We know that the big cloud players are all focused on growing their cloud businesses. But, who are the big players right now? And who will be the biggest in the future?
Today we’re looking more closely at the emerging Google Cloud Platform compared with the cloud computing leaders Amazon and Microsoft. Where did these companies come from and where does it look like they’re going? Let’s compare Google Cloud vs AWS vs Microsoft Azure.
Currently sitting at the top among cloud computing leaders: Amazon Web Services
How big is AWS? Well, AWS holds about 35% of the cloud market, compared to the next company’s 13%. The third quarter of 2017 showed stronger growth than analysts expected. And AWS’ growth has been huge-right now it makes up 64% of all of Amazon’s operating income.
So, no surprise, Amazon has focused a lot on continuing to develop AWS. Remember that huge rate of growth in cloud computing that we looked at before? Well, Amazon clearly believes it. Its numbers show that cloud expansion is what it has in mind:
- In 2017, the company offered over 1,400 new cloud services.
- Its 2017 recruiting focus was on AWS. About 1/3 of the company’s open positions were related to its cloud services.
Curious how Amazon got so far ahead? Well, one huge advantage is that Amazon was the first to focus on cloud-based infrastructure. Starting in 2006, the company began renting out data storage and computing power. There was no competition back then, and no one started competing seriously until 2010 when Microsoft got in the game. This head start gave Amazon a ton of time to build a network that no one has been able to match.
So today, Amazon’s computing power is enormous. In 2016, it had about ten times more capacity than the next 14 biggest cloud companies.
That lead time and capacity also gave the company a big draw on gaining customers. It has a big roster. By 2015, Amazon had gathered over one million enterprise clients (companies doing big business). This growth means a giant advantage for the future. Companies who depend on Amazon will need to be convinced to make changes.
Besides being first to the game, Amazon has won some loyalty with its services. Flexible and competitive pricing models have been part of the draw. AWS security features are also a stand out that have kept companies in the AWS world.
But the future isn’t just one company. AWS CEO Andy Jassy is the first to admit it. He recently said that “[t]here won’t be just one successful player” as the world moves to using more cloud services. It’s already a massive industry with cloud services becoming a staple for big and small businesses. As the cloud continues to grow astronomically, even Amazon expects other players to take a more significant share. Who is likely to join the list of best cloud companies? It’s going to be those companies that can invest in the right infrastructure, which is no small cost.
Plus, there are some cracks in the Amazon armor. It’s true. The cloud world is changing, giving cloud providers other than AWS some room to breathe. Gartner recently reported that AWS isn’t moving forward with quite the same stride. As reported by CNBC, Gartner’s latest findings include that AWS’ “ability to execute on its current vision has declined.”
Additionally, the behemoth size of AWS’ cloud offerings is both a strength and a weakness. Sorting through the vast number of options can make business users shy away. Some businesses want simpler packages rather than the large variety of AWS options.
Clearly, the landscape of best cloud companies is going to keep changing. What we know about Google cloud vs. AWS vs. Microsoft Azure will change too.
So next up, let’s look at where Microsoft is headed.
Microsoft Azure is making strides with hybrid services and enterprise users
Speaking of fast growth, Microsoft’s cloud service Azure is expanding beyond fast. Revenue is growing at a rate of about 100%, keeping Microsoft comfortably in the number two spot for now.
Making the most of its brand. One of the keys to Microsoft’s success is its name. Many businesses have been using Microsoft for a long time and trust its products. A recent survey by data analytics firm Sumo Logic found that 66% of the large companies surveyed are using Azure. AWS, on the other hand, is only used by 55%. (Note that many businesses are using a combination of cloud services from different providers.)
Microsoft is working to make its products have a unified look and feel. Businesses that have been using, for example, Microsoft software may find Microsoft’s cloud access the most comfortable and familiar. Azure has faced complaints that the transition is not as seamless as some expect. But, fixing these issues is high on the Azure to-do list, and they are keeping many of their customers happy.
Rob Whitesell, the chief platform officer of one of Azure’s major clients, Bentley Systems, recently confirmed Bentley’s Microsoft loyalty. “I don’t know what would convince us to move at this point” he stated.
Azure is at the forefront of hybrid-cloud support. Remember that a hybrid cloud means that a company uses a combo of public cloud resources and some private cloud pieces. That is, the company employs some remote storage and computing power and also has an on-site datacenter.
Enter another advantage for Azure: Microsoft’s Azure Stack. Stack is a product that makes it easier to run a hybrid cloud. Stack makes using a business’ on-site datacenter look and feel similar to using the public Azure cloud. This unified look means a business’ employees only have to learn one system. Large businesses like the hybrid approach and value the smoother transition.
Stack has been a focus at Microsoft, while hybrid has not always been central to AWS. Stack is performing well and popular. Remember that its popularity and functionality have Forrester predicting more hybrid-cloud use in 2018 that will rely on Stack [internal link to post #5].
Azure’s artificial intelligence (AI) products will keep Microsoft pushing forward. Businesses have also liked what they’ve been getting from Azure on the AI front. Azure offers over twenty different AI and machine-learning products to help make data processing smarter and faster. Already including sophisticated facial and language recognition technology, Azure has more in the works. Plus, the company pushes AI features by training businesses to use AI tech with its AI school.
AI will continue to be a focus for all cloud providers. We can expect to keep seeing rapid developments as these companies race to stay ahead.
In fact, AI may be the in-road for Google. So let’s not overlook what Google is doing to make gains in the cloud market.
Google is upping its cloud game so that it won’t stay behind for long
How does AWS vs. Google cloud look today? Right now, Google is a distant third player in the cloud world. But the company’s investments in expanding its cloud network and products show that Google wants a larger piece of the future cloud pie.
Like Amazon, Google is putting big money behind its cloud. The company recently shared its high investment numbers: “We’ve spent $30 billion improving our infrastructure over three years, and we’re not done yet” says Google’s blog. The goal is to extend Google’s global reach. That $30 billion is going toward new data centers connected by subsea cables that will make Google faster around the world.
Also like Amazon, Google’s hiring numbers show that it believes the cloud is the future. It is adding more cloud-related positions than it is in any other focus area.
Now, Google is gaining ground with enterprise clients. This intense focus on improving Google Cloud Platform is earning some big business. Part of that focus is working with large enterprises to implement cloud resources. The company has seen some recent successes, including with HSBC, Disney, and Kroger all deciding to look to Google for cloud support.
Google will continue to gain more ground as major retailers cut ties with AWS. One of the disadvantages of becoming a retail giant? It’s harder to sell your non-competing products to your retail competitors. Amazon is the main competitor to large retail stores, such as Walmart and Target. Naturally, these big stores want to limit their links to Amazon and are moving to other cloud players. Google’s expansion (as well as Azure’s) is giving these retailers an attractive alternative.
So how can Google start to pull away and become one of the best cloud companies? Google’s core knowledge is what will make the company’s cloud products must-haves. Right now, Google cloud users are drawn in by the company’s commitment to an open-source software model. Like Microsoft, Google can keep a hold of its longtime fans, steering them from software to its expanding cloud offerings.
Where Google can really look to gain more ground is another long-time best: data analysis. Google took over the search engine game and continued to dominate in new markets because at its heart it knows how to use big data. Right now, it’s working to box that knowledge to give more companies the ability to work the way Google works.
This capability means making products that give end-users more accessible ways to use and understand data. For example, one of its big offerings is a data visualization tool called BigQuery. BigQuery can handle massive amounts of data and gives users a ton of options for visually sorting through it. This capability is the kind of machine that makes Google’s cloud more than just a place for data storage. Instead, using these kinds of innovations, Google can make its cloud a source of must-have business tools. As Google convinces more traditional enterprise businesses that they need and can use these tools, Google Cloud Platform will see more significant gains.
CEO Sundar Pichai has seen the indicators. Last October he noted that “[c]ustomers tell us they are switching over to the Google Cloud Platform because of our prowess in data analytics and machine learning.”
There is no doubt that we have a lot more to see from the AI-driven cloud race.
A few more in the running
The future of the cloud might mean more than just Google Cloud vs. AWS vs. Microsoft Azure. In its latest magic quadrant rankings for companies providing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Gartner noted a few other cloud players who are gaining ground. Gartner’s rankings chart the major players into 4 squares: Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, and Niche Players. In 2017, Amazon and Microsoft make it into the leader’s circle (or square). Google sits just outside of that goal.
Notably, Alibaba, IBM and Oracle are all also named in the “visionaries” quadrant. These companies have also seen impressive recent growth. Alibaba, for one, showed a 104% year-over-year bump in its last quarter. The big players, and the rest of us, should keep an eye on these fast-growing players who may end up leading the cloud market in new directions.