Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-Service (PaaS) have become almost indispensable for enterprises in the modern-day scenario. Add to this, the conditions brought about by COVID-19, and the importance of IaaS and PaaS has only increased. While the increase in demand has been a boon for Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), there are also specific challenges that increased demands bring.
The CSPs now are faced with the challenge to remain ahead of their competition, as well as fulfill the demands by their clients. Further, CSPs are also expected to adapt and modulate their offerings in sync with the dynamic situation spurred on by global events. As far as enterprises are concerned, they need to make informed choices when it comes to availing services from one or multiple CSPs in these times of uncertainty.
This is where Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services becomes so vital. The report by the prestigious organization not only keeps the CSPs on their toes but also allows customers to gain deeper insights about the services being offered. Overall, the Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services (CIPS) report brings clarity and perspective for the market.
The report notes a change in the scope of research as Gartner adapts to the dynamic nature of Cloud services and the market. While the report earlier covered only IaaS, the CIPS report covers application PaaS (aPaaS), functions as a service (FaaS), database PaaS (dbPaaS), application developer PaaS (adPaaS), and industrialized private cloud offerings. Now, coming to a breakdown of CSPs’ standings in the ‘Leader’ category of Magic Quadrants as defined by Gartner.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS has secured the top spot in the Leader quadrant of CIPS report. The report states that AWS is a strong performer when it comes to hybrid cloud and edge cloud sections. The largest share of IaaS and PaaS market pie, end-to-end solutions approach, and extremely good standalone financial health of the service are among some of the AWS’ strengths as noted in the CIPS report.
Coming to the downsides, the report states that recent ‘skirmishes’ that AWS had with Open-Source Software (OSS) communities, “risks alienating software developers.” Further, the report also states a lack of cohesion across the wide array of services offered by AWS. Lastly, Gartner says the AWS customers have an incorrect perception of the CSP reducing prices overall, something that can prove detrimental for AWS going ahead.
Microsoft Azure also finds itself in the Leader quadrant of the CIPS report. As per Gartner, Azure is a very good fit for Microsoft-centric enterprises. Microsoft’s partnerships with Oracle, SAP, and VMware, puts it in a good place with regard to container and serverless deployments, leading to better hybrid and edge solutions. Further, the concerted efforts with regard to OSS display the CSP’s focus at better service software developers. Microsoft’s established legacy with major enterprises often puts Azure at a sales advantage in the market.
Among the top concerns around Microsoft are its limited ratio of availability zones to regions paired with fewer services supporting the availability zone model. The lack of a guaranteed capacity promise to its customers is another shortcoming of this CSP. This lack of guaranteed capacity promise proved detrimental to many of Microsoft’s European customers at the peak of COVID-19’s impact. Lastly, the report highlights the expensive nature of Microsoft Unified Support and the lackluster experience of Azure technical support.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Google is the last entry in the Leader quadrant of the report. The CIPS report notes the efforts put in by Google to progress in the category. Google is focusing on introducing hybrid cloud solutions and tie-ups with telecom providers in the future. The report goes on to highlight Google’s “market-moving innovations” such as Kubernetes and TensorFlow, saying these have brought developer “mind-share” to GCP. Another positive noted by the report is Google’s efforts in closing capability gaps with regard to its closest competitor Azure. Google has also registered noticeable growth in year-on-year market share for IaaS and dbPaaS as compared to other CSPs. Lastly, Google is consolidating its big data and data science image and spreading into hybrid and multicloud model with Anthos, GCP container, and Kubernetes-based middleware layer.
Talking of concerns, the major issue pointed out by the CIPS report is Google’s “slowness in executing on some highly-touted partnerships.” Further, the report also notes Google’s lackluster presence among enterprise clients. Then, the report also points out the minimal revenue generated by GCP as compared to the parent organization’s gross revenue. Lastly, the CIPS report also points out the number of GCP outages during 2019, which severely impacted customer experience.
Lastly, the CIPS report lists a total of four Niche players — Alibaba Cloud, Oracle, IBM, and Tencent Cloud. As far as these four players are concerned, while they do remain very relevant for the industry, their drawbacks keep them in the niche section.
While Alibaba is a leader for CIPS when it comes to China, the report states its limited customer adoption in other parts of the world is a major concern, especially amid the current geopolitical scenario. Further, the report also points out the capability gap between Alibaba’s international and China-specific offerings.
Oracle has been making headways into markets all over the world. However, there are growing concerns around the adoption of Oracle’s newer PaaS-layer capabilities by its customer base. Further, the CSP also lags when it comes to market shares in the dbPaaS segment, and it becomes even more critical as Oracle has a history tied to its database products.
Tencent has experience when it comes to operating with western gaming companies, and has a larger IaaS market share than IBM or Oracle. However, Tencent has limited presence or recognition outside of China. Further, the CSP also is out of its depth when it comes to technological innovation and so far has been relegated to just following, not creating them.
Finally, IBM has a legacy lead in the market due to its extensive history with the Power Systems family of compute infrastructure. However, this advantage is significantly muted by legacy offerings and “uneven product development gains.”