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We continue our Magic Quadrant series by discussing the “Leaders” in Gartner’s 2017 Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) report. If you are just now entering the conversation, you may want to review the other Magic Quadrant nominees that we have highlighted.  We’ve analyzed the MQs for ADC, EPP, Enterprise Network Firewalls, Integrated SystemsSIEM, SSA, IPS, and WAFThis time we’re covering the “Leaders” section of Gartner’s IaaS 2017 Magic Quadrant with an overview of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure’s performances.

The Reign of Amazon Web Services

Between 2010 and 2011, Amazon Web Services made a huge move from Gartner’s “Visionaries” Quadrant to the “Leaders” Quadrant. Ultimately, this one-year surge forward pushed AWS to overtake and steal the lead from former-frontrunner, Savvis Inc. From 2011 onward, AWS continued its upward trend and consistently pulled farther away from other IaaS rivals, leaving Savvis Inc., Terremark, and CSC firmly in its rearview. By 2014, all former competition had fallen away to lower Quadrants, leaving AWS to lead the pack—along with one other fresh-faced provider that had suddenly joined the scene.

That provider? Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft Azure Comes from Behind

Back in 2013, Microsoft had appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, in the upper-right echelons of the “Visionaries” Quadrant—an already impressive feat. However, in just one short year, Microsoft had breached the line between itself and the “Leaders” Quadrant. At that time, there were no other competitors in that Quadrant, but since 2014, Microsoft has fought within the “Leaders” realm to gain ground on AWS’ extreme lead.

Microsoft and AWS Monopoly on Leadership

Now in 2017, AWS and Microsoft demonstrate their collective staying power as they continue to hold their monopoly on the IaaS “Leaders” Quadrant. Their closest competitor is Google, far down below at the edge of the “Visionaries” Quadrant. At their rate of upward progress, AWS and Microsoft seem determined to push up against the top, far-right boundaries of the highest Quadrant, reflecting both their increasing “Ability to Execute” and “Completeness of Vision.” For a better understanding of this sustained leadership power, let’s examine the reasoning behind Gartner’s IaaS placements.

Amazon Web Services – Dominant Reference Point

In its 2017 IaaS report, Gartner lists AWS as the “dominant market leader [and] reference point for all competitors” due to AWS’ increasing innovative pace, rich portfolio of services, expansive regional coverage, and its adaptive reach within a varied IT market. AWS’ ten-year market share dominance has officially labeled it the “safe cloud choice” for corporations that wish to have the “broadest range of [cloud] capabilities.” AWS offers extensive additional IaaS and PaaS capabilities, including object storage and integrated CDN, Docker container services, AWS Batch, and large-scale single-tenant and on-premise deals. With some of the best consultants in the business backing AWS, it is no wonder that it’s the preferred solution for companies that need intense support during their migrations from legacy infrastructure to cloud-first environments.

Microsoft Azure – Much More than PaaS

While Microsoft used to be strictly a PaaS provider, its launch of Azure Virtual Machines back in 2012 enabled its explosive emergence into the IaaS leadership realm: “Azure is already a very capable and broad platform, and Microsoft continues to accelerate its new-feature velocity.” Microsoft Infrastructure as a Service offerings include Virtual Machines, multi-tenant storage, Docker-based container services, and event-driven “serverless computing.” Rather than “copying competitor capabilities,” Microsoft is making its own way within IaaS offerings through its “tremendous sales reach and [the] ability to bundle Azure with other Microsoft products and services.” Gartner further explains that Microsoft’s ability to partner with standing customers and augment existing infrastructure through Azure Stack and third-party software services has strongly encouraged the adoption of hybrid cloud technologies across the board.

Staying Power through Adaptive and Custom-Fit Services

Admittedly, Microsoft and Amazon were already well-known and established corporations before cloud became the driving force of IT enterprises. And while their collective brand equity has certainly helped boost their current Infrastructure as a Service positions, Gartner credits their sustained leadership to the innovation and adaptive consumer services that continue to drive the industry.

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