Channeling the Cloud

Microsoft, Google Gaining on AWS, But Not Quickly Enough

As the current cloud field stands, leader Amazon Web Services may be ceding some market share to Azure and Google, but the challengers still have a lot of ground to make up.

Among the big three public cloud infrastructure providers, Microsoft Azure has clearly established itself as No. 2. Considering that it's a distant second, Azure has gained considerable ground on Amazon Web Services (AWS) over the past year. While Azure still has a reasonable lead over the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), the latter has also grown significantly.

As others move closer, AWS remains poised to hold on to its clear lead. The RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report, a popular benchmark conducted by the cloud management provider (and available here with registration), shows that 57 percent of customers are currently running applications in AWS, the same number as last year. Meanwhile, 34 percent responded that they're running apps in Azure, compared with 20 percent last year; and 15 percent are using GCP, up from 10 percent last year.

The survey of 1,002 RightScale IT professionals also found that 21 percent are experimenting with Azure, compared with 17 percent kicking the tires on AWS and GCP. Among those who plan to use particular public clouds in the future, 10 percent will run apps in AWS, 12 percent in Azure and 13 percent in GCP. While 95 percent are using some form of cloud offering, only 22 percent have all their systems running in public clouds. And when it comes to public clouds, 85 percent say they intend to use more than one provider.

Google has gained ground since it has tapped VMware founder Diane Greene to run its enterprise cloud business. The company hosted 10,000 attendees at its Google Cloud Next '17 conference in San Francisco in early March, announcing a number of key customers including HSBC, Colgate, Verizon and eBay. Google also announced a partnership with SAP to integrate its enterprise applications with GCP and G Suite, and with Pivotal and Rackspace to provide customer support. Neudesic is among a number of new national partners offering implementation services of the GCP stack, joining Accenture, Apprenda, Cloud Technology Partners and PwC.

IBM and Oracle might be farther behind the three leaders, but shouldn't be ignored, given the footprint of their on-premises hardware, software and application infrastructure. Both reported strong growth in their respective cloud businesses in the most recent quarter. The two companies ranked fourth and fifth in the RightScale survey, with 8 percent saying they're now running apps in the IBM Cloud, 9 percent experimenting and 8 percent planning to use its offerings. Only 3 percent said they're running apps in the Oracle cloud, 7 percent are experimenting and 8 percent are in the pipeline.

IBM in March also held its annual conference focused on its cloud computing and Watson, its cognitive computing and AI data platform. David Kenny, who leads Watson and the IBM Cloud, told attendees at IBM InterConnect in Las Vegas that the two are intertwined. "The IBM Cloud has merged very closely and architecturally with the Watson data platform," he said.

Ginni Rometty, IBM's chairman, president and CEO, believes Big Blue has done better than anyone else, but make no mistake: AI and cognitive computing are at the center of the investments AWS, Microsoft and Google have made throughout their cloud computing fabrics. For its part, expect to hear Microsoft's latest moves at the upcoming Build conference in May, which takes place in Seattle.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.