There’s an arms race going on in the business tech world.
Companies are increasingly renting their tech from cloud computing suppliers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure or IBM’s SoftLayer, and not buying and installing it themselves.
And that means that there’s a land grab going on over customers.
Who’s got the biggest cloud? Hard to tell. All the tech companies claim that they have got game, using whatever metrics they care to share to prove it.
But Amazon just shared one metric that it’s hard to argue with. It now claims to have over 1 million ACTIVE customers for its cloud:
In its fourth quarter earnings announcement, Amazon said:
… with over one million active customers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to grow strongly, with usage growth close to 90% year-over-year for the fourth quarter.
It also explained that this DOES include those who have signed up for free accounts, but DOES NOT include dormant accounts that developers sign up for but never use:
References to AWS customers mean unique AWS customer accounts, which are unique email addresses that are eligible to use AWS services. This includes AWS accounts in the AWS free tier. Multiple users accessing AWS services via one account are counted as a single account. Customers are considered active when they have had AWS usage activity during the preceding one-month period.
Amazon doesn’t report revenue on AWS, it lumps it into its “other” category that also includes things like revenues from its advertising and credit card programs. But next year, we’ll know AWS revenue for sure, as Amazon said it is going to start reporting it as of next quarter.
Currently, however, most analysts believe that most of these revenues do come from AWS.
With that caveat, Amazon reported net “other” revenue of $US5.6 billion, up from $US3.9 billion last year.
That compares to Microsoft’s reported “run rate” of $US5.5 billion in cloud revenues, meaning that Microsoft is on track to bill that much, and that includes software now sold as a cloud service, like Office 365.
Meanwhile, IBM reported that it was on a $US3.5 billion run rate for cloud delivered as a service.
Active users was an interesting thing to disclose, and not something Amazon discussed last year. As we previously reported, Microsoft has been bundling in cloud accounts to its enterprise contracts when customers renew their software licence agreements. It’s a way to get their customers to try Microsoft’s cloud.
But Microsoft won’t discuss how many of those customers are actually taking it up on the offer and using the cloud. Earlier this week, during the quarterly conference call, an analyst asked Microsoft to say exactly how many active cloud accounts it had. CFO Amy Hood deflected the question, talking about the cloud business without revealing that number.
All this to say that it looks like Amazon might still be leading the pack in cloud computing. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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