Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains the 800-pound gorilla of the cloud infrastructure services space that itself witnessed significant growth in 2018. In fact, a new report from Synergy Research Group found that AWS controlled as much of the $70 billion-per-year market at the end of last year as its next four smaller rivals combined.
The SRG data showed that market spend increased 45 percent year over year during the final three months of 2018, with full-year growth hitting 48 percent. Quarterly growth rates for all of 2018 exceeded that of 2017. The overall market hit around $20 billion in sales for Q4, and nearly $70 billion for the year. Public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) accounted for a majority of sales.
“Q4 tops off a banner year for the cloud market with the annual growth rate actually nudging up from the previous year, which is an unusual phenomenon for a high-growth market of this scale,” said John Dinsdale, chief analyst at SRG.
While AWS continues to dominate the market, smaller rivals Microsoft, Google, and Alibaba all posted market growth that exceeded the overall market. That means all three gained market share, “with Microsoft in particular jumping ahead.” The fourth player – IBM – was noted as having a slightly different focus than its rivals “as it remains the strong leader in the hosted private cloud services segment of the market.”
However, that growth came at the expense of smaller cloud operators, which SRG found lost a collective 5 percentage points of market share in 2018. “Many of those smaller players are still growing revenues but find themselves unable to keep pace with the market leaders,” the report found.
“The rate at which the market leaders continue to expand is really rather impressive,” Dinsdale added. “In aggregate the top five drove up their revenues in these segments by 60 percent in 2018, which has caused us to review and increase our five-year forecast for the market. Inevitably there will be a few road bumps along the way but these will be minor relative to the factors that continue to drive the market.”
Google’s parent company Alphabet this week released its fourth quarter 2018 results that seemed to indicate continued strong growth from its cloud business. Alphabet lumps Google’s cloud business into its “other revenues” category, which witnessed a 31-percent surge in year-over-year revenue for the quarter to $6.5 billion.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai touted milestones hit by its cloud business, including a doubling of contract wins last year in excess of $1 million. Company CFO Ruth Porat added that the company was also looking to add employees to support its cloud business.
But, both executives refused to provide any update on revenue run rates for the business. The company had previously stated that its cloud business was generating $1 billion per quarter in revenue.
AWS and Microsoft last week both posted robust revenue increases for their cloud offerings.
AWS’ revenue increased 45 percent, to $7.4 billion in the quarter, while its operating income jumped 61 percent to $2.18 billion. However, analysts were expecting more.
Charles King, Pund-IT president and principal analyst, noted that “it’s worth pointing out that these numbers are a far cry from the torrid 60-precent to 70-percent-plus growth rate the company enjoyed just a couple of years ago. I’m not disparaging AWS — growing by nearly half year over year is a terrific accomplishment. But as the company and the cloud market continues to mature and competitors keep strengthening their positions, I expect AWS’s sales will continue their slow decline.”
Unlike Amazon, Microsoft doesn’t disclose exact revenue for its Azure public cloud. The company did however say its commercial cloud revenue grew 48 percent year over year to $9 billion and Azure revenue increased 76 percent.
The company lumps Azure — along with its hybrid cloud Azure stack and other cloud services, plus its artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT products — into its Intelligence Cloud business unit. Microsoft said that unit’s revenue grew 20 percent to $9.4 billion in the second quarter. And it forecast its Intelligent Cloud business will bring in revenue between $9.15 billion and $9.35 billion in its third fiscal quarter.