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Shocker! Amazon remains the top dog in cloud by far, but Microsoft, Google make strides

May 19, 2015, 2:28 PM UTC
Amazon's Andy Jassy and Fortune's Adam Lashinsky at Brainstorm Tech 2014
Amazon's Andy Jassy and Fortune's Adam Lashinsky at Brainstorm Tech 2014
Photograph by Kevin Moloney/Fortune Brainstorm TECH

Amazon Web Services remains the king of cloud, according to Gartner’s latest research: In fact, the amount of computing power it is supplying customers is more than ten times that of the other top 14 cloud providers combined.

Released on Tuesday, the closely-watched Gartner (IT) Magic Quadrant report on cloud infrastructure as a service also had some surprising results compared to its last year: For one thing, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) fell off the list of top providers altogether.

Looking at the accompanying chart—which Gartner will not let me publish—and comparing it to last year’s version, IBM (IBM) SoftLayer also declined in the rankings year over year. VMware, (VMW) on the other hand, made significant strides. CenturyLink (CTL) and Rackspace (RAX) held their own year over year, according to the report, which ranks providers in terms of their execution and “completeness of vision.”

The report’s authors, led by Gartner VP and distinguished analyst Lydia Leong, noted that Amazon’s dominance has allowed it to build a large technology partner network, and it remains “exceptionally agile and very responsive to the market.” Indeed, Amazon has rolled out features and functions and price cuts on an amazing clip since debuting in 2006.

On the downside, Amazon as a vendor “can be hard to manage” and customers have to insist they get the engagement they require, the report says. It also is spreading its efforts very broadly, as evidenced by its forays into areas like desktop virtualization and file sharing. As it faces well-funded competition from Microsoft and Google, that dilution of focus could become an issue.

Microsoft (MSFT) has invested heavily in Azure infrastructure and its ability to accommodate hybrid computing tasks—jobs that run partly on the Microsoft Azure public cloud and partly on customers’ data centers. Microsoft alone has more than twice as much cloud computing capacity in use than all the non-Amazon contenders combined.

But enterprise customers remain concerned about whether past Azure outages can recur. And, while Microsoft has rolled out many enterprise-friendly features and capabilities, it has a lot left to do there.

From the report:

“Customers who intend to adopt Azure strategically and migrate applications over a period of one year or more (finishing in 2016 or later) can begin to deploy some workloads now, but those with a broad range of immediate enterprise needs may encounter challenges.

In other findings: Google (GOOG) is lauded for its vision of unleashing technologies it uses itself so that other organizations “run like Google.” But its ability to work with enterprise customers remains a question mark. And really, how many end-user companies run at that sort of scale?

IBM’s decision to build out public and private clouds for infrastructure and application development won plaudits, but the researchers found that SoftLayer, which IBM (IBM) bought for $2 billion two years ago, has little to distinguish itself from competitors other than its mix of virtualized and non-virtualized bare-metal capabilities and broad geographic coverage. IBM needs to beef up SoftLayer’s feature set and integrate SoftLayer itself better with IBM BlueMix software development platform, Gartner said.

VMware has successfully parlayed its brand recognition among information technology pros and in marketing vCloud Air as a way to foster hybrid cloud for existing VMware shops, according to the report. Its brand is strong among Virtual Machine (VM) administrators but is lacking with business managers and others at companies. It also lacks a strong partner ecosystem.

As for HP, well, let’s just go to the report:

“While HP continues to operate its cloud IaaS offering (HP Public Cloud), it now only actively seeks to market and sell this offering as part of a hybrid solution. It no longer has sufficient market share to qualify for inclusion in this Magic Quadrant.”