​Cloud wars 2018: 6 things we learned in the first half

The most interesting developments in the first half revolved around software-as-a-service as the infrastructure space narrowed. Nevertheless, IoT, AI and machine learning were difference makers.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

With the first half of 2018 coming to a close it's worth revisiting the cloud battle to see how the year is shaping up.

The pecking order outlined in our top cloud providers of 2018 hasn't changed, but there are clearly moving parts worth pondering.

With that take in mind, let's go through the year (so far) in cloud computing.

The field narrows dramatically. Gartner landed with its Magic Quadrant and basically whittled the IaaS market down to a big three in leadership. Not surprisingly, those three were AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, which broke into the leadership quadrant. What was surprising is that Gartner thinks only 6 cloud infrastructure players matter--AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, Alibaba Cloud and Oracle.


IBM expands its footprint. Yes, IBM was rated more of a niche player by Gartner. However, IBM did create 18 new availability zones globally in a move that may enable it to play a bit of catch up. With a focus on hybrid deployments, IBM Cloud occupies a unique space but needs to juice its as-a-service revenue growth to keep pace.

Cutting edge as a service. AWS has made its DeepLens camera available to developers. The move is an interesting test bed for machine learning on edge devices. Also note that AWS also pushed to GA its AR platform dubbed Sumerian.

Developers, developers, developers. Microsoft and Google made their big pitches to developers with Build and I/O, respectively. And cloud was a thread throughout along with AI. Microsoft made it clear that it was an enterprise company focused on commoditizing AI -- via Azure -- and Google also targeted AI heavily while avoiding the privacy flap facing Facebook. IoT is another differentiator for AWS and Azure.

SAP and Oracle hone their cloud pitches and eye Salesforce. Oracle vs. Salesforce is not a new development. Whether it's CRM, HCM or platform, Oracle and Salesforce compete. The battle has been interesting to watch, but now there's another enterprise giant in the mix: SAP. SAP outlined SAP C/4HANA, a CRM suite that's designed to take on Salesforce. Turns out the application layer in the cloud is also interesting.

Workday goes acquisition happy. Workday has historically focused on architectural purity and one code base. Well that's changing. Workday acquired Adaptive Insights and Rallyteam and now the integration -- UX and code -- begins.

The cloud is nicely profitable. It's not exactly a newsflash that AWS accounts for nearly all of Amazon's operating profit, but Microsoft Azure also had a strong quarter. Google talked up Google Cloud, but needs to cough up more data in its quarterly results. IBM's as-a-service revenue also fared well. Toss in software-as-service players like Adobe, Salesforce, Workday and Oracle and there's something to be said for recurring revenue with a dash of lock-in.

ZDNet Monday Morning Opener

The Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. Since we run a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8:00am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6:00pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the US.


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