Companies can now run SAP applications on the top three cloud infrastructure providers—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Each of the three feature SAP products in their marketplaces, including SAP S/4HANA, SAP Business Suite, and SAP BusinessObjects, among others. Previously, AWS dominated the market for SAP apps in the cloud, but with Microsoft Azure and GCP both inking partnerships with the ERP giant, how can customers go about choosing which cloud infrastructure service to use?

Looking at what analysts say can at least help guide organizations. In 2016, Amazon was the leader among Gartner’s required criteria, with Microsoft closing in and Google a distant third overall. In 2017, Gartner says that Amazon and Microsoft are in a dead heat in terms of its required criteria, with Amazon taking a slight edge when it comes to “preferred” and “optional” features. For its own part, Google has leaped forward and closed the gap according to the analyst firm.

While Gartner didn’t rate Softlayer (IBM), Oracle, or Alibaba, it is keeping an eye on those services, so they may be worthwhile for customers to check out.

“The [IaaS] season is ongoing,” says Elias Khnaser, research director at Gartner, who presented on this same topic at both this and last year’s Gartner Catalyst conferences. “There are a lot of races for providers to catch up.”

Check out our video recap of Gartner Catalyst, touching on cloud, security, and change management:

How to Choose Cloud Providers?

With the top two tools so close overall and a third rapidly progressing, how is a company to pick? According to Khnaser, “It’s complicated.”

It is complicated because each service has different strengths that may play into a company’s needs. What Gartner considers an optional feature, a customer may need. So, while AWS and Azure are the top contenders, deciding which cloud infrastructure service is best for your organization will require some digging.

The good, or difficult depending on how you look at it, thing about IaaS vendors is that customers aren’t likely to choose just one. Khnasner doubled down on his statement from a year ago when he said that “the bottom line is at some point you are going to use more than one cloud provider.” At the Gartner Catalyst conference, he said that most customers he speaks to are already using multicloud—or multiple IaaS vendors.

“The reality is that you will have to deal with more than one [IaaS vendor],” says Khnaser. “The challenge is if you need teams to manage each provider. A multicloud strategy becomes extremely important.”

Early Days for SAP in the Cloud

While SAP customers do have the option to deploy apps on AWS, Microsoft Azure, and GCP, are they rushing to put their systems in the cloud? With the caveat that it is not his area of expertise, Khnaser says customers do ask about SAP in the cloud frequently. From his view, it’s the days are early for that.

“I don’t think a lot of customers are moving SAP to the cloud yet,” says Khnaser. “There’s a lot of interest in it, in the capabilities, but we still have a long way to go.”