Industry is quick to spread the cloud gospel, highlighting the benefits of a technology built on flexibility.
Infrastructure constraints? In the cloud, limitations are someone else's problem. It's left for the hyperscale vendors willing to invest billions in data center infrastructure in the name of uptime and low latency.
Businesses are eager for services that will free them the eternal technology refresh cycle.
And why not? Once hardware investments are shifted to service-based delivery models, companies can expect more powerful technology no longer limited by physical constraints.
As the decade comes to a close, it's worth looking back on how far the cloud has come and how companies are using it. Here are five charts that show the power of the cloud — and where it could go from here.
#1: The cloud pioneer
Founded in 2005, there was initially little hint at what Amazon Web Services would become. In 2015, AWS reached $10 billion in annual sales. It was also the first year the company split its financials, creating three reportable segments: North America, International and AWS.
The shift provided more insight into cloud performance for AWS and it turns out, it was printing money. Since the financials were split, AWS has earned a higher operating income than North America and brought in $25.7 billion in net sales in 2018.
One thing to note: the North America segment does bring in more net sales by a large margin. In 2018, the segment reported net sales of $141 billion, compared to AWS' $26 billion.
(You can read more about Amazon's business, from marketing to AWS here.)
#2: AWS trumps competitors — still
It is well known AWS owns the public cloud market. Its next closest competitor, Microsoft, has less than one-third the market share.
Over the years, shifting cloud portfolios have edged out providers. IBM is a blip on the cloud radar, accounting for 1.8% of the IaaS public cloud market share according to Gartner. Rackspace no longer registers outside the "others" category; in 2016, it had 2.2% of the market share.
The ranking of the hyperscalers is set in the U.S., dominated by AWS, Microsoft and Google — Alibaba's principal market is overseas.
Though it's a slow loss, AWS's share is slipping as the other providers mature. This "erosion" will see Microsoft eat more market share in 2019 and Google continue its incremental growth. Key is for the leading cloud providers to increase how much cloud their customers use.
Microsoft has an advantage, because of how many customers already use its suite of business applications. Spinning those customers into infrastructure adoption is a quick pivot.
#3: Big money awaits in the cloud
By 2022, Gartner projects the IaaS market will almost double, when compared to 2019 — and that's only a portion of the possible public cloud revenues.
When accounting for cloud business process services (BPaaS), PaaS, SaaS, IaaS and management and security services, the market is set to hit $214.3 billion in 2019, according to Gartner's forecasts.
Forrester estimates just one-fifth of enterprise application workloads in the cloud leaving huge potential for individual businesses to increase spending as they modernize applications stacks.
It's a tale of revenue potential for vendors and increases costs for customers, all in the name of agility and leaving legacy infrastructure behind.
#4: Companies favor cloud flexibility
Cloud technology is ubiquitous and unavoidable. Temptation to migrate comes from the flexibility and portability offered by cloud computing.
Across 786 survey respondents, 94% use some type of cloud, according to the RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud report from Flexera.
But the type of cloud used is hugely impactful to how the vendors operate. Companies are leaning toward hybrid cloud and a combination of public and private cloud. The trend pushes into a multicloud era, which demands interoperability from vendors.
Industry is after flexibility as with 45% of respondents prioritizing hybrid or public/private combo cloud strategies, according to the report. It's a shift from strategies only focusing on public or private cloud.
#5: Growth is slowing
When the cloud wars began in earnest in the 2014-2015 time frame, providers would pull in triple digit growth rates, largely thanks to new business. But as the technology becomes more pervasive, growth rates as a whole are slipping.
As a whole, cloud revenues are still growing in the public cloud. The public cloud market — including infrastructure, platform and application services — is expected to reach $411 billion by 2022, according to Forrester.
But the rate too will slow, from the 30% growth rates seen recently to 15% by 2022.
The strategy for providers becomes land and expand. Once a company adopts part of the cloud, vendors will work to increase how many services it uses. And potentially work to expand business across a company.