Almost as if in response to the Amazon Fire Phone’s announcement of unlimited cloud photo storage, Microsoft announced an aggressive expansion of the limits for its cloud-based storage offerings by increasing the free quota for OneDrive from 7 GB to 15 GB on Monday. In addition, Microsoft announced that all Office 365 subscriptions will include 1 TB of cloud storage. Finally, Microsoft reduced storage prices for cloud storage independent of an Office 365 subscription by 70% such that monthly prices for 100 GB of storage are now $1.99 as opposed to $7.49 and 200 GB are $3.99 instead of $11.49. Microsoft’s pricing of free storage represents an astute move to continue its aggressive rollout of Office 365 by shifting customers to its cloud-based productivity suite in contrast to the client-based installations via download or DVD. Moreover, Microsoft continues to tout the possibilities for collaboration enabled by the cloud and as such, users are likely to see enriched collaboration functionality coming to the Office 365 suite soon. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella underscored the importance of the connection between the cloud and collaboration in a blog post by noting that “the cloud is enabling a world where you can walk up to any supported device, sign in, collaborate, communicate and share your creations with the world. Doesn’t matter what you make, where you make it or what device you use. The cloud is there to help.” Whereas Steve Jobs introduced iCloud primarily in the context of device synchronization, and the resulting operational simplicity specific to accessing the same version of every file and folder from every machine, Nadella appears to be taking things one step further by positioning the cloud as a platform fundamentally for collaboration, communication and sharing.
Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of analyses about the size and relative market share of vendors in the cloud computing space. According to a post in GigaOM, UBS Analysts estimate that “the total market for AWS-type services will be between $5-to-$6 billion in 2010 and will eventually grow to $15-to-$20 billion in 2014.” Gartner, meanwhile, estimates that the IaaS market will grow from $3.7 billion in 2010 to $10.5 billion in 2014. Forrester predicts that IaaS spending alone will increase from $2.9B, projected to grow to $5.85B by 2015 in their recent report, Sizing the Cloud, Understanding and Quantifying the Future of Cloud Computing.
The discrepancies between these estimates of the current and future state of the IaaS space illustrate some of the difficulties specific to quantifying cloud computing market share, many of which of derive from the following reasons:
• The plurality of cloud computing modalities renders calculations of market share complex. While it’s true that the terms IaaS, PaaS and SaaS remain powerful terms for understanding cloud computing deployments, vendors are increasingly offering more than one variation of the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS trinity. Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk, for example, constitutes a PaaS offering from the largest IaaS vendor in the space. Meanwhile, Red Hat offers an IaaS product called CloudForms alongside a PaaS offering known as OpenShift. Moreover, analysts may choose to include or not include SaaS, PaaS or consulting services from cloud computing products in their estimation of cloud computing revenue.
• Vendors often refuse to disclose cloud computing revenues, especially if they are privately held or otherwise multi-tiered businesses wherein cloud revenue is miniscule in comparison to revenues from other services. Amazon Web Services constitutes the paradigmatic example, here, but the recent acquisitions of Terremark by Verizon and Savvis by CenturyLink may serve as further cases in point, though most reports suggest that both Terremark and Savvis will function as independent business units within their parent company with detailed revenue breakdowns.
• Within the first half of 2011, Dell, HP, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Apple, Go Daddy and Microsoft have made increased commitments to cloud computing deployments in ways that promise to significantly impact the existing market share balance.
• The global nature of cloud computing renders quantification of market share challenging because many U.S. cloud computing vendors operate transnationally in partnership with other channel partners that may or may not report revenue in a transparent fashion. Consider Joyent’s partnership with ClusterTech and Qihoo 360 Technologies in China, for example, in this regard.
Despite these methodological difficulties, we can make some definitive statements about vendor revenue. Consider the following revenue data points, for 2010:
a. Amazon Web Services: $500–700 million
b. Rackspace: $100 million
c. Terremark: $37.5 million, prior to acquisition by Verizon
d. Savvis: $15.2 million, prior to acquisition by CenturyLink
e. Joyent: $10- 20 million
a. Salesforce.com: $1.3 billion
b. NetSuite: $200 million
c. Rightnow: $200 million
d. SuccessFactors: $200 million
e. Taleo: $200 million
Revenue for PaaS in 2010 is difficult to locate and widely believed to be miniscule. But given the sheer number and heterogeneity of cloud computing vendors and deployments, these numbers represent little consolation for analysts and investors seeking to understand trends in the cloud computing universe. How will Apple’s iCloud fit into this equation, for example? What about Facebook and Google? In what way will Microsoft’s Office 365 change market share in the productivity software space? Part of the difficulty of estimating cloud market share, here, involves the lack of a common set of standards for measuring the size of cloud computing deployments, in addition to the challenges specific to locating data for annualized cloud based revenue per vendor. Until inter-operability standards emerge, analysts will need to develop new methods of imposing discipline and rigor on the conglomeration of cloud computing forms. Meanwhile, vendors and customers alike should push for inter-operability standards that facilitate apples to apples comparisons of cloud offerings from vendors across the globe.