Just how much bigger AWS is compared its next competitor may surprise you

AWS’s IaaS revenue is three-times that of its nearest competitor, IBM

Amazon.com came out with its quarterly earnings last week and Technology Business Research analyst Jillian Mirandi crunched the numbers of how much of a lead AWS has on its competitors in the public cloud market. The numbers are striking. 

AWS broke $1.1 billion in quarterly revenues for  cloud IaaS in the first quarter of 2014. The company's next closest competitor in the cloud IaaS market, IBM, came in at $350 million. That's almost a three-fold lead for AWS compared to the nearest competitor, according to TBR. 

Behind IBM, Microsoft and Google close out the top four public cloud IaaS providers, but those latter two companies only generated about $30 million in cloud IaaS revenue last quarter, TBR estimates.

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The results should be taken with somewhat of a grain of salt, however. These revenues figures are only for cloud IaaS - meaning virtual machines and storage. Microsoft and Google both have offerings in this market, but they are relatively new. AWS has been at this for seven years.

Also, IBM, Microsoft and Google all have much more significant revenue for their SaaS and PaaS operations, which are not taken in these TBR calculations. All of those hosted Office 365 accounts are not measured by this figure, for example.

Another reason to look at these numbers with a skeptical eye is because cloud companies are notorious for not disclosing in complete detail the actual revenues for their cloud operations. Amazon, for example, has an "other" category where it reports its cloud revenue, which leaves analysts like those at TBR and elsewhere making educated, and well-researched guesses as revenue. The same goes for Microsoft and Google. 

For reference, Microsoft's latest quarterly earnings statement does not break out revenue for Azure specifically, and it breaks up revenue for its different cloud products into different commercial and licensing categories. One of those categories, the commercial division had cloud services revenue that doubled in the quarter, growing $367 million, mainly from Office 365 commercial sales.

What these numbers demonstrate is that AWS seems to clearly have the lead in generating revenue for its IaaS business. If you look more broadly at the SaaS market, it's a different story though.

Companies like IBM, Microsoft and Google are making strong pushes to compete with AWS in the cloud. Microsoft seems to be adding new partners every few weeks to its cloud. Google is adding new features regularly. And IBM is making strong advancements to its platform too, including a new market place that is out just today. 

With the advancements from other competitors like VMware, and the swath of OpenStack companies coming to the fore, this public cloud IaaS market is only getting more crowded.

The good news is that for end users competition will help to lower prices and increase quality of service. And for the vendors, with the public cloud estimated to be more than a $100 billion industry by 2017, there should be enough money for everyone to go around.  

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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