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Gartner Inc. pointed to Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) and Microsoft Azure as the only “leaders” in its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) classification of cloud providers in a Magic Quadrant market research report.
Gartner describes these two leaders as “visionaries” and includes CenturyLink, Google, VMware, IBM/SoftLayer, and others. Gartner classified Rackspace, Joyent and Virtustream as “niche” providers. They also included Interroute, CSC (Dimension Data), Fujitsu, NTT Communications, Verizon, Joyent and Virtustream.
Gartner ranked Amazon as the best cloud provider, despite AWS and Azure being the only leaders. According to the report, AWS has the largest customer base and offers the most diverse use cases including mission-critical and enterprise applications. It is the dominant market leader with more than 10 times the cloud IaaS computing capacity than the total of the 14 other providers in this Magic Quadrant.
According to the report, AWS has a multiyear competitive advantage over Google and Microsoft. A Microsoft spokesperson stated that Azure still has more cloud IaaS computing capacity than the combined total of all other providers in the Magic Quadrant, except for AWS. Microsoft officials often point out that Azure has more datacenters in the world than AWS or Google combined with 19.
She stated that this speaks strongly to Gartner’s belief in the IaaS market consolidating around a few leading vendors. “Microsoft is experiencing significant usage and growth in Azure with over 90,000 new Azure customers each month, more than 50 billion objects now stored in Azure storage system, and 425 million Azure Active Directory users. In addition to strong use of Infrastructure-as-a-Service capabilities, we’re also seeing over 60 percent of Azure customers using at least one higher level service.”
According to the report, Amazon has the most IaaS features and PaaS-like capabilities. It continues to expand its service offerings rapidly and offer higher-level solutions. Microsoft claimed it is the only vendor that Gartner has identified as a leader in both the IaaS/PaaS categories. She said that customers can use these capabilities together in a seamless manner because they are different from other vendors. Azure Resource Manager, for example, enables customers to use a single, coherent application model for IaaS or PaaS services. The Azure Preview Portal seamlessly blends IaaS with PaaS so customers don’t have to work in different environments.
Gartner also highlighted reliability issues that plague Azure, including many outages. However, it noted significant improvements over the past one year. “We are committed in applying learnings when incidents occur, to prevent recurrences or similar interruptions, and to improve our communications and support responses so that customers feel confident and supported by us and the service,” she stated. She pointed to Microsoft’s Root Cause Analysis to see recent improvements.
The report advised those who choose Azure to not jump in too quickly. The report recommended that customers who plan to adopt Azure strategically and migrate their applications over a one-year period (finishing in 2016) can start to deploy workloads now. However, customers with a wide range of immediate enterprise requirements may face challenges.
Microsoft stated that it is working hard to add new features and Gartner acknowledged this in its report. The spokeswoman added that over the past 12 months, Microsoft had added more than 500 features and services to its Azure platform. These included robust IaaS/PaaS capabilities and offerings that enable consistency between on-prem as well as the cloud, so customers can achieve hybrid scenarios.

By Delilah