Whatever the Numbers, Cloud Growth is Skyrocketing

August 11, 2010 Off By Hoofer
Grazed from GigaOM.  Author: Derrick Harris.

A UBS research report sparked a lot of discussion this week with its estimate that Amazon Web Services’ total revenue will top $500 million this year and $1.1 billion by 2014. Analyzing the numbers is fine, but, as I discuss in my weekly column at GigaOM Pro, I think it’s most telling to look at the growth curve when assessing the promise of cloud computing.

UBS charted gross revenue growth from 2006 through estimates for 2011 (the chart is available in Om’s article), and that number speaks for itself. It’s an 801 percent annual increase ($329.4 million) over five years for an offering all but pulled out of thin air. If AWS hits UBS’s 2014 estimates, it will be a 2,890 percent increase ($1.3 billion) over eight years. Net annual income over the same time period (2006-2014) is estimated to grow by 6,148 percent ($386 million). Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t want to be part of that fast-growing a business, as either a principal, investor or shareholder?

Even if the numerical estimates aren’t entirely quantifiable, stated growth from other cloud providers suggests UBS’s estimated growth curve for AWS is probably accurate. This week, for example, RightScale announced a 1,000 percent customer spending increase from June 2009 through June 2010. Rackspace has been seeing growing cloud computing revenues, too. Aside from consistent cloud-based revenue growth, its cloud customer count almost doubled between the first quarters of 2009 and 2010 — from 43,030 to 80,080.

Guy Rosen, who does a quarterly calculation of the top 500,000 web sites hosted on cloud platforms, also has tracked impressive growth. As of Aug. 2010, his research shows 3,011 sites hosted on Amazon EC2, and 2,825 hosted on Rackspace Cloud Servers. Those numbers represent 94 percent and 106 percent year-over-year growth, respectively. In the case of AWS, especially, the number of high-profile web sites is adding up fast.

It’s easy to get lost in the exact numbers, but the constant growth tells the story: Cloud computing (of the externally hosted variety) is growing at a breakneck speed, and AWS appears to have the lion’s share of the market. Yes, the present revenue numbers are low compared with traditional IT, but the sky is the limit for cloud stakeholders. Isn’t that what really matters?