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Amazon Web Services competitors get bad news from Gartner

Bernard Golden | Sept. 5, 2013
Gartner just published its updated Infrastructure as a Service Magic Quadrant, and it's extremely sobering news for the cloud service provider industry.

You might think that, even if AWS is increasing its lead, and even if it's hard for other CSPs to improve their position, at least they'll hang on to existing customers and their workloads. Unfortunately, according to Leong, even that solace is in doubt. "Many Gartner clients now actually have multiple incumbent providers (the most common combination is AWS and Terremark), but nearly all such customers tell us that the balance of new projects are going to AWS, not the other providers."

This could hardly be worse news for cloud providers. Gartner's customer base is the Fortune 2000 — large enterprises that should be most amenable to the appeal of cloud service providers that define themselves as enterprise-oriented. Even within this putative bastion of strength, AWS is grabbing share.

Dismissing Latest CSP Magic Quadrant Is Missing Big Picture
I've heard a few people pooh-pooh this latest MQ. One person says he believes this outcome was the result of "pay to play." I don't believe this for a minute. First, Gartner doesn't operate this way. It certainly isn't going to jeopardize its crown jewel — its ranking system that's the gold standard for technology market segments throughout the world, for this single assessment. Second, from what I know about Amazon, I think it's improbable that it would do anything like a "pay to play" arrangement.

I've also heard a few people in the CSP sector say this latest MQ reflects Gartner showing favoritism toward AWS. Frankly, this is incredibly unlikely. A firm such as Gartner is best-served helping clients make choices in a confusing environment — sorting out a set of vendors that are tightly bunched in the upper right quadrant of the MQ.

With the clear distinction between AWS and everyone else in the latest MQ, anyone can look at the chart and figure out the IaaS leader. Choosing anyone else is like betting on the Washington Generals. It's a sure loss. So explaining the state of affairs as a kind of "Gartner likes AWS best" seems like sour grapes.

Finally, I've heard people just refuse to accept Gartner's estimation of the market reality. I continue to hear CSPs proclaim that their offering is better than AWS, citing some superiority that, upon investigation, seems to evaporate.

I find the number of cloud providers that fall back on "we understand the enterprise" as a reason to choose them rather than AWS quite astonishing — and quite unjustified, given Gartner's assessment. Asserting superiority is not the same as delivering it. (For a humorous take on this, this cartoon lampoons the CSP industry reaction to the latest MQ.)

Don't Have an AWS Strategy Yet? Here's What You Need to Do
Given the large and increasing distance between AWS and all the other cloud providers, it's clear that end users who plan to take advantage of public cloud computing — and, let's face it, that's everyone — need to develop a serious AWS strategy:


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