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When it comes to the public cloud, there are three companies at the forefront of everyone’s mind: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google. How do they stack up against each other?

Three Seattle venture capitalists tackled that question during our inaugural GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit last month. Frank Artale of Ignition Partners, S. “Soma” Somasegar of Madrona Venture Group, and Sheila Gulati of Tola Capital attempted to describe the current competitive landscape in the public cloud during a discussion moderated by angel investor Charles Fitzgerald.

As is usually the case with a public discussion in the tech industry, everyone was very polite. And part of the reason is that because all the major players are growing so quickly, it’s hard to say that anyone is really losing.

“When you have such a huge market opportunity, the world has room for more than one player to have a meaningful presence,” Somasegar said.

Nonetheless, their descriptions of each vendor reveals a little bit about how the venture community and their portfolio companies feel about cloud vendors as they make business decisions about where to spend their dollars. Here’s a sampling of their comments, sorted by vendor in order of market share:

Amazon Web Services

Artale: “The folks at AWS can largely be credited with inventing public cloud. They’re really able to bring all forms of flexibility, in terms of instances and cost and variety, faster than anybody else has been really able to do.”

Gulati: AWS operates “with just incredible speed and technical supremacy, and just an insane passion to really bring new services on board.”

Somasegar: “Amazon, by virtue of the first-mover advantage, has got a tremendous presence to date, and they’re going to continue doing that.”

(L to R): Charles Fitzgerald, Platformonomics; Frank Artale, Ignition Partners; Shelia Gulati, Tola Capital; S. "Soma" Somasegar, Madrona Venture Group
(L to R): Charles Fitzgerald, Platformonomics; Frank Artale, Ignition Partners; Shelia Gulati, Tola Capital; S. “Soma” Somasegar, Madrona Venture Group (GeekWire Photo/Kevin Lisota)

Microsoft Azure

Artale: “The Microsoft cloud, defined by its platform-as-a-service, has a very rich set of APIs that are available as part of the service but more than anything else, has a tighter affinity to enterprise computing because of identity and security.”

Gulati: “I always say to people, there are two entities that we don’t want to compete with, one is called (Azure leader Scott) Guthrie, the other is called (AWS CEO Andy) Jassy. The Microsoft Azure progress has been tremendous. They have an incredible link into the business relationships that that company has had for years.”

Somasegar: “Microsoft is coming from a (perspective that’s), ‘Hey, I have the relationship, I have the connection with the enterprise customer, and I want to build on that. And I’m making fast progress with my public cloud.’”

Google Cloud Platform

Artale: “If folks want the ultimate in a cloud that is very specialized for something like high-performance computing, Google tends to do well.”

Gulati: “Google is not to be counted out in any way. They have an incredible presence from a data and infrastructure (perspective). They’ve contributed in an amazing way to some of the open source projects we see changing things.”

Somasegar: “I’ve been a little underwhelmed at the rate of progress that I’ve seen them make, particularly among enterprise customers. But we can’t count them out, I think they have some fantastic technology, and hopefully they’ll be a more meaningful player in the cloud market in years to come.”

Watch the full video with the venture capitalists at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit above.

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