Gartner has dropped eight public cloud providers from its infrastructure-as-a-service Magic Quadrant, which is now solely focused on global hyperscale providers.
CenturyLink, Fujitsu, Interoute, Joyent, Rackspace, ￼NTT Communications, Skytap and Virtustream have all been removed from the mix, leaving just six hyperscale cloud providers vying for the coveted top right 'Leaders' quadrant.
Amazon Web Services leads the pack, followed closely by Microsoft. In third spot, Google is the only other cloud provider that Gartner has rated a leader.
The other three providers, Alibaba, Oracle and IBM, are all categorised as niche players, according to the analyst firm.
Gartner explained its decision to slim down the rankings.
"This year, we chose more stringent inclusion criteria, which had the effect of only including global vendors that currently have hyperscale integrated IaaS and PaaS offerings, or that are currently developing those offerings.
"These changes reflect Gartner's belief that customer evaluations are currently primarily focused on vendors for strategic adoption across a broad range of use cases.
"While customers still search for more focused, scenario-specific providers, these providers should be evaluated in the context of that specific workload, rather than compared in a broader market context."
Snapshot of the leaders
AWS "has been the dominant market leader" for a decade, according to Gartner.
"It can readily support mission-critical production applications, as well as the implementation of highly secure and compliant solutions. Implementation, migration and management are significantly eased by AWS's ecosystem of more than 2000 consulting partners that offer managed and professional services.
"AWS has the broadest cloud IaaS provider ecosystem of ISVs, which ensures that customers are able to obtain support and licenses for most commercial software, as well as obtain software and SaaS solutions that are pre-integrated with AWS."
But Gartner cautioned that rapid partner growth for AWS meant that "new, less-experienced MSPs" were joining its audited MSP partner program, and "this designation is becoming less of an assurance of MSP quality".
Microsoft has used its "tremendous sales reach" and ability to bundle products and services to drive a revenue run rate of IaaS and PaaS of US$4 billion, Gartner estimated.
The analyst firm advised customers to engage Microsoft partners to ensure successful implementations, because the vendor's own sales, field solutions architects and professional service teams "did not have an adequate technical understanding of Azure".
Gartner praised Google Cloud Platform for its openness and portability of workloads and said it had the cheapest pricing, with caveats.
"GCP positions itself as the cost leader in the market, but its deepest negotiated discounts are usually limited to a single-year contract
"Customers evaluating competitive costs should separate the standard discounts (committed and sustained use) from negotiated enterprise discounts, and be aware that GCP discounts are per-service rather than for the overall contract."