Earnings recap: Amazon, Microsoft and Google grow fast and keep hold on the market — for now

Although the market is consolidating around AWS, Microsoft Azure and GCP, the trailing vendors are unable to match AWS’ quarterly revenue gains

Consolidation is occurring across cloud segments, with the most notable convergence occurring around the five leading PaaS and IaaS players, blending the lines between PaaS and IaaS. Customers and applications vendors are flocking to the leading players Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This is evidenced by these three vendors collectively growing 58% year-to-year in 2Q18, while the total PaaS and IaaS market is expected to grow only 16% year-to-year in 2018. This consolidation is helping the largest players continually capture greater market share and, as a result, largely dictate the growth of the PaaS and IaaS markets.

With the leading vendors’ CY2Q18 earnings results now public, it is clear that AWS continues to rule the PaaS and IaaS spaces, sitting at almost three times the size of second-place Microsoft Azure and sustaining greater quarterly revenue additions. Google sits in third place in mindshare for many customers, but trails AWS and Microsoft Azure in revenue by a large margin. These three vendors face increasing competition from Alibaba, which continues to expand its global reach, and IBM, which has seen more success in private cloud and hybrid IT.


AWS maintains its public cloud lead through continuous innovation, but faces growing opposition as new and existing competition strengthens

AWS accelerated revenue growth for the third consecutive quarter in 2Q18, up 48.9% year-to-year to $6.1 billion, further extending its lead in PaaS and IaaS. AWS’ position as the far-and-away market leader causes the competition to fiercely innovate and expand to challenge the vendor. However, AWS’ mindshare has been secured, and paired with its portfolio breadth, innovation pace and global availability, inserts the vendor into the bulk of customer and partner evaluations. AWS’ determination to innovate with and ahead of customer needs continues to drive service and feature releases, aimed at winning new workloads without compromising profits. Halfway through 2018, AWS has released 800 new services and features, an accelerated pace of service innovation from 2017’s record level.

Microsoft Azure continues its fast-paced growth, but will remain behind AWS in revenue for the foreseeable future

Microsoft’s Commercial Cloud revenue, which includes public cloud and private cloud versions of Office 365 commercial, Dynamics 365 and Azure, approached $6.9 billion as Microsoft nearly doubled the number of Azure agreements worth $10 million or more over the last year. Azure revenue grew 89% year-to-year to $2.2 billion in 2Q18.

Microsoft’s combination of traditional software, public cloud and on-premises private cloud positions the company to be the backbone of customers’ hybrid environments — a label few competitors, especially AWS and Google, can claim. As such, Microsoft is uniquely positioned to help customers extract the value from their integrated data and has put itself at the forefront of innovation and commercialization of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) to capitalize on this leading position.

Google will be unable to retain its third-place position as it fights to shift market perception and fend off strengthening competition

Relative to AWS and Microsoft Azure, GCP is far behind in the PaaS and IaaS space but is trying to prove to customers that it is as enterprise-ready as its main competitors. As Google solidifies its cloud portfolio and builds out key offerings, the company has also prioritized improving its large enterprise go-to-market efforts under its One Google strategy. Google Cloud, which consists of G Suite and GCP, increased revenue by an estimated 56% year-to-year, nearly reaching $1.42 billion. TBR expects Google Cloud revenue will increase to $1.6 billion in 3Q18 as the vendor continues to execute its One Google strategy.

While Google is investing in its go-to-market activities and shows progress through growth, its overall reputation in the market has been slow to adapt from consumer-grade to enterprise-ready. To combat that market perception, Google Cloud focuses its innovation on mastering four areas of expertise: machine learning and analytics, security, application developer tools, and connected business platforms. Recent investments in hybrid enablement and improved rendering capabilities demonstrate Google’s ongoing commitment to becoming a leading cloud vendor in differentiated areas of high-growth opportunity. While Google will succeed in these discrete areas, TBR expects Alibaba to emerge as the third-place general-purpose PaaS and IaaS provider.

TBR launches new Cloud Customer Research reports covering infrastructure and applications adoption

Recognizing that a more mature cloud market needs deeper customer insight, Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) is launching two new programs: Cloud Applications Customer Research and Cloud Infrastructure Customer Research. While the vendor landscape is solidified from a leadership perspective, customer behavior has become even more difficult to decipher. TBR’s new programs will help subscribers to plan and take action to win more cloud business.

Many of the simple workloads, such as development & test, CRM and productivity, have moved to the cloud, but exactly what services will move next and how remain difficult questions to answer. TBR’s Cloud Customer Research reports address these new market realities, providing direct feedback on leading and emerging vendors and focusing the analysis on specific workloads in both the applications and infrastructure domains.

Insight provided through in-depth customer interviews allows subscribers to understand the nuance involved with customers’ cloud usage and leverage that information to directly influence their positions in the market. The result of the research is clear identification of market size, leading vendor share, vendor perception, vendor strengths and weaknesses, and case studies on workload adoption.

The two new Cloud Customer Research streams deliver insight that can be used internally to plan business strategies and field guides that can be used externally to initiate and close more competitive deals. While the two research streams will cover different markets (applications and infrastructure), they have a similar structure: analyzing market opportunity, customer behavior, vendor position and perception; offering engagement scenarios and field guides; and providing interview excerpts. TBR will conduct 400 surveys and 100 interviews annually as part of this program and will publish the two reports in September and March.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.929.1166 or [email protected].


Google seeks enterprise nod with GCP services in IoT, security

The key differentiator for Google is [its] hardware is more comprehensive, but Microsoft has an enormous install base, and that’s a lot of leverage. — Ezra Gottheil, Principal Analyst

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Google goes after IHVs with Cloud IoT Edge

Google’s Cloud IoT Edge hardware-software package for edge devices, announced on July 25, aims to be a comprehensive bundle for the edge ― for devices and for gateways. In this offering, Google leverages its two big assets in machine learning, TensorFlow software and the tensor processing unit (TPU) processor, to stake a position in edge hardware and software.

TBR believes the edge is the leading edge of Internet of Things (IoT) growth. There is competition for both edge hardware and edge software, but few vendors can offer both. There will be consolidation in hardware and software, and the companies left standing will have large and growing businesses and opportunities to expand. In the case of Google, as well as Microsoft and Amazon, capturing the edge helps drive the core cloud offering. By staking a big claim on the edge, Google is better positioned to compete with the other big clouds.

TensorFlow and the TPU processor are the keys to Google’s offering. TensorFlow is one of the most popular machine learning software libraries while the TPU processor is optimized for machine learning. Google claims advantages of the TPU over GPUs for machine learning tasks include lower power consumption and better performance on inference as well as learning tasks. These two benefits, power consumption and inference performance, are critical on the edge. Power consumption is important in edge devices, especially mobile and remote devices. Machine learning training is best suited to the cloud; edge devices need fast inference.

Google is targeting this offering to companies making IoT hardware, devices and gateways, ranging from narrowly specialized to broadly applicable, from custom-built to off the shelf. Companies producing off-the-shelf products are independent hardware vendors, and their offerings range from components for IoT solutions to end-to-end hardware and software solutions. Google’s Cloud IoT Edge is attractive to this market; it is a hardware-software solution with differentiating hardware and familiar software.

In the enterprise market for custom-built devices, Microsoft will often leverage its incumbency. However, there remain many market opportunities, especially in off-the-shelf smart devices with built-in machine learning. Video is a likely market for this technology, and Google will continue to make it easier and less expensive to build smart cameras.

Google’s Cloud IoT Edge is a well-conceived response to the challenge of the edge, and there is potential additional upside. The new Edge TPU is very small, and Google claims very low power consumption. Google will introduce tools and applications that leverage the processor to provide tangible benefits on smartphone, tablet and PC platforms. If successful, Google could own the IP to be a necessary component of edge computing.

TBR launches Alibaba Cloud vendor report amid changes in public cloud PaaS & IaaS markets

As Alibaba Cloud continues to prove itself as a relevant public cloud PaaS and IaaS challenger, Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) is launching a new report focused on the vendor to provide subscribers with ongoing insights into the business’ performance. As Alibaba’s cloud business progressively moves beyond the company’s traditional China and Southeast Asia presence to compete more directly with the leading public cloud PaaS and IaaS vendors TBR covers regularly, it has become relevant to include Alibaba Cloud in our vendor coverage.

Alibaba has proved its public cloud legitimacy by capitalizing on the highly restrictive cloud services market in China. With more than one-third of the top 500 Chinese companies as customers and two-thirds of China-based unicorn startups running on Alibaba Cloud services, the business has demonstrated that it has a broad appeal as it looks to translate local success to new geographies. Although Alibaba Cloud has successfully expanded from China to the broader Asia market, its transformation to a truly global provider faces greater barriers.

Western vendors dominate global public cloud mindshare and are adapting their strategies to specific geographic needs to rapidly expand their own international presence. As such, Alibaba Cloud has begun to innovate around regional needs and high-value artificial intelligence and Internet of Things cloud services to drive higher-margin and more differentiated workloads to its platform.

Alibaba aims to challenge more globally dominant public cloud vendors, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud and Google Cloud, to cement its position among these leaders. In October 2017 Alibaba Cloud President Simon Hu claimed that the business was “on track” to overtake AWS as the global leader in cloud by 2019.


This is undoubtedly an exaggeration, as Alibaba’s cloud business only generated 8% the volume of revenue that still-growing AWS generated in 2017, but the statement affirms Alibaba’s commitment to scaling its cloud business. TBR estimates that Alibaba Cloud will not overtake AWS, but as shown in Figure 1, that it will grow fast enough to close the gap between itself and AWS and Microsoft. Amid global growth efforts, Alibaba’s dominance of the Chinese cloud market will remain a key driver of its overall performance.


It’s hard to grow up in IoT

One of the most important governing factors in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) is the maturity of the companies considering, buying and implementing IoT. Vendors can improve their go-to-market (GTM) tactics by varying their approach to potential customers with different degrees of maturity. Assessment of maturity helps in predicting and targeting growth opportunities in vertical and geographic market segments.

A mature process for a single IoT solution is easy to describe but challenging to carry out. A team including members with business knowledge, operations technology knowledge and IT knowledge works together through the process of problem selection, solution design, solution implementation, and ongoing solution operation and refinement. As most IoT implementations present opportunities for enhancement and further integration, the team continues to work together indefinitely.

For an organization to be mature in IoT, it must be able to sustain multiple projects, at different phases in different parts of the organization and at varying levels of scale. The projects must be compliant with company and regulatory policies, secure and, ideally, scalable and efficient, leveraging to the extent possible organizational resources and standard practices. The data generated by the IoT projects must be secure, but it must also be visible and available to others in the organization who could benefit.

Additionally, the mature IoT organization keeps the process of continual distributed innovation going, with employees throughout the organization actively looking for opportunities to improve operations using IoT, as well as other innovative technologies. While encouraging broad innovation, the organization manages, prioritizes, allocates resources for and socializes the projects.

The organization described above is an ideal, but comparing an organization with this standard helps us know at what level a business is operating in IoT. This ideal process applies not only to IoT but also to all projects leveraging new technologies.

For vendors, IoT maturity can help with identifying potential customers and approaching prospects. With mature customers coordinating multiple IoT projects, there is the opportunity to be included in the company’s portfolio of vetted preferred vendors or products. With a less mature customer, the best outcome is engagement in a single IoT project. These two different scenarios demand different messaging, sales tactics and, sometimes, offerings.

In a growing market — and IoT will be growing for a very long time — the trailing edge is always much larger than the leading edge. Even as the average level of maturity increases, most target customers will be on the less-mature end of the spectrum. Vendors and offerings that fit the needs of the target market, including simplicity, extensive support and membership in robust partnerships, will have an advantage. Offerings that help develop the customer, moving them up the maturity ladder, will also have an advantage.

IoT maturation isn’t about the technology of IoT; it’s about businesses developing their capability to leverage technologies and techniques that are increasingly applicable to an increasing number of business problems. The same maturation encompasses things like analytics and artificial intelligence, blockchain, edge computing, and mobile computing. Looking at customers and prospects in terms of maturity in leveraging technology helps in selling and delivering technology products that drive businesses forward.

Why one analyst sees cause for concern over the GDIT-CSRA merger

General Dynamics will use healthy top-line growth to champion the early success of the CSRA acquisition, but we see cause for concern as valuable leaders from CSRA depart GDIT due to potential misalignment of the two companies’ distinct cultures and business philosophies. — Joey Cresta, Analyst

Exploring murky world of IoT: Where are the best opportunities?

Vertical and subvertical market segmentation is more important in IoT than in other types of technology products and services because IoT is diverse. Most vendors are trying to tame the breadth of the IoT market by prioritizing specific verticals. TBR believes the IoT market is beginning to stabilize if not mature, and this is a good time to focus on vertical markets and use cases within those markets. Not only will this help our clients allocate their
resources, but we also believe an analysis by vertical gives us insight into the current and future maturation of the IoT marketplace. — Ezra Gottheil, Principal Analyst

NFV/SDN will account for over one-quarter of CSP capex and external opex spend in 2022

HAMPTON, N.H. — According to Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) latest NFV/SDN Telecom Market Forecast, covering 2017 to 2022, mainstream adoption of NFV/SDN is now set for the early 2020s due to operators encountering challenges with migration.

“Despite challenges, operators will push forward with NFV/SDN and will scale their investments in these technologies,” said TBR Telecom Senior Analyst Chris Antlitz. “Operators must transform to stay relevant and competitive in the digital era, and NFV/SDN is a critical component of that transformation.”


During the forecast period, 5G will also serve as an underlying catalyst for increased NFV/SDN spend. 5G will push operators to adopt a new network architecture, and virtualization will be a critical aspect of networks.

TBR’s annual NFV/SDN Telecom Market Forecast projects spend on NFV, SDN and related services across key segments globally and by region.

Additional research on the NFV and SDN markets can be found in TBR’s NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape and Telecom Software Mediated Networks (NFV/SDN) Customer Adoption Study, which cover the operator and vendor landscapes and operator purchasing decisions regarding NFV and SDN, respectively.


IBM Z Software: Refinancing rather than retiring technical debt increases Z relevance

Tying into a recent IBM Institute for Business Value thought leadership booklet entitled, “Incumbents Strike Back,” IBM (NYSE: IBM) has invested considerable time and effort into reminding analysts of the dominant install base IBM mainframes enjoy in large enterprises, where they transact 68% of the world’s economic activity. IBM categorizes its existing customers into three camps: those that have yet to embark on an IT modernization initiative, those that went for wholesale rip and replace at great economic cost, and those that seek to modernize ― or refinance ― their existing investment in legacy mainframe assets to prepare them for the digital business era as outlined by TBR in its recent special report The Business of One.

Wholesale rip-and-replace initiatives come at a great upfront expense that is difficult, IBM asserted, for corporate boards to justify from an ROI perspective. Rather than retire that technical debt, large enterprises seeking to migrate to digital business streams are finding a more prudent alternative to be refinancing the technical debt through application modernization. IBM hinges future mainframe revenue growth and ongoing relevance on this point, netting out the IBM Z value proposition as bringing pervasive encryption, analytics infusion across the business stack, and simple and secure connections into multiple cloud environments.