IDC and Gartner came out with their annual cloud market predictions this week, and it's always interesting to see how these two firms see the market taking shape. Fair to say, they both see it growing at a rapid clip, but even a casual observer would know that's the case.
The difference is these firms attempt to put a number on the growth using their own internal forecasting tools and experience. I've often wondered if anyone actually went back and checked these predictions for accuracy, but regardless they give us at least a market size baseline and represent at worst, a highly educated guess of what the market could like this year and in the years ahead.
For starters, it's tough to define the parameters of the public cloud market, which means different things to different people. These companies aren't giving up their secret sauce to explain how they arrive at their numbers, but Gartner does supply a breakdown by each public cloud service. IDC didn't break it down that way.
So how do they see it: Well, Gartner says the market is going to be growing 18 percent in 2017 for total market size of $246.8 billion, up from $209.2 billion in 2016. They expect it to reach more $383 billion by 2020. Here's how they see that breaking down:
It's worth noting that the cloud advertising business seems like a strange category to have here, and it accounts for a substantial part of their overall number. Gartner defines that business as, "the capability to transact and distribute advertising and ad-related data utilizing cloud computing technologies and cloud infrastructures."
As for IDC, it's predicting worldwide spending on public cloud services and infrastructure will reach $122.5 billion in 2017, which represents an increase of 24.4% over 2016. They see the market reaching $203.4 billion worldwide by 2020.
To compare the two, I subtracted that cloud advertising piece, and the two are pretty close with Gartner at $118.9 million without the cloud advertising piece in 2017 and somewhat closer with $232 million by 2020. (Of course, we don't know exactly how IDC defines its cloud markets, so this may not be a fair comparison.)
One more firm
And just to muddy the waters, a little further, I looked at Synergy Research's numbers for 2016. According their research, across six key cloud services — IaaS & PaaS, hosted private cloud, enterprise SaaS, UCaaS (unified communications as a service), public cloud and private cloud —the market total was $146 billion for last year. The Synergy numbers include private cloud and hosted private cloud, which the others seem to have left out, focusing on the public cloud markets (however they define those).
The important thing to remember is that regardless of who the analyst is or how they count it, as Andy Jassy said in a recent interview at the University of Washington, the market moving forward is going to be worth trillions. If that's true, and it very likely is, we are seeing but a fraction of the overall market potential.
Regardless of whose numbers you believe, the numbers give us something to think about in a market that is clearly going to grow substantially over the next decade and that's something even the analysts can agree on, even if they can't agree precisely how that will all break down going forward.