January 14, 2011

AWS Banished to Bottom of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant

Nicole Hemsoth

Gartner, guardians of the coveted Magic Quadrant, released its report of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers for the year, placing Amazon Web Services in the “visionaries” tier, which is located under the “leaders” and “challengers” categories.

According to Gartner, this low position for AWS, which is among the largest and most widely-used public cloud providers, is because they have an “unproven” track record commercially. In Gartner’s words, “visionaries have an innovative and disruptive approach to the market, but their services are new to the market and are unproven.”

This does cause some confusion since Amazon Web Services was one of the earliest large-scale IaaS providers to emerge in the space. Some could also argue that in terms of development of its resources for a large community, Amazon has always done quite a bit to further the usability and feasibility of public cloud computing by making application development and deployment easier.

Gartner, however, is often enterprise focused in its assessments, thus an IaaS provider with a focus on a community of developers, researchers and smaller-scale businesses might not capture its fancy in quite the same way that AWS draws in these users.

It is worth noting that AWS is increasingly pivotal in large-scale enterprise as well; from Netflix to any number of pharmaceutical and other companies on board. While GoGrid, for instance, provides a solid offering, the number of case studies and capabilities pale in comparison to the longevity and commercial track record of Amazon.

In Gartner’s view, those who rise above Amazon include Savvis, Rackspace, Verizon Business with stiff competition coming from companies like CSC, GoGrid, IBM and Joynet.

Gartner defends its positioning of Amazon at the bottom of the rack, contending that although Amazon is a “thought leader, extraordinarily innovative, exceptionally agile and very response to the market [with the] richest cloud IaaS product portfolio and is constantly expanding its service offerings and reducing its prices” it is still falling short.

The keepers of the Magic Quandrant state that on the negative side, “Amazon does not offer any managed services…Amazon is the only evaluated vendor that does not also offer the standard options of collocation and dedicated non-virtualized servers.” They state that on the downside, Amazon does have highly competitive prices but it “charges separately for optional items that are often bundled with competitive offerings.”

Gartner, always with an eye on the enterprise market, notes as well that the positioning is due to the fact that Amazon is developer versus enterprise-oriented. This does not mean there is extensive bias built in but the association as being a developer versus business product does not seem to be working in Amazon’s favor.

One of the meatier claims that Gartner makes to defend its conjuration of this year’s Magic Quandrant is on the SLA front. Gartner claims that “Amazon has the weakest cloud compute SLA of any of the evaluated competing public cloud compute services, even though its uptime is actually very good.”

The others listed above Amazon Web Services in the report offer SLAs at 99% and others at 100%, which is evaluated each month with credits at 100% of the bill whereas Amazon provides a 99.95% SLA that is evaluated on a yearly basis, which tops out only at 10% of the bill.

Gartner’s insights via their Magic Quandrant claims are beneficial as we look to companies that are set to emerge over the course of the year, but when evaluating IaaS providers, there are a vast number of considerations to be made in terms of actual users, profitability, longevity and reliability.

Full story at Network World

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