Cloud computing is a rapidly growing market, and investors seeking to ride the wave may be advised to look beyond the biggest names in this area, such as Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM). Instead, according to a column in MarketWatch, there may be bigger upside in these smaller players: Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM), Equinix Inc. (EQIX), F5 Networks Inc. (FFIV), Inuit Inc. (INTU), Juniper Networks Inc. (JNPR) and VMware Inc. (VMW).

Stock YTD Price Gain
Akamai 27%
Equinix (10%)
F5 Networks 38%
Intuit 33%
Juniper Networks (4%)
VMware 21%
S&P 500 Index (SPX) 4%

Source: Yahoo Finance adjusted close data through June 18.

Forrester Research projects that worldwide revenues for the public cloud computing market will be $178 billion in 2018, up by 22% from $146 billion in   2017.

Akamai

Akamai is a content delivery network (CDN) that puts website content closer to users through its worldwide network of servers. This way, various content providers, such as media outlets, can ensure that users who are widely-dispersed geographically, even across the globe, can get to that content faster and more reliably than if it were housed in a single centralized location.

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Projected year over year (YOY) revenue growth is 9% for both 2018 and 2019, with earnings per share (EPS) estimates up by 25% in 2018 and 15% in 2019, per Yahoo Finance.

Equinix

Structured as a real estate investment trust (REIT), Equinix manages a worldwide network of data centers, also called colocation centers, in which its clients place their own servers and storage devices. Clients include businesses that have opted to develop their own private cloud environments, but not to manage them. Other clients are providers of public cloud computing services, among them Software as a Service (SaaS) providers. The YOY growth projections for revenues are 17% in 2018 and 11% in 2019, while those for EPS are 42% and 57%, respectively, per Yahoo Finance.

F5 Networks

F5 Networks develops both hardware and software designed to increase the speed, efficiency and security of cloud computing networks. Forecasted revenue growth is modest, at 3% in both 2018 and 2019, but EPS is expected to increase by 14% and 9%, respectively.

Intuit

Intuit is best known as a vendor of tax preparation and accounting software, for individuals and small businesses, including small accounting and tax preparation firms. It has joined the cloud computing revolution by migrating many of its applications to the cloud, becoming a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider in the process. This relieves clients of the need to perform their own software upgrades, on their own computers.

Additionally, MarketWatch observes that Inuit benefits from the rise of the so-called "gig economy," by facilitating small business startups and self employment. Revenue is projected to rise by 15% in 2018 and by 10% in 2019, with respective growth rates of 25% and 18% for EPS.

Juniper Networks

Juniper Networks is a supplier of hardware deployed in cloud networks. While often mentioned as a possible acquisition target, MarketWatch indicates that management is committed to remaining independent. Revenue is estimated to decline by 5% in 2018 and rise by 3% in 2019, leading to an EPS drop of 13% in 2018 and a increase of 15% in 2019.

VMware

VMware offers software that facilitates the partitioning of servers to accommodate multiple applications. For companies running their own private cloud environments, this allows for more efficient use of hardware. For companies offering public cloud services, VMware software also assists with keeping each client's data secure. A major client of VMware among public cloud providers is Amazon Web Services (AWS).  

Projected revenue increases are 11% in fiscal 2019 and 8% in fiscal 2020, accompanied by respective EPS gains of 19% and 10%. Fiscal 2018 ended on February 2. VMware is a subsidiary of Dell Technologies Inc. (DVMT).