Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Gartner’s IaaS Magic Quadrant is out and Amazon Web Services is the clear the market leader, with Microsoft Azure is giving it a run for its money.
It’s been a similar narrative for the past few years, but today Gartner basically said the market is status quo in 2016. The research firm’s MQ report is seen as an annual benchmark for the industry, a sort of checkpoint to see where the various vendors sit. Once again, it’s Amazon on top, Microsoft in second and a whole boatload of other vendors lumped into a category of “everyone else.”
AWS: The ‘safe choice’
Amazon Web Service’s IaaS cloud is so mature and feature-rich that it’s defaulted to become the “safe choice” in the IaaS cloud market, Gartner says. AWS’s offerings available to the market are not only “many times the aggregate size of all other providers in the market,” Gartner says, but the company has a “multi-year” competitive advantage over every other competitor too.
It’s not all roses for AWS though. Gartner says AWS is difficult to use and requires training, expertise and usually some sort of professional services contract. Its cost structure is granular and complex. One of its chief advantages – that it is developing market-leading new capabilities and services – is also a downfall, however. Customers can get overwhelmed and not know how to use some of the cutting-edge technology AWS introduces.
Microsoft Azure: Just not quite as good as Amazon
Microsoft Azure has come a long way in the IaaS cloud market. The company is pouring money into Azure and rapidly coming out with new features and functionality. But it’s still behind Amazon.
Gartner praises Microsoft for taking a unique approach to the market: Packaging IaaS/application development PaaS in both off-premise hosted environments and on-premises options for customers. Microsoft’s huge legacy install-base gives it’s a ready-made platform for selling into enterprises. But its cloud is still a work in progress; some features aren’t fully developed yet. Gartner’s report goes on: “These difficulties are exacerbated by disorganized, incomplete and sometimes out-of-date documentation, as well as a support organization that is not always capable of solving complex implementation challenges, a limited number of Azure experts outside of Microsoft (whether consultants or potential employees) and few options for Azure training.”
Google is in the third-most envious position in the Magic Quadrant and the only vendor in the “visionaries” quadrant. “Google Cloud Platform has a solid and well-implemented core of fundamental IaaS and PaaS capabilities, but its feature set and scope of services are not as broad as that of the market leaders,” the report notes.
GCP is still missing what Gartner calls key capabilities for enterprises and even some startups to use, including management tools for large groups of users, role-based access controls, networking topologies similar to enterprise data centers and a robust ecosystem of third-party apps. Meanwhile, the company is in the “rudimentary stage” of learning to engage with enterprise customers, Gartner says. Despite Google brining on Diane Greene (the former VMware co-founder) as its chief, Gartner says: “We believe that there is still insufficient forward movement in service features, sales, marketing, globalization and partner ecosystem to make Google broadly attractive as a strategic cloud IaaS provider in 2016.
Perhaps the most interesting company to watch in the group of ‘all the other vendors is IBM. The company is sometimes considered in the top tiers of the IaaS cloud market, but Gartner pegs it instead as smack dab in the middle of the pack of competitors. Gartner hasn’t been impressed with IBM SoftLayer’s strategy for the public IaaS cloud, which have seen minimal new feature investments in recent years. IBM focuses it’s cloud go-to-market on offering a wide set of services, from IaaS to managed hosting, bare-metal as a service, along with PaaS in the form of its Bluemix application development platform and a variety of SaaS services. IBM will say that cloud is bigger than just IaaS. But in the context of this report, IBM has a long way to go to catch Amazon, Microsoft, Google and others.
Who else is in the MQ report? Rackspace, CenturyLink and EMC’s Virtustream all place fairly high in the “niche players” category, outranking IBM. VMware, NTT Communications and Fujitsu round out the vendors included in the report. Each of these vendors has a niche offering geared at certain geographic areas (Fujitsu) or its legacy customers (VMware).
Gartner’s overall take on the IaaS market: “The market for cloud IaaS has consolidated significantly around two leading service providers (AWS and Azure). The future of other service providers is increasingly uncertain and customers must carefully manage provider- related risks.”