Gartner Releases 2016’s IaaS Magic Quadrant, Land of the Niche

Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service Worldwide

Analyst house Gartner, Inc. has released the latest iteration of its annual Magic Quadrant for Infrastructure as a service platform (Iaas) report, published on August 3rd, 2016. IaaS is cloud computing that accounts for one of the fastest growing segments of corporate IT spending, and when people think of cloud computing, they usually think of compute Infrastructure as a service. Gartner admits that, because the market has consolidated around just two market leaders, many of the other competitors now face, “significant business challenges, and the customers of those competitors now face significant supplier-related risks”. Many of the world’s largest tech companies are in fierce competition over the consolidating market.

“Cloud infrastructure as a service parallels the infrastructure and data center initiatives of IT. Cloud compute IaaS constitutes the largest segment of this market (the broader IaaS market also includes cloud storage and cloud printing). Only cloud compute IaaS is evaluated in this Magic Quadrant; it does not cover cloud storage providers, platform as a service (PaaS) providers, SaaS providers, cloud service brokerages (CSBs) or any other type of cloud service provider, nor does it cover the hardware and software vendors that may be used to build cloud infrastructure.” 


Gartner evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of 10 vendors considered most significant in the market, and provides readers with a graph (the Magic Quadrant) plotting the vendors based on their ability to execute and by completeness of vision. That graph is divided into four quadrants: Niche Players, Challengers, Visionaries, and Leaders.


Gartner’s guide describes Visionaries: “They understand where the market is going or have a vision for changing market rules, but do not yet execute well.” Gartner uses market understanding as an evaluation criteria in a vendor’s completeness of vision. Added considerations include the vendor’s, offering product strategy, and most importantly, a track record for innovation. This year, we have one visionary in the quadrant– Google– and with good reason. Gartner explains why google’s experimentation in big data analytics might be driving IaaS innovation:

“Google is leveraging its expertise and experience with big data in its own consumer business in order to build product strength in technologies such as analytics and machine learning. These capabilities also have synergies with batch computing, where Google distinguishes itself with excellent price/performance value, exceptionally fast VM provisioning and per-minute billing. Evaluate GCP as if it were a specialized cloud platform for projects that play to these strengths.”

Niche Players

This corner of the quadrant was the most eventful by far, and the influential vendors selected have made this Year’s  Magic Quadrant, the official year of the Niche player. Gartner describe Niche player criteria:

“Some Niche Players may be excellent providers for the use cases in which they specialize, but do not serve a broad range of use cases well or have a broadly ambitious roadmap. Some may have solid leadership positions in markets adjacent to this market, but have only developed limited capabilities in cloud IaaS. Providers that specialize in managed services on top of a “good enough” IaaS platform may be in this category. Finally, some Niche Players have weak offerings, or have cloud IaaS businesses with uncertain futures, and should only be chosen with careful attention to managing vendor-related risks.”

This years MQ was heavy in the Niche arena, and  Gartner included CenturyLink Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., IBM Softlayer, NTT Communications Co. Ltd., Rackspace Inc., Virtustream and VMware, all as  niche players.


Challengers are characterized as, providers developing products that address the foundation needs of the corporate market which also boast strong sales, and visibility. There are no vendors in this category in 2016!


To Gartner, leaders are defined as IaaS platform providers that, “Are perceived in the industry as thought leaders, and have well-articulated plans for enhancing capabilities, improving ease of deployment and administration, and increasing scalability and product breadth.” Wouldn’t you know, the leader quadrant featured two vendors that fit the bill.

Gartner noted that Amazon Web Service, a 2016 leader, has 10 times more compute capacity being used by customers than all other 14 providers in the Magic Quadrant combined. AWS provides an “innovative, agile and responsive market,” according to Gartner and supports, “the broadest range of use cases, including enterprise and mission-critical applications.”

Who’s the last leader? Check out the full report, here to find out.