Amazon, Microsoft Star In Gartner Cloud Magic Quadrant
Gartner reshuffles the deck on its 2014 Magic Quadrant for IaaS. AWS still holds a leader card, but look who's falling.
Gartner has shuffled the players in its 2014 Magic Quadrant for cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). In the closely watched graphic, Amazon Web Services remains in its unrivaled position at the top of the Leaders quadrant.
AWS shares the space only with Microsoft and its Azure cloud, which, though far below AWS, is now a Leader. Last year Microsoft was in the Visionaries quadrant directly below the Leaders.
CSC, the former Computer Sciences Corp., fell out of the Leaders quadrant this year after arriving there in 2013. It moved down into the busy Visionaries quadrant. Visionaries are the IaaS suppliers with a breadth of vision and roadmap suitable for becoming a major cloud service provider. Last year there were two Visionary cloud providers: Microsoft and Rackspace. This year there were five: (in roughly descending order) CenturyLink, CSC, IBM/SoftLayer, Verizon Terremark, and Google.
No companies made it into the Challenger quadrant -- the space that would normally yield candidates likely to become Leaders. Rackspace slipped out of the Visionary quadrant backward into the Niche Player quadrant. There it found itself among (in roughly descending order) Virtustream, Dimension Data, VMware, Fujitsu, Joyent, HP, and GoGrid.
With CSC and Rackspace moving down, let's look at who moved up and why. Amazon remains at the top because of its diverse customer base -- with many types of small companies, startups, and large-enterprise users -- and the many different purposes for which it's used. Its EC2 cloud has "five times the IaaS cloud compute capacity in use than the aggregate total of the other 14 providers," said Gartner analysts.
Amazon also offers an advanced cloud architecture with multiple availability zones. "It has the richest array of IaaS features and PaaS-like capabilities and continues to expand its service offerings. It is the provider most frequently chosen for strategic adoption," the Gartner Magic Quadrant analysts reported.
The cloud Magic Quadrant is more than a quick-hit graphic. Behind it is a 50-page report from noted cloud analyst Lydia Leong, plus analysts Douglas Toombs, Bob Gill, Gregor Petri, and Tiny Haynes.
Microsoft's IaaS through Azure has only been generally available for a little over a year. Still, it moved up to share the Leaders quadrant because it both offers standalone compute capabilities and can "seamlessly interoperate with on-premises Microsoft infrastructure (rooted in Hyper-V, Windows Server, Active Directory, and System Center.) With SaaS applications as well, its vision is "global and it is aggressively expanding into multiple international markets," said the Gartner analysts.
Microsoft's existing customer relationships, history of running Internet-scale consumer operations, and deep investment in engineering indicate that once it formulated an ambitious cloud road map it was positioned to implement it, the analysts said.
"It is second in terms of cloud IaaS market share -- albeit a distant second -- but far ahead of its smaller competitors," the analysts wrote. Microsoft is one of the few vendors committed to match Amazon pricing, and it offers discounts on top of that to enterprise customers and Microsoft Developer Network users. But it doesn't have a lot of network options in the Azure cloud. It must rely on Equinix data centers as a communications hub through Microsoft's Express Route service. In addition, the Azure cloud is a Windows cloud that "has little in the way of Linux options... the offering is very Microsoft-centric and appeals primarily to .Net developers," the analysts concluded.
Microsoft also landed in Gartner's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) Leaders quadrant last January. The combination of IaaS and PaaS means
Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio
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