Amazon Cloud Storage Experiences Astronomical Growth, Again

Amazon has once again proven that it is a cloud colossus, as the number of objects stored in its Amazon Web Services (AWS) Simple Storage Service (S3) cloud storage service nearly tripled in 2011.

Amazon unveiled the figure on the eve of its fourth quarter earnings call.

According to Amazon, there were 762 billion objects in Amazon S3 when the closing bell rang on 2011. Additionally, the cloud giant revealed that it processes more than 500,000 requests per second for those objects at peak times.

[Related: Amazon Q3 Cloud Revenue Skyrockets ]

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Amazon's 762 billion objects is a small glimpse into Amazon's cloud computing success. While the company typically keeps its cloud figures under wraps, the Seattle-based cloud kingpin occasionally releases a figure to illustrate its cloud prominence.

"This represents year-over-year growth of 192 percent; S3 grew faster last year than it did in any year since it launched in 2006," wrote Amazon cloud evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post about Amazon S3's growth.

Amazon's staggering growth is a major leap from the 2.9 billion objects in 2006. The 762 billion represents more than 3,000 percent growth over five years.

Amazon's S3 object storage growth has been consistent, reaching 14 billion objects by the close of 2007; 40 billion at the end of 2008; 102 billion to close out 2009; and 262 billion by the end of 2010.

Amazon's look at S3's trajectory comes after Amazon shared that its CloudFront content delivery network has grown to more than 20,000 active customers as of the end of November, which was double the number of customers about a year prior and well over four times the number of CloudFront customers in 2009.

Amazon offering up cloud storage and CloudFront figures show that Amazon's AWS cloud push has been a major success for the online retail. And that success has driven some market watchers to estimate that Amazon Web Services could be a $1 billion business this year. A JPMorgan Chase analyst has projected AWS revenue would hit a whopping $2.6 billion by 2015, and UBS estimated that Amazon's cloud revenue would reach $750 million in 2011 and top $2.5 billion in 2014.

Amazon, however, keeps its cloud revenue close to the vest. In its quarterly earnings reports, its AWS cloud offerings fall into the "other" category, which includes revenue not generated by media, electronics or other general merchandise. In the third quarter of 2011, Amazon's other category generated $407 million, a dramatic jump from the $240 million represented by the other category in the third quarter of 2010. That annual increase represents 70 percent growth. And for the nine months that ended September 30, Amazon's other category raked in $1.077 billion, a jump from the $632 million in that same timeframe last year, also more than 70 percent rise.

While Amazon doesn't detail how much of its other category is made up of cloud, industry watchers and cloud analysts estimate that AWS and Amazon's cloud offerings are making up the bulk of Amazon's other category. According to a UBS analyst report from last year, AWS represents more than 60 percent of Amazon's other category. If UBS's math is correct, AWS has generated more than $678 million in revenue in 2011's first three quarters.