Which is not all that bad a place to be in this very dynamic multibillion-dollar industry. Google may have been quick out the gates with its cloud platform, but Microsoft continues to solidify its number two spot.
Not all that long ago, there was Amazon Web Services, and there was everybody else. But the changing landscape means that even the race for the second space is getting less competitive with each passing month, it seems.
As noted in this Bloomberg piece, Azure is expected to gain further strength in 2019, so much so that the Google Cloud Platform will have a tough time catching up.
It may well lose more ground in terms of percentage points, by the time the next year is out.
Which is strange, when one considers the fact that Google was seen as the alternative to Amazon. It even had a two years head start on Microsoft and more experience selling Internet based software, which should have translated very well to success.
But the Redmond based software giant had something else that set it apart — a massive footprint thanks to its enterprise sales distribution network it had built over the decades.
It also excelled at retrofitting older systems to work with its cloud products.
The result being that Microsoft was able to collect $9.5 billion in Azure cloud revenue in 2018, while the comparable Google business net it $1.6 billion.
Next year, the gap is expected to increase, with KeyBanc Capital Markets investment bank forecasting that Azure will be in for $15.1 billion and Google Cloud Platform looking at $3.2 billion. In a market that itself is expected to top $40 billion in 2019.
Most recently, Azure saw a 76% growth from a year earlier, compared to 29% for the Google division.
In a separate KeyBanc survey of chief information officers, 44% of respondents said that they planned to increase their cloud spending with Microsoft in the next six months, versus only 7% for Google.
All these numbers make one thing clear, and that is the fact that Google may have to settle for a bronze.
It still is the provider of choice for certain applications like AI — even above Amazon — with eBay and Twitter opting for Google. It has also pioneered data management and analysis tools for a cloud optimized world.
But like most things in life, all this may not be enough.