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Report: AWS, Azure and Alibaba Led Pandemic Cloud Boom

Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the clear leader of last year's surging IaaS public cloud market, despite slowing growth.

That's according to recent findings published by Gartner Inc. as part of its "Market Share: IT Services, Worldwide 2020" report. The research firm reported the IaaS market was worth $64.3 billion by the end of pandemic-riddled 2020, an increase of 40.7 percent year over year.

Gartner attributed the gangbusters growth to multiple factors, from technologies evolving to support hybrid environments to organizations relying heavily on cloud services as their employees switched to remote work during the COVID-19 crisis.

"Hyperscale providers are continuing to build distributed cloud and edge solutions that extend the public cloud's reach into private and on-premise locations, addressing the needs of organizations relating to data sovereignty, workload portability and network latency," said Gartner research vice president Sid Nag in a prepared statement. "This fact, coupled with reliance on the public cloud by a majority of organizations during the pandemic, drove another year of double digital market growth in 2020."

The 2020 public cloud leader board held few surprises. Perennial leader AWS captured the biggest share of the market at 40.8 percent, followed distantly by Microsoft Azure (19.7 percent), Alibaba (9.5 percent), Google Cloud Platform (6.1 percent) and Huawei (4.2 percent).

Notably, however, AWS grew at a much slower rate in 2020 compared to its competitors, with any growth "primarily reflecting increased customer usage," according to Gartner. In comparison, AWS' closest rival, Azure, grew 59.2 percent year over year, driven by industries shifting their mission-critical applications to the cloud en masse.

"The global healthcare crisis and disruption in workplace environments during the pandemic era drove increased demand from existing Microsoft Azure customers to migrate mission-critical workloads, such as from healthcare applications with AI-assisted bots, digital twins in manufacturing and e-commerce in retail," Gartner said.

Huawei, meanwhile, blew both market leaders out of the water with its 202.8 percent year-over-year growth, pushing it into the Top 5 for the first time. Huawei has been buoyed by rapidly growing demand for cloud services in China, as well as by its strategic decision to make a "hard pivot away from selling equipment to investing heavily in their cloud services business," according to Nag.

Post-pandemic, Nag indicated that success for public cloud providers will depend on their willingness to innovate in "cloud-adjacent" areas like artificial intelligence, edge and 5G.

"The era of CIOs investing in cloud IaaS and platform as a service (PaaS) discretely is long over," Nag said. "CIOs look to invest in technologies that address their complex and emerging use cases."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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