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Cloud-busting: the disruptive potential impact of AI on computing platforms

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A general euphoria about generative artificial intelligence has gripped Wall Street. But the technology had little to do with the strong business performance reported by most major U.S. tech firms in recent days.

To distinguish the AI ​​winners from the AI ​​losers in the approaching months and years, it is going to be crucial to grasp where the technology is beginning to deliver real business results – and where it shouldn’t be.

:onemustConsider, for instance, the business recovery that the most important cloud computing platforms have experienced this 12 months. Last week, reaccelerating growth within the cloud computing divisions of Microsoft and Google raised hopes that AI would begin to have a noticeable impact. This week, Amazon Web Services, the cloud market leader, created a way of optimism.

However, recent results provide little insight into the extent to which this growth recovery is as a result of a rise in spending on generative AI, how sustainable that spending will prove to be, and the way expensive the brand new AI services will probably be to deploy.

The last two years have seen a drastic decline in cloud growth. Many customers whose cloud bills soared in the course of the pandemic put the brakes on latest spending as they tried to get more for his or her money.

This pause, euphemistically referred to by technology firms as a period of “optimization,” destroyed one in all the industry's best engines of expansion. AWS revenue growth fell from 40 percent at the tip of 2021 to a relative low of 12 percent 18 months later.

The undeniable fact that it has now risen again to 17 percent within the last quarter is an indication that the indigestion brought on by previous cloud spending is basically a thing of the past. According to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy (and former head of cloud), it's a return to the established order ante, when the move to the cloud was driven by a desire to cut back IT costs. With only 15 percent of enterprise IT workloads within the cloud, he believes this trend still has a protracted approach to go.

AI shouldn’t be the essential force here – even though it is definitely becoming an element on the sidelines. Most tellingly, Microsoft's annual revenue from generative AI is now widely estimated at around $4 billion, while Jassy also said it has turn out to be a “multibillion-dollar” business for AWS.

It's unclear how quickly these AI sales will grow or how large the market will probably be. There has been a rush from customers to coach latest AI models and check out out the brand new services that enable them. But until this phase of mass experimentation is over, it's hard to predict how much value the brand new technology will create – or how much customers will probably be willing to pay for it.

While the timing of payout is uncertain, the prices are very real. Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft are on target to make greater than $150 billion in combined investments of their current fiscal years, up greater than $40 billion from last 12 months. These are massive down payments on the promise of an impending technology boom.

Reducing depreciation expense by extending the expected useful lifetime of all this latest data center equipment has somewhat mitigated this huge capital buildup in any respect three firms. Alphabet, for instance, increased its operating profit by nearly $4 billion last 12 months after extending the expected lifespan of its servers and networking equipment to 6 years, spreading the fee of buying latest equipment over an extended period.

Another factor partially offsetting the pain is cloud firms' desire to closely tie their investments to the expected short-term revenues of shoppers lining as much as check out the brand new technology. That explains why Wall Street has taken the cloud firms' recent investment increases in stride.

Another uncertainty is whether or not the generative AI wave will probably be disruptive enough to upset the balance of power within the cloud industry, which has seemed remarkably stable in recent times. With annual revenue of $100 billion, AWS's revenue is probably going double that of Microsoft's Azure cloud platform. Google is further behind.

Customers are understandably cautious about moving their critical data and IT workloads between clouds, and AWS has rushed to expand its AI capabilities. But Microsoft's early lead due to its partnership with OpenAI is a significant component in Azure's current growth rate of 31 percent, nearly double AWS's 17 percent.

This will probably be a protracted race with every probability of reshaping the competitive dynamics between the tech giants.


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