Cloud IaaS Research: Only AWS, Microsoft Are 'Leaders'

Echoing the findings of virtually every other cloud services research report, a new Magic Quadrant study from Gartner Inc. shows Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) as the market leader, firmly ensconced ahead of No. 2 Microsoft and its Azure cloud in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) market.

However, there's one difference between the new Gartner report and a recent study by Synergy Research. Gartner paints a two-horse race, while Synergy cited four leaders -- including Google and IBM -- in Q2 market share for IaaS, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and hosted private clouds. Gartner did note that it believed IaaS was becoming increasingly entangled with PaaS.

In the IaaS space, though, it's all AWS.

"AWS has a diverse customer base and the broadest range of use cases, including enterprise and mission-critical applications," Gartner said in listing the strengths of AWS in its new August report. "It has the largest share of compute capacity in use by paying customers -- many times the aggregate size of all other providers in the market. This has enabled it to attract an ecosystem of open-source tools, along with more than a thousand technology partners that have licensed and packaged their software to run on AWS, have integrated their software with AWS capabilities, or deliver add-on services."

In the context of its report, Gartner defines IaaS as: "a standardized, highly automated offering, where compute resources, complemented by storage and networking capabilities, are owned by a service provider and offered to the customer on demand. The resources are scalable and elastic in near real time, and metered by use. Self-service interfaces are exposed directly to the customer, including a Web-based UI and an API. The resources may be single-tenant or multitenant, and hosted by the service provider or on-premises in the customer's data center. Thus, this Magic Quadrant covers both public and private cloud IaaS offerings."

Although Gartner listed several strengths of AWS in its new report, it also cited numerous caveats. For one thing, the research firm said, while it's easy to get started with AWS services, the depth of its offerings may require professional assistance that goes beyond customary support mechanisms.

The complicated AWS pricing structure is one such area that especially lends itself to third-party cost management tools, Gartner said.

Another caution: "Organizations that cannot quickly take advantage of new capabilities will not receive the full benefits of AWS's rapid introduction of new services and expanded capabilities for existing services. A customer's best practices may become outdated as better or more cost-effective capabilities are introduced. Less-sophisticated customers may become overwhelmed by the range of possible options; training and third-party assistance are strongly recommended."

As might be expected, however, AWS strengths outweigh the cautions.

"AWS is now a mature provider, yet it remains an agile, innovative thought leader with a broad impact across a range of IT markets," Gartner said. "It has the richest array of IaaS and PaaS capabilities. It provides the deepest capabilities for governing a large number of users and resources. It continues to rapidly expand its service offerings and to offer higher-level solutions. It retains a multiyear competitive advantage over all its competitors, and thus is the common reference point for competitive benchmarking. Although AWS will not be the ideal fit for every need, it has become the 'safe choice' in this market, appealing to customers who desire the broadest range of capabilities and long-term market leadership."

In the IaaS study, Google was the only vendor in the "visionaries" quadrant, while IBM and its SoftLayer cloud was grouped with all the other vendors in the "niche players" category, with the "challengers" section remaining empty.

A May 2015 Magic Quadrant report listed the same two leaders as the new edition, but featured an expanded visionary section with CenturyLink, Google, VMware and IBM/SoftLayer, while also listing several niche players. Thus one notable difference in the two reports is that IBM, CenturyLink and VMware all moved from visionaries in 2015 to niche players in 2016.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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