Amazon seems rather inspired by its name. Amazonian, in popular culture, connotes aggressive, large, and also nurturing towards its ilk. And what could be better nurtured than its cloud infrastructure offering, Amazon Web Services (AWS)? AWS, in itself, could rank as the fifth largest software company in the world after Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP. That’s no small feat.

The original IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) solution, AWS revolutionised the way companies thought about computing infrastructure and the economics associated with it. Earlier, companies needed millions of dollars to set up servers of their own to deliver their services online. The introduction of AWS afforded them the luxury of “renting” computing infrastructure on demand by paying just hundreds of dollars a month. Since 2011, in India, too, AWS has been a default choice for companies, even before it formally entered the region in 2016.

The same is the case with many Indian startups who more than validate AWS’ presence in India. Nearly a dozen growing tech startups, ranging in age from two to 12 years, identified AWS as the cloud they use to host their data infrastructure. These vary from matrimony service companies to payment gateway companies to even electric scooter companies. The whole gamut. And why not. It helps firms build and launch products faster by using the cloud. It is also about 60% cheaper than if they handled data on their own.

But the rose-tint is wearing off. More and more startups are ditching AWS. Unicorns such as Ola, Hike, InMobi, and Flipkart have staged an exit. And not just them. Lingerie startups Clovia and Pretty Secrets, event ticketing company Explara, online meat retailer Brown Apron, and ad tech company Rappier have all moved out.

These businesses mark the very first wave of AWS customers moving away from the service. And Microsoft’s cloud offering, Azure and Google’s Google Cloud Platform are waiting in the wings to profit from AWS’ loss.

AWS’ India hiccups don’t stop here. Even first-time adopters of cloud are treading light on AWS. “We looked at both AWS and Azure, but went with Azure. For one, Azure got back to me a half hour after I emailed them, and AWS after a month,” says the co-founder of a B2B marketplace company with about Rs 2 crore in revenue, who didn’t want to publicly comment on this.

Even though AWS’ revenue is growing multifold, its market share in India has not kept up. An analyst from an international research agency said AWS’ market share dipped marginally between 2016 and 2017. This was a first. The firm refused to share any further numbers and didn’t want to be named. Research agencies IDC and Gartner, while claiming that they do track market share numbers for India, declined to share them; Forrester said it does not track market share for India.


Arundhati Ramanathan

Arundhati is Bengaluru-based. She is interested in how people use money in the digital age and how new economies will take shape based on that interaction. She has spent over 10 years reporting and writing on various subjects. Previous stints were at Mint, Outlook Business and Reuters.

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