Movers And Shakers: Here's Who Made Gartner's 2013 Cloud IaaS Magic Quadrant

You're On The List

Gartner published its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service vendors last month, and (surprise, surprise) Amazon Web Services is still top dog in the space. But unlike last year, when Amazon shared the top-ranking "Leader" category with four other cloud IaaS vendors, this time, only CSC made the cut this time.

Gartner only ranked cloud IaaS vendors in the Magic Quadrant, and focused on public cloud and private cloud providers that feature self-service and automation in a standardized environment. Use cases include development and testing, internal and external facing production environments, high-performance computing, and disaster recovery.

While Amazon got a head start on the rest of the cloud IaaS market, Google is now in the game with Google Compute Engine. VMware has also waded into the public cloud waters with vCloud Hybrid Service. But since both services were in beta when Gartner released its Magic Quadrant in August, the research firm didn't include either.

Leader: Amazon Web Services

Amazon was first to figure out how to package and deliver cloud IaaS services in a simple, easy-to-consume fashion and, for this, it has been rewarded with a dominant status in the marketplace.

Strengths: AWS currently is using more than five times the compute capacity of all the other 14 cloud IaaS vendors in the Magic Quadrant combined, Gartner said.

"It is a thought leader; it is extraordinarily innovative, exceptionally agile and very responsive to the market," Gartner said of AWS in the report.

Amazon's aggressive pricing, as well as its huge technology partner ecosystem and its geographically dispersed data centers, are also advantages, Gartner said in the report.

Cautions: Though Amazon's pricing is low, it charges extra for things that other cloud IaaS providers have bundled into their services. For example, enterprise-grade support costs extra. So, figuring out the real costs of AWS can be tricky, Gartner said.

Amazon also sells a wide range of compute instance "families" and that can make it tough for customers to figure out which ones they need to meet performance goals, Gartner said.

Leader: CSC

CSC is another formidable cloud vendor who's got the whole package: globally distributed data centers, a VCE Vblock-based cloud IaaS architecture with public cloud, hybrid cloud and private cloud hosted in a CSC data center or the customer's own data center.

Strengths: CSC has "fully embraced the highly standardized, highly automated cloud model," according to Gartner. That means balancing the control needs of enterprises with the elastic, economically beneficial attributes of the cloud, and it's not an easy one to strike.

CSC also has a standard infrastructure for both public and private clouds and a rate card that spans both, said Gartner, which described CSC's pricing as "very competitive."

Cautions: CSC is running its cloud division as a separate business unit, which "sometimes brings it into conflict with its slower-moving and more conservative parent company," Gartner said.

CSC also has been slowly cutting its reliance on VMware and developing its own software, an approach that has potential benefits but could put it into competition with companies with vast resources and in-house engineering teams, Gartner said.

Challenger: Dimension Data

Dimension Data, a multiational VAR and SI, sells a VMware-powered public cloud IaaS as well as a private cloud IaaS. Dimension Data got into the cloud IaaS game through its 2011 acquisition of SaaS OpSource, and has maintained its billing platform, help desk and custom app management, Gartner said.

Strengths: Dimension Data's Managed Cloud Platform has a common architecture spanning public and private clouds, which is relatively unique in the market, Gartner said. It offers sales and marketing enablement to its OneCloud Alliance members and is also working toward a model that will let service providers sell its offerings under a white label model, Gartner said.

Cautions: Dimension Data uses VMware virtualization but is not embracing the full vCloud suite, choosing instead to develop its own software, Gartner said. Dimension Data is owned by NTT, and while NTT has chosen to give it free reign, "continued support and noninterference" will be needed going forward, Gartner said.

Challenger: Savvis

Savvis sells public and private cloud IaaS services under its Symphony brand. Parent company CenturyLink sells a public cloud IaaS called SavvisDirect.

Strengths: Savvis has a "very broad, multitiered IaaS product portfolio," strong security features and deep expertise delivering cloud services to enterprises. Its customer portal is another advantage; Gartner said it has "one of the most comprehensive feature sets in the hosting industry."

Cautions: Savvis has a large product portfolio with many different options, and that can be "confusing" for some customers, Gartner said. The quality customer service "is declining across Savvis' lines of business, including the cloud IaaS business," said Gartner.

Challenger: Verizon Terremark

Verizon Terremark includes Verizon's data center, cloud and security units, as well as its Enterprise Cloud brand of VMware-powered services. Verizon Terremark is the "market share leader in VMware-virtualized public cloud IaaS," according to Gartner.

Strengths: Verizon Terremark's 2011 acquisition of CloudSwitch brought a tool for migrations and interoperabiity with other vendors' clouds, including Amazon Web Services. That deal brought in key management talent, Gartner said.

Cautions: Verizon Terremark is taking an unusual approach for a carrier by focusing on agile development, but that could lead to issues with its parent company, Gartner suggested.

"This is an unusual strategy for a company owned by a telecom carrier, and it is highly dependent on Verizon's willingness to interfere minimally with management," Gartner said in the report.

Visionary: Microsoft

Windows Azure started out as a Platform-as-a-Service, but earlier this year Microsoft added IaaS to the mix. The software giant delivers its public cloud IaaS from data centers on the U.S. East and West Coasts, Ireland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Singapore. Microsoft also has a huge private cloud business based around Windows Server.

Strengths: Microsoft has focused on integrating its Azure public cloud IaaS with one premise infrastructure products like Active Directory and System Center, Gartner said. Other advantages Gartner listed include an "attractive and easy-to-use" user interface, global customer relationships and lots of experience running large-scale web services.

Cautions: Azure IaaS is still new and many of its key features are still in beta or "coming soon," and Microsoft hasn't yet built an ecosystem of partners around it, Gartner said. Azure also lacks enterprise Linux options and, overall, the offering is "very Microsoft-centric and appeals primarily to .Net developers," Gartner said.

Visionary: Rackspace

Rackspace has moved beyond its roots in managed hosting to offer public cloud IaaS, private cloud and SaaS. Rackspace co-founded OpenStack and supports OpenStack-based private clouds in customers' data centers as well as its own.

Strengths: Rackspace has "outstanding marketing" and a flagship offering, Cloud Servers, that is easy to use with great customer support, Gartner said. Cloud Servers is also one of the least expensive entry-level cloud IaaS services on the market, making it ideal for organizations that are testing the cloud waters.

Cautions : Rackspace's feature set "lags behind" cloud IaaS market leaders and its offering is more geared toward developers than enterprises, Gartner said.

And since Rackspace no longer controls OpenStack, it's possible the technology could evolve in ways that help other vendors, including ones that Rackspace competes with, Gartner said.

Niche Player: Tier 3

Tier 3 is a smaller cloud IaaS player, but it also has Web Fabric, a PaaS based on Cloud Foundry, the VMware project that's now part of Pivotal; as well as Iron Foundry, the .Net extension of Cloud Foundry.

Tier 3 has data centers in the U.S., Canada, England and Germany, some of which it runs in partnership with Peer 1 Hosting.

Strengths: Gartner is enthused over Tier 3's "excellent, highly differentiated set of features" as well as its "well-engineered platform" and "easy-to-use self-service portal." Tier 3 strikes a rare balance between appealing to cloud developers while also including management and governance features that big enterprises require.

Cautions: Gartner said Tier 3 has "limited brand awareness, marketing budget and sales capacity," which could all make it difficult to get noticed as the cloud market becomes more crowded, Gartner said. Tier 3's mix of technology also makes it a "highly attractive" acquisition target.

Niche Player: Joyent

Joyent sells public cloud IaaS on a per-VM basis as well as private clouds. Joyent runs its clouds on SmartOS, an open-source offshoot of OpenSolaris that's built for high-performance workloads. It's also the corporate sponsor of Node.js.

Strengths: Gartner described Joyent's vision for cloud IaaS as "unique" and said its technology is "exceptionally innovative" compared against the rest of the cloud market. Joyent also focuses on mobile apps, big data applications and "massively parallel data analytics," Gartner said.

Cautions: Joyent's cloud IaaS is very developer-focused and centered on cloud native apps. "It emphasizes API capabilities and the enablement of third-party tools, rather than portal capabilities of its own," Gartner said in the report.

And because Joyent's technology is unique, the vendor is going to need an active ecosystem of third-party ISVs and developers to push it forward, and that effort is "not yet mature," Gartner said.

Niche Player: Virtustream

Virtustream is a small cloud IaaS player with data centers on the East and West coasts of the U.S. as well as in England. The company also sells xStream, which is software that runs on its cloud platform.

Strengths: Virtustream's management includes former consultants with VMware and SAP expertise, and the company has successfully landed large enterprise deals due to its focus on production workloads, Gartner said in the report.

Cautions: Virtustream's focus on the enterprise and production workloads makes it more appropriate for specific types of enterprise app use cases, as opposed to the soft of general purpose, self-service functionality of other cloud IaaS players, Gartner said.

Niche Player: Fujitsu

Fujitsu is a global IT hardware and software behemoth with a wide range of public and private cloud IaaS offerings. It has data centers in the U.S. (West Coast), Germany, England, Australia, Japan and Singapore.

Strengths: Fujitsu has a giant global sales team selling to customers all over the world, and so it has what Gartner described as a "captive audience" for its cloud IaaS services. Fujitsu also builds a lot of its own technology for its IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offerings.

Cautions: Gartner didn't sugar-coat its assessment of Fujitsu's cloud IaaS services, noting that "its feature set lags the market leaders" and "VM provisioning times are lengthy compared to other providers." Fujitsu also can't meet common compliance requirements, Gartner said.

Niche Player: Hewlett-Packard

HP's cloud IaaS offering, called HP Public Cloud, uses KVM and is based on OpenStack. HP also sells cloud-enabled infrastructure services like the HP Enterprise Services Virtual Private Cloud.

Strengths: Gartner described HP's vision for interoperable public and private clouds built on its hardware, software and partner ecosystem as "ambitious and comprehensive." Other advantages include a large global sales force and marketing budget, Gartner said.

Cautions: HP launched its public cloud IaaS last December, so it's still pretty new to the game, Gartner said. There also is "limited interoperability" between HP's Public Cloud and private clouds based on HP CloudSystem.

"HP Public Cloud's inability to import VM images on a self-service basis means that customers cannot currently directly transfer workloads from their private cloud to HP Public Cloud, even if their private cloud is based on OpenStack," Gartner said in the report.

Niche Player: SoftLayer

Although IBM acquired SoftLayer in July, Gartner did a separate analysis of its cloud Iaas business. One big reason IBM wanted SoftLayer, an SMB-focused cloud provider, was for its data center footprint, which includes multiple data centers in the U.S. and locations in Singapore and the Netherlands.

Strengths: Gartner praised SoftLayer as a "thought leader in automated, highly standardized infrastructure services" with per-instance, paid-by-the-hour pricing and automatic response to system failures.

Cautions: While SoftLayer's business is centered on SMBs, IBM will provide the enterprise-evel expertise to expand its focus to larger customers. That said, SoftLayer's proprietary API "has not gained widespread third-party tool support," Gartner said.

Niche Player: GoGrid

GoGrid is a small cloud provider with data centers in the Netherlands and the U.S. Its Xen-based VMs are focused on cloud developers and are available as multitenant and single-tenant options.

Strengths: Despite its small size, GoGrid has a common architecture spanning its public and private portfolio. Gartner also praised its "broad and aggressive SLAs" that feature 100 percent availability across servers, storage and networking. ISVs like GoGrid because they can license and package their software to run on its cloud with a minimum of fuss.

Cautions: GoGrid develops all of its software in-house and has its own API. This approach has its benefits but also could make it tough for it to compete with bigger players with deeper pockets in the long term, Gartner said. Its feature set for enterprises also is somewhat lacking, Gartner said.

Niche Player: IBM

IBM offers public cloud IaaS through its SmartCloud Enterprise (SCE) and delivers the services from data centers in the U.S., as well as in Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Singapore and Brazil.

IBM also sells a cloud-enabled infrastructure service, IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+, and Platform-as-a-Aervice.

Strengths: IBM has a broad range of cloud offerings, and its PaaS works well with SmartCloud Enterprise, Gartner said.

Cautions: Gartner had many concerns, including that SmartCloud Enterprise "still lags significantly" behind competitors in terms of features. IBM's security also is weak and may make it difficult for enterprises to meet regulatory compliance requirements, Gartner said.

IBM also has a "weak" SLA and charges extra for maintenance.

Other issues Gartner raised include a murky OpenStack commitment and uncertainty over future strategic direction in the wake of IBM's acquisition of SoftLayer, which closed in July.