Amazon can no longer take its cloud leadership for granted

With Microsoft's strong numbers and Google's continued progress, Amazon Web Services must realize it's in a three-cloud race

Good news for Microsoft: "Strong sales of cloud products to businesses helped lift Microsoft's revenue by 18 percent last quarter, though its profits declined," reports Reuters. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a call with financial analysts that commercial cloud revenue grew almost 150 percent year over year to $4.4 billion annually, driven primarily by sales of Office 365, the Azure IaaS and PaaS products, and Dynamics CRM Online.

You have to hand it to Microsoft. It has taken the "slow and steady" approach to cloud computing, and it's worked out. Indeed, many pundits called Microsoft late to the market, but thanks to the company's existing developer base and loyal Office and operating system technology users, it's gained real traction in the cloud.

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As a result, the cloud competition is shaping up to be a three-provider race, with Microsoft now a serious contender alongside Google and Amazon Web Services.

Today, AWS is the provider to beat in the cloud race, of course, but both Microsoft and Google are making strong efforts. Google has a sound PaaS and IaaS offering, and like Microsoft is gaining share. Although Google doesn't have the same installed base of software as Microsoft, Google has nonetheless innovated its way to higher market share.

Indeed, a new report by Jillian Mirandi projects Google's overall cloud business -- Google Cloud Platform, Google App Engine, and Google Compute Engine -- will grow 84 percent this year to hit $1.6 billion in revenue.

If you're doing the math, that puts Google in third, and Microsoft in second, and AWS in first place.

AWS has very few negatives as a public cloud provider, and it hasn't stubbed its toes in the last few years as many people had expected. At this point I don't think that's likely to happen, so AWS's pace will remain strong.

Although AWS's lead is huge (and well deserved), the market is beginning to normalize, and Google and Microsoft are accelerating their market penetration. I don't see this as a neck-and-neck-and-neck race anytime soon -- AWS's lead is too strong -- but I do see three strong providers, which helps make the cloud market and the various technologies powering it much more interesting.

This article, "Amazon can no longer take its cloud leadership for granted," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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