It’s logical for the cloud service provider market shares to be spread as they are at the moment. Amazon’s big lead on the others is clearly because they were the creators of cloud services as a new business – when Amazon first came out with the cloud-based concept, other future service providers didn’t yet take the field seriously.

Because of that, Amazon had 6-7 years to quietly shape the new market and work on capturing it. By now, it’s clear that Amazon has never rested on its laurels. They have assured their position as innovators and leaders by constantly testing and releasing new services, quickly bettering their existing services and creating a very strong network of partners around them.

The situation is much more interesting on the other end of the spectrum. First, there’s Microsoft who has been growing very strongly. Of course, that’s no surprise considering their large client base that they are now luring to migrate over to their cloud services. Without specific data to back me up, I would venture to say that most of their growth came from the Microsoft Office 365 service.

Alibaba’s Triumph

Google and Alibaba have also seen growth. But the bigger surprise of the two is clearly Chinese-owned Alibaba who is now among the five largest cloud-hosting companies in the world. Alibaba is a company with a long history that started investing in the cloud business in 2015. At the beginning of this year, they were already reporting 104% annual growth. Even though their fast growth is logical due to the size of their local market in China, it is still surprising how fast they have caught up with Google.

Since the better part of growth for cloud service providers isn’t coming from grabbing market share from each other but from the general growth of the cloud market, we can predict continued growth for the larger providers. Gartner estimates that the global cloud market will grow by over 21% this year (totaling 186.4 billion USD) with a whopping 36% growth for the IaaS segment (to a total volume of 41 billion).

Amazon Continues as Leader

I predict that AWS will retain its leader position thanks to their aggressive growth strategy and service development. Microsoft cloud services will also keep growing because they still have a large number of clients who haven’t migrated to the cloud. At the same time, it will be interesting to see how intently Microsoft will start going after new clients – they have been preparing to do that for a while by adding the support for common technologies that don’t belong to them to their own cloud.

Google is making large investments into infrastructure, which clearly hints at their plans to engage in a battle for market share.

Alibaba will also definitely keep growing. But with a Chinese company, the rest of the world will be keeping a sharp eye on issues of security and privacy. This aspect may become an obstacle for expanding into the global market.

The future perspectives for IBM are the most difficult to predict – the company offers a niche service and, unlike the large four, they are not working very hard to develop their service or partnership network.

At the moment, the cloud service market is still relatively young and growing fast. This means that there is room on the market for potential newcomers (like Oracle, for example) and that other niche providers will emerge – whether they be region or service-based or hybrid cloud services. But that won’t mean very drastic changes for the TOP 5 any time soon.