Is public cloud angst an illusion?

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Cloud? Up to a third of Amazon Web Services' customers may be large enterprises.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Despite a lot of reported nervousness about relying on public cloud services for applications and data, there are estimates that at least 30% of Amazon Web Services' customers are large enterprises. This may be a quiet movement.

That's the word from GigaOm's Barb Darrow, who recently spoke with various cloud industry leaders, concluding there is actually far less angst than it appears, with many enterprises quietly deploying many new applications on public cloud providers such as Amazon.

The emphasis here is on "quietly," she observes:

"Some AWS partners said the company prefers to work under the radar in general and that stealth mode hid what they say is an escalated enterprise sales push. AWS has hired sales engineers and others from enterprise-focused companies like HP, SunGard and EMC. 'One of the senior AWS guys told us ‘we like that our competitors don’t think we’re active in the enterprise. When they find out it’ll be too late,’ he said."

Darrow estimates that AWS now pulls in about $2 billion a year (the "other" category in Amazon's income statements). Many other big players are also already in the enterprise public cloud space -- including IBM, RackSpace, HP and Microsoft. It's now a big business. 

Amazon doesn't talk a whole lot of about its enterprise standing, but industry partners provide some clues. Cloudyn CEO Sharon Wagner, whose company helps businesses make best use of AWS, estimates that 30% of its AWS customers are large enterprises.  You’d be surprised just how many companies have already made the move [to AWS]," adds Ken Ziegler, CEO of Logicworks. "It’s not just Netflix."

There are many business technology services organizations can manage and host from their own data centers, and there are many, many others that can be accessed from a growing range of Software-as-a-Service and cloud providers. Enterprises will be relying on both, depending on cost and customer requirements. The key takeaway here is that a service is hosted outside the firewall is no longer a barrier for many -- it's providing far greater choice. And more choice is always a good thing. 

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