So here’s a statistic that puzzled us when we read Gartner’s most recent (July 2019) Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. Despite noting that the worldwide cloud IaaS market is maturing, Gartner still expects dramatic revenue growth, just about doubling from $41.4 billion in 2019 to reaching $81.5 billion by 2022.
In other markets this combination of maturity and significant revenue growth would be considered a paradox. The answer, however, lies in Gartner’s observation that more and more traditional IT workloads are being migrated to cloud IaaS. Initially growth of the cloud IaaS market was being driven by organizations placing their modern workloads in the cloud, led by their development and digital business teams. Today Infrastructure & Operations leaders are driving a second wave of cloud adoption.
Yet despite the rosy forecast for continued revenue growth, there’s also a strong sense of déja vu when reading the report. The roster of leaders and niche players in 2019 is exactly the same as in 2018. Gartner does not expect this situation to change in the foreseeable future because the three global market leaders—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), in that order—are so dominant.
In this review we summarize some of the report’s key findings and share our thoughts on what they mean for the cloud enterprise storage market.
The Report from Gartner: AWS, Google, and Azure Market Shares
Although the Gartner report does not specifically quantify the market shares of the three leaders, Canalysis’ analysis of the worldwide cloud infrastructure market in Q4 2018 indicates that the AWS market share is 32.3%, Azure 16.5% and GCP 9.5%. Perhaps even more telling is that AWS’ YoY growth rate was 46.3% while Azure’s was 75.9% and GCP’s 81.7%.
The following are the key strengths and weaknesses that Gartner observers for the three leaders:
- Azure is doing well, leveraging Microsoft’s prodigious co-selling strengths, but suffering from reliability issues due to its fast growth. Also, their technical support is increasing in price while not considered of high quality.
- GCP is strong on support for innovative technologies (analytics, machine learning, automation, containers, and so on) but its processes and procedures are immature for enterprise accounts. Also, GCP offers a smaller pool of partners than Azure or AWS.
- AWS is the unchallenged leader, but its pricing is not as dynamic as they’d like to make out (e.g., provisioned storage rates have not been reduced since 2014). AWS has also been criticized for being a bit too quick to bring new services to market, at the expense of reliability.
The other players covered in the report are Alibaba Cloud, Oracle Cloud, and IBM Cloud. Given the dominance of AWS and Azure as global players, these other providers have had to focus their strategies on either regional dominance or niche workloads. Thus, for example, Alibaba clearly dominates the Chinese cloud IaaS market. Companies already running Oracle workloads are more than likely to turn to the Oracle Cloud as an IaaS provider. Gartner feels that IBM Cloud is in a particularly vulnerable position because it has neither regional nor niche strengths and is not improving its global cloud IaaS offerings quickly enough to compete with the market leaders.
Impact on Enterprise Storage Needs in the Cloud
Providing enterprise-grade, software-defined storage resources is mandatory to meet the inclusion criteria for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Report. However, Gartner points out that the providers covered in the report:
- Do not generally offer an SLA for storage performance (or for compute performance for that matter).
- Do not automatically replicate infrastructure resources (including storage) across multiple data centers. Thus, business continuity remains the responsibility of the customer.
- Provide disaster recovery only as a managed service, with its own fee structure above and beyond the costs of the storage and other resources consumed by their disaster recovery service.
Furthermore, the inclusion criteria include a “distributed, continuously available control plane supporting a hyperscale architecture”. However, the customer is left to deal with issues related to the control and management of cloud infrastructure resources — including storage — across multicloud or hybrid cloud environments.
Closing Storage Infrastructure Gaps With Cloud Volumes ONTAP
NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP is an enterprise-grade, software-defined data storage management solution that runs on top of the cloud provider infrastructures. Some of the key Cloud Volumes ONTAP features that help close the storage infrastructure gaps noted in the Gartner Magic Quadrant Report are:
- Data protection: Cloud Volumes ONTAP uses NetApp Snapshots™ to create rapid, point-in-time copies of storage volumes. These optimized and highly space efficient incremental copies provide a backbone for robust data replication and backup strategies.
- High availability (HA): The ability to continuously meet end-user SLAs are important KPIs for cloud IaaS customers, who strive to achieve RPOs of zero and RTOs of less than 60 seconds. Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA provides AWS high availability and an Azure high availability architecture that each maintain fully synced dual nodes.
- Disaster recovery (DR): Cloud Volumes ONTAP creates highly efficient DR copies and keeps production and DR sites fully synchronized.
- Storage efficiencies: Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s thin provisioning, deduplication and compression features can reduce cloud data storage costs and footprint by 50-70%.
- Single-pane management: NetApp Cloud Manager provides a single monitoring and administration interface across all NetApp ONTAP storage systems, creating a seamless Data Fabric for on-premises, hybrid and multicloud infrastructures.
Other Cloud Volumes ONTAP features that significantly enhance the providers’ storage infrastructure resources are: NFS and SMB/CIFS file services that support grow-as-you-go file shares accessible by any client, format, and operating system; automated data tiering that shifts active and inactive data to the appropriate cloud object storage tier; and full Kubernetes integration that automatically provisions Kubernetes persistent volumes for containerized workloads.
The cloud IaaS market continues to grow dramatically. When it comes to enterprises, however, the Gartner Magic Quadrant Report anticipates that the landscape will continue to be dominated in the foreseeable future by the three main players—AWS, Azure, and GCP. We invite you to see for yourselves with a 30-day trial how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can enhance your cloud data storage performance while reducing costs.