Amazon Web Services launched in 2006, long before most people thought about the concept of the cloud or renting servers and storage online. AWS will be 10 years old next year, and as it reaches that milestone, it finds itself in the enviable position of market superiority, making money hand over fist and continuing to out innovate everyone in the market.
AWS was the first to commercialize the notion of the public cloud, but it hasn't just sat there resting on its pole position. It couldn't afford to. When others noticed that there was gold in them thar hills, they joined the party. As we've reported here before, AWS is expected to pass $7 billion in cloud revenue this year.
Today, Infrastructure as a Service is a crowded market with some of the biggest names in technology vying for a piece of the action. Microsoft Azure gained some speed in 2015 as CEO Satya Nadella focused on the cloud as his company tries to transition from a desktop software company and enterprise data center vendor. And by all accounts, Azure did well this year, growing at a greater rate than even AWS, but it started so far back it will take years of sustained growth for it to dent its rivals.
Microsoft has a lot going for it as an entrenched enterprise player, but it was not a born-in-the-cloud player like AWS or Google.
Speaking of which, Google Cloud, the number three player in the market took a step toward improving its market position in 2016 by restructuring its cloud division and hiring former VMware CEO (and co-founder) Diane Greene to head the newly formed division. Greene actually came to the company by way of the acquisition of her startup, bebop, which also has the advantage of giving Google a platform play to go with its infrastructure.
It's way too soon to judge how these moves will affect Google in the market, but it's clearly making changes and trying to firm up its market position.
There's lots of players
The top three are hardly the only players involved. IBM has a full-court cloud strategy with Softlayer for infrastructure, the Bluemix development platform, and a portfolio of SaaS products including its recently acquired Clearleap for video in the cloud.
Then there's Rackspace, the telcos like Verizon (which owns TechCrunch where I also write), AT&T, and CenturyLink, not to mention HP, Oracle, and Dell-EMC (which will close some time in 2016). And let's not forget OpenStack, the open source cloud computing platform, which continues to gain steam and popularity.
All of these players are vying for a piece of the cloud pie. It's worth noting that this pie is not a fixed entity. By all accounts it's continuing to grow, but even as it does, AWS continues to add products and services and cut prices, giving customers a range of tools while maintaining its perch on top of the cloud market. It remains to be seen if anyone can catch AWS, but we'll be watching in 2016 as all of the various competitors give it their best shot.
Photo Credit: Paddy McCann on Twitter. Used under CC 2.0 license.