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Azure closes gap on AWS, as customers call for more business alignment

By Heather Wright
Fri 21 Apr 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Cloud service providers need to step up their game when it comes to aligning IT and business requirements for customers, according to a new survey, which also shows Microsoft Azure is closing the gap on AWS.

The 451 Research Voice of the Enterprise: Cloud Transformation Study shows 80% of those polled say their IT environments require moderate or significant transformation to meet business requirements over the next five years, and 22% of enterprises have adopted a cloud first approach, with infrastructure-as-a-service the fastest growing cloud model.

However, the survey of 50,000 IT leaders worldwide, found concern among respondents about service providers’ perceived ability to align IT and business requirements, with scope for better understanding of the customers’ businesses to support IT service delivery.

Melanie Posey, research vice president and lead analyst for 451’s Voice of the Enterprise: Cloud Transformation service, says as organisations implement IT transformation in earnest, they are increasingly relying on strategic partners for operational assistance.

“Those IaaS service providers who position infrastructure and technological innovation alongside meeting a business requirement will be best positioned to capitalise on this market opportunity,” Posey says.

The survey saw IT leaders rating their IaaS providers on attributes prior to purchase – promise – and after implementation – fulfilment.

451 Research says IaaS providers received consistently high ratings for both promise and fulfilment for table stakes requirements such as uptime/performance, security and technical expertise.

However, when it came to service delivery factors, such as understanding business requirements, multi-cloud/hybrid cloud support and enterprise level customer support, the ratings dropped.

When it comes to the providers themselves, AWS – which was used for IaaS by 55.8% of those surveyed – outpaced its competitors on ‘multiple’ promise and fulfilment attributes, including breadth of services/features, technical expertise and innovation, but – for the first time – fell behind other IaaS providers on value for money/cost, and ‘understands my business’.

Instead, Google Cloud Platform was tops for value with IBM/Softlayer and Microsoft Azure both obtaining higher scored in the ‘understands my business category’.

The research company says Azure is emerging as a ‘formidable’ challenger, closing the market adoption gap with AWS, with nearly 35% of those surveyed citing Microsoft as their most important IaaS provider, up from just 20.2% in the previous survey in Q1 of 2015. AWS was tops at 39%, with 451 Research noting that many organisations are now using multiple IaaS providers.

“It will be interesting to assess the impact of Azure Stack, scheduled for launch by mid-2017, on Microsoft’s overall positioning and individual attribute ratings for multi-cloud/hybrid support, as well as technical expertise and innovation,” Posey says.

In the latest survey Microsoft has closed the customer perceptions gap with AWS, posting slightly above average scores for overall promise and fulfilment, as did Google Cloud Platform, which rated particularly strongly for service reliability and value for money/cost.

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