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Gartner’s 2013 MQ for Public Cloud IaaS: Catching Up With Reality

I love Gartner’s Magic Quadrants. They do a great job of summarizing lots of useful information in a clear, simple way. (I also love the Gartner Hype Cycle for the same reason.) And for anybody interested in the cloud, the latest MQ for Public Cloud IaaS is essential reading.

But Gartner analysts are people, just like you and me. They have feelings and histories that influence their perspective. Looking at the 2013 IaaS MQ reminded me of this.

To get some perspective, here’s the 2012 Magic Quadrant for public cloud IaaS:

Figure 1.Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service

Amazon Web Services is out in front, as it should be, but there are four other vendors in the Leaders quadrant.

Here’s the 2013 MQ for public cloud IaaS, published just ten months later:

Figure 1.Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service

AWS is now way ahead, almost alone in the leaders quadrant. What’s happened here?

One possibility is that AWS really has made that much progress in ten months, leaving its competitors in the dust. Another is that its competitors, including the former leaders, have stood still, letting Amazon widen its lead. But is it likely that either (or both) of these things were large enough to warrant such a big change in only ten months? No.

What’s more likely is that Gartner’s perception has caught up with reality. The 2012 MQ always bothered me–it just didn’t reflect my experience. I spend much of my time in the cloud world, whether speaking at conferences or talking with enterprise IT leaders or working with cloud vendors. Everybody in this world knows that Amazon is the IaaS leader–there’s no question. Yet even at the end of 2012, asking people who was second in IaaS usually produced a blank stare. Nobody else was even close.

While companies like Terremark, Savvis, CSC, and Dimension Data are fine organizations, they’re primarily offering VMware-based enterprise cloud solutions. If you believe that the future likely belongs to what Gartner calls “best-effort” clouds (as I do), these companies (which mainly offer what Gartner calls “reliable” clouds) are barely in the same market as Amazon. And their public cloud market share in late 2012 was massively smaller than Amazon’s, as it is today.

So why did Gartner put all of them in the 2012 Leaders quadrant? First, it was less clear then that enterprises would take to best-effort clouds. The reliable clouds provided by these other vendors looked like they might be a better choice. Just as important, for a group of Gartner analysts coming to the cloud from the virtualization market, VMware-based solutions were bound to look attractive. It’s what everybody already had, and it was what the analysts knew.

Given all of this, I’d suggest that the Gartner 2013 MQ doesn’t reflect change in AWS as much as it does change in Gartner’s understanding of the market. It’s the 2012 MQ that was off the mark; the 2013 version comes closer to reality.

A few more thoughts:

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