Cloud Earnings: Microsoft, Google and IBM Surge While AWS Dominates

The coincidental confluence of financial reporting this week by Google parent Alphabet, Microsoft and Google seems an appropriate opportunity to examine the relative performance of industry leading cloud vendors.

Aldrin Brown, Editor-in-Chief

April 28, 2017

3 Min Read
Cloud Earnings Microsoft Google and IBM Surge While AWS Dominates

Days after Google Cloud chief Diane Greene told a gathering of tech leaders that her outfit has a “good shot” at catching Amazon Web Services (AWS) within five years, simultaneous earnings releases by three of the biggest cloud vendors suggest the senior vice president might have her work cut out for her.

The coincidental confluence of financial reporting Thursday by Microsoft, AWS and Google parent Alphabet seems an appropriate opportunity to examine the relative performance of industry leading cloud vendors.

Following the quarterly earnings calls, AWS continues to be the clear leader in cloud, with $3.66 billion in quarterly revenue, up 43 percent from a year earlier.

“This space is an oligopoly,” Trip Miller, the founder of Amazon investor Gullane Capital Partners told CNBC. “No one else of any meaningful size outside a handful of major players is getting into it because they can’t afford to get into it.”

Amazon is the only one of the top cloud service providers to distinctly disaggregate cloud revenues. 

During its call, Amazon reported operating margin of 24.3 percent for the AWS division, announced plans for new cloud data centers in China and France, and said its cloud was recently used by NASA to “deliver the highest resolution video ever broadcast live from space,” CNBC reported.

Cloud operations at Microsoft and Google, which provide a more obtuse view of their cloud performance, are showing continuing growth.

Microsoft reported earnings of $6.8 billion for its Intelligent Cloud division, which includes Azure, and several other server and cloud operations.

The company did break out that Azure sales rose a torrid 93 percent, and that its commercial cloud business – which includes Office 365 and Azure infrastructure as a service – earned about $3.8 billion in the quarter.

Google, which doesn’t disaggregate earnings from the Google Cloud operation, reported quarterly revenue of $24.5 billion, of which $21.4 billion came from advertising.

The rest of the business, Alphabet reported, grew 50 percent year over year, to $3.1 billion.

A substantial portion of that revenue is believed to be attributable to Google Cloud earnings.

On Sunday, Greene, the Google Cloud senior vice president, told a gathering of executives at the Forbes CIO Summit in Half Moon Bay, Calif., that Google is well positioned to compete and even surpass AWS in public cloud by 2022.

“I think we have a pretty good shot at being No. 1 in five years,” she’s quoted as telling the group, according to an article at “I actually think we have a huge advantage in our data centers, in our infrastructure, availability, security and how we automate things. We just haven’t packaged it perfectly yet.”

A study this year by Synergy Research Group found that AWS remained far and away the leader in public cloud, with a 40 percent market share.

That market share remained constant during the year, from the fourth quarter of calendar 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile, the next three cloud service providers – Microsoft, Google and IBM – grew their market shares a combined five percent during the same period.

“While a few cloud providers are growing at extraordinary rates, AWS continues to impress as a dominant market leader that has no intention of letting its crown slip,” John Dinsdale, chief analyst and research director at Synergy Research Group, said in the study report.

“Achieving and maintaining a leadership position in this market takes huge ongoing investments in infrastructure, a continued expansion in the range of cloud services offered, strong credibility with the large enterprise sector, consistently strong execution, and the wholehearted and long-term backing of senior management,” he continued. “AWS is checking all of those boxes and any serious challengers need to do likewise.”


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About the Author(s)

Aldrin Brown

Editor-in-Chief, Penton

Veteran journalist Aldrin Brown comes to Penton Technology from Empire Digital Strategies, a business-to-business consulting firm that he founded that provides e-commerce, content and social media solutions to businesses, nonprofits and other organizations seeking to create or grow their digital presence.

Previously, Brown served as the Desert Bureau Chief for City News Service in Southern California and Regional Editor for Patch, AOL's network of local news sites. At Patch, he managed a staff of journalists and more than 30 hyper-local and business news and information websites throughout California. In addition to his work in technology and business, Brown was the city editor for The Sun, a daily newspaper based in San Bernardino, CA; the college sports editor at The Tennessean, Nashville, TN; and an investigative reporter at the Orange County Register, Santa Ana, CA.


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