Cloud infrastructure spending grew 35% to $41.8B in Q1 2021

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Global cloud services infrastructure spending grew to $41.8 billion in Q1 2021, representing a 35% year-on-year (YoY) rise and 5% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) increase.

The figures, published by research and analytics firm Canalys, follow hot on the heels of the so-called “big three” public cloud companies releasing their quarterly earnings data. Amazon revealed that its AWS cloud unit grew its revenue by 32%, a notably faster pace than many analysts had predicted, while both Microsoft’s “commercial cloud” and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) also reported accelerated growth. However, it’s difficult to compare these figures, given that Microsoft and Google bundle their respective cloud-based software (i.e. Office and Google Workspace) in alongside their server infrastructure for their quarterly earnings reports.

Canalys defines “cloud infrastructure services” as companies that provide both infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service. While it excludes direct software-as-a-service (SaaS) expenditure, it does include revenue generated from the infrastructure services that are used to operate them.

At any rate, AWS still leads the pack in terms of public cloud infrastructure services spend at 32%, followed by Microsoft’s Azure at 19% and Google Cloud at 7%.

It’s worth noting that Q1 2021 was the first time that cloud infrastructure services spending passed the $40 billion mark in a given quarter, with real-term spending growing by nearly $11 billion compared to the same period last year. The main driving force at play here, similar to every quarter over the past year, has been the rapid digital transformation that has enveloped every industry during the pandemic, from construction through to local offline eateries. Moreover, remote work has played a major role in driving demand for services spanning the cloud communication and collaboration space.

Last week, Gartner predicted that public cloud spending was on course to reach $332 billion in 2021, up 23.1% on last year’s $270 billion.


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