Report: Cloud capex bulletproof to COVID-19 in Q1

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Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google continue dominate cloud market share in the first quarter, according to Synergy Research Group. (Microsoft)

While the rest of the telecom sector comes to grips with the impact of COVID-19, cloud spending remained robust in Q1. According to a Friday report by Synergy Research Group (SRG), first quarter spending on cloud infrastructure services reached $29 billion, which marked a 37% increase over the same quarter last year.

SRG said the Q1 spending fell in line with the expected market growth, and showed no meaningful impact due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, SRG said anecdotal evidence pointed to COVID-19 creating a market tailwind as more enterprises pushed their workloads into the cloud in Q1.

The coronavirus pandemic delivered a blow to Amazon's overall Q1 earnings on Thursday, which led to its announcement that it would spend all of its second quarter revenue (about $4 billion) to keep its customers and employees safe. In the first quarter, Amazon Web Services' revenue climbed 32% to $10.2 billion.

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In Alphabet's earnings call earlier this week, Google Cloud, which includes Google Cloud Project (GCP) and G-Suite, generated $2.78 billion in revenue in the first quarter, which marked a 52% increase over the same quarter a year ago.

On Wednesday, Microsoft said on its Q1 earnings call that its intelligent cloud sector, which includes Microsoft Azure, saw its revenue increase by 27% over the same quarter a year ago to $12.8 billion.

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Amazon still holds a hefty lead in the cloud space, according to SRG, with a worldwide market share of 32% while Microsoft was second with 18%. Growth at Microsoft outpaced the overall market by more than 20 percentage points and its market share has increased by almost 3 percentage points in the last four quarters.

"While COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on communities and economies around the world, indications are that it is having a mildly positive impact on the cloud infrastructure services market,” said John Dinsdale, a chief analyst at Synergy Research Group, in a statement. “For sure the pandemic is causing some issues for cloud providers, but in uncertain times the public cloud is providing flexibility and a safe haven for enterprises that are struggling to maintain normal operations. Cloud provider revenues continue to grow at truly impressive rates, with AWS and Azure in aggregate now having an annual revenue run rate of well over $60 billion.”

After the top-two, Google, Alibaba and Tencent are substantially outpacing overall market growth and are also gaining market share. SRG said all three saw revenues increase by 45% or more year-on-year. Four other cloud providers—IBM, Salesforce, Oracle and Rackspace—have substantial market share but SRG said all four continued to be niche players.

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