"Up and to the right" has become shorthand for "the winning position." Usually, a number of companies wrangle for position in the upper-right quadrant of Gartner's Magic Quadrant, a market research report that looks at leaders in an industry. But, in the newest Magic Quadrant for cloud infrastructure services, Amazon sits virtually alone, with only Microsoft Azure to keep it company.
But, that's not really news.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), after all, has completely dominated cloud infrastructure services for so long that Gartner crowns it the "safe choice." What is interesting, however, is just how far everyone else keeps falling behind. Looking at successive years of Gartner's IaaS Magic Quadrant reveals a pack of also-rans retreating into the distance.
Years and years of winning
In 2014, Gartner discovered that AWS had 5X the utilized capacity of its next 14 nearest competitors combined. By 2015, that lead had jumped to 10X. While we'd expect to see an industry pioneer dominate the early days of that industry, AWS is unique in its ability to continue to overshadow its "peers" for years on end.
Part of this derives from AWS' ability to appeal to developers, its original audience, while also being "frequently chosen" by traditional IT, Gartner noted. The analyst firm also declared, "AWS is the provider most commonly chosen for strategic, organization-wide adoption." Not surprisingly, then, "AWS has a diverse customer base and the broadest range of use cases, including enterprise and mission-critical applications," with "an ecosystem of open-source tools, along with more than a thousand technology partners that have licensed and packaged their software to run on AWS, have integrated their software with AWS capabilities, or deliver add-on services."
This jibes well with Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky's contention that AWS keeps winning because of its superior speed of innovation, depth of functionality, and breadth of ecosystem.
But, what about everyone else?
Meet the rearview mirror
Of course, Microsoft isn't far behind, with the enterprise giant integrating on-prem and in-cloud workloads in ways no one else can. According to Gartner, "Microsoft's brand, existing customer relationships, history of running global-class consumer internet properties, deep investments in engineering and innovative roadmap have enabled it to rapidly attain the status of strategic cloud IaaS provider."
Microsoft, in short, is a credible competitor to AWS. Google isn't yet in the same class, but it at least attains "Visionary" status with Gartner. Everyone else, however, is a rounding error.
For some time, other cloud providers seemed to be closing the gap with AWS. No more. Take a look at these three consecutive Magic Quadrants. Here's 2014:
And here's 2015:
Finally, here's the cloud infrastructure market in 2016:
See what happened? AWS looks like it's treading water, but really it's simply defining true north for everyone else. Microsoft Azure has been closing the gap. Google, for its part, really does appear to be running in place relative to its bigger cloud competitors.
And CenturyLink, IBM, Rackspace, etc.? They're all just etcetera, and getting more so with each passing day.
- Amazon spills the secrets of its success: Impossible goals and repeated failure (TechRepublic)
- AWS now 10X the size of its competitors: Is the cloud arms race over? (TechRepublic)
- AWS, Microsoft seen rated top dogs in IaaS in Gartner's Magic Quadrant (ZDNet)
- IaaS demand soars: Why this is great news for Amazon and IoT startups (TechRepublic)
- Amazon wants to eat your database, too (TechRepublic)
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.