Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Names Leaders, Visionaries and Niche Players | CCSK Guide

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Names Leaders, Visionaries and Niche Players


We’ve been talking a lot about the infrastructure as a service segment of the cloud market. Now that Gartner has released its Magic Quadrant methodology, there’s a lot more information to look at.

What’s Magic Quadrant?

Gartner Magic Quadrants are a research methodology on a specific market, providing a wide-angle view of the relative positions of the market’s competitors. It applies a graphical treatment and uniform set of evaluation criteria, allowing decision makers to quickly assess how well technology providers are executing against their stated vision. We’ll take a closer look at this research tool in a later article.

Who’s who?

In the Magic Quadrants analysis, Gartner determined that only AWS and Microsoft were worthy of the “leaders” tag. A group of other providers represent the “visionaries” section: CenturyLink, CSC, IBM, Google and Verizon Terremark. A few other companies were considered “niche players,” including Rackspace and VMware. Providers like GoGrid and Joyent finished last. Surprisingly, HP – who recently invested one billion dollars in its latest cloud initiative – came second last in its ability to execute, demonstrating how badly needed that investment really was.

Gartner’s assessment of AWS goes quite far in determining the huge market lead it has over the competition. The firm calls Amazon a “thought leader,” “extraordinarily innovative,” “exceptionally agile,” and “very responsive to the market.”


AWS really sets the bar, as far as IaaS goes. However, Gartner warns that AWS is growing too fast, to its own detriment; its sales capacity cannot consistently satisfy prospective customers who need consultative sales. It argues that Microsoft and Google are the strongest competition in the traditional business and cloud-native markets respectively.

The danger for Microsoft is how nascent Azure Infrastructure Services is. According to Gartner, “Many features are in “preview” (beta) or “coming soon,” and it is not always obvious to customers which features are still in preview.” Yet its consumer history is notable, enabling it to quickly become a leader in IaaS, says Gartner.

Other research…

While the IaaS market is competitive, the IaaS research market is even messier. In its last IaaS winner’s circle, Horses for Sources (HfS) ranked 10 companies, including AWS, HP and IBM. Surprisingly, Microsoft and Google did not. HfS underscored its unique proposition in determining cloud services, comprised of a buyer view of an end-to-end business process.

Taking into account its similarities with the Gartner Magic Quadrant – ranking x and y axes in execution and innovation, segmenting its results into quarters – it’s interesting to see Microsoft in the secondary ‘high performers’ category, and Google, Rackspace and Joyent in the fringes. AWS did not carry such a dominant lead either, with IBM and Cisco best at execution and innovation, respectively.

Another report released by IDC VP David Tapper in May 2014 argued that IBM was the IaaS vendor of choice for US enterprise buyers, far ahead of Cisco and HP. Google, Microsoft and AWS filled positions five through seven. According to Tapper, it’s not about who’s won the battle now, but who wins the war in 5 to 10 years.

Gartner analyst Lydia Leong writes:
“This is not a market for the faint of heart. For that matter, this is not a market for the shallow of pocket… There’s also a clear convergence with the PaaS market that’s taking place here. AWS has long offered an array of services that are PaaS elements, as well as many things that sit on the spectrum between pure IaaS and pure PaaS. Microsoft and Google started as PaaS providers and then launched IaaS offerings. The distinctions will blur and increasingly become less relevant, as providers fight it out on features and capabilities.”


This article introduces Gartner’s IaaS Magic Quadrant, a research methodology for assessing the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) space. In its assessment, Gartner named AWS and Microsoft true leaders in the field, with CenturyLink, CSC, IBM, Google and Verizon Terremark as visionaries.

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