AWS Dominates In Gartner's '2015 Critical Capabilities For Public Cloud IaaS Report'

Critical Capabilities Contest

Gartner recently released its "2015 Critical Capabilities for Public Cloud IaaS" report, evaluating the chops of 15 Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers (up through October 2015) when applied to the four use cases most common to cloud computing.

Amazon Web Services was the winner for every use case analyzed by Gartner.

The researcher's analysis delivered valuable insights into the providers' unique areas of strengths and weaknesses -- insights that can help partners and customers select the right cloud for the right job.

While cloud technology has gotten "sufficiently mature for most needs," providers continue to rapidly introduce innovative capabilities and usher in improvements, Gartner said. But at the same time, buyer expectations and competitive pressure are increasing, causing many providers to struggle.

"For most such providers, the gap between their capabilities and the capabilities of the market leaders is growing, not shrinking," the Gartner report noted.

Use Cases And Methodology

In the cloud's early years, the primary use cases for IaaS were application development and testing, batch computing, and hosting the new crop of cloud-native applications. But now that "the public cloud IaaS market has entered its second phase of maturity," the Gartner report noted, another common use case has emerged: hosting mainstream business applications.

To rank providers, Gartner considered eight categories of capabilities: compute resilience, architecture flexibility, security and compliance, user management, enterprise integration, automation and DevOps enablement, scaling, and big data enablement.

Each provider received a score for each category from 1 to 5 -- poor to outstanding -- for each of the four major use cases: application development, batch computing, cloud-native applications and general business applications.

The eight individual category scores were averaged for the final score for each use case.

Amazon Web Services

Application Development: 4.81 (1 of 15)

Batch Computing: 4.81 (1 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 4.84 (1 of 15)

General Business Applications: 4.53 (1 of 15)

Amazon Web Services, the public cloud market's undisputed top dog, delivers the best set of critical capabilities for every use case analyzed by Gartner.

Gartner praised AWS for its leadership, cutting-edge capabilities, security and regulatory compliance credentials, as well as reliable service.

The cloud that "essentially created the cloud IaaS market" in 2006 "still offers the richest suite of public cloud IaaS capabilities, along with deep and broad PaaS-layer capabilities."

"A strong ecosystem of managed and professional services partners facilitate adoption of its platform," Gartner said.


Application Development: 3.48 (2 of 15)

Batch Computing: 4.15 (2 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 3.99 (2 of 15)

General Business Applications: 3.67 (3 of 15)

In step with market share, Microsoft Azure is (mostly) entrenched in second place.

Microsoft's cloud combines a rich suite of IaaS and PaaS capabilities within an integrated solution portfolio.

"Although Microsoft Azure is not as mature or feature-rich as AWS, it is still suitable for a broad range of use cases that run well under virtualization, and it has its own distinct set of capabilities," Gartner said.

Azure also benefits as the go-to cloud for hosting Windows applications, or those written with Microsoft tools or dependent on Microsoft middleware. While a "capable environment for digital business workloads and other cloud-native applications, including mobile back ends and Internet of Things applications," Azure's governance capabilities are still works-in-progress, Gartner noted.

And because regions don't have multiple data centers, resiliency can be a problem, according to Gartner.


Application Development: 2.83 (7 of 15)

Batch Computing: 3.72 (3 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 3.58 (3 of 15)

General Business Applications: 3.03 (7 of 15)

Google Cloud Platform emphasizes self-service and access through APIs.

"It has a relatively rich set of capabilities and should appeal strongly to developers building new cloud-native applications," Gartner said. That especially applies to those who want to do things the "Google way".

Compute Engine, the IaaS component, is also a "very attractive platform for batch computing" with fast provisioning, lots of available capacity, per-minute metering and low-cost virtual machine options.

But Google is weak at integrating with on-premise infrastructure, with its hybrid efforts mostly focused on containers and the Kubernetes container orchestration platform it developed and later open-sourced.

Google's cloud doesn't offer much assistance to users who want to "lift and "shift" their legacy apps, according to Gartner.


Application Development: 2.98 (4 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.64 (7 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 3.00 (5 of 15)

General Business Applications: 3.17 (4 of 15)

The telecom company procured the technology underlying its CenturyLink Cloud by buying Tier 3, and now "attempts to tread the middle ground between the needs of IT operators and developers," Gartner noted.

In that spirit, CenturyLink Cloud provides services that appeal to traditional IT operations teams, but are also easy for developers to leverage through APIs.

The cloud can either be self-serviced or procured through add-on managed services "that are heavily automated but still have some human-guided elements," Gartner said.

Most customers, especially those with security or regulatory concerns, opt for some managed services.

Suitable for general business applications, CenturyLink Cloud can be considered for the "lift and shift" of legacy applications, according to Gartner.

IBM (SoftLayer)

Application Development: 2.42 (11 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.48 (10 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.35 (5 of 15)

General Business Applications: 2.40 (12 of 15)

According to Gartner, SoftLayer's primary strength lies in its bare-metal capabilities. For that reason, IBM's public cloud appeals to some users looking for scalable infrastructure with a bare-metal component to meet licensing or regulatory demands.

But SoftLayer lacks key compute resilience features and limits imported virtual machines to only a few OS versions, Gartner said. Weak user management capabilities make SoftLayer unsuitable for most large application development projects, the research firm said.

SoftLayer's services were originally designed for the small-business market, Gartner noted, "and its greatest weaknesses are in the capabilities that are desired by larger organizations."

"SoftLayer is best-suited to batch computing use cases that require bare metal," Gartner found.


Application Development: 2.98 (5 of 15)

Batch Computing: 3.27 (4 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 3.32 (4 of 15)

General Business Applications: 2.69 (10 of 15)

Organizations looking for an OpenStack-based public cloud will find in the Rackspace Public Cloud "a solid set of core compute, storage and networking capabilities, presented in an easy-to-use portal," Gartner said.

For that reason, Rackspace's cloud -- the unmanaged version -- is often provisioned for use cases associated with OpenStack's strengths, such as providing scalable infrastructure for cloud-native applications and batch computing.

But Rackspace lacks governance features needed to manage large numbers of users and doesn't offer the enterprise integration features typically desired for the "lift and shift" of existing business applications, Gartner found.


Application Development: 3.21 (3 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.62 (8 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.51 (8 of 15)

General Business Applications: 3.73 (2 of 15)

While acquired by EMC earlier this year, Virtustream remains an independent cloud operator that offers a solid platform for hosting mission-critical, traditional enterprise applications.

"It has significant capabilities in infrastructure resiliency, security and regulatory compliance, although not all such capabilities are self-service," Gartner noted.

A range of unique and proprietary capabilities allow Virtustream to deliver agile and efficient IT services, Gartner said, and the provider doesn't focus much on developer enablement or DevOps-style management.

"In contrast to most other cloud IaaS providers, whose services are optimized for scale-out applications, Virtustream specializes in scale-up, mission-critical enterprise applications," Gartner said.

Virtustream is also a specialist in SAP hosting and application development.


Application Development: 2.80 (8 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.00 (14 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.10 (15 of 15)

General Business Applications: 2.53 (11 of 15)

Verizon's been in the IaaS business since acquiring Terremark in 2008, but most of its current technology and personnel comes from CloudSwitch, a company acquired in 2011.

While Verizon sells service subscriptions to several distinct environments, Gartner evaluated only one: the Virtual Private Cloud.

"This offering contains a solid core of compute, storage and networking capabilities, along with a marketplace," Gartner noted. "Unfortunately, the Verizon Cloud portal's performance is slow and prone to unexpected errors."

Useful features for managing users and infrastructure across environments are marred by the portal, according to Gartner. Small VM sizes also limit the range of use cases.

Verizon's product may be a good fit for application developers, but not for hosting mission-critical business applications, Gartner found.


Application Development: 2.53 (10 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.41 (11 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.44 (9 of 15)

General Business Applications: 3.10 (5 of 15)

The strength of VMware's vCloud Air is in its resemblance to a vCloud data center.

The virtualization giant emphasizes workload portability between vCloud Air and on-premise VMware-virtualized infrastructure as part of a hybrid strategy. If an IT team's priority is having cloud infrastructure that is pretty much the same as what they're running on-premise, VMware's public cloud could be the best choice for application development and general business hosting needs, according to Gartner.

But vCloud Air offers little in the way of enabling developers, DevOps teams and IT transformation projects, the research firm said.

"vCloud Air will appeal to IT organizations that desire a cloud IaaS offering that allows them to continue to use their existing investments in VMware-based IT operations skills and management tools," Gartner noted.

Dimension Data

Application Development: 2.86 (6 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.66 (6 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.25 (tie for 13 of 15)

General Business Applications: 2.94 (8 of 15)

Dimension Data Public Compute-as-a-Service, a platform obtained through the acquisition of OpSource, "offers a solid set of core compute, storage and networking capabilities," Gartner said.

But Gartner noted the South African provider's cloud doesn't scale rapidly, offers few management and governance features, and lacks common software tools, such as a built-in database.

While developers might be attracted to the enterprise-class, VMware-based infrastructure that can reliably run production applications, the appeal is undermined by a proprietary API that has inhibited an ecosystem of third-party tools from cropping up, the research firm said.

"It may be suitable for SaaS vendors that need only basic infrastructure and intend to use Dimension Data's other SaaS-enablement capabilities," Gartner noted.


Application Development: 2.78 (9 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.19 (12 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.61 (7 of 15)

General Business Applications: 3.04 (6 of 15)

CSC is focused on enabling data center transformation, Gartner noted, and its cloud appeals to traditional IT organizations that value enterprise-class availability, security and governance, as well as those that want to implement DevOps methodologies.

CSC's BizCloud Virtual Private Edition (VPE) offers single-tenant compute but multitenant storage and networking. A multitenant compute offering, CloudCompute, has nearly identical capabilities.

Because both IaaS offerings are vCloud Datacenter Services, they're highly compatible with on-premises VMware infrastructure.

It all adds up to "a capable platform for general business applications that run well in a virtualized environment," Gartner said. That makes CSC a viable option for "lift and shift" projects.


Application Development: 2.42 (12 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.77 (5 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.37 (10 of 15)

General Business Applications: 2.16 (tie for 13 of 15)

Joyent recently rebranded its public cloud IaaS offering as the Joyent Triton Elastic Container Service. Customers can choose between native OS-based containers, Docker containers or VMs.

The architecture is container-native, with compute resources running in "Triton Zones," which offer additional security isolation to both containers and VMs.

While Joyent has some unique capabilities beyond container tech, it "should be looked at primarily as a distinctive container-oriented offering in the market, rather than as a general-purpose cloud IaaS offering," Gartner said.

But for organizations developing container-native apps, or that want to experiment with container tech, there's an obvious appeal.


Application Development: 2.30 (13 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.61 (9 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.67 (6 of 15)

General Business Applications: 2.80 (9 of 15)

The Interoute Virtual Data Centre (VDC) offers a unique degree of integration between Interoute's network services and its cloud infrastructure, noted Gartner.

"Interoute VDC is best-suited to deploying production applications that require integration with the WAN, such as multisite distributed applications and applications that replicate data across multiple data centers," Gartner said. "These can be either cloud-native applications or legacy applications."

But a dearth of critical features for user governance makes Interoute Virtual Data Centre an unlikely choice for customers who need to manage large numbers of users, according to the research firm. That limits the product's suitability for application development or batch computing use cases.

NTT Communications

Application Development: 1.99 (15 of 15)

Batch Computing: 2.10 (13 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.29 (12 of 15)

General Business Applications: 2.16 (tie for 13 of 15)

NTT Cloud, originally launched in 2012 by NTT's subsidiary Verio, offers an IaaS environment and a Cloud Foundry-based PaaS.

The Japanese provider's cloud contains a basic set of core compute, storage and networking capabilities complemented by other important features such as autoscaling and a relational database service.

But weak security and enterprise integration capabilities limit the appeal of running general business applications with NTT. A limited range of VM sizes constrains use cases, especially those related to batch computing.

But if you're a developer in Asia looking for a Cloud Foundry PaaS front end and a CloudStack-based environment, NTT might be a good choice, according to Gartner.


Application Development: 2.22 (14 of 15)

Batch Computing: 1.97 (15 of 15)

Cloud-Native Applications: 2.25 (tie for 13 of 15)

General Business Applications: 2.15 (15 of 15)

Fujitsu Cloud IaaS Trusted Public S5, a common global platform for Fujitsu's public and private IaaS products, offers unique APIs, a visual designer for infrastructure, and "significant depth" of portal features, including strong user management capabilities, Gartner said.

But the Fujitsu offering still ranks near, or at, the bottom of the rankings for every use case.

"Users are constrained by relatively low-performance compute and storage, limiting S5's suitability for use cases that require more compute power, larger amounts of RAM or faster I/O," Gartner said.

S5 could be suitable as a well-governed infrastructure lab environment for developers, or for hosting small general business applications that don't need much in the way of security or regulatory compliance, according to Gartner.