Gartner’s latest IaaS Magic Quadrant: more than meets the eye

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Also posted on: IT Infrastructure

When was the last time you read the whole of a Gartner Magic Quadrant report?  If you are like me you will look at the picture of the Quadrant, perhaps read the blurb on one or two of the leaders and the report introduction. It’s also quite fashionable to dismiss the Magic Quadrant as being something you have to pay to get on, through subscriptions and consultancy, which is therefore not worthy of consideration.

For start-ups and smaller technology vendors it can be very frustrating trying to get onto a Magic Quadrant.  Failure to do so however is not down to how much money you pay them, but whether you make their criteria for inclusion which tend to favour larger organisations with scale and geographic spread. To be fair to Gartner their target audiences are large and medium sized enterprises, most of whom work on an international scale.

Those smaller and start-up organisations might get mentioned in Hype-Cycle or Ones to Watch reports, but this always seemed like a poor second prize.  So it was good to see Gartner commenting on a number of smaller and interesting cloud providers, such as Cloud Sigma, Skytap, ProfitBricks, Navisite and Blulock that did not meet the criteria for inclusion.

If you just looked at the Quadrant picture and saw AWS way out in front, Microsoft in a well placed second and the rest a long way behind, your opinion might well be, “same old same old”. But this report is full of gems and insights that should be compulsory reading for senior management in both vendors and enterprises.

In covering pricing mechanisms, how SLAs are handled, the availability of multi-lingual support and a range of different and specific use cases Gartner has provided a clear guide on where IaaS is most applicable. The report highlights the key things CIOs should be considering and evaluating, both technically and from a business perspective, before making a decision.

For me, the implications for vendors, either in the IaaS market, or thinking of getting in, were fascinating. For large, long established vendors like IBM, Fujitsu, NTT and Centurylink the biggest challenge is keeping up with the pace of development at AWS and Microsoft. This is partly about having pockets deep enough, but also about having a corporate culture that encourages and facilitates change and innovation at speed. Other vendors like Virtustream and VMWare have found particular niches, or appeal to a significant base of existing technologies that will provide a good consistent business model without ever coming anywhere near the scale of the market leaders.

In my last blog I noted the fact that the platforms above the infrastructure are already looking quite proprietary despite using many OpenStack components. In the IaaS Magic Quadrant, Gartner opines that the future appears to point to a greater integration of infrastructure (IaaS) and platform (PaaS) capabilities. Gartner also highlights that the use of open standards and components does not necessarily mean that there will be less vendor lock-in than with the more proprietary platforms; that, due to the amount of customisation that occurs, easy portability across different IaaS vendors is not a given.

If you get a chance go and find a read a copy of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide. It is much more than a vanity exercise for technology CEOs to get into the leaders’ quadrant. It shows that true utility computing is some way off yet; that vendors trying to take AWS and Azure head on are likely to fail, that sustainable, profitable niches do exist and that new, interesting start-ups can get recognition. As a marketer, that warms the cockles of my heart.

This post first appeared on the old Cassini Reviews website.