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Gartner’s cloud IaaS assessments, 2019 edition

We’ve just completed our 2019 evaluations of cloud IaaS providers, resulting in a new Magic Quadrant, Critical Capabilities, and six Solution Scorecards — one for each of the providers included in the Magic Quadrant. This process has also resulted in fresh benchmarking data within Gartner’s Cloud Decisions tool, a SaaS offering available to Gartner for Technical Professionals clients, which contains benchmarks and monitoring results for many cloud providers.

As part of this, we are pleased to introduce Gartner’s new Solution Scorecards,  an updated document format for what we used to call In-Depth Assessments. Solution Scorecards assess an individual vendor solution against our recently-revised Solution Criteria (formerly branded Evaluation Criteria). They are highly detailed documents — typically 60 pages or so, assessing 265 individual capabilities as well as providing broader recommendations to Gartner clients.

The criteria are always divided into Required, Preferred, and Optional categories — essentially, things that everyone wants (and where they need to compensate/risk-mitigate if something is missing), things that most people want but can live without or work around readily, and things that are use case-specific. The Required, Preferred, and Optional criteria are weighted into a 4:2:1 ratio in order to calculate an overall Solution Score.

2019 Scores

If you are a Gartner for Technical Professionals client, the scorecards are available to you today. You can access them from the links below (Gartner paywall):

We will be providing a comparison of these vendors and their Solution Scorecards at the annual “Cloud Wars” presentation at the Gartner Catalyst conference — one of numerous great reasons to come to San Diego the week of August 11th (or Catalyst UK in London the week of September 15th)! Catalyst has tons of great content for cloud architects and other technical professionals involved in implementing cloud computing. 

Note that we are specifically assessing just the integrated IaaS+PaaS offerings — everything offered through a single integrated self-service experience and on a single contract. Also, only cloud services count; capabilities offered as software, hosting, or a human-managed service do not count. Capabilities also have to be first-party.

Also note that this is not a full evaluation of a cloud provider’s entire portfolio. The scorecards have “IaaS” in the title, and the scope is specified clearly in the Solution Criteria. For the details of which specific provider services or products were or were not evaluated, please refer to each specific Scorecard document.

All the scores are current as of the end of March, and count only generally-available (GA) capabilities. Because it takes weeks to work with vendors for them to review and ensure accuracy, and time to edit and publish, some capabilities will have gone beta or GA since that time; because we only score what we’re able to test, the evaluation period has a cut-off date. After that, we update the document text for accuracy but we don’t change the numerical scores. We expect to update the Solution Scorecards approximately every 6 months, and working to increase our cadence for evaluation updates.

This year’s scores vs. last year’s

When you review the scores, you’ll see that broadly, the scores are lower than they were in 2018, even though all the providers have improved their capabilities. There are several reasons why the 2019 scores are lower than in previous years. (For a full explanation of the revision of the Solution Criteria in 2019, see the related blog post.)

First, for many feature-sets, several Required criteria were consolidated into a single multi-part criterion with “table stakes” functionality; missing any part of that criterion caused the vendor to receive a “No” score for that criterion (“Yes” is 1 point; “No” is zero points; there is no partial credit). The scorecard text explains how the vendor does or does not meet each portion of a criterion. The text also mentions if there is beta functionality, or if a feature was introduced after the evaluation period.

Second, many criteria that were Preferred in 2018 were promoted to Required in 2019, due to increasing customer expectations. Similarly, many criteria that were Optional in 2018 are now Preferred. We introduced some brand-new criteria to all three categories as well, but providers that might have done well primarily on table-stakes Required functionality in previous years may have scored lower this year due to the increased customer expectations reflected by revised and new criteria.

Customizing the scores

The solution criteria, with all of the criteria detail, is available to all Gartner for Technical  Professionals clients, and comes with a spreadsheet that allows you to score any provider yourself; we also provide a filled-out spreadsheet with each Solution Scorecard so you can adapt the evaluation for your own needs. The Solution Scorecards are similarly transparent on which parts of a criterion are or aren’t met, and we link to documentation that provides evidence for each point (in some cases Gartner was provided with NDA information, in which case we tell you how to get that info from the provider). 

This allows you to customize the scores as you see fit. Thus, if you decide that getting 3 out of 4 elements of a criteria is good enough for you, or you think that the thing they miss isn’t relevant to you, or you want to give the provider credit for newly-released capabilities, or you want to do region-specific scoring, you can modify the spreadsheet accordingly. 

If you’re a Gartner client and are interested in discussing the solution criteria, assessment process, and the cloud providers, please schedule an inquiry or a 1-on-1 at Catalyst. We’d be happy to talk to you!

Updating Gartner’s cloud IaaS evaluation criteria

In February of this year, we revised the Evaluation Criteria for Cloud IaaS (Gartner paywall). The evaluation criteria (now rebranded Solution Criteria) are essentially the sort of criteria that prospective customers typically include in RFPs. They are highly detailed technical criteria, along with some objectively-verifiable business capabilities (such as elements in a technical support program, enterprise ISV partnerships, ability to support particular compliance requirements, etc.).

The Solution Criteria are intended to help cloud architects evaluate cloud IaaS providers (and integrated IaaS+PaaS providers such as the hyperscale cloud providers), whether public or private, or assess their own internal private cloud. We are about to publish Solution Scorecards (formerly branded In-Depth Assessments) for multiple providers; Gartner analysts assess these solutions hands-on and determine whether or not they have capabilities that meet the requirements of a criterion.

The TL;DR version

In summary, we revised the Solution Criteria extensively in 2019, and the results were as follows:

  • The criteria have been updated to reflect the current IaaS+PaaS market.
  • Expectations are significantly higher than in previous years.
  • Expectations have been aligned to other Gartner research, taking into account customer wants and needs in the relevant market, not just in a cloud-specific context.
  • Many capabilities have been consolidated and are now required.
  • Most vendor scores in the Solution Scorecards have dropped dramatically since last year, and there is a much broader spread of vendor scores.

The Evolution of Customer Demands

The Evaluation Criteria (EC) for Cloud IaaS was first published in 2012. It received a significant update every other year (each even-numbered year) thereafter. When first written, the EC reflected the concerns of our clients at the time, many of whom were infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals with VMware backgrounds. With each iteration, the EC evolved significantly, yet incrementally.

In the meantime, the market moved extremely quickly. The market evolution towards cloud integrated IaaS and PaaS (IaaS+PaaS) providers, and the market exit (or strategic de-investment) of many of the “commodity” providers, radically changed the structure and nature of the market over time. Cloud IaaS providers weren’t just expected to provide “hardware infrastructure”, but also “software infrastructure”, including all of the necessary management and automation. This essentially forced these providers into introducing services that compete in many IT markets and in an extraordinary number of software niches.

Furthermore, as the market matured, the roles and expectations of our clients also evolved significantly. The focus shifted to enterprise-wide initiatives, rather than project-based adoption. Digital business transformation elevated the importance of cloud-native workloads, while IT transformation emphasized the need for high-quality cloud migration of existing workloads. The notion that a cloud IaaS provider could successfully run all, or almost all, of a customer’s IT became part of the assumptions that needed to underpin the provider evaluation process. 

Today’s cloud IaaS customers have high expectations. Experienced customers are becoming more sophisticated, but late adopters also have high expectations of a provider that have to be met to help the customer overcome barriers to adoption.

For 2019, we decided to take a look at the EC“from scratch”,  in order to try to construct a list of criteria that are the most relevant to  the initiatives of customers today. In many cases, our clients are trying to pick a primary strategic IaaS provider. In other cases, our clients already have a primary provider but are trying to pick a strategic secondary provider as they implement a multicloud strategy. Finally, some of our clients are choosing a provider for a tactical need, but still need to understand that provider’s capabilities in detail.

Constructing the Revision

The revision needed to keep a similar number of criteria (in order to keep the assessment time manageable and the assessment itself at a readable length) — we ended up with 265 for 2019.

In order to keep the total number of criteria down, we needed to consolidate closely-related criteria into a single criterion. Many criteria became multi-part as a result. We tried to consolidate the “table stakes” functionality that could be assumed to be a part of all (or almost all) cloud IaaS offerings, in order to make room for more differentiated capabilities. 

We tried to be as vendor-neutral as possible. The evaluation criteria have evolved since the initial 2012 introduction; when we introduced new criteria in the past, we often ended up with criteria requirements that closely mirrored the feature-set of the first provider to offer a capability, since that provider shaped customer expectations. In this 2019 revision, we tried to go back to the core customer requirements, without concern as to whether cloud provider implementations fully aligned with those requirements — the criteria are intended to reflect what customers want and not what vendors offer.  There are requirements that no vendors meet, but which we often hear our clients ask for; in such cases we tried to phrase those requirements in ways that are reasonable and implementable at scale, as it’s okay for the criteria to be somewhat aspirational for the market.

We tried to make sure that the criteria were worded using standard Gartner terms or general market terminology, avoiding vendor-specific terms. (Note that because vendors not-infrequently adopt Gartner terms, there were cases where providers had adopted terminology from earlier versions of EC, and we made no attempt to alter such terms.)

We tried to keep to requirements, without dictating implementation, where possible. However, we had to keep in mind that in cloud IaaS, where there are customers who want fine-grained visibility and control over the infrastructure, there still must be implementation specificity when the customer explicitly wants those elements exposed.

Defining the Criteria

During the process of determining the criteria, we sought input broadly within Gartner, both in terms of discussing the criteria with other analysts as well as incorporating things from existing Gartner written research. (And the criteria reflect, as much as possible, the discussions we’ve had with clients about what they’re looking for, and what they’re putting into their RFPs.)

In some cases, we needed input from specialists in a topic. In some areas of technology, clients who need to have deep-dive discussions on features may talk almost exclusively to analysts specialized in those areas. Those analysts are familiar with current requirements as well as the future of those technology areas, and are thus the best source for determining those needs. For example, areas such as machine learning and IoT are primarily covered by analysts with those specializations, even when the customers are implementing cloud solutions. There are also areas, such as Security, where we have detailed cloud recommendations from those teams. So we extensively incorporated their input..

We also looked at non-cloud capabilities when there were market gaps relative to customer desires. There are areas where either cloud providers do not currently have capabilities, or where those capabilities are relatively nascent. Thus, we needed to identify where customers are using on-premises solutions, and want cloud solutions. We also needed to determine what the “minimum viable product” should be for the purposes of constructing a criterion around it.

Feedback from non-cloud analysts was also important because it identified areas where clients were not using a cloud solution because of something that was missing. In many cases, these were not technology features, but issues around transparency, or the lack of solutions acceptable on a global basis.

Finally,  the way that customers source solutions, build applications, and manage their data is changing. We tried to ensure that the new criteria aligned with these trends.

Because more and more of our clients are deploying cloud solutions globally, every criterion also had some requirements as to its global availability. These are used only for advisory purposes and are not part of scoring. 

The vendors were allowed to give feedback on the criteria prior to publication. We wanted to check if the criteria were reasonable, and seemed fair. We incorporated feedback that constituted good, vendor-neutral suggestions that aligned to customer requirements.

The End Results

When you see the Solution Scorecards, you may be surprised by lower scores on the part of many of the providers. We’re being transparent about the Evaluation Criteria (Solution Criteria) revision in order to help you understand why the scores are lower.

The lower scores were an unintentional side-effect of the revision, but reflect, to some degree, the state of the market  relative to the very high expectations of customers. Note that this year’s lower scores do not indicate that providers have “gone backwards” or removed capabilities; they just reflect the provider’s status against a raised bar of customer expectations. 

We expect that when we update the scorecards in the second half of this year, scores will increase, as many of the vendors have since introduced missing capabilities, or will do so by the next update.  We retain confidence that the solution criteria are a good reflection of a broad range of current customer expectations. Because many vendors are doing a good job of listening to what customers and prospects want, and planning accordingly, we think that the solution criteria will also be reflected in future vendor roadmaps and market development.

We discuss the Solution Scorecards and scores in a separate blog post.

 

Transitioning roles at Gartner

I’m excited to announce that, as of yesterday, I’ve joined the Gartner for Technical Professionals (GTP) team here at Gartner. For years, I’ve enjoyed working closely with Kyle Hilgendorf, Eli Khnaser, Mindy Cancila, Doug Toombs, Marco Meinardi, Alan Waite, and many others in our GTP research division, and I’m looking forward to deepening this collaboration.

Those of you who have known me for a while might remember that I spent more than 15 years in Gartner’s Technology and Service Provider division, and then, for the last two and a half years, I’ve been in the Infrastructure Strategies team in Gartner’s IT Leaders group. Throughout all of these years, I’ve written a lot of deep-dive research for both managerial and technical audiences, and spent a lot of time talking to everyone from the CIO to the sourcing managers and engineers in the trenches, as well as vendors and investors. I’ve always enjoyed being more hands-on, though, and the move into GTP will give me a chance to write more in-depth practical advice.

For the next couple of months, I’ll be in a state of transition. I’ll be doing both types of inquiry for a while, but in the future, clients will need a Gartner GTP “seat” to speak with me. In the next month or two, you’ll see me publish a bunch of research into the ITL agendas, as I finish up that work, and then rethink my previously-planned agenda (much of which will still likely be published, albeit into GTP). I’ll be at the Gartner Catalyst conference in August, with my first GTP presentation, called “Improve Cloud Operations with Site Reliability Engineering”, focused on how to take the principles, practices, and tools used to manage massive cloud-native applications, and apply them at an enterprise level for cloud operations at a more typical scale.

The cloud IaaS team at Gartner is exceptionally collaborative across our divisions and teams, and I expect to continue working very closely with all the awesome analysts that I’ve worked with over the years. Gartner is backfilling my previous role, and I highly encourage any cloud IaaS experts out there to reach out to me if you’re interested. Here’s the job req: https://bit.ly/2JBagOb

Critical Capabilities launched, new Magic Quadrant starting

The Critical Capabilities for Public Cloud IaaS, 2016 has now been published. The Critical Capabilities is a technical assessment of public cloud IaaS offerings against a set of use cases — cloud-native applications, general business applications, application development environments, batch computing, and (new for 2016) the Internet of Things. It’s part of our integrated series of cloud IaaS assessments and complements our Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS (Gartner clients: see interactive version).

We are now launching right back into the Magic Quadrant cycle for 2017, with the goal of publishing a new Magic Quadrant in April 2017, and a new Critical Capabilities shortly thereafter.

A lot has happened since the early-2016 research process for our 2016 Magic Quadrant and Critical Capabilities cycle for this market. Multiple providers have launched new offerings and are phasing out their previous offerings, and there are some important new market entrants. We want to make sure that our research notes offer current representations of provider capabilities. (Usefully, a shift to April publication also gets us back to a schedule that aligns with our infrastructure & operations conference season.)

In previous years, we’ve issued an open invitation for the pre-qualification survey to all cloud IaaS providers. This year, we are not doing so; instead, we have issued invitations only to providers who we believe are highly likely to qualify.

If you are a cloud IaaS provider that did not receive an invitation, but you believe you are highly likely to qualify for inclusion, please email me at Lydia dot Leong at Gartner dot com to discuss it.

Gartner’s cloud IaaS assessments, 2016 edition

We’re pleased to announce that the 2016 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure, Worldwide has been published. (Link requires a Gartner subscription. If you’re not a Gartner client, there are free reprints available through vendors, and various press articles, such as the Tech Republic analysis. Note that press articles do not always accurately reflect our opinions, though.)

Producing the Magic Quadrant is a huge team effort that involves many people across Gartner, including many analysts who aren’t credited as co-authors, administrative support staff, and people in our primary-research and benchmarking groups. The team effort also reflects the way that we produce an entire body of IaaS research as an integrated effort across Gartner’s research divisions. (The approach described below is specific to our IaaS research and may not apply to Gartner’s assessments in other markets.)

Whether you already have a cloud IaaS provider and are just looking for a competitive check-up, you’re thinking of adding one or more additional providers, or you’re just getting started with cloud IaaS, our work can help you find the providers that are right for you.

The TL;DR list of assessments:

(Note that not all of these might be available as part of your current Gartner client subscription.)

Gartner has produced a Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS since 2011. The MQ is our overall perspective on the market, looking at the provider solutions from both a technical and business angle. Gartner clients can use the interactive MQ tool to change the weightings of the criteria to suit their own evaluation priorities (if you read the detailed criteria descriptions, there’s an explanation of how each criterion maps to buyer priorities). The interactive MQ can also be used to get a multi-year historical perspective.

The MQ covers public, hosted private, and industrialized outsourced private cloud IaaS; it’s not just a public cloud MQ. We look at multi-tenant and single-tenant, located in either provider or customer premises, cloud IaaS offerings. We also look at the full range of compute options (VMs, bare-metal servers, containers) that are delivered in a cloud model (API-provisionable via automation, and metered by the hour or less), not just VMs. In addition, we consider some integrated PaaS-layer services (we call these cloud software infrastructure services, which include things like database as a service), but we have a separate enterprise application PaaS MQ for pure aPaaS. While we consider the provider’s overall value proposition in the context of cloud IaaS (including their ability to deliver managed services, network services, etc.), this isn’t a general cloud computing or outsourcing MQ.

2016 marks our sixth iteration of a pure cloud IaaS MQ. Previously, in 2009 and 2010, we included cloud IaaS in our hosting MQ, but by 2010, it was already clear that the hosting and cloud IaaS buyer wants and needs were distinctly different. Since 2011, we’ve produced a global cloud IaaS MQ, along with three regional hosting MQs (suitable for customers looking for dedicated servers or managed hosting on a monthly or annual basis), and three regional data center outsourcing MQs (which include customized private cloud services as part of a broader portfolio of infrastructure outsourcing capabiities). Not every infrastructure need can or should be met with cloud IaaS.

The core foundation of our assessment is our Evaluation Criteria for Cloud IaaS. Over the years, we’ve converged the technical-detail questionnaire that we ask providers to fill out during the Magic Quadrant research process, with the Gartner for Technical Professionals (GTP) document that we produce to guide buyers on evaluating providers. This has resulted in nearly 250 service traits that the Evaluation Criteria document categorizes as Required (almost all Gartner clients are likely to want these things and these have the potential to be showstoppers if missing), Preferred (many will want these things), and Optional (use-case-specific needs). This gives us a consistent set of formal definitions for service features — things you can put a clear yes/no to. As a buyer, you can use the Evaluation Criteria to score any cloud IaaS provider — and even score your own IT department’s private cloud.

In the course of doing this particular Magic Quadrant, providers fill out very detailed questionnaires that list these service features and capabilities (broken down even more granularly than in the Evaluation Criteria), indicating whether their service has those traits, and they’re also asked to provide evidence, like documentation. We also ask them to provide other information like the location of their data centers, languages supported across various aspects of service delivery (like portal localization and tech-support languages spoken), a copy of their standard contract and SLAs, and so forth. We score those questionnaires (and check service features against documentation, and with hands-on testing if need be). We also score things like the buyer-friendliness of contracts, based on the presence/absence of particular clauses. Those component scores are used in many different individual scoring categories within the Magic Quadrant.

We also produce a set of In-Depth Assessments for the providers that our clients are most interested in evaluating. The In-Depth Assessments are detailed documents that score an individual provider against the Evaluation Criteria; for every criteria, we explain how the provider does and doesn’t meet it, and we provide links to the corresponding documentation or other evidence. The results of our hands-on testing are noted, as well. For many buyers, this minimizes the need to conduct an RFP that dives into the technical solution; here we’ve done a very detailed fact-based analysis for you, and the provider has verified the accuracy of the information. (Buyer beware, though: Providers sometimes produce something that looks like one of these assessments, even quoting the Gartner definitions, but with their own more generous self-assessment rather than the stringent Gartner-produced assessment!)

Then, we produce Critical Capabilities for Public Cloud IaaS (2016 update still in progress). This technical assessment looks at a single public cloud IaaS offering from each of the providers included in the Magic Quadrant. The same technical traits used in the other assessments are used here, but they are divided into categories of capabilities, and those capabilities are weighted in a set of common use cases. You can also customize your own set of weightings. In addition to providing quantitative scores, we summarize, in a fair amount of detail, the technical capabilities of each evaluated provider. This allows you to get a sense of what providers are likely to be right for your needs, without having to go through the full deep-dive of reading the In-Depth Assessments. (Critical Capabilities are also available to all Gartner clients and reprints may be offered by providers on their websites, whereas the In-Depth Assessments are only available to GTP clients.)

Performance, and price-performance, is important to many buyers. Gartner provides hardware benchmarking via a SaaS offering called Tech Planner. We offer a Cloud Module within Tech Planner that uses technology that we derived from our acquisition of CloudHarmony. We conduct continuous automated testing on many cloud IaaS providers, including all providers in the Magic Quadrant. We benchmark compute performance for the full range of VMs and bare-metal cloud servers offered by the provider, along with storage performance and network performance; we use this to calculate price-performance metrics. We monitor the availability of their services across the globe. We track provisioning times. All this data is used as objective components to the scores within the Magic Quadrant. Much of this data is directly available to Tech Planner customers, who can use these tools to calculate performance-equivalencies as well as determine where workloads will be most cost-effective.

Finally, we collect end-user reviews of cloud IaaS providers, called Peer Insights. IT leaders (who do not need to be Gartner clients) can submit reviews of their providers; we verify that reviews are legitimate, and it’s one of the very few places where you’ll see enter senior IT executives and architects writing detailed reviews of their providers. We use this data, along with vendor-provided customer references, and the many thousands of clients conversations we have each year with cloud IaaS buyers, as part of the fact base for our Magic Quadrant scoring.

More than a dozen analysts are directly involved in all of these assessments, and many more analysts provide peer-review input into those assessments. It’s an enormous effort, involving a great deal of teamwork, to produce this body of interlinked research. We’re always trying to improve its quality, so we welcome your feedback!

You can DM me on Twitter at @cloudpundit or send email to lydia dot leong at gartner.com.

Open invitation to MSP partners of hyperscale cloud providers

Back in January, I announced the creation of a new Gartner Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure Managed Service Providers. This MQ will evaluate MSPs that deliver managed services on top of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform.

We are currently putting together a contact list of providers to survey. We expect to begin this process in late July. We encourage MSPs who are interested in participation to add their names to the contact list.

MSPs should fill out THIS FORM.

My 2016 research agenda

At the beginning of February, as part of a little bit of organizational deck-chair shuffling here at Gartner, some analysts were transferred to teams that better reflect their current research focus. I am one of those people; I’ve been transferred from our Technology and Service Provider (T&SP) division to our IT Leaders division’s Infrastructure Strategies team, reflecting the fact that I’ve mostly been serving the IT Leaders constituency for several years now.

My planned research agenda for 2016 remains the same, and I’ll continue to work with the exact same people and clients, but I now have a new team manager (Rakesh Kumar — and hopefully a better alignment between the things that I’m actually doing and the way Gartner sets goals and incentives for analysts.

I will continue to write research for both our end-user (IT Leaders) clients, as well as for our T&SP (Business Leaders) clients. Vendor clients should note that my transfer does not change access privileges to my documents targeted at vendors, or inquiry access. You will still need to hold a Business Leaders seat to read T&SP content that I author, or to ask inquiry questions related to that content.

My research agenda for 2016 centers on five major themes:

  • The managed and professional services ecosystem for cloud providers
  • Large-scale migration to the cloud
  • Excellence in governance
  • The convergence of IaaS and PaaS
  • The adoption of containers

I’ll talk briefly about my interests in each of these spaces.

Managed and professional services

The MSP ecosystem, especially around AWS and Azure, is a vital part of driving successful cloud adoption, especially with late-majority adopters. This is my primary research focus this year, as I build out both research for end-users (IT Leaders clients) as well as service providers and technology vendors. This is largely a run-up to a new Magic Quadrant slated for Q4 2016 publication.

Large-scale migration to the cloud

Customers have begun migrate existing workloads to cloud IaaS at scale (i.e., migrating entire data centers or substantial portions of their existing infrastructure estate). This is no longer just early pioneers, but mainstream, non-tech-centric companies, often in the mid-market, usually with the assistance of third parties. These customers typically articulate needs that have been more commonly associated with outsourcing in the past — cost-optimization, better management of infrastructure and apps, staff reduction, keeping pace with technology evolution, and the like.

This is my next greatest priority in terms of writing this year. I’m building research aimed at clients who are evaluating migrations, as well as those who are in the process of migrating. I’m also writing research that is aimed at the vendor/provider side, since this new wave of customers has different requirements, necessitating both a different go-to-market approach as well as different sets of priorities in service features.

Excellence in governance

As organizations grow their use of the cloud, the need for governance is vital. Governance is not control, per se, and IT organizations need assistance in understanding the emerging best practices around governance. The vendor ecosystem also needs to build appropriate products and services that help IT organizations implement good cloud governance — which differs in some vital ways from traditional models of IT governance.

The convergence of IaaS and PaaS

As the IaaS and PaaS markets move ever closer together, customers need guidance as to how to best adopt integrated offerings. Moreover, this has implications for providers on both sides of the spectrum (and their ecosystems), as well as vendors who sell technology to build private clouds.

Containers

Last year, I spent just about as much time talking to clients about containers as I did about cloud IaaS — that’s how much of a hot topic it was. This year, as container coverage is dispersed across a lot more analysts, it’s become less of a focus for me, but I remain deeply interested in the evolution of the ecosystem, not just in the cloud, but also within traditional data centers.

Other Work

While these topics are some key broad themes, I’ll certainly be thinking about and writing about a great deal more. I tend to be a more spontaneous writer, and so I might sit down in an afternoon and rapidly write a note about something that’s been on my mind lately, even if it’s not part of my planned research. Indeed, I tend not to plan research except to the minimum extent that Gartner requires (generally “big rock” items like Magic Quadrants and so forth), so if you have feedback on what you’d like to see me produce, please feel free to let me know.

Introducing the new Hyperscale Cloud MSP Magic Quadrant

As has been noted in Doug Toombs’s blog post (“Important Updates for Gartner’s Hosting Magic Quadrants in 2016“), I will be leading the introduction of a new Gartner Magic Quadrant this year for managed service providers (MSPs) that deliver services on hyperscale cloud providers (specifically, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform).

This new global Magic Quadrant will be titled the “Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure Managed Service Providers”, and it is slated for early Q4 2016 publication (watch the editorial calendar for an official date). It will have accompanying Critical Capabilities that will be specific to each hyperscale cloud provider. In 2016, this will be a “Critical Capabilities for Managed Service Providers for Amazon Web Services”; in the future, as their ecosystems mature, we expect there will be a CC each for MSPs for Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform as well.

Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, I’ve begun building a body of related research (sorry, links are behind client-only paywall):

How to Choose a Managed Service Provider for a Hyperscale Cloud Provider. Hyperscale integrated IaaS and PaaS providers are not mere purveyors of rented virtualization. MSPs need to have a very specific skillset to manage them well. This is the fundamental “what makes a good hyperscale cloud MSP” note.

Best Practices for Planning a Cloud IaaS Strategy: Bimodal IT, Not Hybrid Infrastructure. We advise customers to think differently about cloud IaaS based on their priorities — safety and efficiency-driven IT, vs. speed and agility-driven IT. This tends to lead to different styles of operations, which in turn drive different managed and professional services needs.

Three Journeys Define Migrating a Data Center to Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. An increasing number of customers are migrating existing applications and even entire data centers into cloud IaaS. This sets out those journeys, and explores the managed and professional services that are useful for those journeys.

Use Managed and Professional Services to Improve Cloud Operations for Digital Business. Mode 2 and digital business applications are often architected and operated in ways that are not broadly familiar to many IT organizations. We explore different styles of adopting managed and professional services for these needs.

Market Guide for Managed Service Providers on Amazon Web Services. Our introduction to the AWS MSP market explores use cases, classifies MSPs into categories, and profiles a handful of representative MSPs.

Market Trends: Channel Sales Strategies for Cloud IaaS Should Focus on Developer Ecosystems. We provide advice to cloud IaaS providers who are trying to build ecosystems and channel sales strategies — but MSPs will find this note valuable when trying to understand what their value is to their partner cluod provider.

I’ll soon be publishing a set of notes directed at MSPs who are currently in this market, or intended to enter this market, as well. And I’ll be doing a series of blog posts about what’s ahead.

Recommended reading for 2016 Cloud IaaS Magic Quadrant

I am beginning the process of refreshing Gartner’s global Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS. Research will be conducted during Q1 and is currently targeted for publication in May, continuing our annual refresh cycle. See the status page for the current timeline.

Every year, I highlight Gartner research that myself and others have published that’s important in the context of these MQs. These notes lay out how we see the market, and consequently, the lens that we’re going to be evaluating the service providers through.

Service providers do not need to agree with our perspective in order to rate well, but they do need to be able to clearly articulate their vision of an alternative future, back it up with data that supports their world-view, and demonstrate how their unique perspective results in true differentiation, customer wins, and happy customers.

This updates the 2015 MQ list of foundational research. Please note that those older notes still remain relevant, and you are encouraged to read them.

If you are a service provider, these are the 2015 Gartner research notes that it might be helpful to be familiar with (sorry, links are behind client-only paywall):

Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS, Worldwide, 2015. Last year’s Magic Quadrant is full of deep-dive information about the market and the providers. Also check out the Critical Capabilities for Public Cloud IaaS, Worldwide, 2015 for a deeper dive into specific public cloud IaaS offerings (Critical Capabilities is almost solely focused on feature set for particular use cases, whereas a Magic Quadrant positions a vendor in a market as a whole). Free reprints are available for both the MQ and the CC.

Technology Overview for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. This foundational note provides Gartner’s market definitions and fundamental research positions for cloud IaaS.

Evaluation Criteria for Cloud IaaS Providers. Our Technical Professionals research provides extremely detailed criteria for large enterprises that are evaluating providers. While the relative importance of these requirements are somewhat different in other segments, like the mid-market, these criteria should give you an extremely strong idea of the kinds of things that we think are important to customers. The technical criteria in this evaluation closely parallel the technical criteria used in the Magic Quadrant and Critical Capabilities.

Best Practices for Planning a Cloud IaaS Strategy: Bimodal IT, Not Hybrid Infrastructure. We advise customers to think differently about cloud IaaS based on their priorities — safety and efficiency-driven IT, vs. agile IT. We evaluate cloud IaaS providers on their ability to serve each of these modes.

Three Journeys Define Migrating a Data Center to Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. An increasing number of customers are migrating existing data centers into cloud IaaS. This note is useful for understanding how we structure our thinking about those journeys in a Mode 1 bimodal context.

Use Managed and Professional Services to Improve Cloud Operations for Digital Business. Although this note is managed services-centric, it is useful for expanding your understanding of how we see Mode 2 needs in the cloud.

A Comprehensive List of Management Requirements for Organizations Using Public Cloud Services. We provide deep-dive advice to architects. Service providers should consider how they enable the functions detailed here.

Take a Risk-Based Approach to Public Cloud IaaS. The customer view of security, risk, and compliance and the cloud is evolving. Use this note to understand how we advise customers on these aspects and our view on how the market has changed.

If you are not a Gartner client, please note that many of these topics have been covered in my blog in the past, if at a higher level (and generally in a mode where I am still working out my thinking, as opposed to a polished research position).

Recommended reading for 2015 Cloud IaaS Magic Quadrants

We are beginning the process of refreshing Gartner’s global Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS, along with the regional Magic Quadrants for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting. We are also introducing a new Japanese-language Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS, Japan. The global cloud IaaS MQ will publish first, with research conducted during Q1 and published at the beginning of Q2; see the status page for the current timeline.

As I do every year, I am highlighting researching that myself and others have published that’s important in the context of these MQs. These notes lay out how we see the market, and consequently, the lens that we’re going to be evaluating the service providers through.

As always, I want to stress that service providers do not need to agree with our perspective in order to rate well. We admire those who march to their own particular beat, as long as it results in true differentiation and more importantly, customer wins and happy customers — a different perspective can allow a service provider to serve their particular segments of the market more effectively. However, such providers need to be able to clearly articulate that vision and to back it up with data that supports their world-view.

This updates last year’s list of foundational research. Please note that those older notes still remain relevant, and you are encouraged to read them.

If you are a service provider, these are the 2014 Gartner research notes that it might be helpful to be familiar with (sorry, links are behind client-only paywall):

Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS, 2014. Last year’s Magic Quadrant is full of deep-dive information about the market and the providers. Also check out the Critical Capabilities for Public Cloud IaaS, 2014 for a deeper dive into specific public cloud IaaS offerings (Critical Capabilities is almost solely focused on feature set for particular use cases, whereas a Magic Quadrant positions a vendor in a market as a whole). Free reprints are available for both the MQ and the CC.

Technology Overview for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. This foundational note provides Gartner’s market definitions and fundamental research positions for cloud IaaS.

Evaluation Criteria for Cloud IaaS Providers. Our Technical Professionals research provides extremely detailed criteria for large enterprises that are evaluating providers. While the relative importance of these requirements are somewhat different in other segments, like the mid-market, these criteria should give you an extremely strong idea of the kinds of things that we think are important to customers. The technical criteria in this evaluation closely parallel the technical criteria used in the Magic Quadrant and Critical Capabilities.

Market Trends: How Customers Purchase Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, 2014. This note lays out Gartner’s perspective on customer desires and how this translates into marketing and sales cycle for cloud IaaS. This also explores the impact of bimodal IT on the market.

Market Trends: Cloud IaaS Providers Expand Into PaaS, 2014. The convergence between the IaaS and high-control PaaS markets is a crucial market trend that significantly impacts the way that Gartner views what is necessary to be a leading cloud IaaS provider.

Predicts 2015: Cloud Computing Goes Beyond IT Into Digital Business. This set of predictions for the future covers the blurring between public and private cloud IaaS, the delivery of managed services on top of third-party cloud IaaS platforms, and the growth in Docker and other container-related technologies.

Research Roundup: Cloud Computing Services in the Digital Industrial Economy. This is a relatively comprehensive round-up of recent Gartner cloud services research.

If you are not a Gartner client, please note that many of these topics have been covered in my blog in the past, if at a higher level (and generally in a mode where I am still working out my thinking, as opposed to a polished research position).

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