Gartner warns cloud buyers off hasty IaaS investments

With the competitive landscape in flux, end users should exercise caution when choosing their IaaS providers, Gartner warns

Cloud buyers should exercise extreme caution when choosing an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider, as some may not be in the market for the long haul, Gartner has warned.

The market watcher said that some IaaS providers are finding it a struggle to remain competitive and are altering their business strategies accordingly, with potentially big implications for their customers.

The IaaS market is dominated by a handful of names, including Microsoft and Google, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) the biggest player overall. But it’s the smaller players that seem to be most at risk, according to Gartner.

Lydia Leong, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said while there is no need for end users to panic, they should bear this in mind when deciding whose services to buy.

“The sky is not falling – customers are getting great value out of cloud IaaS – but the competitive landscape is shifting,” she said.

“Few providers have the financial resources to invest in being broadly competitive in the cloud IaaS market.”

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Market pressure bites

Gartner’s latest spending forecast for the IaaS market shows that demand will continue to rise steadily, with worldwide spending set to hit $16.5bn this year, which will be 32.8% higher than in 2014.

While Rackspace is not name-checked in the report, it is a good example of a pure-play IaaS player that overhauled its strategy to focus on the delivery of managed cloud services to its customers in 2014.

With more suppliers set to follow suit, buyers need to keep their wits about them to ensure they don’t end up plumping for a cloud platform that could be discontinued or revamped later down the line, Leong said.

“We urge buyers to be extremely cautious when selecting providers; ask specific and detailed questions about the provider’s roadmap for the service, and seek contractual commitments that do not permit the provider to modify substantially or to discontinue the offering without at least 12 months’ notice,” she added.

It’s also important to bear in mind, she said, that not all IaaS providers nor their offerings are the same, with some better suited for running some workloads than others.

“Cloud IaaS is not a commodity,” Leong said. “Providers vary significantly in their features, performance, cost and business terms.

“In theory, cloud IaaS has very little lock-in; in truth, cloud IaaS is not merely a matter of hardware rental, but an entire datacentre ecosystem as a service.

“The more you use its management capabilities, the more value you will receive from the offering, but the more you will be tied to that particular sevice.”

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