The Market for Public Cloud IaaS PaaS

The two market-leading cloud ‘hyperscalers’, Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, are now the go-to providers of infrastructure and platform as a service (IaaS and PaaS). All things being equal, why go elsewhere? Both continue to grow at double-digit rates in revenue terms, and both continue to add new services and features on a weekly – if not daily basis. But of course, all things are not equal, and in reality decisions take into account incumbency, legacy systems and integration with third parties and many other factors. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and IBM Cloud offer their own specialisms, particularly in areas such as AI, microservices and containers, and SaaS vendors such as Workday and Salesforce offering up their platforms as the foundation for new applications that offer easy integration into those CRM and HCM applications, and Oracle and SAP customers may well appreciate the stepwise move to the cloud offered by those vendors. Then there are alliances. VMware cloud runs on top of AWS for example, and Oracle and Microsoft, recently came to an interoperability partnership of their own.

Hover over vendor names to highlight them, or click them to add/remove them from the chart.

Choosing between cloud service providers (CSPs) is not easy, and given the potential for lock-in to one ecosystem or another it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.

The picture is muddied still further by the slow morphing of IaaS into PaaS and PaaS into SaaS. What we have is a continuum, with barebones IaaS at one end and full-service platform including applications at the other.

Which is where Delta comes in. We aim to give you an up-to-date snapshot of the ever-changing cloud panorama to help you to make the right decisions. We do this by asking end users what they like and dislike about the major cloud providers and their services and about the reasons for these preferences.


Research into public cloud IaaS/PaaS is conducted in three stages. First an online survey is sent out to people with some responsibility for their organisation’s use of cloud services in a managerial, decision-making or advisory capacity. We canvass opinions on public cloud offerings from Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Rackspace, Salesforce, SAP, Alibaba and others. This survey is repeated at regular intervals to track shifts in opinion.

The results are then discussed by a focus group formed of IT leaders from a mix of company sizes and sectors, and this exercise is followed by a series of in-depth interviews (IDIs) with senior professionals focused on particular issues uncovered in the previous stages.

Finally, we undertake a programme of desk-based research to ensure we are up to date with market trends, mergers and acquisitions, and new and potentially disruptive technologies coming down the line.

Additionally, we keep the report up-to-date as important news arises.

The cloud marketplace

Growth in public cloud continues apace as organisations move commodity data and applications out of their own data centres and replace hardware-bound applications with cloud-based ones. To maintain market share, the leading cloud platforms are gobbling up competitors and start-ups in key areas like AI. However, the growth of the hyperscalers in the public arena is occurring in tandem with a few other market trends. One is towards data and application portability and the so called ‘multi-cloud’, or best-in-breed, approach to public cloud services; another is the growth of hybrid cloud, which is becoming a strategy rather than an accidental halfway-house.

Global cloud market share

Sizing the cloud IaaS and PaaS market is not easy since vendors use their own definitions and also report their financial results differently. This chart was compiled mainly using figures from Synergy Research and Wikibon.

One of the original cloud drivers was its apparent potential for reducing costs, and certainly some companies can save a great deal by rationalising their operations in the cloud. What’s more, cost savings are an easy story to tell to the board.

However, while some may genuinely be able to cut expenditure by moving data centre operations into the cloud, this is by no means guaranteed and any savings will depend very much on the use case. Dedicated high-performance computing (HPC), for example, is likely to be much more expensive when deployed in the cloud, as an IT leader working in scientific research explained:

“Once we added it all up – licenses, use of infrastructure as a service, storage, RAM, CPU – the cost was about double for the same level of service that we get internally.”

That might be considered a niche case, we don’t all need HPC after all, but cloud is full of price traps that can snare the unwary – such as requiring each user to be licensed, for example. For most organisations any direct savings will be minor, if they are realised at all.

Cloud service providers (CSPs) make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for new customers to come on board, when the time comes to add new services or when technical support is required, costs can rise substantially.

Which are the most important factors when looking at a vendor for public cloud IaaS / PaaS solutions?

Most important factors for an IaaS/PaaS vendor

In the ranking of factors, after running costs come uptime and availability and security credentials. Achieving greater uptime is one of the main drivers for moving services to the cloud, and the fabled always-on, responsive digital business is something that’s only become possible since the arrival of the as-a-service model. But availability is still not a given. Cloud services can and do go down, and one can not necessarily trust the uptime figures published by the vendor. Nor should customers expect compensation concomitant to their losses in most cases, no matter what the SLA might say. Nevertheless, it’s true to say that most organisations would be very hard-pressed to match the capabilities of the cloud providers in terms of uptime and availability.

Security credentials were once a show-stopper for cloud but it’s now generally accepted that cloud is as secure – or insecure – as any other data centre. Concerns over security have been replaced, to some extent, by GDPR. Complaints that cloud vendors did not adequately respond to the regulatory requirements of Europe were quite common, as were those bemoaning a lack of sector-specific expertise in the public cloud service providers.

Many public cloud providers span the globe, but they have had to learn to be local too. An appropriate EU/UK focus was of high importance to our respondents, and an important factor when choosing a partner. It was also seen as an area of weakness in most of the vendors we studied.

Delta provides an interactive means to compare CSPs across pricing, UK/EU focus and many other factors to help you make the right decisions based on your own needs and priorities. Ask about a free trial today.

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