Data Transfer Project could cut AWS cloud dominance – Equinix

Amazon’s cloud business, AWS, might be romping ahead of the pretenders in the market share rankings, but the progressing Data Transfer Project could see this lead eroded and the rise of more niche players.

In most sub-sectors of industry, the first to market usually commands a significant market share once the segment has been normalised. The vendor has an established business model, brand and customer base, however this dominance is usually eroded through competition over time. AWS’ position is standing the test of time, though Sachin Sony of Equinix believes the Data Transfer Project could lead to the end of this strangle hold.

“Interoperability between cloud environment will not only be beneficial to customers, but will open up opportunities for more niche providers to establish market share,” said Sony.

“Customers are now dictating the terms, changing the status quo. This is largely driven by the exponential growth in data, especially with IoT and big data, with customers now becoming the dictators on what cloud environment should look like.”

The Data Transfer Project is a collaboration between various organizations to build a common framework with open-source code that can connect any two online service providers, enabling a seamless, direct, user initiated portability of data between the two platforms. In short, it creates interoperability between the provider’s cloud environments to simplify the migration of data between one service and another.

Right now, migration is difficult, which has led to the dominance of the major cloud players. Companies like AWS secure a contract with an organization, but as migration is so difficult, customers are compelled to scale up with the same service. Customer retention becomes simpler, as the options to move are time consuming and expensive, meaning the larger organizations can spend more time securing more customers, who will grow, repeating the cycle.

While it does not sound like the end of the world, because of the difficulties in migrating data, niche service providers struggle to establish themselves. Sony suggested improving interoperability will allow for more resilient multi-cloud environments, where the hyperscale players can be used for more generic activities, and the niche players for more tailored and mission critical business processes. It might also encourage more organizations to transition more data to the cloud.

“When enterprises started moving to the cloud it was a great way to cut costs,” said Sony. “But companies did not think this through.

“When you go to a cloud based environment, you are making yourself captive of that vendor. It’s a very risky business model as it creates a single point of failure. When there have been outages, or the business expanded into new areas where that provider isn’t, complications arise. These organizations need diversification in their cloud environments. They need interoperability.”

Of course, whenever the customer starts dictating terms the big vendors tend to resist, and AWS is not an active contributor to the project at the moment. Why would it want to contribute to something which would destroy its dominant position in the industry? However, Sony thinks it is only a matter of time.

Interoperability is an attractive prospect for the customer as it offers security, resiliency and agility. Cutting costs is not the sole objective of the cloud-orientated business model anymore, therefore customers will look elsewhere at the expense of a couple of dollars should a provider not offer interoperability. It’s only a matter of time before AWS is forced into line.

This is not to say this project will cost AWS money. In theory, it should encourage more organizations to migrate data and more mission critical processes to the cloud, resulting in more business. But, this will be more business for everyone. Interoperability takes cloud from a specialist service to more of a commodity. The specialism will be creating unique and tailored environments, a service which will be offered by the smaller emerging players.

This project and the trend of interoperability will not cost AWS money, but it might cost it market share.

AWS continues to fuel profits at parent company

Amazon has released the results for the first half of 2018, with cloud business unit AWS accounting for just over 61% of the total operating income.

Sales across the group stood at $103.9 billion, while AWS accounted for $11.5 billion, with an impressive $6.1 billion coming in the second quarter, beating market expectations. Net income was reported at $4.1 billion for the half, and $2.5 billion for the quarter. This is now the third consecutive quarter the business has reported more than $1+ billion in net income, perhaps a welcome surprise for investors who have become accustomed to minimal profits and losses every three months.

“We’re very happy with the results we’re seeing, and the backlog that we see, and the new contracts and new customers and the expansion of existing customer business that we see,” said Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky. “Again, the business has accelerated the last three quarters, and we’re seeing great signs in a number of areas.”

While the success of AWS is unparalleled in the industry, there is still room for growth. Despite the cloud being old news, there are still a huge number of customers and workloads to migrate to the cloud, and new services to offer to these customers. AWS has already launched 800 new services and features so far this year, including the Database Migration Service which has been utilised 80,000 times over the six months, and there is scope for more. The cloud might seem like an old idea now, but with areas such as machine learning, AI, IoT, serverless computing and databases and analytics beginning to breach normality, the potential to make more cash is abundant.

As you can see from the market share graphic below, AWS is in a league of its own when it comes to the cloud services market. Google and Microsoft might be growing their own business at a faster rate, but these steps forward cannot bridge the sheer volume and breadth of customers in the AWS market share. Unfortunately for challengers outside the top four, it is looking increasingly unlikely the gulf will be bridged.

“Amazon Web Services and its three main challengers all turned in some exceptional growth numbers in the quarter,” said John Dinsdale of Synergy Research Group.

“Collectively those four firms alone accounted for well over three quarters of the sequential growth in cloud service revenues. In a large and strategically vital market that is growing at exceptional rates, they are throwing the gauntlet down to their smaller competitors by continuing to invest enormous amounts in their data centre infrastructure and operations. Their increased market share is clear evidence that their strategies are working.”

Looking at where money is being spent in the industry, public IaaS and PaaS services account for the bulk of the market, with these two segments growing by 53% over the last quarter. Total spend, IaaS, PaaS and hosted private cloud services, exceeding $16 billion for the quarter.