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Gartner is NOT dissing Amazon’s cloud

by Lydia Leong  |  January 16, 2011  |  1 Comment

I’ve now seen a number of press reports and some related writing, about the Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastrucure as a Service and Web Hosting, that I feel mischaracterize statements made on the MQ in ways that they were certainly not intended to be taken, and in some cases, mischaracterize the nature of a Magic Quadrant itself. I feel compelled to try to attempt to make some things explicitly clear. Specifically:

This is not just a Cloud IaaS MQ. As the title says, this is a Cloud IaaS AND Web Hosting MQ. You should not interpret a vendor who is a Leader in the MQ as necessarily being a “cloud leader”, for instance; they are simply a leader in the context of the overall market, of which we have forecasted 25% of the revenue to be cloud IaaS by the end of 2011. You should look at the execution axis as favoring vendors whose positioning fits well with the immediate, relatively conservative needs of typical Gartner clients, and the vision axis as favoring vendors whose strategy makes them likely to succeed in a more cloud-oriented future.

The Magic Quadrant is not tiered. Specifically, the Challengers quadrant is not “better” than the Visionaries quadrant, nor is the reverse true. Indeed, Visionaries may be better positioned to succeed in the future than Challengers are, since they tend to be companies who have good roadmaps and are evolving quickly. (And Niche Players might be highly focused and fantastic at what they do, note.)

The Magic Quadrant rates relative positions of vendors in an overall market. Importantly, it does not rate products or services; these are only a component of the overall rating (in this particular MQ, about a third). You should never judge a vendor’s position as indicating that it necessarily has a better service, especially with respect to your specific use case. It’s especially important in this particular MQ because most of the vendors are not pure-plays, and their cloud IaaS service might be much better or much worse than their portfolio as a whole.

Strengths and Cautions are statements about a vendor, not the reasons for their rating. The statements are things that we think it is important for a prospective customer to know when they’re thinking about working with this vendor. They are distinct from the criteria scores that underly the graph. In many cases, the vendor has not lost or gained points specifically for the thing that is called out, but it’s something distinctive, or that readers might not be aware, or is a common misunderstanding from readers, or is even just simply pointing out a best practice when dealing with a particular vendor.

At no point do we say that Amazon’s cloud service is unproven. Amazon is positioned as a Visionary, and as a category, Visionaries are typically companies who have a relatively short track record in the evaluated market as a whole (yes, the boilerplate language for the category uses “unproven”). Pure-play cloud vendors are still emerging, which makes this characterization fit pretty well. While Amazon has obviously been at the pure-cloud-IaaS business longer than any other vendor on the Magic Quadrant, they are newcomers to the overall market assessed by the MQ, which is now about 15 years old. MQ Visionaries are pioneering new territory. That shouldn’t be regarded as a bad thing.

We are not “dissing” Amazon. Some writers have been trying to imply that we don’t think much of Amazon’s cloud service. Nowhere does the report state this. The report certainly attempts to present meaningful strengths and cautions for Amazon, as it does for every vendor. Amazon has by far the highest rating on vision. Its execution score is based on its ability to serve the whole host of evaluated enterprise use cases in the Magic Quadrant, which, if you think about it, indicates that Amazon must have scored well on the self-managed IaaS use case, since that is the only one of the three evaluated use cases that are considered by the Magic Quadrant, and Amazon doesn’t serve the other two use cases at all. Use of Amazon or any other vendor should be considered in light of your use case and requirements.

Obviously, there are plenty of people who are interested in understanding more about the thinking and market observations that led to this Magic Quadrant, and possibly some substantial confusion on the part of people who don’t have access to the larger body of research as to Gartner’s views on cloud IaaS and so forth. I’ve blogged a fair amount recently to try to clear up some points of confusion. However, I am mindful of Gartner’s policies for social media use by analysts, and believe that it would be inappropriate for me to methodically blog about market evolution, market segmentation, and the use cases and adoption patterns that we are seeing from our clients — the things that would be necessary in order to fully lay out an explanation of our market view and how it led to this particular MQ. Instead, I should be writing research notes for paying clients, and I intend to do exactly that.

If you are a Gartner client, you are welcome to place an inquiry to discuss the Magic Quadrant and any other related matters; I’m happy to discuss these at length. And do please read the full Magic Quadrant and related research. (Non-clients can only read the non-interactive document.)

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Category: infrastructure  

Tags: amazon  cloud  gartner  hosting  mq  research  

Lydia Leong
VP Distinguished Analyst
16 years at Gartner
23 years IT industry

Lydia Leong covers cloud computing and infrastructure strategies, along with a broad range of topics related to the transformation of IT organizations, data centers, and technology providers.Read Full Bio

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