Lydia Leong came into the cloud era with her own hands-on background in technology operation and evolution. She was director of server engineering at Excite@Home and director of product engineering and operations at Digex. She joined Gartner in 2000 and gravitated into becoming its first and still primary analyst focused on IaaS. In 2010, in the midst of a blossoming of enterprise interest in the cloud, her prominence as a spokeswoman on the cloud prompted Gartner to name her analyst of the year.
The authority of her voice and writing, along with the pivotal position she occupied in a top-drawer, enterprise analyst group, made her instrumental in establishing the viability of cloud computing for the enterprise. She is still engaged in calling it like it is in cloud software and services. In a Dec. 5, 2012, Gartner blog post, "Cloud SLAs Can Be Meaningless," Leong said: "Unfortunately, infrastructure as a service SLAs can readily be structured to make it unlikely that you'll ever see a penny of money back -- greatly reducing the provider's financial risks in the event of an outage." Amazon Web Services, she noted, has voluntarily paid customers for lost computing time, because its SLA didn't cover the nature of the outage. For example, Amazon's Easter outage in 2011 froze up its Elastic Block Storage service, but EBS was not covered by the SLA. The customers' virtual servers continued running, thus meeting the terms of the SLA, but they couldn't do anything without access to their frequently used data. In the case of both AWS and HP clouds, the downtime clock doesn't start ticking until the service has been out five or six minutes, respectively, she pointed out.
Leong is currently a VP of research at Gartner. Jason Hoffman, CTO of Joyent, says: "Every time I have the chance to talk with Lydia, I either learn something new or I gain a deeper understanding of my own thoughts." Hoffman is not known for suffering analysts kindly; with most, he does most of the talking, he says.