Part of AWS’ strength is that it was first to market in 2006, and really pioneered the category. That is a pretty healthy head start.
Another aspect is pure performance. “AWS has significant capabilities specific to high-performance computing (HPC) including clusters with high-performance network interconnect and graphics processing units (GPUs), as well as a very large capacity pool,” Gartner explained.
And networking is sophisticated as well. “Complex networking is possible with the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) service, and customers that need private connectivity or colocation with low-latency distance can obtain it via Amazon Direct Connect and its data center partners,” Gartner said.
However, for true mission critical apps and those that require a super high degree of uptime, AWS still needs some tuning, Gartner argued. “AWS does not have important infrastructure resilience features such as fast VM restart or live migration for maintenance. It does offer continuous availability on its control plane, and there are no general maintenance windows.”
From PaaS to IaaS
In its early days, AWS was aimed at developers, and it still has a leading role in this Platform as a Service (PaaS) market and supporting DevOps.
Over time AWS has broadened to serve more general IT needs. Today “AWS has broad appeal, and has been widely adopted across a wide range of organization sizes and industries. Organizations that place a high priority on using the market leader, the most innovative provider or the provider with the largest partner ecosystem may even consider using AWS for use cases where it is not an ideal fit,” Gartner concluded.
What about Google?
You would think with all its money and wealth of Internet experience that Google would rule the cloud services roost. But it doesn’t. Google did take second place in two categories, but was a middle of the packer in the two others.
Like AWS, Google Cloud Platform offers both PaaS and IaaS.
So what makes Google unique? “Google Cloud Platform places a strong emphasis on self-service, API-accessible capabilities. There are numerous data-related services including object storage (Cloud Storage), database as a service (Cloud SQL and Cloud Datastore), data ingest and workflows (Cloud Dataflow, in preview), and data analytics (BigQuery). Google is providing strong support for container technologies, including the use of Docker in GCE and App Engine Managed VMs. The latter, currently in preview, provides capabilities that blend IaaS and PaaS elements,” Gartner said.
The still relatively new Cloud Platform needs attention in a few areas. “Google Cloud Platform’s ability to integrate with on-premises infrastructure is weak. Although Google supports a self-service IPsec VPN, customers cannot obtain private WAN connectivity into the service. It lacks role-based access control and governance features, and does not have any enterprise directory integration. Although Google maintains a high level of platform security, and it will sign a HIPAA BAA, it does not yet assert that its infrastructure meets PCI standards,” Gartner said.
Microsoft took third place in all four categories, giving it high marks for consistency. Again like AWS and Google, Microsoft Azure has both IaaS and PaaS. In fact, Azure focused first on PaaS and later added IaaS.
Gartner had a few Azure knocks right out of the gate. The research house is not impressed with Azure storage and the fact that there is no ability to use SSD, which makes storage far faster. Nor are storage volumes particularly large.
And “There is no support for complex network topologies — which prevents customers from deploying in-line virtual appliances such as firewalls — and this has negative consequences for security and compliance. Some needs may, however, be met by the Barracuda products in the Azure Gallery, and Microsoft is expanding such partnerships,” Gartner said.
The good news is that Azure is a fast moving target, with new features coming from both a growing partner base and Microsoft itself.
One key is how well Azure works with existing Microsoft infrastructure. “Microsoft’s strategy is to extend and enhance on-premises Microsoft technologies with Azure capabilities, and to extend and integrate Azure capabilities with on-premises Microsoft technologies. Consequently, Azure’s enterprise integration capabilities are particularly strong,” Gartner said.
The result is that Azure is particularly compelling for Microsoft shops and those that use .NET for development. “Microsoft Azure will appeal to organizations that have existing investments in Microsoft technologies, and intend to do one or more of the following: Use Azure for cloud-native applications built on .NET or with Microsoft middleware; host Windows applications that are not mission-critical and do not contain sensitive data; augment Microsoft SaaS applications; or build a hybrid cloud environment with System Center,” the researchers concluded.