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In Pictures: Top Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service vendors

Choosing the right Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider is growing increasingly difficult in a highly competitive market. Here are the top IaaS players identified by Gartner and their recommended use cases.

  • Gartner identifies 9 major IaaS players The cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) space is undergoing major upheaval this year, according to research firm Gartner. In its 2015 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide, Gartner analysts found service providers were shifting strategies as the ecosystem consolidates around market leaders. Here are the major IaaS players identified by Gartner, along with recommended use cases for each.

  • Leaders IaaS vendors had to offer a service suitable for strategic adoption and boast an ambitious roadmap to make the cut for Gartner's Leaders quadrant. These vendors, according to Gartner, offer services that serve a broad range of use cases. They may not necessarily be the best providers for a specific need, and they may not serve some use cases at all, but they have a track record of successful delivery, significant market share and lots of customers that can provide references.

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) AWS is the 800 lbs. gorilla in the IaaS market, with more than 10 times more cloud IaaS compute capacity in use than the aggregate total of the other 14 providers Gartner studied. Gartner recommends AWS for all use cases that run well in a virtualized environment, but notes that some -- particularly highly secure applications, strictly compliant applications or complex enterprise applications (such as SAP business applications) -- may require special attention to architecture.

  • Microsoft Microsoft, with its Azure Infrastructure Services, is the only other IaaS vendor to make the Leaders quadrant. It holds second place in market share, with more than twice as much cloud IaaS compute capacity as the other providers Gartner studied (excluding AWS). Gartner recommends Azure for general business applications and development environments for Microsoft-centric organizations, as well as cloud-native applications and batch computing.

  • Visionaries Vendors in Gartner's Visionaries quadrant distinguished themselves with an ambitious vision of the future and significant investments in the development of unique technologies. They might be new entrants to the market or veteran providers in the process of reinventing their business. These vendors may have a significant number of customers but don't yet serve a broad range of use cases well compared with their Leader quadrant counterparts.

  • Google The Google Cloud Platform brings together Compute Engine (its IaaS offering), App Engine (an application PaaS or aPaaS offering) and complementary services like object storage and a Docker container service. Gartner recommends Google for cloud-native applications and batch computing, as well as projects that leverage Google Cloud Platform as a whole.

  • CenturyLink Global communications service provider CenturyLink acquired Web hoster Savvis in 2011 and pure-play cloud IaaS provider Tier 3 in 2013 and merged them to create its CenturyLink Technology Solutions business unit, which now offers CenturyLink Cloud (CLC). Gartner recommends CLC for self-service cloud IaaS in conjunction with managed services and for all applications that run well in a virtualized environment, excluding batch computing.

  • VMware VMware has traditionally focused on virtualization technologies, but made its vCloud Air cloud IaaS service generally available in 2013. Gartner recommends vCloud Air for development environments, general business applications, supplementing existing VMware-virtualized environments, Pivotal Cloud Foundry hosting and disaster recovery for customers that want a VMware-based solution.

  • IBM (SoftLayer) IBM acquired SoftLayer, an independent Web hoster focused on small and midsized businesses (SMBs) in 2013, and by 2014 it migrated its existing SmartCloud Enterprise cloud IaaS customers to SoftLayer and shut SmartCloud down. Gartner recommends SoftLayer for ebusiness hosting, general business applications and batch computing, in circumstances that require both API control over scalable infrastructure and bare-metal servers to meet requirements for performance, regulatory compliance or software licensing. It also recommends it for IBM outsourcing deals that use SoftLayer bare-metal servers as the hosting platform.

  • Niche Players IaaS vendors may fit into the Niche Players quadrant for a number of reasons, according to Gartner. They may provide top-notch services for specialized use cases, be relatively new entrants to the market or still lack significant market share. Gartner notes some may have solid leadership positions in adjacent markets but are still in the early stages of developing IaaS capabilities. Gartner says the more highly targeted your needs are, the more likely it is that a Niche Player is an ideal fit.

  • Rackspace Rackspace offers a multitenant, OpenStack-based public cloud and three flavors of hosted private cloud: vCloud Director-based and VMware-virtualized, Microsoft Cloud OS-based and Hyper-V virtualized or OpenStack-based and KVM-virtualized. It also offers an on-premises private cloud. For public cloud, Gartner recommends Rackspace for cloud-native applications requiring a basic cloud IaaS offering that includes bare-metal servers, cloud IaaS as part of a hybrid hosting solution with DevOps-oriented managed services, hybrid hosting where cloud IaaS is supplementary to a primarily dedicated infrastructure or development environments where simplicity and ease of use are crucial. For private cloud, Gartner recommends private OpenStack environments for development or cloud-native applications, VMware or Hyper-V-based "rented virtualization" for general business applications or development environments, private "Azure-like" (Windows Azure Pack) environments for development or hybrid environments with Microsoft Azure.

  • The rest Gartner identified the other Niche Players as: CSC, Dimension Data, Fujitsu, Interoute, Joyent, NTT Communications, Verizon and Virtustream. It recommends CSC for cloud-enabled data center transformation that want a VMware-based service or a private cloud. Gartner suggests Dimension Data for ebusiness hosting, cloud-native applications and general business applications for customers that have very diverse geographic needs or who need a private cloud. Fujitsu is recommended for general business applications for customers who need managed services in conjunction with cloud IaaS, of for development environments for customers who only need basic cloud IaaS. Gartner recommends Joyent for cloud-native or microservice architecture applications deployed into OS containers, cloud-native applications and e-commerce sites where visibility into application performance is crucial or batch computing on large data sets.

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