Cloud Hyperscaler Growth Will Continue into the Foreseeable Future

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All growth must end eventually. But it is a brave person who will predict the end of growth for the public cloud hyperscalers. The hyperscaler cloud revenues have been growing at between 25-60% the past few years (off very different bases – and often including and counting different revenue streams). Even the current softening of economic spend we are seeing across many economies is only causing a slight slowdown. 

Cloud Revenue Patterns of Major Hyperscalers

Looking forward, we expect growth in public cloud infrastructure and platform spend to continue to decline in 2024, but to accelerate in 2025 and 2026 as businesses take advantage of new cloud services and capabilities. However, the sheer size of the market means that we will see slower growth going forward – but we forecast 2026 to see the highest revenue growth of any year since public cloud services were founded. 

The factors driving this growth include: 

  • Acceleration of digital intensity. As countries come out of their economic slowdowns and economic activity increases, so too will digital activity. And greater volumes of digital activity will require an increase in the capacity of cloud environments on which the applications and processes are hosted. 
  • Increased use of AI services. Businesses and AI service providers will need access to GPUs – and eventually, specialised AI chipsets – which will see cloud bills increase significantly. The extra data storage to drive the algorithms – and the increase in CPU required to deliver customised or personalised experiences that these algorithms will direct will also drive increased cloud usage. 
  • Further movement of applications from on-premises to cloud. Many organisations – particularly those in the Asia Pacific region – still have the majority of their applications and tech systems sitting in data centre environments. Over the next few years, more of these applications will move to hyperscalers.  
  • Edge applications moving to the cloud. As the public cloud giants improve their edge computing capabilities – in partnership with hardware providers, telcos, and a broader expansion of their own networks – there will be greater opportunity to move edge applications to public cloud environments. 
  • Increasing number of ISVs hosting on these platforms. The move from on-premise to cloud will drive some growth in hyperscaler revenues and activities – but the ISVs born in the cloud will also drive significant growth. SaaS and PaaS are typically seeing growth above the rates of IaaS – but are also drivers of the growth of cloud infrastructure services. 
  • Improving cloud marketplaces. Continuing on the topic of ISV partners, as the cloud hyperscalers make it easier and faster to find, buy, and integrate new services from their cloud marketplace, the adoption of cloud infrastructure services will continue to grow.  
  • New cloud services. No one has a crystal ball, and few people know what is being developed by Microsoft, AWS, Google, and the other cloud providers. New services will exist in the next few years that aren’t even being considered today. Perhaps Quantum Computing will start to see real business adoption? But these new services will help to drive growth – even if “legacy” cloud service adoption slows down or services are retired. 
Growth in Public Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Revenue

Hybrid Cloud Will Play an Important Role for Many Businesses 

Growth in hyperscalers doesn’t mean that the hybrid cloud will disappear. Many organisations will hit a natural “ceiling” for their public cloud services. Regulations, proximity, cost, volumes of data, and “gravity” will see some applications remain in data centres. However, businesses will want to manage, secure, transform, and modernise these applications at the same rate and use the same tools as their public cloud environments. Therefore, hybrid and private cloud will remain important elements of the overall cloud market. Their success will be the ability to integrate with and support public cloud environments.  

The future of cloud is big – but like all infrastructure and platforms, they are not a goal in themselves. It is what cloud is and will further enable businesses and customers which is exciting. As the rates of digitisation and digital intensity increase, the opportunities for the cloud infrastructure and platform providers will blossom. Sometimes they will be the driver of the growth, and other times they will just be supporting actors. But either way, in 2026 – 20 years after the birth of AWS – the growth in cloud services will be bigger than ever. 

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Microsoft Focuses on Building “Vertical Cloud” Capabilities

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Microsoft introduced a second Vertical Cloud offering, last week – this time turning the focus on Retail, after having launched Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare in October 2020.

The Microsoft Cloud for Retail aims to offer integrated and intelligent capabilities to retailers and brands to improve their end-to-end customer journey. It brings industry-specific capabilities to the Microsoft suite including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 – and is aimed at the growing need for “intelligent retail’. Microsoft’s partner ecosystem will also be involved in the new platform to address challenges in the sector and future proof the retail evolution.

In The Top 5 Retail & eCommerce Trends for 2021, Ecosystm notes that while retailers will focus on the shift in customer expectations, a mere focus on customer experience will not be enough this year. From the customer experience angle, they will strongly focus on omnichannel, catering to ‘glocal’ consumption, using location-based services, and improving both their onsite and online customer experience. They will also have to work on their supply chain and pricing capabilities, as distribution woes continue. These trends are seeing a deeper need for transformational technologies and leading cloud providers are introducing solutions targeted at the industry. Google has introduced its cloud retail solutions aiming to help retailers get more from data. Similarly, AWS has cloud offerings for the retail industry leveraging its retail domain experience and cloud deployment services.

Ecosystm Comments

Alan Hesketh, Principal Advisor, Ecosystm

Global cloud vendors continue to “move up the stack” to provide more of the technology landscape for organisations. The focus of these tech giants is on adding unique value to customers by tailoring the combination of the different cloud services they can provide to specific industries. Providing the full-stack will mean higher customer retention rates – as the implementation time should be lower than traditional on-premises implementations. Microsoft has a diverse range of capabilities. Having a software company and implementation partner that can deliver the full stack of technology and business processes should improve the time to value for organisations.

But I see three key difficulties in implementing systems such as these:

  • People adapting effectively to use the new processes
  • Migrating enough high-quality data to leverage the new capabilities
  • Integrating the new capabilities into an organisation’s existing landscape.

This is why it is likely that initial use will come from Microsoft’s existing Retail customers as they expand the range of services they use. New adopters of these Microsoft solutions will find that much of the complexity and cost of implementing a new business solution will remain.

However, these value-added cloud services open access to smaller organisations. If Microsoft is able to work with their partners to simplify the implementation of these capabilities, it will allow smaller organisations to access these complex capabilities affordably.

Sash Mukherjee, Principal Analyst, Ecosystm

The Ecosystm Digital Priorities in the New Normal Study aims to determine how optimistic industries are about successfully negotiating these uncertain times (Figure 1). The industries that are rated the most optimistic fall into two clear categories. In the first category, there are industries, such as Healthcare that had to transform urgently – mostly in an unplanned manner. This has led to a greater appetite for change and optimism in these industries. Then there are industries, such as Retail, that had some time to re-focus their technology roadmap when the crisis hit. These industries have a strong customer focus and had started their digital journeys before the pandemic.

Ecosystm Industry Optimism Index

Microsoft’s industry focus appears to be spot-on. Their first two vertical clouds target enterprises that have had to – and will continue to – pivot. The ‘modular’ approach taken in the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare offering allows providers to choose the right capability for their organisation – whether it is workflow automation, patient engagement through virtual health, collaboration within care teams or better clinical and operational insights. As healthcare organisations across the world negotiate the challenges of mass vaccination, they may well find themselves leveraging these industry-specific capabilities as they revamp their workflows, processes, and data use.”  


Get to know the right research, insights and technologies for you to be one step ahead in this new world of retail in our top 5 retail trends for 2021 that represent the most significant shifts in 2021

Ecosystm Predicts: The Top 5 Retail & eCommerce Trends for 2021
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