If the latest round of quarterly results from the top public cloud services providers shows anything, it’s that the public cloud just keeps on winning. Last week, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google all released their results for the final quarter of 2017, and the reaction was virtually unanimous: another blockbuster quarter for growth in the public cloud.

AWS: Leader of the pack tops $5 billion in quarterly revenue

Amazon Web Services is the unquestioned leader in the public cloud market, so let’s look there first. AWS garnered more than $5 billion of revenue in the quarter alone, topping estimates as it grew sales by 45%. Boosting revenue by almost half again is a really big deal when you get to that kind of scale. For all of 2017, AWS grabbed almost $17.5 billion, and enjoys an annual run rate of more than $20 billion, according to CNBC. To top it off, AWS was making money too, earning $1.35 billion in operating income, which also topped estimates.

According to ComputerWeekly, AWS CFO Brian Olsavsky announced on a conference call that AWS “usage growth continues to be strong, growing at a higher rate than our revenue growth rate, and customers continued to add workloads and expand.… We’re adding new services and features all the time, over 1,400 in 2017 alone, and we’re very happy with the performance in the AWS business.”

Microsoft Azure: 98% growth!

But impressive cloud growth is not limited to AWS. Microsoft posted an even larger 98% growth in its Azure cloud business, though that growth comes on a much smaller—but unspecified—base. Microsoft’s commercial cloud business, which includes Azure, Office 365, and other businesses, boosted revenue by 56% year-over-year to $5.3 billion. “Intelligent Cloud” revenue, which includes server products and cloud services, rose 15% to $7.8 billion.

cloud computing momentum conceptComputerWeekly quoted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaking in an investors conference call: “It all comes down to having an architectural advantage on what is a new secular trend. We’re the only cloud provider that provides true hybrid cloud computing with Azure and Azure Stack … you train on the cloud and you score on the edge,” he said. “That’s a real competitive advantage.”

Google cloud: “pretty darn impressive” revenue

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, also reported strong cloud revenue in the last quarter of 2017. According to CNBC, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced during an earnings conference call that:

Google Cloud, which includes Google Cloud Platform and G Suite, has reached meaningful scale, and I’m excited to share today that it’s already a billion dollar per quarter business.

In fact, we believe that Google Cloud Platform, based on publicly reported data for the twelve months ended December 2017, is the fastest growing major public cloud provider in the world. 

Assessing that growth remains difficult, however, because this is the first time Google has announced cloud revenue figures and it’s still unclear how much of the $1 billion total comes from the Google Cloud Platform.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene, meanwhile, told CNBC that Google cloud’s growth is “pretty darn impressive,” and “we just wanted to get it out because there was a lot of misinformation about our traction, and people sort of grossly underestimating it.”

Because each of the companies break out their cloud numbers in different ways, it’s very difficult to compare relative performance from one to another. But that’s not really the point. More important, all three enjoyed epic growth in their already huge cloud businesses, indicating what seems to be inexhaustible interest in public-cloud computing services.


Fredric Paul (aka The Freditor) is Editor in Chief for New Relic. He's an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist who has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite, AllBusiness.com, InformationWeek, CNET, Electronic Entertainment, PC World, and PC|Computing. His writing has appeared in MIT Technology Review, Omni, Conde Nast Traveler, and Newsweek, among other places. View posts by .

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