In light of the upcoming Magic Quadrant work, I thought it would be useful to highlight research that myself and others have published that is important in the context of this MQ. These notes lay out how we see the market, and consequently, the lens that we’re going to be evaluating the service providers through.
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.
That said, if you are a service provider, these are the research notes that it might be helpful to be familiar with (sorry, clients only):
Pricing and Buyer’s Guide for Web Hosting and Cloud Infrastructure, 2012. Our market definitions are described here, in case you’re confused about what we consider to be cloud IaaS.
Competitive Landscape: New Entrants to the Cloud IaaS Market Face Tough Competitive Challenges. This describes the competitive landscape and the challenges of differentiating in this market. It also profiles two sucessful providers, Amazon and CSC, in detail. This is critical reading to understand what we believe does and does not differentiate providers.
Market Insight: Structuring the Cloud Compute IaaS Market. This presents our market segmentation; each segment is associated with a buyer profile. While our thinking has refined since this was published in early 2011, it is still an extremely important view into our thinking about customer needs.
Evaluating Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. This seven-part set of research notes describes the range of IaaS capabilities offered across the market, from the technology itself to how service is done. This provides important terminology, and is also useful for determining how competitive your offering really is. (Note that this is an early-2011 note set, so the state of the art has advanced since then.)
Evaluation Criteria for Public Cloud IaaS Providers. Our Technical Professionals research provides extremely detailed criteria for large enterprises that are evaluating providers. While the customer 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 Magic Quadrant evaluation criteria will not be identical (because it is broader than just large-enterprise), but this is the kind of thing you should be thinking about.
Market Trends: Public and Private Cloud Infrastructure Converge into On-Demand Infrastructure Fabrics. This describes our view of how the service provider cloud infrastructure platforms will evolve, including providing a perspective on public vs. private cloud, and developer-class vs. enterprise-class cloud.
Best Practice: Evaluate Isolation Mechanisms in Public and Private Cloud IaaS. Many service providers are using “private cloud” in ways we consider actively deceptive. This note provides a warning to IT buyers, and discusses the kinds of isolation options that are available. This emphasizes our insistence that providers be transparent about their isolation mechanisms and security controls.
Less-critical notes that cover narrower topics, that you may nevertheless want to read:
Market Insight: Customers Need Hybrid Cloud Compute Infrastructure as a Service. This describes customer requirements for “hybrid” scenarios — the need for cloud bridging into the enterprise data center, physical-virtual hybrid environments, hybrid hosting, and multi-cloud environments.
Infrastructure as a Service in the Cloud Services Value Chain. This describes the overall place of IaaS in the value chain. It explains market evolution and how this impacts upstream and downstream technology vendors; it provides our viewpoint on the channel.
Toolkit: Mitigating Risks in Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. This provides a fairly comprehensive checklist for risk assessment. You may want to think about how well your solution addresses this list of risks.
Delivery Models for Application Infrastructure in the Cloud: Beware the Lure of False PaaS. This provides software and middleware licensing models, and contrasts IaaS vs. PaaS. Pay particular attention to the importance of software marketplaces.
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).