Cloud storage services have become big business. And a handful of familiar names are quickly grabbing up ownership of most of it.
For starters, Amazon is by far the largest cloud provider today, garnering (according to Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy) “several times as much business as the next 14 providers combined.”
Microsoft is next largest in terms of sales of the infrastructure services that store data and run applications. But at last read, they were still less than one-fifth Amazon’s size.
And Google places third, even though they are now by market value the second-largest company in the world, though with only about one-fifteenth of Amazon’s cloud business revenues.
Still, Microsoft and Google aren’t standing still. Microsoft’s cloud unit, called Azure, has won over some large customers lately including Bank of America and Chevron. They are said (according to a recent article in Businessweek) to have done it by focusing on salesmanship and relationship building skills, something not necessarily the forte of the Amazon business model. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has pushed his sales force into “a roving R&D lab and management consultancy.” They’re hooking up smaller startups with potential investors and giving larger prospects access to a sales team that helps them market their Azure-based apps to their own customers. Win-win.
Microsoft is also increasingly moving its traditional Office suite to the cloud via initiatives like Office 365 and the new Dynamics 365 products and branding. This makes it more likely that when companies consider moving off their own data centers they’ll consider Microsoft favorably, exploiting that existing relationship when it comes to migrating to a public cloud.
To step up its game, Google recently hired the co-founder of VM Ware, Diane Greene, to run its cloud business, starting with a cloud sales force they are building from scratch. Google also recently announced a partnership with Salesforce.com to take advantage of its list of preferred cloud providers, according to Businessweek.
One big advantage both Google and Microsoft will try to exploit over Amazon is the fact that Amazon often competes fiercely with many of its own prospective cloud clients. Wal-Mart and others are not keen on seeing their AWS payments benefit the very retailer they most compete against.
It’s still too early to say who will end up on top, but the battle is fierce, and you can expect all three of these tech titans to be in that mix for years to come. It’s already a $35 billion market that’s projected to grow to about $90 billion within four years according to Gartner analysts.
As AWS’s Jassy notes, “This is the biggest technology shift of our lifetimes.”