Specialist providers fill the missing bits in public cloud

While it may seem logical to deploy workloads in a hyperscaler’s cloud, is it the best option? Gartner looks at alternatives

Gartner’s latest research assessing the market for smaller cloud providers has highlighted shortcomings in hyperscalers’ support for small and medium-sized entrprises (SMEs) and businesses on a tight budget.

In June, Gartner reported that in 2021, the top five infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers accounted for more than 80% of the market. The analyst firm reported that the worldwide IaaS market grew by 41.4% in 2021 to total $90.9bn, up from $64.3bn in 2020.

Gartner’s data on worldwide IT spending reveals that price increases and delivery uncertainty, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have accelerated the transition in purchasing preference among CIOs, and enterprises in general, from ownership to service – pushing cloud spending to 18.4% growth in 2021 and expected growth of 22.1% in 2022.

Of the overall amount being spent on public cloud platforms and IT infrastructure, a relatively small percentage, valued at $3.3bn, is being diverted from the hyperscalers to more specialist cloud infrastructure and platform providers. These specialty providers typically compete by focusing on lower cost, a specific geographic area, a specific set of IT and business use cases, or a specific type of hardware infrastructure.

Data sovereignty is one of the main reasons IT leaders opt for a specialist cloud provider. Global organisations that need to comply with their country’s data privacy or residency laws are unable to use public clouds that live in other geographic regions.

According to Gartner, global hyperscale cloud infrastructure and platform service providers, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, do not typically offer services customised to specific geographic regions and cultures. They expect local customers to adopt a “one size fits all” approach to cloud computing.

In Gartner’s Market guide for specialty cloud providers report, analysts warned that the vast range of services available through the hyperscalers make their platforms difficult to navigate and master. “They can appear overwhelming to customers with specific, limited needs,” wrote analysts David Wright, Raj Bala and Elaine Zhang, authors of the report.

Read more about specialty cloud deployments

  • Sometimes a cloud provider that isn’t a big name can be just what you’re looking for. Vultr and DigitalOcean are such two providers, and here’s how they compare.
  • The complexity of operating multiple clouds has opened opportunities for consultants and service providers, who aim to instill a more holistic management approach.

This is especially true in smaller businesses. While SME customers tend to adopt software as a service (SaaS), some require basic IaaS and platform as a service (PaaS) at a low list price. However, Gartner found that the tools hyperscalers provide can become prohibitive.

“When all of a hyperscaler’s development and testing tools are used together, the combined cost can be too high for developers on a tight budget,” wrote the report’s authors.

Edge computing is another area where the hyperscalers may not always be the best choice for IT leaders. Gartner’s analysis found that outside of datacentres, at the network edge, the services of the hyperscalers can be harder to integrate and operate.

As a result, Gartner said enterprises with complex system requirements at their network edges, in areas such as industrial automation, digital health and smart vehicles, are turning to bare-metal and edge cloud providers that can deliver cloud infrastructure and platform capacity from more varied and precise network locations.

Although many industry-specific workloads still run on-premise, Gartner’s research has found that so-called specialty “industry cloud” providers have not materialised as a viable migration destination for these workloads. The report’s authors said that currently, vertical industry needs are being met by system integrators (SIs) and application independent software vendors (ISVs) working with the industry-specific options available from the hyperscalers.

Read more on Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

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