Gartner releases Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. Microsoft Azure now a leader.

Gartner published the Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service at May 28 , 2014. The document provides an overview of IaaS and which providers offer this service. To be included in the MQ providers had to meet various criteria. In total 25+ scoring categories are used to determine placement.

A free reprint of the Magic Quadrant  is available here. 

Amazon Web Services is far ahead of the rest of the providers. The marketshare on compute capacity is about 87 %, 5 times more than the total capacity combined of all other providers.  They are thought leaders, have a mature offering and offer much more capacity.

Microsoft  is the only other company listed in the Leader quadrant. Their IaaS offering Azure is listed for the first time ever in the Leaders quadrant.

Google and VMware vCHS are added for the first time to the MQ.

 

The MQ is very interesting to read! It offers a lot of information on the market. For an explanation see this blog of Lydia Leong, analyst of Gartner.

Not everyone is impressed by the MQ. Some believe the gap between Amazon and Microsoft should be bigger. Lydia Leong states the move up and to the right of Microsoft is mostly because of the company’s remarkable market power and less because of the growth in technical features.

Microsoft is present in almost any organization and is able to buy itself into the IaaS market. For example by giving away free Azure credits for Enterprise Agreement customers. Microsoft also shown a lot of vision.

Below the MQ for May 2014.

Gartner MQ IaaS May 2014

 

Below the MQ for IaaS on August 2013 

Gartner Catalyst session: Modernizing Business Continuity and DR Using Virtualization and the Cloud

One of the presentations at Gartner Catalyst Conference was titled Modernizing Business Continuity and DR Using Virtualization and the Cloud.

It can be watched online for free here. If you do not have an account you can create one for free and watch three sessions for free.

This blogpost has a summary of what was presented here.

The outline of the  presentation by Werner Zurcher is :

Server virtualization and public and private cloud services have dramatically changed the alternatives organizations have to ensure greater application availability and disaster recovery. This session provides detailed guidance on how to modernize business continuity and highlights lessons learned from bleeding edge organizations that are already using private and public clouds for DR. The key questions answered in this session include:
• How are technologies like server and storage virtualization and software-defined networks architected to improve business continuity?
• Who is enabling, and who is embracing cloud DR and for what use cases?
• What are the most common architectural pitfalls that should be avoided?

As IT is becoming more and more important organizations are looking for ways to improve their business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities. Superstorm Sandy and the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan increased the number of questions by Gartner customers on how to improve DR.

To start improving BC and DR, some advise from Gartner

  • IT must know the business requirement for BC and DR
  • IT should use virtualization to improve mobility, availability and DR.
  • use automation to simplify disaster recovery.
  • use the cloud to support BC management and assure IT service recovery

 

Gartner did interviews with 16 of its clients to understand how they perform BC and DR. All Gartner customers who are innovative on DR have a high degree of virtualized servers. Their servers were between 75 and 99% virtualized. That is much higher then the average. Gartner estimates that by the end of 2013 67% of all servers will be running virtualized.

Most companies have 3 to 4 tiers of application protection levels ranging from  Mission critical, critical, important and non important for example. Each tier describes uptime requirements, availability, RTO and RPO. Many companies also have a Tier 0 level for critical infrastructure components. In this level of protection are services like Active Directory, DNS and DHCP. These services need to be available at all times. Organizations do not want to rely on  restore of Microsoft AD first and only after succesfull restore start with restoring the business applications.

The slide below shows the average spending on disaster recovery by industry. Clearly banks, telecom and airlines spent the most money of their IT budget on DR.

The slide gives an indication of RTO and RPO per industry.

.Dr-slide1GIF

 

Benefits of server virtualization to DR

Virtualization makes DR much easier and less costly. Virtualization provides hardware abstration. VMs can run on any supported hardware platform. In the secondary datacenter used for DR less hardware is needed when servers are virtualized. Virtualization also enables using the cloud as a DR site.

DR Automation tooling

A quote of one of the Gartner customers who participated in the study was: “We’re moving away from RecoverPoint to get away from replicating everything. I want only certain things to get replicated. Also, with LUN-based replication, if everthing on the same LUN isn’t related, it gets more difficult to move or test (failover and failback).

Death to array-based replication

Dr-slide2

This quote comes from a Gartner client using Zerto Virtual Replication. They are moving to the cloud for DR this fall. In the Gartner study 10 of the 16 customers were using software replication. 7 of those 10 are using a combination of software and hardware replication (replication performed at storage level) .

<note from author: In April 2012 I did a review of Site Recovery Manager, Zerto Virtual Replication and Virtualsharp Reliable DR. Since then new versions have been released. Read the review here . 

I also blogged about using Zerto for DR to the cloud in this blogposting titled Is your data ready for the next natural disaster or other hazards to IT?

>

Garter recommends to separate  data of virtual machines in 3 different virtual disks.

  • Disk 1 for operating system, application software files.
  • Disk 2 for paging/swap file and temporary files
  • Disk 3 for data

Disk 1 and disk 2 only require to be replicated once per day. Replication of the page disk could be needed to reserve the storage in the DR site. Actually as the virtual machine will restart in the secondary site is case of a disaster, the replicated paging/swap files will be overwritten at startup.

Automation makes DR much easier. 6 participants of the Garner study were using VMware Site Recovery Manager. One customer was using Hyper-V Replica with system Center Orchestrator, one company was using Zerto Virtual Replication,  <note: Veeam Backup & Replication does not offer an automated recovery feature on par with the ones mentioned by Gartner)

One of the best features of DR tools is automated test failover to a DR sandbox. This allows failover to be tested without disrupting the production environment. One of the customers is quoted: Virtualization and SRM allow us to eat chips and watch TV during the DR-test.

DR to the cloud

18% of the respondents in a recent Storage Magazine survey are using Disaster Recovery to the cloud (aka Recovery as a Service RaaS). Those were all small companies. Large companies all operate two or more datacenters which are used for DR. Gartner asked 1000 of its clients if they were using cloud for DR purposes. Only one !  was using cloud for DR, another was moving to it. Gartner got the same response on another query to 1000 respondents executed at a later date.

<note from author: I guess most of Garners clients are large organizations. The actuall usage of DRaaS in total will be higher>

So large organizations are not doing DR to the cloud yet.

An issue with DR as a Service is the bandwidth to and from the cloud. Companies are starting to use carrier Ethernet with 1Gbps links to the cloud. When looking for DraaS vendors distance between your location and that of the DraaS provider is an important thing to consider. Even when using 1 Gbps connection if the distance is too far the throughput is low/latency high. Of course the providers location should not be too close either. Gartner recommends something like between 20 and 100 miles away.

Gartner spoke to a Recovery as a Service provider. This provider has a couple of cloud based recovery services. Veeam Backup and Replication was used most by their customers. More information on using Veeam for DR here. 

Very often European organizations are using three datacenters. Two are close to eachother (arond 30 km max). Those two datacenters can be so close to eachother because in Europe there are no earthquakes , hurricanes or other natural disasters hitting a whole region. DR is done using the primary and secondary DC. When datacenters are close together it is easier for staff to get there for maintenance etc.  Some organizations like banks use a third datacenter to store data just to be sure. Or use the cloud as a third datacenter to run webservers. If both datacenters are unavailable at least some critical public facing websites remain available.

Use the Business Continuity Management tools from the cloud (SaaS).
BCM tools offer features like emergency messaging and notification services. Also they offer DR plans, business impact analysis, DR strategy, IT DR planning etc.   This can be very handy to have quick access to when a disaster have happend… <note from author: I am sure you stored Recovery plans in several safe places outside where your production data lives)>

The documentation having instructions how to recover, who to inform, contact details etc can even be accessed from a mobile Phone when using SaaS tools.

Dr-slide6Dr-slide5

Investigate cloud DR for appropiate IT services. Cloud DR is not an all of nothing proposition. You can protect a subset of your applications using cloud DR. Get comfortable with it and extend the usage of Cloud DR when you are comfortable with it.

Test your DR plan regularly, This is what all companies do who participated in the Gartner study. However most of them did not test a failback.

Gartner being strict on VMware vCloud Suite 5.1 & Microsoft System Center 2012

At Gartner Catalyst Conference 2013 in San Diego a very interesting presentation was given by Alessandro Perilli. He  currently leads the private cloud computing research in the Gartner for Technical Professionals (GTP) research division.

The title of the presentation is “Sizing Up Cloud Management Platforms: Microsoft vs. VMware“.  It can be watched online for FREE here. You just need to register. After registration you can watch three sessions for free.

This session provides an in-depth comparison between two cloud management platforms (CMPs): Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Pack 1, and VMware vCloud Suite 5.1. The session highlights the key differences between the two CMPs in terms of feature set and technical implementation.

 

To summarize the content of the session:

Gartner developed a Cloud Management Platform (CMP) assessment tool. This tool evaluates CMP’s using over 200 criteria. Gartner started to assess both Microsoft System Center and VMware vCloud Suite.  This research took about 4 months and included many hours spent in homelabs. VMware vCloud Suite scores slightly better, mainly because of its good implementation of charge back and life cycle management. Gartner hopes to force vendors in a certain direction. The criteria in the Reference Architecture Template  are a way to lead vendors to adjust their products so it has features the customers really want.

Hightlights of the presentation

This posting has a summary of what was presented in this session. I very much recommend to watch the session yourself.

Key questions addressed in the session include:

• Which vendor, among Microsoft and VMware, offers an enterprise-grade CMP for large-scale production cloud environments?
• What are the key differences in terms of features and implementation between Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 and VMware vCloud Suite 5.1?
• What weaknesses in each product constrain an organization’s capability to address different use cases for cloud computing?

 

Alessandro starts with a slide showing the results of the assessment. VMware vCloud Suite (light blue bar) has a higher score than Microsoft System Center. But you need to know the context of how the score was determined before jumping to conclusions.

vcloud-vs-sc-slide1

Gartner compared the most comprehensive edition available  of both products . These are  Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 Datacenter Edition and VMware vCloud Suite 5.1 Enterprise edition.

Both Cloud Management Platforms offer a lot of features which are delivered by various components. However not all components are a must in a CMP according to Gartner.   In SC 2012 Gartner did not consider Data Protection Manager and Endpoint Protection in the assessment.  In vCloud Suite Gartner did not consider Site Recovery Manager and some parts of vCloud Networking and Security in the assessment (because those are part of the virtualization layer).

Gartner reviewed the portions of the suites which are marked in yellow in the slide shown below.

In the picture below you see VS which stands for virtual services. This are virtual machines. The components shown on top of  the virtualization layer are the components Gartner believe are needed to construct a private cloud. The level of integration of the components tells a lot about the maturity of the cloud management platform. The other aspect showing maturity is feature overlap. The more overlap, the less maturity. Gartner sees feature overlap more as a marketing bundle than a cloud management solution.

vcloud-vs-sc-slide2

Gartner described 202 criteria to compare any cloud management platform on the market. The features are divided into three groups: required, preferred and optional

If a product scores 100% in the required features section it is seen as  an enterprise product ready for mission critical deployment on a large scale. Large scale means 10.000 managed objects or more. Gartner states the market of CMP  is highly immature. There are about a hundred cloud management platform vendors. The framework is meant to push vendors in a direction which Gartner believes is important for its clients.

A  feature gets a yes/checkmark  in the scoreboard if the feature is documented and if the feature is ready to be used out of the box. If a vendor professional services is needed to implement a feature , costing the customer money , it will be documented by Gartner as a no for that feature. So some slides show a NO for some features while the product does have the feature. Only the vendor did not have a written statement to prove it actually works.

The slide below shows the components in vCloud Suite and System Center and how they map. In quite a few categories there is an overlap of features delivered by vCloud Director and vCloud Automation Center (vCAC pronounced as vCAKE)

The foundation of vCAC is based on DynamicOps Cloud Automation Center 4.5 software. DynamicOPS  was acquired by VMware in July 2012. The current version of vCAC is 5.1.

DynamicOps and vCloud Director used to be competitors. Now they are part of the same suite. Hence the overlap in features.

vCAC enables automated provisioning of both virtual machines and physical servers (including the guest operating system). Provisioning of both on-premises and cloud infrastructures is supported. vCAC enables authorized end-users to quickly have access to servers without IT having to perform the provisioning. Provisioning is so reduced from days to minutes. More on vCAC in my post here.

vcloud-vs-sc-slide3

In the remaining part of the presentation Alessandro discusses some of the categories and how they scored.

VMware has a clear lead in chargeback, life cycle management  and service catalog category when compared to System Center.

Mind however VMware Chargeback Manager only supports vCloud Director! It does not support VMware  vCloud Automation Center.

vcloud-vs-sc-slide6vcloud-vs-sc-slide7

The integration of SC Configuration Manager with other components of SC is not exceptional and there is a lot room for improvement.

Lifecycle Management is an extremely important category. The way Lifecycle Management is implemented in vCAC is very wel done compared to Microsoft SC. Gartner is less positive about life cycle management of vCloud Director. Implementation is done in a totally different way than vCAC. So it is important to understand that difference if you are going to upgrade from vCloud Director to vCAC. You will need to learn again how to manage Life Cycle management.

The Platform category has the worst score  for VMware because they have no checkmarks in the required features. They do offer most of the features listed in this category. However they get a NO for all features. This is because Gartner only gives a Yes when features applies to all components of the platfrom.  Support for mainstream operating systems is not uniform across all components of the vCloud Suite (and in lesser extent in SC as well). Also  components of the vCloud Suite use different database technologies. So  one component supports Oracle and  Progress databases while the other only supports only SQL Server. This means the customer has to manage several database soltions.  So because the lack of uniformity VMware vCloud does not get a single Yes in this category.

Gartner confirms what former VMware CTO Steve Herrod has told an Italian VMUG meeting in 2012 that the  VMware’s cloud infrastructure suite is still only loosely integrated and that the company has plans to do better.
See this post at the Register titled VMware CTO reveals future directions in VMUG Speech in Italy says acquired techs ‘don’t work well enough together yet’
Also VMware did not provide written support statement for some of the features in this category. Another requirement to get a checkmark.

vcloud-vs-sc-slide8

One of the last slides of the presentation is Recommendations.

vcloud-vs-sc-slide9GIF

One of the recommendations is:  to take your time. Building a prive cloud is not an easy task to perform. Zero to cloud in 20 minutes as some vendor says is a dream. Organizations will start to implement one or max two components of the suite and add more later on. Give priority to implementation of the features you require.

Gartner already has a paper describing SC 2012 . It is titled Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1: In-depth Assessment for Cloud Management. Written by Alessandro Perilli (G00235076). More information on this 69 pages paper here. For VMware vCloud Suite the paper will be released by Gartner around mid august 2013.

Gartner sees a growing interest in SC2012 especially by customers of which VMware Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) is about to expire. Those customers are starting to look around for alternatives. Gartner also sees a good penetration of the market of the DynamicOps  (now VMware vCAC) product in enterprises.
Customers using VMware vCloud Director ran into limitations of the product over time and start looking for alternatives.
The long term stratey of cloud management platform vendors is to replace individual components customers already use by their own solutions. Contrary to what vendors tell, the integration with other vendor solutions is not so good. Think about integration of CMP with Servicedesk tooling or Self Service portals.

Gartner: Can you replace VMware with Hyper-V or other competitor?

Gartner Catalyst Conference is an event for advisors and decision makers in IT. July 29- August 1 2013 the event was held in San Diego having tracks on Cloud computing, mobility, virtual datacenter and big data. An overview of the agenda can be seen here.

One of the sessions was  titled D4 – Rethinking Your Hypervisor Choice: Can You Replace VMware. The session presented by Chris Wolf of Gartner  has been recorded and is available for viewing here. Registration is required but is free and allows you to view up to three sessions for free.

The highlights of the sessions are written in this blogpost.

Gartner compared 5 x86 virtualization solutions: vSphere 5.1, Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), Citrix XenServer and Oracle VM.

Gartner uses their Evaluation Criteria for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure to assess the solutions and to be able to compare them. This helps customers to answer the question “What product is right for my technical requirements?” The Evaluation Criteria complements the Magic Quadrant which helps customers to select vendors for a short list.

Gartner uses in total 241 criteria. Criteria are features on compute, storage, networking, Guest OS support, management, business continuity etc.  70 of those criteria are ranked as required features by Gartner, 117 preferred and 45 are optional. Gartner selects the criteria based on customer requirements they get from Gartner customers. Vendors do not have any influence on the selection of criteria.

Required criteria are features which are essential for the typical large Enterprise. Products that do not meet 100% of the required criteria are considered not ready for large-scale Enterprise production workloads.

Preferred are nice to have features.They improve TCO for instance but are not deal breakers.  Optional features are those needed for selected deployments or use cases. All the results of the product assessments have been checked by the vendors on results being factual correct,

Gartner customers can get an Excel spreadsheet listing all the criteria and  results of the assessment.

The slide below shows the results of the assessment. VMware vSphere is the leader. It is the only solution on the market which scores 100% on the required criteria. Hyper-V is very close behind. Interesting to see is that RHEV scores slightly better than Citrix XenServer.

slide1

 

Results of the product comparison are showed in so called spider graphs or radar charts. The next slide shows the score of the required, preferred and optional features. vSphere is a bullseye. Hyper-V has some small white spaces in Business Continuity and Guest OS support

 

slide2

vSphere and Hyper-V are very close to each other when looking at the  required features. Hyper-V supports less operating systems in the guest. The gap with vSphere is also caused by less support of snapshots of Linux guests by Hyper-V. A Linux guest will be temporary suspended prior to a backup when snapshots are used in a Hyper-V environment.
Another of Hyper-V weaknesses  is lack of central management. Certain tasks can only be done in either Hyper-V manager, SCVMM or Powershell. Gartners says VMware offers the best GUI management solution as basically all operations can be done using  vCenter Server.

Both VMware and Microsoft management tooling is able to manage other hypervisors. However Gartner is not aware of any Gartner customer who is using SCVMM to manage ESXI or using vCenter Server to manage Hyper-V.

vSphere weakness is its costs. Other weaknesses mentioned by Gartner are all shared with the other solutions.

Hyper-V-strengthsHyper-V-weaknesses

An interesting remark by Chris Wolf is  that Gartner does not see large scale clusters being used in enterprises. Typically in enterprises virtualization clusters are 32 nodes or less.

 

The slides below show some of the criteria used by Gartner.

compute-required-capabilities compute-required-capabilities2 network-required-capabilities required-guestos

 

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