First things first
Gartner recently released its latest Magic Quadrant for IaaS and -- surprise! -- Amazon Web Services is in the top, right corner, followed closely by Microsoft Azure. And while there could be some reasons to quibble about their exact placement, that feels about right.
But the really interesting part is seeing Google Cloud make its entry into the vaunted "Leaders" category along with those two peers. Say what you will about Gartner's methods (and people have said plenty), but the firm really does have cachet among enterprise buyers and enterprise IT vendors. If, as Gartner claims, Google has been able to work its way into that category based largely on the strength of its data-analysis and artificial intelligence tools (a claim that seems perfectly reasonable based on all I've seen and heard), that's saying something.
What it says to me is that as (or if) GCP's partner ecosystem and enterprise pricing models mature, Google could be in position to be taken very seriously for large-enterprise deals. The big if is how intensely Google decides to go after the enterprise market in the traditional manner versus going after the market in a Google-y (or even early AWS-y) manner.
Google's creation of and leadership in the Kubernetes space is a definite strength among developers, as is its general willingness to embrace and develop other open source technologies in the software-development arena -- including projects originally built by Netflix to run on AWS. (By the way, Netflix just open sourced Zuul 2, which is its gateway for routing internet traffic across its cloud infrastructure.) There's a longer path to the top, wherein Google attracts developers interested in things like open source, portability and composability, and it eats away at AWS's market share from the bottom up -- much like AWS did to everything else a decade ago.
It's a tall order considering the pace of innovation at AWS, but I'd also argue that the parallels to AWS's ascent in the face of incumbent technologies aren't that hard to spot if you look for them.
Interestingly, the rest of the Magic Quadrant only includes three other IaaS providers -- Alibaba Cloud, Oracle and IBM -- all hanging out in the "Niche Players" section. I find it odd that Oracle is ranked above IBM, and I've been writing for a while now not to overlook Alibaba in the international market. If what Gartner means by "niche" is that Alibaba serves markets not in North America, that's a pretty big and nice niche to have.
On a related note, Facebook made some announcements around its network infrastructure this week:
- Open-sourcing Katran, a scalable network load balancer
- Scaling the Facebook backbone through Zero Touch Provisioning
There are perpetual rumblings about how Facebook could/should get into the cloud or software provider spaces (including from me), and stuff like this is the reason why. There are so few companies with Facebook's scale and knowledge, and the rest seem to be very successfully supporting their core businesses with cloud services. Facebook might have some steep hurdles to overcome (namely its reputation for abusing user trust, but also the very specific use cases for which it's IT efforts are optimized), but it's always fun to speculate even if we all know, in our heart of hearts, that it's not going to happen.