Key Takeaways From Gartner’s 2015 Cloud IaaS Critical Capabilities Report

Gartner_IaaS_Critical_capabilitiesEnterprise Technology analysis and research firm Gartner, Inc. has released its latest Critical Capabilities Report for Public Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

In the 2015 version of their Critical Capabilities report for IaaS, Gartner takes the 15 vendors that it considers most significant/relevant in the IaaS market and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of those vendors against eight ‘critical capabilities,’ and four use cases. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications.

The 15 vendors featured in the report are, in alphabetical order, Amazon Web Services (AWS), CenturyLink, CSC, Dimension Data, Fujitsu, Google, IBM (SoftLayer), Interoute, Joyent, Microsoft, NTT Communications, Rackspace, Verizon, Virtustream, and VMware.

[From AWS to Rackspace, Solutions Review rounds up the top 28 cloud vendors in the 2015 Cloud Platform Solutions Buyer’s Guide. Solutions Review Buyer’s Guides include full market overviews and 10 questions designed to help find your best fit in the cloud. Download your free copy today.]

This is the second iteration of the report, which Gartner first introduced in 2014, and it comes at a time when cloud computing is one of the fastest growing segments of corporate IT spending and a large portion of that spending is going towards IaaS. Gartner estimated a 32.8 percent growth in worldwide spending on cloud IaaS in 2015 and many of the world’s largest tech companies are in fierce competition over the market.

At Solutions Review, We read the 21-page report, available to via AWS here, and pulled a few of what we considered the most important takeaways and key market indicators. But first, let’s get a couple of definitions out of the way…

What are Critical Capabilities, Exactly?

As far as analyst doublespeak goes, this one is pretty straight forward.

Gartner defines Critical capabilities as “attributes that differentiate products/services in a class in terms of their quality and performance. For IaaS, that means compute resilience (the availability of virtual machines), Architecture flexibility, security and compliance, user management, enterprise integration, automation and DevOps enablement, scalability, and big data enablement.

Gartner compared those critical capabilities across the following use cases: application development, batch computing, cloud-native applications, and general business applications.

Gartner rates each vendor’s product or service on a five-point (five points being best) scale in terms of how well it delivers each capability.

Before jumping in, we should probably clarify exactly what Gartner analysts mean when they talk about IaaS.

What is Infrastructure as a Service?

Cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Gartner says, is the ‘compute’ in cloud computing. An IaaS solution is a cloud service that provides compute, storage and network resources, delivered on-demand, in real-time (or as close as possible), as a service.

In the 2015 IaaS Magic Quadrant report, Gartner defines compute IaaS as “standardized, highly automated offerings, where compute resources, complemented by storage and networking capabilities, are owned by a service provider and offered to the customer on demand.” Gartner did not include cloud storage services, platform as a service (PaaS) or managed services in this report.

Beyond the resources themselves, Cloud IaaS also includes automated management of those resources and management tools delivered as a service, says Gartner.

Hyperscale Vendors: AWS, Microsoft and Google Top the Charts

Though 15 vendors feature in the IaaS Critical Capabilities report, a majority of the market is dominated by the three largest IaaS providers—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, and Google—whom Gartner often refers to as ‘hyperscale vendors.’

 Of the three hyperscale vendors, Amazon Web Services (AWS), who recently revealed 5.16 billion in 2015 cloud earnings, is the clear market leader, and its scores on critical capabilities and use cases reflect that.

Amazon Web Services tops all four use case comparison charts handily, leaving the competition in the dust with an average score of 4.75/5, compared to the other two hyperscale vendors, Microsoft, and Google, who had average scores of 3.82 and 3.29, respectively.

This should be no surprise for those of us closely following the eCommerce Giant’s adventures in the cloud—Gartner notes that AWS “essentially created the cloud IaaS market” in 2006 with the introduction of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and continuously offers “the richest suite of public cloud IaaS capabilities” available. According to Gartner’s 2015 IaaS Magic Quadrant, AWS boasts “over 10 times more cloud IaaS compute capacity in use than the aggregate total of the other 14 providers” in the Magic Quadrant.

And, with over one million private customers, including high-profile companies such as Spotify and Netflix, and 600 government agencies using Amazon’s public cloud, it’s unsurprising that the company now controls a massive portion of the worldwide public cloud market— 29% to be exact.

Despite Amazon’s large lead, Microsoft (who is aiming for $20b in cloud revenue by 2018) and Google Compute Engine (which has recently slashed prices to compete with AWS) are also making notable gains in cloud IaaS and will continue to battle over the fast-growing market, which Garter estimates to have jumped 33% to become an $16.5 billion market in 2015.

Gartner’s analyst praise Google as “a very attractive platform for batch computing,” with “exceptionally fast provisioning times and very large pool of available capacity,” but warns that Google Compute Engine’s ability to integrate with on-premises infrastructure is weak.

For its part, Microsoft’s Azure platform earned high scores as a “capable environment” for digital business workloads, especially attractive for those running a large number of workloads on Microsoft apps.

Cloud IaaS Goes Mainstream

While enterprise adoption of public cloud IaaS has been gaining momentum for a few years, the early years of the public cloud IaaS market were primarily focused on application development and testing, batch computing, and using IaaS for cloud-native applications. In 2015, the public cloud is finally going mainstream, says Gartner, as more and more organizations adopt public IaaS for mainstream business applications, including “mission-critical” enterprise applications.

Today, public cloud IaaS is used by organizations of all sizes. Small and midsize businesses have broadly adopted public cloud IaaS for infrastructure needs, and Gartner estimates that it now accounts for almost 20% of all virtualized workloads. Additionally, Gartner’s 2015 CIO Survey indicates that 10% of CIOs now have a “cloud first” approach to infrastructure, while a further 85% of CIOs consider cloud IaaS for their organizations’ infrastructure needs.

The public cloud IaaS market has entered what Gartner calls its “second phase of maturity,” meaning that the technology is sufficient for most needs, and continues to improve rapidly as providers introduce new capabilities.

But not all providers are going to be able to keep up with the pace of innovation set by hyperscale vendors and other, more nimble competition, warns Gartner. Many providers will struggle to compete as buyer expectations and competitive pressures grow. Gartner recommends that companies evaluating cloud IaaS solutions for 2016 or reevaluating existing agreements conduct in-depth competitive evaluations and considered pairing several cloud solutions to meet their needs.

Gartner subscribers can view the 2015 Public Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service Critical Capabilities report here, or you can get a licensed version in full from Amazon Web Services here.

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Jeff Edwards

Editor at Solutions Review
Jeff Edwards is an enterprise technology writer and analyst covering Identity Management, SIEM, Endpoint Protection, and Cybersecurity writ large.He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and previously worked as a reporter covering Boston City Hall.
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