Analyst house Gartner, Inc. has released the latest iteration of its annual Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant (MQ) report.
In the 2017 MQ for Cloud IaaS, available here, Gartner evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of 14 vendors that it considers most significant in the Cloud IaaS market. Gartner provides readers with a graph (the Magic Quadrant), which plots out the vendors: the Y-axis represents the vendor’s ability to execute, and the X-axis represents the completeness of the vendor’s vision. The graph is divided into four quadrants: leaders, visionaries, niche players, and challengers. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications.
This is the eighth iteration of the Cloud IaaS MQ released since 2010, although it was paired with Web Hosting for the first few MQs. Since the first iteration, the Cloud IaaS market has been rapidly growing, providing better cloud-computing options through evolving internet technologies.
At Solutions Review, we read the report, available to Gartner subscribers here, and pulled a few of what we considered the most important takeaways and key changes since the 2016 Cloud IaaS MQ.
What is Cloud IaaS?
According to Gartner, Cloud Computing is “a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using internet technologies;” Cloud IaaS “parallels the infrastructure and data center initiatives of IT,” and it’s a type of cloud computing service that is “complemented by storage and networking capabilities.” The Magic Quadrant was graphed based on the aggregated data collected from the performance and execution of the following functions:
- Development and testing
- Production environments for both internal and customer-facing applications (including those supporting mission-critical workloads)
- Batch computing (including high-performance computing [HPC])
- Disaster recovery
Cloud IaaS provides virtualized computing resources over the internet, and because these services are policy-driven, they enable a greater degree of automation and orchestration users complete infrastructure-related tasks. Because of the gradual replacement of traditional enterprise data centers with cloud-based environments, more complex infrastructure tasks and functions such as backup, recovery, and monitoring are easier to practice.
More Competitors Show Up, But Two Vendors Widen Their Lead
In 2016, there were two clear-cut Leaders in the cloud IaaS market: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft. The closest competitor to those two was Google, treading the border between “Visionaries and Leaders.” But Google isn’t even in the same quadrant as AWS or Microsoft, mainly due to lesser scores in “Ability to Execute” and “Completeness of Vision.” Flash-forward to 2017, and all three are still relatively in the same spot, though Microsoft and AWS have received lesser scores for their “Ability to Execute.” On the other hand, Google received a higher score for their “Ability to Execute” this year,
All of the vendors that were on the list last year had increased scores in “Completeness of Vision,” yet Rackspace, Virtustream, CenturyLink, Fujitsu, and NTT Communications received lower scores in “Ability to Execute.” Other than that, there weren’t any major changes to the scores.
Continuing the trend from 2016’s MQ, there are no vendors in the Challengers quadrant. Five IaaS vendors were added to this year’s MQ: Alibaba Cloud, Oracle, Joyent, Interoute, and Skytap; the first two were put in the Visionaries category, and the last three were put with the Niche players.
VMware’s Vcloud is the only solution dropped from the Magic Quadrant due to its May 2017 acquisition by French hosting and IaaS provider OVH.
The Market Is Currently Rebooting Itself
Customer’s expectations for cloud IaaS are changing fast—people want an expansive feature set, high operational reliability, and a prominent supporting ecosystem for their particular cloud IaaS solution. To meet those demands, the cloud IaaS market has entered what Gartner calls a “reboot phase,” with multiple vendors “introducing new or significantly altered cloud IaaS platforms in 2016, or are in the process of doing so during 2017.” NTT, for example, launched an upgrade of their Enterprise Cloud 1.0 solution, which is Enterprise Cloud 2.0, for development environments and cloud-native applications. IBM, for their part, is launching a “Next-Generation Infrastructure (NGI),” which does not yet have a release. However, Gartner warns that these new tools are “unproven, usually have a minimalistic feature set, may have poor operational reliability and lack a supporting ecosystem.” For example, IBM has discontinued a previous attempt at a new cloud IaaS offering, an OpenStack-based infrastructure that was offered via the Bluemix portal in a 2016 beta.
The Feature Gap Expands
For successful software integration to work, there needs to be “migration, application integration and application development on the platform.” According to Gartner, AWS and Microsoft have built up strong virtual ecosystems because of their ability to deliver integrative systems with the cloud environments they provide. The problem that many smaller vendors have is providing simple integration for complex applications. AWS and Microsoft have practically monopolized the market, but smaller vendors are picking up the pace by providing features such as application compatibility and visibility. But between these massive vendors and their competition, there’s a huge feature gap, and many of these companies are scrambling to keep up. For example, Joyent’s own SmartOS is said to lack “a track record in delivering cloud services to businesses.” NTT Com offers an enterprise solution in Enterprise Cloud 2.0, but Gartner says there is “limited improvement over the previous offering.” Gartner says that it takes considerable time and resources to achieve these standards, and “the market leaders are moving with such velocity that the delta in capabilities between the leaders and everyone else is primarily growing over time, rather than shrinking.”
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