It looks like the whole cloud computing thing is going to work out well for Amazon.
Amazon Web Services reported quarterly revenue of $5.1 billion Thursday, a gain of 44 percent compared to the fourth quarter of last year. Total revenue for 2017 was $17.4 billion, a 43 percent jump over its total in 2016.
Operating income also increased, helping once again to bolster the profitability of its sprawling retailing parent. AWS took in $1.3 billion in operating income during the quarter, while Amazon as a whole reported operating income of $2.1 billion.
AWS revenue is now on a $20-billion-a-year pace, said CFO Brian Olsavsky on a conference call Thursday after the release of the results. That’s up from the $18-billion-a-year pace it was on when it reported earnings last quarter.
Despite strong competition from Microsoft and others in 2017, AWS managed to maintain a growth pace of around 45 percent over the course of the year. None of its competitors break out their infrastructure cloud revenue, so it’s hard to make proper comparisons, but it’s unlikely based on these results that AWS ceded any market share during the fourth quarter.
Olsavsky downplayed the notion that Amazon should consider spinning out AWS as a separate company, which makes sense on some levels and would be a big challenge on others. As did CEO Andy Jassy in November, he argued that the two organizations — which do operate with some degree of separation — get more out of being together than they would being apart.