Amazon's ambitious global cloud expansion plans

CEO Jassy says AWS will reach into every corner of the globe

Public IaaS cloud providers have been on a dizzying streak of announcing and opening new data centers to power their operations, and according to the CEO of Amazon Web Services Andy Jassy, that’s not expected to slow down any time soon.

“We are not close to being done expanding geographically,” Jassy said at AWS’s San Francisco Summit last week. “I think virtually every tier one country will have an AWS region over time and I think many of the emergent countries will as well.”

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AWS already has 16 regions across the world, with three more in the works in Paris, China and Sweeden. You can check out AWS’s global infrastructure here. There are 196 countries in the world. That means AWS has a lot of room to expand.

AWS isn’t alone in adding cloud regions around the world. Microsoft Azure has 34 regions with announced plans for four additional ones, two in the U.S. and two in France. Google, meanwhile, has seven regions with plans for 10 more.

These numbers are not all apples-to-apples comparisons. AWS, for example, has a structure where each region is made up of at least two Availability Zones (AZs), which allow customers to spread workloads across multiple discrete data centers with their own power supplies. Google also uses that structure, Microsoft does not. So while AWS has only 16 regions – which may seem small compared to Azure’s 34 - AWS has 42 AZs.

The broader point is that all three of these providers are dramatically building up their network of cloud data centers to keep up with the tremendous growth of this market. Gartner estimates that cloud market overall was worth $209 billion in 2016, and will be more than $380 billion by 2020. To keep up with demand, it seems that the big cloud vendors are only going to get bigger.

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