Cloud computing is about to hit another big milestone

The amount spent on shared cloud IT infrastructure will overtake spending on traditional IT gear for data centers in 2022 for the first time.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Shutterstock

Spending on cloud services is about to hit another key tipping point, as business customers spent $18.3 billion on cloud computing and storage infrastructure in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022, up 17.2% year over year.

The total includes budgets on shared and dedicated infrastructure. A major driver of growth was spending on shared cloud infrastructure, which made up $12.5 billion (68%) of the total. That sub-category was also up 15.7% compared to Q1 2021, according to tech analyst IDC

With growing demand for shared cloud spending in particular, IDC expects spending on shared cloud infrastructure to overtake non-cloud spending in 2022 -- for the first time. 

IDC has been monitoring relative spending between cloud and non-cloud infrastructure to measure the change in purchasing of traditional data center compute, storage equipment and IT infrastructure in public clouds from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and others such as Digital Ocean. 

SEE: What is cloud computing? Everything you need to know about the cloud explained

The outlook appears solid for non-cloud IT infrastructure providers, but not as rosy as it is for cloud providers. In this quarter, spending on non-cloud infrastructure still grew year over year to $14.8 billion, up 9.8%. It was the fifth consecutive quarter of growth. 

IDC doesn't provide a snapshot of the revenue share between public cloud providers, but analyst Canalys recently reported AWS received 33% of the $53.5 billion spent globally on cloud infrastructure in Q4 2021, followed by 22% to Azure, and 9% to Google Cloud. Other providers took the remaining 36%. 

Spending on cloud infrastructure has accelerated since the pandemic began in March 2020, as businesses accelerated digital transformations. Spending had grown for seven consecutive quarters since Q3 2019, with the exception of a 1.9% year over year decline in Q2 2021. Q2 2020 saw the highest year over year growth of 38.4%. In Q4 2021, spending on cloud infrastructure was up 13.5% in the quarter year on year to $21.1 billion.

Non-cloud spending remains a huge market and is expected to grow for the full year -- albeit at a much slower pace than cloud spending. 

For the full year 2022, IDC forecasts cloud infrastructure spending to grow 22% compared to 2021 and reach $90.2 billion. This is the highest annual growth rate since 2018, it notes. Spending on traditional IT infrastructure is expected to grow 1.8% to $60.7 billion.

Greater purchasing of cloud-delivered infrastructure only explains part of the rise in spending. Other contributing factors include inflation and the gradual recovery of the world's snarled supply chains and logistics networks.      

At a regional level, IDC expects annual growth in cloud infrastructure spending to grow in the 20% to 25% range in Asia Pacific/Japan, China, the US, and Western Europe. Due to Russia's attack on Ukraine, speeding in Central and Eastern Europe is expected to decline 54% in 2022. 

SEE: Why cloud security matters and why you can't ignore it

The analyst expects spending on compute and storage cloud infrastructure to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.5% between 2021 and 2026. It forecasts spending to reach $145.2 billion in 2026, when it will account for 69.7% of total compute and storage infrastructure spend.   

It expects spending on non-cloud infrastructure to grow at 1.2% CAGR, reaching $63.1 billion in 2026.

IDC also looks at spends of cloud service providers, digital service providers, communications service providers, and managed service providers, which account for 55.3% of IT infrastructure spending. This group spent $18.3 billion on computing and storage infrastructure in Q1 2022, up 14.5% year on year. 

Spending by non-service providers rose 12.9% year over year in Q1 2022, which was the highest growth for 14 quarters. 

Spending by service providers on IT infrastructure grew 18.7% over the year to $89.1 billion in 2022.

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