Every year, the IT consulting firm Gartner releases its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant.
Despite the fact that there was a slight change in methodology this year (only industry heavyweights were analyzed), once again Amazon Web Services (AWS) has come out on top as a leader in this industry.
But what is the “Magic Quadrant”? What does it mean for the industry as a whole, and why does AWS continue to lead the way?
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant
Gartner’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant forms one of many Gartner Magic Quadrants that analyze various different market segments within the IT sector on an annual or bi-annual basis. 2019 saw Gartner return to assess the IaaS industry, deciding to take a different approach by only analyzing the key players within the industry such as Oracle, Google, Microsoft and Alibaba Cloud.
These industry behemoths were measured on two main criteria (which form the axes of the quadrant): Ability to Execute (Y-axes) and Completeness of Vision (X-axis).
From these criteria, Gartner are able to create a quadrant based on the following stipulations:
- Niche Players (low in both criteria)
- Visionaries (complete vision but lacking execution)
- Challengers (good execution but lacking vision)
- Leaders (excelling in both vision and execution)
Where Were IaaS Companies Placed on the Magic Quadrant?
As previously mentioned, in the latest iteration of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant they decided to focus on the 6 biggest players in the industry. At the time of conducting their analysis those companies were: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google, Alibaba Cloud, Oracle and IBM.
After the analysis was conducted Gartner placed the companies in the following positions on their Magic Quadrant:
As can be observed, AWS came out as top of both evaluation categories of Ability to Execute (Y-axes) and Completeness of Vision (X-axis). IBM came bottom on Ability to Execute, whereas Alibaba Cloud lagged slightly behind the competition on Completeness of Vision scores.
The consulting firm laid out their reasoning for assigning each company’s position on the quadrant in their report, which is summarized below.
Gartner recognized that Alibaba Cloud was the market share leader in China, offering similar range of services to competing major industry players. However, they point out that beyond China, their services and capabilities drop off quite dramatically.
This is reflected in its revenue split of 90% accrued in China versus 10% for the rest of the world. What’s more, their financial losses are increasing as they scale, meaning they may lack the additional funds required to better serve international markets.
Due to its great performance in China, the company beats Oracle and IBM on the Ability to Execute Scale but takes last place on the Completeness of Vision due to lack of expansion beyond the borders of China.
Gartner noted IBM’s strong brand value and their particularly advantageous position to help service business with their cloud transformation journey. Their preexisting global structure has helped them to offer their services in a multitude of countries with very little friction.
The report highlights that IBM has decided to specialize in hybrid and multi-cloud computing, which means it does not even compete for many of the services that its rivals offer.
One of the biggest issues IBM have faced is discrepancies in cloud capabilities depending on location. What may be available with reliable delivery in one region may not even exist in another. Gartner indicate that this is likely to lead to higher levels of consumer dissatisfaction.
Finally, IBM’s Next-Generation Infrastructure (NGI) has produced small improvements to the legacy SoftLayer umbrella of services. However, it has failed to deliver on its overall aim, which was to help develop a fresh set of IaaS services based on hyperscale architecture.
Oracle have remained extremely focused according to Gartner; mainly delivering cloud infrastructure to those who wish to run existing Oracle systems. Whilst their performance is strong in this area, no company has yet been able to create true hyperscale architecture.
With this is mind, Gartner feel that Oracle is only ever going to be known as a general purpose provider in this field, providing integrated PaaS and IaaS solutions.
They pointed to IaaS influencers as holding the key to the future of Oracle’s services in this sector, as they are becoming increasingly polarized on their opinion on their offerings.
The Gartner report notes Google’s huge initial success with could-native startups, has helped to catapult them onto the world stage as a leading IaaS provider.
Their machine learning and analytics capabilities have helped to differentiate it from other hyperscale providers, with many customers leaping at the chance to pair their largescale datasets with BigQuery.
However, Google lacks non-native enterprise capabilities, and has struggled in signing partner vendors within infrastructure. It’s reported that Google are aggressively trying to solve these deficiencies, as once they do, they may be able to compete with the other providers in the Leader quadrant.
In short, Microsoft excels at delivering end-to-end integration services for enterprises, particularly for those who are already strategically committed to using Microsoft technologies.
They have also long list of vendor partners including: VMware, NetApp, Red Hat, Cray and Databricks.
However, reliability of Azure is a cause for concern. Multiple service-impacting incidents and outages have tarnished the reputation of its rapidly-growing IaaS division.
Gartner have also stated that their clients often, “experience challenges with on-time implementations within budget and that results from Microsoft setting unreasonably high expectations for customers.”
They add, “Enterprises frequently lament the quality of Microsoft technical support (along with the increasing cost of support) and field solution architects.”
Why AWS Came Out On Top Once Again
AWS has become such a trusted hyperscale provider that enterprises allocate more annual spend and deploy more critical workloads to AWS than any other IaaS provider, speaking volumes about levels of functionality and reliability.
AWS also has the most diverse client portfolio, from tiny startups to large enterprises. Every size of business uses AWS for its cloud infrastructure. A pioneer in this field, Gartner notes AWS provides the most mature range of services with an unrivaled suite of partners.
Customers often feel this provider is their only choice when migrating critical data from traditional servers to the cloud.
Why Upskilling in AWS is A No-Brainer
Whilst other IaaS providers are niching down or experiencing teething issues as they try to grow, it makes sense to develop your AWS skills as it is the most trusted provider on the market today.
Crucially, since Amazon’s customers are ubiquitous, there won’t be a company on the planet where you cannot use your AWS skills to improve performance, safety and scalability for many years to come.
By gaining AWS certifications, you will be able to use your acquired knowledge of the AWS technological architecture to spot opportunities for your employer, making a yourself a valuable asset in the process.
Even if you are not part of a technical IT team, by simply gaining an understanding the AWS ecosystem you can relay its value proposition better to internal and external stakeholders.
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