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AWS talks up Q4 increase in large customer wins as global market share drops

Amazon Web Services clocked up double-digit revenue growth during the final quarter of 2023, but analyst figures show the company is losing market share to Microsoft

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is still feeling the effects of many of its customers embarking on cloud cost optimisation strategies, but said the pace of new customers joining its ranks is accelerating.

The public cloud giant has posted its fourth quarter and full-year results, which revealed the firm has seen its revenue increase on a year-on-year basis by 13% for both its quarterly and 12-month reporting periods.

For the three months to 31 December 2023, the company made $24.2bn in revenue and an operating profit of $7.2bn, which was up from $5.2bn during Q4 2020.

Where its full-year results are concerned, the company reported a revenue of $90.8bn and an operating profit of $24.6bn, which is an increase on the $22.8bn it made during its 2022 financial year.

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, the company’s results over the past few quarters have been affected by a shift in customer spending strategies, whereby users of its technologies have sought to optimise their existing cloud estates rather than seek to buy more capacity from AWS.

This trend has previously been cited as one of the reasons why the company’s annual revenue growth rate has seemingly slowed, although the previous quarter saw the firm report year-on-year revenue growth of 12%, which is one percentage point less than this time around.

During a conference call with analysts, transcribed by financial blogging site Seeking Alpha, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the company was still grappling with the impact of enterprises trying to curb their cloud spend, but the number and pace of larger customer deals the firm is signing has accelerated of late. “Our customer pipeline remains strong, as existing customers are renewing larger commitments over longer periods and migrations are growing,” he said.

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Evidence of that trend can be seen in the recent run of contract renewals central government departments have embarked on with AWS, which are – in some cases – up to four times the value of the previous cloud-hosting deals these entities have had in place with the company.

As revealed by Computer Weekly, AWS secured £894m in UK public sector cloud spend on a single day in late December 2023, after signing three contracts with different central government departments, including the Home Office, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

These deals have all been completed under the terms of the preferential pricing agreement the UK government has in place with AWS, and will run for 36 months.  

Elsewhere, Jassy also talked up the impact he thinks the take-off of Amazon’s ever-growing artificial intelligence (AI) portfolio of products and services is likely to have on its financial performance in the years to come. “Generative AI is and will continue to be an area of pervasive focus and investment across Amazon, primarily because there are few initiatives, if any, that give us the chance to reinvent so many of our customer experiences and processes, and we believe it will ultimately drive tens of billions of dollars of revenue for Amazon over the next several years,” he said.

With Amazon’s figures now in, John Dinsdale from Synergy Research Group said the final quarter of 2023 was a record-breaking one for the global cloud market, with the collective revenue reported by the sector’s biggest players up $5.6bn on the third quarter. This, he said, represents the biggest sequential increase the market has ever reported.

“In percentage terms, the growth rates will decline as the market becomes ever more massive, but even there, the numbers were really strong,” he said. “In Q4, the year-on-year growth rate increased to 20%, up about two percentage points from the growth seen in the previous three quarters. We expected a Q4 uptick in growth rates, but the numbers came in higher than our expectations. Generative AI is clearly one of the main reasons for the strong performance, as the technology is embraced by cloud providers and enterprises alike.”

However, while AWS did achieve double-digit revenue growth during Q4, it also dropped a couple of percentage points in market share, according to Synergy’s data, while its nearest rival, Microsoft, saw its share increase by the same amount.

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