Beancounters at IDC say that public cloud services reached US$45.7 billion last year and will experience a 23 percent compound annual growth rate through 2018.
More than 86 percent of the 2013 total came from cloud software, which encompasses both SaaS (software as a service) applications and PaaS (platform as a service) offerings, with the remaining 14 percent generated by cloud infrastructure.
ERM (enterprise resource management) application software made up $10.8 billion in public cloud revenue last year, followed by CRM (customer relationship management) products with $8.1 billion
Meanwhile Server made $4 billion and collaboration software $3.4 billion, with the remainder of the total spread over security and other markets, IDC said.
The top SaaS vendors are Salesforce.com and ADP followed by Intuit, Oracle and Microsoft.
This means that Oracle’s recent claim to have become the industry’s second-largest SaaS company are probably sales puff.
ADP is an established seller of hosted services for payroll and other human resources functions. It generated more than $11 billion in revenue during its last fiscal year, and in 2011 made a big push into human capital management with Vantage, a cloud-based suite.
Amazon.com first in the PaaS market, with Salesforce.com and Microsoft tied for second place, followed by GXS and Google.
Amazon was also the top of the infrastructure category, followed by Rackspace, IBM, CenturyLink and Microsoft.
Most public cloud services are a in the US which makes up for 68 percent of the overall public cloud market. This figure will fall to 59 percent by 2018 as Western Europe’s take rises from 19 percent to 23 percent and growth picks up in emerging markets, IDC said.
While punters are falling over themselves for cloud software, IDC said that part of the growth is due to the fact that on-premises vendors such as Oracle and SAP have now managed to build out broad SaaS portfolios to offer their customers.
Cloud services account for relatively little of those companies’ overall revenue right now, but that is sure to change over time.