Amazon’s Cloud Is The Fastest Growing Software Business In History

No one doubts anymore that Amazon Web Services is a big deal. But few appreciate just how unprecedented its growth has been. In fact, no other software business in history has grown as fast past the billion-dollar mark as AWS, as Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance points out

See also: Amazon’s Cloud Spends Less Than Its Rivals But Outpaces Them In Adoption

Such growth is particularly astounding given the doubts Amazon has had to overcome relative to security, performance and more. Today those concerns seem puny compared to the overarching convenience AWS provides developers.

Just How Big Is Amazon Web Services?

Rumors have swirled for years about AWS growth. Pacific Crest Securities now believes AWS will approach $5 billion in revenue in 2014, and top $6.7 billion in 2015.

That’s big, obviously, but the growth is even more impressive: Pacific Crest expects AWS revenue to increase 58% this year to nearly $5 billion from $3.1 billion in 2013, up from just $1.9 billion in 2012. For those doing the math at home, this means AWS revenue is doubling every two years.

That’s huge.

It’s also much faster than other explosive software businesses have managed. (I tend to discount the Google line below since its primary business is advertising, not software; your mileage may vary.)

As Gartner has pointed out, this translates into 5X the utilized compute capacity of its next 15 largest competitors. While that multiple may have changed a bit since Gartner analyst Lydia Leong calculated it in 2013, what with Microsoft’s Azure growth and Google’s technical and pricing challenges

But AWS remains the pillar of cloud size and growth.

What Makes AWS Tick?

We’ve rehearsed the reasons before. While competitors like Microsoft try to paint AWS as a complex beast that is unwieldy and difficult to use, the reality is that AWS remains the developer’s preferred option for “getting stuff done.” Companies worry this results in them having less control.

They’re right. But that’s the point.

As Forrester has outlined, getting things done fast—regardless of enterprise concerns over control—is the top reason developers and their businesses turn to the cloud in the first place:

While this originally meant that developers turned to AWS mostly for dev and test workloads, Pacific Crest analyst Brent Bracelin notes that “2014 is shaping up to be a turning point for cloud adoption in the enterprise, moving beyond new application test and development to more critical workloads.”

For those who think this only applies to small companies—sorry, the facts say otherwise. As just one example among many, I recently heard a senior IT executive at a Fortune 50 bank talk about how its traditional systems—while great for running the bank as is—were failing to help the bank innovate. He has therefore embraced cloud as a way to drive a closer alignment between development and operations and to accelerate the speed of application development.

We’re going to see this happen again and again and again, especially given the complexity of running applications at serious scale, as Box has discovered.

AWS isn’t exploding because of some fluke. It’s booming to the tune of $5 billion precisely because it delivers superior convenience to developers and the organizations smart enough to support them.

Image by Flickr user Hammerin Man, CC 2.0

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