AWS growing so fast its revenue makes it bigger than Cisco or HP

Nobody wants to run their own data centers anymore, says CFO


Amazon.com has released its Q2 2021 earnings, and revealed that revenue from its cloud business Amazon Web Services has jumped 37 per cent to an annualised rate of $59 billion – a figure that takes it past Cisco's annual revenue and puts it within striking distance of Lenovo.

In Thursday's investor earnings call, Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said:

If you look at the last quarter AWS added more revenue quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year than any quarter in our history. We're now a $59 billion annualised run rate business, and that's up from $43 billion at this time last year.

That $59 billion surpasses last reported full-year revenue from both Cisco ($49.3B, FY2020) and HP Inc ($56.6B, FY2020). The figure leaves AWS very close to overtaking Lenovo's 2021 revenue of $60.7 billion.

AWS only commenced operations in 2006, so creating a Cisco-sized business in the 15 years since is quite an achievement.

AWS was already leading the cloud market, but experienced accelerated growth in Q2, three months ended 30 June.

CFO Olsavsky attributed the revenue growth to enterprises, governments, educational and research institutions, as well as startup and digital-native customers. A press release [PDF] released on Thursday detailed a slew of new AWS contracts, ranging from telecom companies to financial services to automotive.

And, as with the rest of Amazon, COVID played a part in AWS's growth. According to Olsavsky:

Disruptive economic events like COVID have caused many people to step back and think about how they want to change strategically. And many have come to the conclusion that they do not want to own and run their own data centers.

Amazon's Q2 2021 total revenue – across AWS, its digital tat bazaar and other activities – was reported at $113.1 billion, up 27 per cent year-on-year. AWS accounted for a $14.809bn chunk of this, itself up 37 per cent.

Group operating profit climbed 31.8 per cent to $7.702bn, of which AWS contributed $4.193bn versus the $3.357bn AWS threw in the pot a year earlier.

The cloud business's operating margin for Q2 was down to 28.3 per cent from Q1's 30.8 per cent. Olsavsky attributed the decline to pressure to cut prices, foreign exchange rates and workforce and infrastructure expansion.

"We are very happy with the numbers," said Olsavsky on the call, adding "We know it's going to bounce around as we invest, but also work very hard to scale our businesses and efficiently run our assets." ®

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