Gartner research related to Amazon’s outage

In the wake of Amazon’s recent outage, we know we have Gartner clients who are interested in what we’ve written about Amazon in the past, and our existing recommendations for using cloud IaaS, and managing cloud-related risks. While we’re comfortable with our current advice, we’re also in the midst of some internal debate about what new recommendations may emerge out of this event, I’m posting a list of research notes that clients may find helpful as they sort through their thinking. This is just a reading list; it is by no means a comprehensive list of Gartner research related to Amazon or cloud IaaS. If you are a client, you may want to do your own search of the research, or ask our client services folks for help.

I will mark notes as “Core” (available to regular Gartner clients), “GBL” (available to technology and service provider clients who have subscribed to Gartner for Business Leaders or a product with similar access to research targeted at vendors), or “ITP” (available to clients of the Burton Group’s services, known as Gartner for IT Professionals post-acquisitions).

If you are specifically concerned about this particular Amazon outage and its context, and you want to read just one cautionary note, read Will Your Data Rain When the Cloud Bursts?, by my colleague Jay Heiser. It’s specifically about the risk of storage failure in the public cloud, and what you should ask your provider about their recoverability.

You might also be interested in our Cloud Computing: Infrastructure as a Service research round-up, for research related to both external cloud IaaS, and internal private clouds.

Amazon EC2

We first profiled Amazon EC2 in-depth in the November 2008 note, Is Amazon EC2 Right For You? (Core). It provides a brief overview of EC2, and examines the business case for using it, what applications are suited to using it, and the operational considerations. While some of the information is now outdated, the core questions outlined there are still valid. I am currently in the process of writing an update to this note, which will be out in a few weeks.

A deeper-dive profile can be found in the November 2009 note, Amazon EC2: Is It Ready For the Enterprise? (ITP). This goes into more technical detail (although it is also slightly out of date), and looks at it from an “enterprise readiness” standpoint, including suitability to run certain types of workloads, and a view on security and risk.

Amazon was one of the vendors profiled in our December 2010 multi-provider evaluation, Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service and Web Hosting (Core). The evaluation is focused in the context of EC2. This is the most recent competitive view of the market that we’ve published. Our thinking on some of these vendors has changed since the time it was published (and we are working on writing an update, in the form of an MQ specific to public cloud); if you are currently evaluating cloud IaaS, or any part of Amazon Web Services, we encourage you to call and place an inquiry.

Amazon S3

We did an in-depth profile for Amazon S3 in the November 2008 note, A Look at Amazon’s S3 Cloud-Computing Storage Service (Core). This note is now somewhat outdated, but please do make a client inquiry if you want to get our current thinking.

The October 2010 note, in Cloud Storage Infrastructure-as-a-Service Providers, North America (Core), provides a “who’s who” list of quick profiles of the major cloud storage providers.

An in-depth examination of cloud storage, focused on the technology and market more so than the vendors (although it does have a chart of competitive positioning), is given in the December 2010 note, Market Profile: Cloud-Storage Service Providers, 2011 (ITP).

The major cloud storage vendors are profiled in some depth in the June 2010 note, Competitive Landscape: Cloud Storage Infrastructure as a Service, North America, 2010 (GBL).

Other Amazon-Specific Things

The June 2009 note, Software on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud: How to Tell Hype From Reality (Core), explores the issues of running commercial software on Amazon EC2, as well as how to separate vendor claims of Amazon partnerships from the reality of what they’re doing.

Amazon was one of the vendors who responded to the cloud rights and responsibilities published by the Gartner Global IT Council for Cloud Services. Their response, and Gartner commentary on it, can be found in Vendor Response: How Providers Address the Cloud Rights and Responsibilities (Core).

Amazon’s Elastic MapReduce service is profiled in the January 2011 note, Hadoop and MapReduce: Big Data Analytics (ITP).

Cloud IaaS, in General

A seven-part note, the top-level note of which is Evaluating Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (Core), goes into extensive detail about the range of options available in cloud IaaS provider, and how to evaluate those providers. You are highly encouraged to read it to understand the full range of market options; there’s a lot more to the market than just Amazon.

To understand the breadth of the market, and the players in particular segments, read Market Insight: Structuring the Cloud Compute IaaS Market (GBL). This is targeted at vendors ho want to understand buyer profiles and how they map to the offerings in the market.

Help with evaluating what type of data center solution is right for you can be found in the framework laid out in Data Center Sourcing: Cloud, Host, Co-Lo, or Do It Yourself (ITP).

Help with evaluating your application’s suitability for a move to the cloud can be found in Migrating Applications to the Cloud: Rehost, Refactor, Revise, Rebuild, or Replace? (ITP), which takes an in-depth look at the factors you should consider when evaluating your application portfolio in a cloud context.

Risk Management

We’ve recently produced a great deal of research related to cloud sourcing. A catalog of that research can be found in Manage Risk and Unexpected Costs During the Cloud Sourcing Revolution (Core). There’s a ton of critical advice there, especially with regard to contracting, that make these notes a must-read.

We provide a framework for evaluating cloud security and risks in Developing a Cloud Computing Security Strategy (ITP). This offers a deep dive into security and compliance issues, including how to build a cross-functional team to deal with these issues.

We take a look at assessment and auditing frameworks for cloud computing, in Determining Criteria for Cloud Security Assessment: It’s More than a Checklist (ITP). This goes deep into detail on risk assessment, assessment of provider controls, and the emerging industry standards for cloud security.

We caution about the risks of expecting that a cloud provider will have such a high level of reliability that a business continuity and recoverability are no long necessary, in Will Your Data Rain When the Cloud Bursts? (Core). This note is specifically primarily focused on data recoverability.

We provide a framework for cloud risk mitigation in Managing Availability and Performance Risks in the Cloud: Expect the Unexpected (ITP). This provides solid advice on planning your bail-out strategy, distributing your applications/data/services, and buying cyber-risk insurance.

If you are using a SaaS provider, and you’re concerned about their underlying infrastructure, we encourage you to ask them a set of Critical Questions. There are three research notes, covering Infrastructure, Security, and Recovery (all Core). These notes are somewhat old, but the questions are still valid ones.

Posted on May 1, 2011, in Infrastructure and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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