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Global cloud services infrastructure spending grew to $41.8 billion in Q1 2021, 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 “big three” public cloud companies releasing their quarterly earnings data. Amazon revealed that its AWS cloud unit grew 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) alongside their server infrastructure for 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 used to operate them.

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

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It’s worth noting that Q1 2021 was the first time 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 in Q1, much like every quarter over the past year, has been the pandemic-driven rapid digital transformation enveloping industries from construction to local offline eateries. Moreover, remote work has played a major role in accelerating demand for services across the cloud communication and collaboration space.

Last week, Gartner predicted 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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