2017 was an interesting year the cloud, one that saw both the continued power of Amazon Web Services over the industry and the success of an open-source community project that forced the market leader to follow the herd.
It’s been clear for some time that cloud computing is past the evangelical stage. Once distrusted by anyone other than startups, who didn’t have the budget to go in a different direction, cloud computing strategies are now a requirement for just about every CIO at a large or medium-size company.
This trend rewarded the existing players handsomely in 2017. The entire market is expected to grow 38 percent in 2017, according to IDC, led by Amazon Web Services and its $18 billion cloud infrastructure revenue run-rate. Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM, Alibaba, and a host of others are further behind, but Microsoft and Google are growing at nearly a 100 percent clip as businesses new and old embrace the cloud.
AWS continued to dominate cloud computing in 2017, as it has since it launched its first service more than a decade ago. Despite rapid growth by Microsoft and Google, Amazon’s market share doesn’t seem to have suffered, and it will end the year where it began; as the first name on the list of anyone considering a public cloud infrastructure strategy.
There’s still lots of room for everyone to grow. Cloud holdouts are starting to sign deals with more regularity, perhaps encouraged by the rollout of the first broad-based ad campaign launched by AWS in hopes of getting conservative CIOs on board with the cloud. And the competition amongst cloud vendors to introduce new services for existing customers helps increase the amount of activity on their platforms, which translates to dollars.
Yet the most prominent development of 2017 — the embrace of Kubernetes as a de facto standard for container management — points toward a future in which cloud customers hedge their bets across multiple vendors.
Getting the containers to dance
It was definitely quite the year for the backers of Kubernetes, which the industry appears to have settled on as the go-to method for managing container deployments. Containers allow software organizations to deploy their applications across multiple servers with far less overhead than virtual machines, and they have exploded in popularity as a deployment method for new cloud-native applications.
Kubernetes allows operations teams to schedule and deploy those containers in clusters, managing demand and keeping everything more or less under control. Yet Kubernetes comes with quite a learning curve, and 2017 saw Microsoft and AWS roll out managed Kubernetes services to help their customers get on board. (Google, where Kubernetes was originally developed, has offered such a service for several years.)