Analyst firm Longhaus has revealed that IBM topped its first major study of cloud compute providers servicing Australian businesses.
Big Blue was graded 3.8 out of 5 based on a complicated rating system that took into account a range of business and technical factors.
These included: whether or not they offered a self-service portal or API; service level agreements; provisioning time; data centre quality; and location.
Global IT services giant Fujitsu was ranked second.
Four local companies made it into the top six in Longhaus' Pulse study: Ultra Serve (3), Melbourne IT (4), Cloud Central (5) and Telstra (6).
Longhaus made special mention of Telstra, whom it labeled Australia's "local performer" and Ultra Serve, which was granted the title of local "rising star".
Telstra's general manager of cloud computing Mark Pratley was understandably happy with the title, pointing to the "many organisations already connected to [its] utility hosting cloud service."
Melbourne IT chief technology officer Glenn Gore told iTnews that his company's ranking was "about right".
"We would have loved to be in top three," he said, hinting at a couple of products in the pipeline that may help boost the company's score.
Gore said that Melbourne IT adopted a "conservative approach in terms of how we expose [cloud] to end customers."
"A lot of the time it comes down to determining what features they are looking for," he said.
He said that customers who started looking at 'cloud' often still chose traditional hosting services "with a more flexible contract around it".
Bulletproof's chief operating officer Lorenzo Modesto also told iTnews his company was pleased with its "challenger status" in the study.
Checking the Pulse
In total, 34 out of 58 cloud compute providers made the cut of the inaugural Pulse study.
Those who did not perform as well in the rankings lacked transparency, used business models that weren't "pure play" Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), or were global providers without a strong presence in Australia – a key factor to gaining admission to the study.
"We screened international [providers] on their geo-commitment," research director Sam Higgins said. 'Geo-commitment' translated to the quality of local support and channel, and at least one Australian customer with "over 100 seats".
"A couple of [international] vendors couldn't come up with that so they're not on the list this time."
Australian-headquartered cloud providers also had to prove they had a customer with 100-plus "seats". The customer could be based anywhere in the world, although all had put forward an Australian client, according to Higgins.
Most of the bigger names in international cloud computing – for example, Amazon, Verizon Business, CSC and NEC – were ranked as "challengers" to the leadership group.
"Amazon's ability to cut it with some of the local service providers remains an unknown," Higgins said.
Other providers – such as Rackspace - were much further down the scale. BT and most of the Indian outsourcers didn't rate in the top 34 of a total 58 service providers.
Some local cloud operators were caught at the back end of the Pulse.
Systems integrators like Brennan IT, IntraPower, Datacom and ASE IT had their rankings impacted because their chosen business model "wasn't pure Infrastructure-as-a-Service".
"The ranking doesn't necessarily take into account integration [of the IaaS platform] with other services," Higgins said.
Others – such as Macquarie Telecom – had their offerings treated with a degree of skepticism.
"They're a very strong hosting organisation but cloud isn't hosting," Longhaus managing director Peter Carr said.
The one factor that the Longhaus Pulse did not take into account was price – owing to the difficulty of "normalising" the various elements included by different service providers with a view to an 'apples' comparison.
Other key findings:
- One third of providers were in data centre space rated tier 2.
- Only 11 percent of cloud providers owned and operated their data centre. Another 44 percent were in leased co-location facilities.
- One in five used debt to fund their capital investments. Many relied on cash flow.
- Under half of all vendors offered hour-based billing.
- Less than 10 percent offered restitution based on damages from an outage.
- Underpinning technologies used by service providers for cloud delivery: Microsoft (81 percent), VMware (74 percent), Red Hat (56 percent), HP (41 percent), Citrix including VMLogix (41 percent), IBM (33 percent), XenSource (19 percent), Oracle (19 percent). "I expected Microsoft and VMware to kill it, but they haven't as much," Higgins said.
- Most service providers used cloud management tools by BMC, CA or Right Scale.