Vision? Execution? Sadly, omission and confusion rule Gartner's virty quadrant

Storage, compute and V-word: Together forever

Comment Gartner has released its Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualisation Infrastructure. It annoys me. Normally, I can write of it as simply being Gartner, and move on ... normally.

But storage and virtualisation specifically – and anyone who thinks these two markets are separate doesn't understand them – are on my list, of late.

I've been eating, sleeping and breathing this market for two years now and something about the latest Gartner Quadrant has caused a mental itch that must be scratched. Let's dig into it.

Making things clear at the outset

My first issue with Gartner's Magic Quadrant is it conflates hypervisors and containers. Compounding this bizarreness, Gartner include Oracle and Huawei yet leaves out so many other players it's hard to know where to start.

Key to the discussion is who has been left off the list. Huawei is included largely because of its work with OpenStack. That's fine by me – if you want to talk OpenStack, I'm more than happy to oblige – it's worth noting just how many companies are rolling viable commercial distributions.

In fact, many of them are superior in quality to what Huawei currently offers, while there are many with more active participation to the OpenStack project, and a few who have nearly captured entire verticals.

Gartner measures organisations on its Magic Quadrant according to vision and execution. What constitutes "vision" and what constitutes "execution"? Let's look at what Gartner has to say on the matter:

How does a Gartner Magic Quadrant work?

A Magic Quadrant provides a graphical competitive positioning of four types of technology providers, in markets where growth is high and provider differentiation is distinct.

1. Leaders execute well against their current vision and are well positioned for tomorrow

2. Visionaries understand where the market is going or have a vision for changing market rules, but do not yet execute well?

3. Niche players focus successfully on a small segment, or are unfocused and do not out-innovate others

4. Challengers execute well today or may dominate a large segment, but do not demonstrate an understanding of market direction

For all intents and purposes, VMware and Microsoft are considered by Gartner to be "leaders," while everyone else is a "niche player". This is absurd.

This Magic Quadrant reflects the bizarrely twisted view Gartner has about how virtualisation fits into our data centres. Hypervisors and containers are to be considered as one.

Yet, "virtualisation" is somehow a category of technologies that enable completely different workload types to be stood up with zero regard for how those workloads can be made to interact with anything else. The segregation is maddeningly arbitrary.

Where is the separation between private, public, and hybrid cloud? In discussing Citrix, Gartner talks about Xen's adoption by public cloud providers, but there is scant discussion about the integration (or lack thereof) of public and private clouds.

Microsoft is praised for the beginning to integrate System Center with Azure. VMware gets a pat on the back for vCloud Air, along with a "kick me" sign for not being one of the big guys. The concept is barely mentioned with regards to Red Hat or Huawei.

In 2015, the only way that full integration of public and private cloud solutions should not be part of a virtualisation provider overview is if we're discussing providers of embedded systems.

If you make virtualisation technology for the mass market it absolutely must be able to move workloads between networks. Preferably in a secure fashion, though that doesn't seem to matter for the "selling by the squillions" part of the equation.

Discussing virtualisation as somehow separate from the ecosystem in which it participates is like discussing server CPU vendors without taking into consideration the existence (or lack thereof) of software for those CPUs, an interested developer community, a distribution channel, the market need those CPUs fulfill, pricing relative to alternatives and availability of drivers, libraries and hardware acceleration of common features.

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