I have often argued that the ever-growing cloud market does not need to be a race won. For example, Microsoft does not have to overtake Amazon to be successful in cloud. There seems to be enough to go around, as evidenced by Microsoft's bumper Azure-driven earnings. In fact, through the last year, the cloud market has remained static in terms of organizational position.
Market research firm Gartner says all the major cloud service providers maintained their positions. However, the market is still experiencing differences in strategies. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud maintained their positions. Indeed, Gartner says those positions are solidified and the infrastructure-as-a-service market has been mostly decided.
This means AWS is likely to remain in number 1 position despite Microsoft's efforts. Equally, Google is not likely to overtake Azure either. Again, while more customers mean more money and market bragging rights, each of the three service giants are performing well.
As for cloud computing, 2019 is likely to bring some significant changes. Hybrid multi-cloud solutions will increase, with companies like IBM (which recently bought Red Hat) leading. Gartner says cloud is pushing IT spending, which will increase 3.2 percent in 2019 to $3.76 trillion.
ZDNet reports there will be several themes to follow during 2019:
- “Pricing power. Google recently raised prices of G Suite and the cloud space is a technology where add-ons exist for most new technologies. While compute and storage services are often a race to the bottom, tools for machine learning, artificial intelligence and serverless functions can add up. There's a good reason that cost management is such a big theme for cloud computing customers–it's arguably the biggest challenge. Look for cost management and concerns about lock-in to be big themes.
- Multi-cloud. A recent survey from Kentik highlights how public cloud customers are increasingly using more than one vendor. AWS and Microsoft Azure are most often paired up. Google Cloud Platform is also in the mix. And naturally these public cloud service providers are often tied into existing data center and private cloud assets. Add it up and there's a healthy hybrid and private cloud race underway and that's reordered the pecking order. The multi-cloud approach is being enabled by virtual machines and containers.
- Artificial intelligence, Internet of things and analytics are the upsell technologies for cloud vendors. Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform all have similar strategies to land customers with compute, cloud storage, serverless functions and then upsell you to the AI that'll differentiate them. Companies like IBM are looking to manage AI and cloud services across multiple clouds.
The cloud computing landscape is maturing rapidly yet financial transparency backslides. It's telling when Gartner's Magic Quadrant for cloud infrastructure goes to 6 players from more than a dozen. In addition, transparency has become worse among cloud computing providers. For instance, Oracle used to break out infrastructure-, platform- and software-as-a-service in its financial reports. Today, Oracle's cloud business is lumped together. Microsoft has a “commercial cloud” that is very successful, but also hard to parse. IBM has cloud revenue and “as-a-service” revenue. Google doesn't break out cloud revenue at all. Aside from AWS, parsing cloud sales has become more difficult.”