Public cloud first transformed the IT landscape by enabling new workloads, then by absorbing old ones from legacy data centers. And cloud-native is changing everything in the cloud. Today, the big cloud providers are competing to lead further IT modernization through support for containerized applications — and the results of our evaluation are in.

The Forrester Wave™: Public Cloud Container Platforms, Q1 2022 scores eight cloud providers on 29 criteria ranging from cloud-native application development to control plane configuration and infrastructure operations to security. We looked at how the PCCP vendors took on the most important challenges to running cloud-native infrastructure, such as handling distributed workloads in multicloud and hybrid cloud environments as well as the edge.

Support for open source, distributed workloads, and automation were among the key differentiators in our evaluation. Some key takeaways:

  • Automation is critical to orchestrating container platforms at scale. Cloud-native infrastructure can provide tremendous scalability, but users are far more productive when they can take advantage of automation that helps manage the complexity of Kubernetes, the dominant open source platform for orchestrating containerized applications. The PCCP leaders provide prebuilt application catalogs and Kubernetes operators as well as infrastructure automation through GitOps, with native integrations readily available. Developers interested in building on cloud platforms can be much more productive when they’re insulated from the complexity of the underlying infrastructure and can use development services that come in the PCCP package. Standout vendors in the Wave also offer automated platform operations in a distributed environment. Hybrid and multicloud environments are now typical among enterprise-class cloud customers; the leading PCCP players deliver the most comprehensive automated operations, such as security and Kubernetes cluster lifecycle management.
  • Ecosystems are essential to cloud-native infrastructure and cloud-based innovation. Even pacesetting PCCPs can’t do it all. The leaders proceed from the assumption that they must support a wide range of customers with particular needs that may not necessarily be met by the PCCP alone. That’s why we included cloud-native marketplaces and partner ecosystems as part of our evaluation. The leading vendors made available a range of partner service catalogs and software as well as training and certifications to help customers create the capacity to build on those systems. In addition, as K8s is evolving from the container orchestration framework into a foundational platform to enable other technology domains, integration support is becoming increasingly important to extend the technology ecosystem of public cloud container platforms and power tech-driven innovation in a unified approach.
  • Open source support should be wide and deep. While all the PCCP vendors evaluated embrace open source, the leaders are deeply involved in helping to lead the open source community and building services and solutions based on open source code — not just Kubernetes itself but the much wider open source ecosystem that surrounds it. This commitment to open source is increasingly important to enterprise cloud customers seeking to build on Kubernetes and containers as a software abstraction layer that allows them a measure of autonomy and portability in relation to the cloud providers. The vendors that have gone furthest in that direction scored well in our evaluation.

To find out more about our results, Forrester clients can download the report or request an inquiry with Charlie Dai or Lee Sustar.