Blog post

The Magic Quadrant, Amazon, and confusion

By Lydia Leong | August 20, 2009 | 1 Comment

Infrastructure

Despite my previous clarifying commentary on the Magic Quadrant for Web Hosting and Cloud Infrastructure Services (On Demand), posted when the MQ was published, and the text of the MQ itself, there continues to be confusion around the positioning of the vendors in the MQ. This is an attempt to clarify, in brief.

This MQ is not a pure cloud computing MQ. It is a hosting MQ. Titling it as such, and making it such, is not some feeble attempt to defend the traditional way of doing things. It is designed to help Gartner’s clients select a Web hoster, and it’s focused upon the things that enterprises care about. Today, our clients consider cloud players as well as traditional players during the selection process. Cloud has been highly disruptive to the hosting industry, introducing a pile of new entrants, revitalizing minor players and lifting them to a new level, and forcing successful traditional players to revise their approach to the business.

The most common question asked by outsiders who just look at the chart and nothing more is, “Why doesn’t Amazon score higher on vision and execution?”

The answer, simply, is that the hosting MQ scores five use cases — self-managed hosting, mainstream (low/mid-end) managed hosting, highly complex managed hosting, global solutions portfolio (ability to provide multiple types of service packages at multiple price points, globally, for very large multi-nationals seeking global hosting options), and enterprise applications hosting. The final rating is a weighted composite of these scores. Amazon scores extremely highly on self-managed hosting, but has a much more limited ability to support the other four scenarios.

Amazon lacks many capabilities that are important in the overall Web hosting market, like managed services, the ability to mix in dedicated equipment (important to anyone who wants to run things that don’t virtualize well, like large-scale Oracle databases, as well as colocate “black box” hardware appliances, like those used for transaction functions for some e-commerce sites), the ability to isolate the environment from the Internet and just use private network connectivity, etc. Their lack of these capabilities hurts their scores. (Note that some capabilities that were missing may have been disclosed to us as part of Amazon’s roadmap, which augmented their Vision score positively, but similarly, stances taken that would definitively shut out some features would be penalized.)

Clearly, we don’t think that Amazon sucks as a cloud provider; it’s just that they don’t play as broadly in the hosting space as the best of the traditional players, although they are certainly a competitor against the traditional players, and a disruptive entrant in general.

The same could be said for many of Amazon’s cloud competitors, although those with some background in traditional hosting may have fewer product-portfolio gaps. Original innovation is a component of Vision but it’s only part of the overall Vision score, so being a fast follower only hurts you so much.

We recognize the need for a “pure cloud compute” vendor rating, and have one in the works.

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1 Comment

  • There are many quality people at Gartner but I’m afraid to admit that you are right on this one. The world of more informed users really highlights any kind of head fake that the big firms do to pay the bills.