers out of the industry. Different companies have different needs, and each provider is able to meet those needs in unique ways with consideration to specialized features, benefits and price. The cloud computing industry will continue to expand, taking with it the big guys and the little guys.