Gartner’s IaaS Magic Quadrant 2017: AWS and Azure power on as smaller players come back

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.

Gartner has released its latest Magic Quadrant for cloud infrastructure and a service (IaaS) – and while Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft will continue to get the plaudits, the real story is to be found nearer the bottom left.

As per 2016, AWS and Microsoft are the only two companies in the ‘leaders’ zone, with Google pushing hard in the ‘visionaries’ side, with Microsoft moving closer to AWS in terms of completeness of vision year over year.

Yet while there were only 10 vendors in the 2016 analysis – with this publication noting a more mature market as a result – 14 companies appear this year. New players, and some old faces, appearing in this edition include Interoute, Joyent – acquired by Samsung in August – and Skytap in the ‘niche players’ section, as well as Alibaba Cloud moving straight into the ‘visionaries’ section, alongside the likes of IBM and Oracle.

Naturally, AWS and Microsoft noted their delight at their continued performance in Gartner’s analysis. “Every product planning session at AWS revolves around customers – we do our best to listen and to learn, and to use what we hear to build the roadmaps for future development,” said Jeff Barr, AWS chief evangelist in a blog post. “I strongly believe that this customer-driven innovation has helped us to secure the top right corner of the Leaders quadrant for the seventh consecutive year.”

Barr said that 90% of the company’s roadmap was through customer requests, while Microsoft noted that more than 90% of the Fortune 500 use its cloud services, adding that it was a leader in no less than 13 Gartner MQs. “We strongly believe that the momentum we’re seeing has been possible because of what Azure offers and stands for – a comprehensive and secure cloud platform across IaaS and PaaS, unparalleled integration with Office 365, unique hybrid experience with Azure Stack, first-class support for Linux and open source tooling, and a robust partner ecosystem,” wrote Venkat Gattamneni, Azure director of product marketing.

The cautions for Microsoft were broadly similar to last year – not being as completely enterprise-ready as it could be, with a focus on API enablement – while AWS again had a note of caution sounded out around ease of use as well as the fact it “has just begun to adapt to the emergence of meaningful competitors.”

Alibaba, however, was praised for its potential to ‘become an alternative to the global hyperscale cloud providers in select regions over time’, with Gartner also noting its ‘financial wherewithal’ to continue investing in new regions. The company announced plans to debut in India and Indonesia earlier this month, for example. Its weakness, according to the analysts, is lacking mind share and a ‘limited track record’ outside of China.

Read more: How AWS and Azure’s competition improves public cloud adoption

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