I’ve received various queries from people, particularly analyst relations folks at vendors, trying to understand what I cover, especially as it relates to cloud computing, so I figured I’d devote a blog post to explaining.
Gartner analysts do not really have “official coverage areas” defined by titles, and our coverage shifts dynamically based on client needs and our own interests. We are matrix-managed, and our research falls into “agendas” (which may be outside our “home team”) and we collaborate across the company in “research communities”. I report into a team called Enterprise Network Services within our Technology and Service Providers group (i.e., what was Dataquest), but I spend about 90% of my time answering end-user inquiries, with the remainder split between vendors and investors. I focus on North America but also track my markets globally. I’m responding for sizing and forecasting my markets, too.
I use the term “Internet infrastructure services” to succinctly describe my coverage, but other terms, like “emerging enterprise network services” are used, as well. I cover services that are enabled by networks, rather than networking per se.
My coverage falls into the following broad buckets:
- Hosting, colocation, and the general market for data center space.
- Content delivery networks, and application delivery networks as a service.
- The Internet ecosystem, enabling technologies like DNS, policy issues, etc.
- Cloud computing.
Cloud computing, of course, is an enormously broad topic, and it’s covered across Gartner in many areas of specialization, with those of us who track it closely collaborating via our Cloud research community.
My particular focus in the cloud realm is on cloud infrastructure services — public clouds and “virtual private” clouds, on the infrastructure side (i.e., excluding SaaS, consumer content/apps, etc.). Because so many of these services are, in their currently-nascent stage, basically a way to host applications built using Web technologies, and compete directly in that same market, it’s been a very natural extension of my coverage of hosting. But by the nature of the topic, my coverage also crosses into everything else touching the space.
Our end-user customers (IT managers and architects) ask me questions like:
- Help me cut through the hype and figure out this cloud thing.
- Help me to understand what cloud offerings are available today.
- Given my requirements, is there a cloud service that’s right for me?
- What short-list of vendors should I look at for cloud infrastructure?
- What’s the cost of the various cloud options?
- What should I think about when considering putting a project in the cloud?
- What will I need to do in order to get my application to run in the cloud?
- What best practices can I learn from cloud vendors?
Our vendor customers ask me questions like:
- How is the cloud transformation going to affect my business?
- What do users care about when purchasing a cloud service?
- What does the competitive landscape look like?
- What should I be thinking about in my three-year roadmap?
- What are the technologies that I should be exploiting?
- Who should I acquire for competitive advantage?
My research is primarily grounded in the here-and-now — from what’s available now, to what’s going to be important over the next five years. However, like everyone who covers cloud computing, I’m also hunched over the crystal ball, trying to see a decade or two into the future. But companies buy stuff thinking about their needs right now and maybe their needs three years out, and vendors think about the next year’s product plans and how it positions them three years out, so I’m kept pretty busy dealing within the more immediate-term window of “how do I cut through the hype to use cloud to bring measurable benefit to my business?”