Tech investors looking for stable investments right now will be hardpressed to find a company that hasn't seen their share price effected by the current pandemic. But despite the uncertainty surrounding the stock market and the economy, there are still companies that have fantastic long-term potential.
It's hard to find a large tech company that's executed its cloud computing strategy as well as Microsoft. Microsoft has not only transitioned its popular Office apps to the cloud, but it's built out entirely new cloud products over the past few years that are snatching up a large share of the market as well.
The best example of this is the company's Azure cloud computing infrastructure service. Azure, which competes directly with Amazon Web Services (AWS), accounts for 18% of the public cloud market, up from 13% three years ago. Those market share gains have come at Amazon's expense and have shown investors that even after 46 years, Microsoft is still as innovative as ever.
Azure's sales grew by 59% in the most recent quarter and Microsoft's broader Commercial Cloud sales (which include its cloud-based Microsoft 365 subscriptions) jumped 39% year over year to $13.3 billion.
What's great about Microsoft's cloud computing strength is that there's plenty of room for the company to expand in the market. The public cloud market is worth about $266 billion right now and will grow to $355 billion by 2022. With Microsoft's long list of cloud-based services and newer cloud products like Teams (a Slack competitor) continuing to gain steam, Microsoft's cloud opportunity is just getting started.
If you're looking for the leader in the cloud computing market, look no further than Amazon. The company's AWS holds a very impressive 33% of the market right now. While Microsoft has made some gains on Amazon's cloud business over the past few years, it's hard to imagine Amazon being overtaken in this space any time soon.
Even during the pandemic, the company's cloud business has expanded. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in the company's first-quarter press release last week, "The current crisis is demonstrating the adaptability and durability of Amazon's business as never before." AWS revenue surged 33% in the first quarter and, even more impressive, Amazon's AWS continues to be the company's most profitable business.
AWS' first-quarter operating income was $3.1 billion, which was a 38% increase from the year-ago quarter and far outpaced the company's e-commerce operating income from its North American segment, which was $1.3 billion.
Amazon's existence isn't as dependent on cloud computing as some of its other competitors, but that hasn't stopped Amazon from staying focused on growing its lucrative AWS business and dominating the space. As such, Amazon is as close to a sure bet in the cloud computing market as you can get.
Alphabet is increasingly looking to cloud computing as a bigger part of its future and the company's Google Cloud Platform (GCP) already has about 8% of the public cloud market right now. That's far behind Amazon and Microsoft, but investors shouldn't count Alphabet out of this race just yet.
Sales from Alphabet's broad Google Cloud business, which includes its GCP and its G Suite products, spiked 52% in the most recent quarter to $2.8 billion. That figure may not seem like much compared to Alphabet's competitors, but the company indicated on its first-quarter earnings call last week that it's more committed to the cloud than ever before. "Cloud and productivity software for businesses of all sizes is a deep area of investment," Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said.
Alphabet already boasts a large and growing number of large companies that are using its cloud computing services and products, including Shopify, Vodafone, and AT&T, and Alphabet now has more than 6 million paying G Suite customers.
With cloud computing being one of the company's brightest spots in the most recent quarter, and companies needing more cloud-based services than ever before, investors can expect Alphabet to be even more focused on boosting its cloud products in the coming years.
Cloud computing is far more than a trend
Cloud computing was already a fast-growing market before COVID-19 arrived, but the coronavirus pandemic has shown many companies -- both large and small -- that having reliable, cloud-based software and services is critical. With so many people in the U.S. and abroad working and communicating from home, there's little excuse for anyone to shun the cloud services the above companies offer. And with demand surging for these services, you can bet that Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet will be fighting even harder to gain an advantage as this market expands.