Top Ten Cloud Narratives Unveiled in 2023

Over the past year, the hyperscale cloud giants, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft, have faced challenges with their financial results, deviating from the usual double-digit growth rates. The slowdown has been attributed to enterprise customers aiming to reduce costs and optimize their existing cloud resources rather than investing in additional ones. While some companies have resorted to job cuts, others, like Google Cloud, have focused on cost-cutting measures and expanding into new areas. Additionally, there has been a notable investigation by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into the operations of Amazon and Microsoft, accusing them of anti-competitive behavior, which is likely to have a lasting impact beyond 2023. This article presents Computer Weekly’s top 10 cloud stories of the year.

At the beginning of 2023, The Uptime Institute predicted that cloud migrations would slow down due to economic concerns and the failure of some enterprises to achieve expected cost savings and performance gains. This prediction was soon proven correct when AWS announced a slowdown in its annual growth rate, citing customer spending cutbacks. This led to job cuts and a hiring freeze at AWS. In addition, Computer Weekly reported that AWS was falling behind its competitors in sustainability efforts, with claims of executive departures and a lack of detailed emissions data for customers.

In 2023, various cloud companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, emphasized their commitment to generative artificial intelligence and highlighted use cases and investments in this area.

The UK government faced criticism for prolonging the 13th iteration of the SME-focused G-Cloud procurement framework, making it commercially unviable for small businesses. There were also concerns about the accessibility of the government’s Cloud Compute framework for smaller suppliers.

To make its hyperscale cloud-heavy Cloud Compute framework more accessible, the government added a Lot that allowed public sector buyers to choose between purchasing services directly from a hyperscaler or through a reseller partner. However, Microsoft decided not to allow its resellers to participate, causing disappointment among its partners and limiting public sector buyers to purchasing services directly from Microsoft.

The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, recommended that the CMA investigate anti-competitive behaviors by Microsoft and Amazon in the cloud market. Despite objections from both companies, the CMA launched an anti-trust probe focusing on areas such as committed spend discounts.

During the CMA investigation, concerns were raised about a potential conflict of interest, as it was revealed that the Authority had benefitted from preferential pricing on AWS products and services.

While Microsoft and AWS faced increased scrutiny, Google made efforts to increase its market share in the public cloud sector by establishing a business division specifically targeting public sector IT buyers.

The Home Office was identified as a beneficiary of AWS’s preferential pricing deals, and in December 2023, a new contract between the Home Office and AWS raised questions about procurement processes and contract contents.

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