What’s new on a cloud infrastructure market without challenger vendors

The 2015 version of traditionally Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service survey was recently published by Gartner. In this article I want to point up some consideration about the Gartner’s IaaS definition, evaluation criteria, and most important “What’s new” in 2015 MQ comparing previous releases from May 2014 and August 2013. Comprehensive analyse of each “Magic” players and actual IaaS offerings will come in the next related articles.

Looking to the Magic Quadrant evaluation context is important to understand Gartner’s perception about Cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Because from whole diversity of infrastructure market, only cloud compute IaaS is evaluated in Magic Quadrant. Other IaaS market components like cloud storage or cloud printing are not considered by Gartner in this study.

So, we have to assume Gartner’s most actual definition of cloud compute IaaS as: “a standardized, 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. 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 resources may be single-tenant or multitenant, and hosted by the service provider or on-premises in the customer’s data centre.”

MQ IaaS 2015Interesting is in the new IaaS vision Gartner is not considering only the infrastructure resources, including also automated management of resources, administrative tools delivered as services, cloud software infrastructure services, and databases as services. Also in the new IaaS market interpretation Gartner is drawing a distinction between cloud infrastructure as a service, and cloud infrastructure as a technology platform, naming the second as CESI (cloud-enabled system infrastructure). In a typical IaaS model, the CESI features are directly delivered to the customer as self-service, being possible to include also cloud-enabled services like managed hosting, data centre outsourcing, and other IT outsourcing services. Gartner is very clear explaining Magic Quadrant is evaluating only cloud IaaS offerings, not considering cloud-enabled services.

Before a brief look in the landscape of actual IaaS providers playing in Magic Quadrant “super-league”, is important to see essential conditions established by Gartner. To be included in Magic Quadrant vendors needs to demonstrate specific capabilities like:

  • Market participation – vendors must sell public cloud IaaS as a stand-alone service, without constrains to use any managed services or to bundle it with managed hosting, application development, maintenance, or other outsourcing forms.
  • Market positioning – vendors should be included in Gartner estimated top 15 providers for public or industrialized private cloud IaaS, excluding small deployments of one or two virtual machines.
  • Business capabilities – global offering of the public cloud IaaS service, invoicing capabilities and non-stop customer support.
  • Technical capabilities – the public cloud IaaS service should support production workloads and to have: at least two data centers in metropolitan areas located at minimum 250 miles distance, on separate power networks, with SSAE 16, ISO 27001 or equivalent implemented standards, proving real-time provisioning and ability to scale an application beyond the capacity of a single physical server, a computing SLA with a minimum of 99.5% availability, and implicit access to a Web services API.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for IaaS is becoming in the last years a performance reference on the market, being a more than reliable image of actual status for IaaS major players.

Looking to the Leaders QuadrantAmazon Web Services is continuing strong domination of the market in both “Vision” and “Ability to Execute” directions, sustained by largest customer base and the a wide range of enterprise and mission-critical applications. According Garner analysts, AWS is the overwhelming market share leader, with over 10 times more cloud IaaS compute capacity in use than the aggregate total of the other 14 providers in this Magic Quadrant”. The power of Amazon IaaS services is coming also from the very large technology partner ecosystem that includes software vendors which licensed and packaged their software on AWS platform, as well as many vendors which integrated their software with AWS capabilities.

Microsoft’s Azure position in the Leaders Quadrant is related to increased focus in developing its software capabilities as cloud services. Previously developed only as PaaS, Azure platform made most spectacular transition to IaaS market two years ago when Microsoft launched Azure Infrastructure Services, including Azure Virtual Machines and Azure Virtual Network. According Gartner analysts: “Azure is growing rapidly, and is in second place for market share, with more than twice as much cloud IaaS compute capacity in use as the aggregate total of the remaining providers in this Magic Quadrant – excluding market share leader AWS.”

Big surprise of this Magic Quadrant edition is “whiteboard image” of Challenge Quadrant. According Gartner, a “Challenger vendor” should be well-positioned to serve current market needs, delivering a good service that is targeted at a particular set of use cases, and having a track record of successful delivery. Coming from “Niche Players” pluton, Rackspace and Virtustream are closely positioned challengers for Challenger Quadrant.

In Gartner concept providers from Visionaries Quadrant should have first of all a solid vision of the future, making significant investments in technology development. “Visionaries” may be new market entrants, or existing providers reinventing business. They may have still emerging services but encapsulated capabilities not yet available. The four visionaries from actual MQ edition are perfectly mapped to these criteria.

Being one of newcomers in the IaaS market, Google had a fast evolution based on the concept “run like Google”, offering innovative technology capabilities as services for other companies. Gartner is predicting a continuous development: “Google has a fluid notion of the boundaries between IaaS and PaaS, along with the spectrum of deployment options from VMs to containers, that will, over time, enable customers to choose their trade-offs between control and automated management”.

CenturyLink was by tradition a global communications service provider, but last two acquisitions of Savvis – a Web hoster, and Tier 3 – a pure-play cloud IaaS provider, enabled them to offer CenturyLink Cloud (CLC). Also CenturyLink focused on the data center outsourcing market, and without a competitive solution for self-service, has successfully mixed self-service and managed services models into hybrid solution portfolio.

Leader in virtualization technologies, VMware is offering vCloud Air hybrid cloud options to existing customers, which may benefit both on-premises virtualized environment and cloud services. Gartner analysts is appreciating vCloud Air for vCloud Director-based service – an easier-to-use portal as the primary UI, and NSX software-defined networking technology.

IBM demonstrated his cloud orientation offering a wide portfolio of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS products and services, with increasing focus in go-to-market strategy, online sign-up and self-service. SoftLayer is one of first concrete example of this new strategy, targeting for the moment SMB customers, and being projected as the usual IBM services hosting platform in the future. According Gartner, IBM strength is coming from “strong brand and existing customer relationships across the globe”, combined with its strategic outsourcing customers which “will help drive a cloud-enabled data center outsourcing business on top of SoftLayer”.

As usual the most populated is the Niche Players Quadrant where 9 providers are quite uniform distributed belong a median line. Let’s see a quickly description grouping after their main activities and what is Gartner appreciating in their offers. A first group is coming from Web hosting and outsourcing traditional companies like Rackspace and CSC. Being best positioned in the quadrant, near the conventional limit with Challenger area, Rackspace changed his orientation in 2014 from an OpenStack strategy to its originally expert company tradition with a coherent vision of cloud-enabled managed services based on automation and “a DevOps philosophy”. Traditional IT outsourcer with a broad range of data center outsourcing capabilities, CSC is using the Agility Platform acquired with the purchasing of ServiceMesh in order to facilitate the management of multiple platforms.

A second group is coming from independent software vendors and cloud services providers like Virtustream and Joyent. As well close positioned to Challengers Quadrant, Virtustream has developed its own cloud platform technology, and can offer fully consistent hybrid cloud solutions, policy-based service-level management and application performance SLAs. Having a pure focus on cloud-native applications, including mobile applications, Joyent developed a specific architecture based on Docker- container service.

As usual, most populated group is coming from traditional communications service providers, including: Interoute, Verizon, NTT Com, and Dimension Data. UK based Pan-European communications service provider Interoute offers a variety of interoperable options, like flexible tenancy models, hypervisors, pricing models, and support service models. Renouncing to Terremark brand in 2014, Verizon has consolidated IaaS offerings under the Verizon Cloud portal, and started a marketplace program. NTT Com is using its global network offering free data transfer services with Cloudn and free connection to NTT’s Arcstar Universal One network. Part of the same Japan based NTT Group, Dimension Data entered the IaaS market by acquiring OpSource in 2011, offering now on-demand billing platform, custom application management and help desk support.

A particularly presence in this quadrant, Fujitsu come with a long history in IT services and data center outsourcing. Fujitsu strength is based on his global sales force, leadership in IT outsourcing in Asia/Pacific area and strong European position. Developing a various portfolio of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services, has launched Fujitsu Cloud Integration Platform that unifies management across its own cloud IaaS offerings, third-party cloud IaaS services and non-cloud infrastructure.

Look to the next related articles for a more detailed analyse of each of “Magic players” and last powerful demonstration on IaaS market.

Sources: Gartner reprint, public Web pages & Blogs, Social Media, Cloud Computing Groups Discussions.

Image Source: Gartner, 2015

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