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Amazon flies high in the Internet cloud

Amazon is widely known for its prowess as an online retail colossus, but is also thriving when it comes to sending business aloft in the Internet cloud. Cloud computing is among the fashionable and fast-growing technology trends, with familiar services ranging from free email to streaming Netflix television reliant on the concept.

Internet industry giant's have long been plowing cash into massive data centers and green energy sources to power cloud computing that essentially lets them use massive computing power to provide data and services to Internet-linked devices.

While titans including Apple, Google, and Facebook have resources and reasons to build their own data centers, it is more common for companies to spare themselves the cost and trouble by "renting" server space from cloud computing operations such as Amazon Web Services.

Ranks of cloud computing rivals range from specialty firms such as Rackspace to century-old technology veteran IBM, which is working to differentiate its offering by mixing in the smarts of its Jeopardy game winning Watson artificial intelligence.

"There is a huge race now to dominate what is called the public cloud," said Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti.

"It is these giant data centers where any company can run applications and just rent infrastructure."

Amazon "pretty much invented this market," getting into the cloud computing business about a decade ago, according to the analyst.

Amazon has poured money into building data centers, and surprised the market this year with word that its AWS subsidiary had a profit margin that soared during the first nine months of this year while revenue leapt 70 percent to $5.5 billion.

Analysts believe that AWS handles about half the world's public cloud business.

"AWS made the market its own" by the time rivals stepped in to challenge the company, according to Synergy Research Group analyst John Dinsdale.

While building up cloud computing infrastructure, AWS also ramped offerings with capabilities such as database management or help designing applications for the hot mobile market.

"Amazon has moved from just being a threat to people who run their own data centers to threatening any company that makes any type of technology, whether that's Oracle or IBM or HP or Dell," said Bartoletti.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015