AWS, Microsoft, Google, and IBM: 2 clouds won't survive

Today, four companies dominate IaaS -- but that could easily thin out in a few years

AWS, Microsoft, Google, and IBM: 2 clouds won't survive

Four firms control the cloud infrastructure market: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM, and Google, according to a survey by market researcher Synergy. AWS held a 31 percent share in the second quarter, followed by Microsoft with 11 percent, IBM with 8 percent, and Google with 5 percent.

The market could not have evolved in any other way -- due to scale.

It takes many billions of dollars to build data centers and the technology infrastructure to support a public cloud. Only providers with deep pockets can play. In fact, dozens of smaller public cloud providers have hit the eject button because they didn't have the cash flow needed to keep up.

The fact of the matter is we may end up with only one or two major providers in a few short years, and the remaining providers will be determined more by spending ability than the quality of the technology. The more features they offer and the more points of presence they have will bring greater success than establishing a killer cloud service in and of itself. IaaS public clouds will be judged on size and reliability.

To play in public cloud infrastructure, you need the kind of money that a monopoly or oligarchy has -- think cellphone, cable TV, or even ERP providers.

Honestly, it's kind of scary that so few public cloud companies will control the market. The risk is they could jack up prices and/or deliver poor services, as we've seen with other monopolies and oligarchies.

The silver lining is there will always be one competitor if they fall down on the job: traditional on-premises systems. Let's all hope the alternative keeps the cloud oligarchs honest.