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July 22, 2019updated 30 Jun 2022 4:25am

IaaS Magic Quadrant: Gartner Gets the Claws Out

A refreshingly frank take from Gartner on IaaS's Big Six

By CBR Staff Writer

AWS firmly leads the pack in the latest Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant report from Gartner, with IBM deemed to be a “niche player” lagging Oracle and Alibaba Cloud when it comes to ability to execute.

The cloud IaaS report assessed six providers, placing them on the standard Magic Quadrant two-dimensional matrix: “completeness of vision” along the horizontal axis and “ability to execute” along the vertical axis.

The report is a surprisingly warts-and-all assessment of the hyperscalers, touching on premature AWS services, Microsoft reliability issues, Google immaturity and “disjointed” IBM delivery. We captured some highlights.

Cloud IaaS: Defined as?

Gartner defines cloud IaaS as a “standardised, 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.

It adds: “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 report covers public and private cloud IaaS.

Top ‘o the Pops: AWS (But Watch for Premature Services)

AWS came away as the firm leader in the report, with Gartner describing its recommended uses as “all use cases that run well in a virtualised environment.” (It recommends the use of a System Integrator, or SI to support any migration.)

Strengths: Gartner says: AWS is the “most mature, enterprise-ready provider, with the strongest track record of customer success and the most useful partner ecosystem”

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Cautions: It adds: “The most frequently provisioned storage for AWS’s compute service has not experienced a price reduction since 2014, despite falling prices in the market for the raw components.” With AWS prioritising being first to market with new services, it is sometimes willing to launch “feature-poor services or services without deep cross-platform integration, which it often defers to the future to address”, resulting in “services that need years of substantial engineering updates.”

A Close Second: Microsoft (Mind the Outages) 

Strengths: Gartner says: “[Azure’s] integrated end-to-end experience for enterprises building .NET applications using Visual Studio and related services while deploying them to Azure is unsurpassed.” It adds: “50 percent of the workloads are Linux-based… Microsoft has a unique vision for the future that involves bringing in… native, first-party offerings such as those from VMware, NetApp, Red Hat, Cray and Databricks.”

Cautions: Gartner says: “Microsoft Azure’s reliability issues continue to be a challenge for customers… Since September 2018, Azure has had multiple service-impacting incidents, including significant outages involving Azure Active Directory. It adds: “Enterprises frequently lament the quality of Microsoft technical support (along with the increasing cost of support) and field solution architects.”

Contender: Google (But is it “Grown Up”?)

Strengths: Noting that while Google has catered initially to cloud-native startups, it is now expanding its reach to enterprise customers, Gartner says: “Google has differentiated technologies on the forward edge of IT, specifically in analytics and machine learning. This has driven some enterprises to select Google as a strategic cloud provider where they have deployed applications that are anchored by BigQuery.”

Cautions: Gartner says: Google demonstrates an immaturity of process and procedures when dealing with enterprise accounts, which can make the company difficult to transact with at times.” This is pronounced in contract negotiation, discounting, independent software vendor (ISV) licensing, integration with enterprise systems and support. “Google is aggressively targeting these shortcomings.”

Oracle: Targeting Oracle Customers (and “Polarising”)

Strengths: Gartner says: “Oracle’s cloud strategy is anchored by its applications, database and other middleware, and spans IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Oracle is mainly targeting customers who want to run Oracle software on cloud IaaS, particularly those who prefer to run on Exadata appliances and bare-metal servers.”

Cautions: Gartner says: “Oracle is unlikely to ever be viewed by the market as a general-purpose provider of integrated IaaS and PaaS offerings. This is due to the dominance of the hyperscale providers, Oracle’s late start with Oracle Infrastructure Infrastructure, and the polarizing nature of Oracle in the minds of developers who often are the leading influencers for public cloud IaaS.”

Alibaba Cloud: A “Limited” Bridge to China (But “Financial Losses Increasing”)

Strengths: Gartner says: “Alibaba Cloud has an extensive set of public cloud integrated IaaS+PaaS offerings, comparable in scope to the service portfolios of other globally focused hyperscale providers.” It can also “act as bridge into China for international companies, and a bridge out of China for Chinese companies.”

Cautions: Gartner says: “Alibaba Cloud’s international offering does not have the full capabilities of the China offering, nor the feature depth of its major global competitors In many regions, specific services may only be available when using certain compute instance types. Alibaba has limited capabilities in terms of an MSP ecosystem, third-party enterprise software integration and operational tools.” With its financial losses increasing, investment in keeping pace with other hyperscalers is uncertain, it adds.

IBM: “Did Not Respond”

Gartner’s IBM review may not be as comprehensive as the others, Gartner notes: “IBM did not respond to requests for supplemental information or for a review of the draft contents of this research.”

Strengths: Gartner says: “IBM has a very large base of customers with critical applications that are beginning to adopt cloud services” and is well positioned to support them as a result.”

Cautions: Gartner says: IBM has “not delivered on its fundamental goal — to produce a new set of cloud IaaS offerings based on the principles of hyperscale architecture. Given this, it is unlikely that IBM will become a competitive public cloud IaaS provider… Despite having many worldwide data centers, many features are available only in specific locations. This and an unexceptional user experience cause IBM to have a higher level of user dissatisfaction than other vendors in this research.”

Read this: Can we really trust the Gartner Magic Quadrant?

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