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Amazon Seeds Its Clouds

By Anders Bylund - Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 8:05PM

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It will start raining cash in a little while.

The flower said "I wish I was a tree"
The tree said "I wish that I could be
A different kind of tree"
The cat wished that it was a bee
 -- From Tree Hugger by Antsy Pants

I think that (NASDAQ:AMZN) really wants to be Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and IBM (NYSE:IBM), rolled into one.

Change is good and Amazon's Web Services platform is getting better by leaps and bounds. The latest new trick in the bag is the opportunity to share public databases between applications cooked up by different people or companies. For starters, the service comes loaded with U.S. Census data from 1980 onwards, maps of the human genome, and chemistry information from Indiana University. Developers can use these massive information troves for free, which will be a tremendous boon to students, researchers, and businesses everywhere.

And it's also exactly the kind of thing you might expect Google to release first, whose mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." But that's precisely what Amazon is doing here, with a computing infrastructure service behind it that has Big Blue playing catch-up. We're talking about a huge corporate vision here.

This is why I think that the likes of IBM, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Google have more to fear from Amazon than its traditional e-retailing rivals like Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) or (NASDAQ:OSTK) do. Sure, the e-commerce side of Amazon's business is chugging along just fine, but it's just another retailer in a massive sea of competitors. When it comes to cloud computing, Amazon is proving to be a first-mover that keeps adding compelling features. I'm reminded of virtualization specialist VMware (NYSE:VMW) more than anything else.

Right now, the Web services are a trivial part of Amazon's business. The company doesn't report it as a separate segment, and rarely even mentions these products in its quarterly earnings calls. But I think this will change, and fast. The low-cost, high-efficiency nature of this platform makes it ideal for disaster-stricken businesses looking to run their IT infrastructure on the cheap, so Amazon's timing couldn't be better. I fully expect these products to start producing meaningful amounts of revenue in the next year or two.

Tut-tut, it looks like rain.

Further Foolishness:

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. VMware and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You may recognize that song lyric from hit movie "Juno." You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

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Stocks Mentioned, Inc. Stock Quote, Inc.
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BKS, Inc. Stock Quote, Inc.
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