How three companies are taking over web hosting
- 4 months ago
- 4 min read
If you have a website, chances are you are paying a hosting company to provide you with services and technologies to host your websites on the internet. When you use web hosting services, your web host is responsible for providing sufficient space to store all your files and data associated with your website.
Here at Dataprovider.com, we collect information on which company hosts which website and can therefore see which companies are most prominent. As we have been doing this for years, we can also see how the web hosting industry has changed over the years. According to our data, four years ago, GoDaddy hosted around 18% of all websites globally, followed by Amazon with a 5% share and 1&1 Internet SE (now IONOS) with a 4% share. A lot has changed since then (see Figure 1): tech giants Amazon and Google have been increasing their dominance among hosting companies. As of last month, Google hosts 17%, Amazon hosts 14% and Cloudflare hosts 7% of websites globally.
Four years ago, GoDaddy hosted around 18% of all websites globally, followed by Amazon with a 5% share and 1&1 Internet SE (now IONOS) with a 4% share. As of last month, Google hosts 17%, Amazon hosts 14% and Cloudflare hosts 7% of websites globally.
Now, Cloudflare is not a hosting company in the traditional sense. They cache the pages of your website so your website loads faster. We have previously written about how Cloudflare operates and how you can detect the real servers behind Cloudflare here. For the purpose of the present analysis we are limited to what you can see from the ‘outside:’ the front-end of a website. Hence, we include Cloudflare here. Likewise, Amazon and Google also host a lot of databases but this information isn’t considered here.
Amazon AWS was the first giant in cloud computing. It started more or less accidentally and out of a need to combine multiple projects, as Andrew Jassy, Amazon’s Chief of Staff at the time pointed out, “Everyone was building their own resources for an individual project, with no thought to scale or reuse.” Eventually, they solved this first internally using standardization protocols and by offer hosting as a a service. Then, the idea to sell this solution emerged, as a way to monetize on data centers that were not being used at maximum capacity.
Together, Amazon, Google and Cloudflare provide web hosting services to a quarter of websites globally.
However, there are important regional differences. These top three companies host a whopping 38% of websites in North America, 26% in South America, 21% in Oceania, and 15% in Europe and Asia. For a breakdown of the current market share per company and region, see Figure 2. Notably, Amazon has the largest share compared to both Google and Cloudflare in all regions except Oceania (Australia, New Zealand) where Google leads. The fact that the overall share of these US companies is lower in Europe compared to other regions may be due, in part, to the EU GDPR that mandates a higher level of data protection for user data than US legislation. Therefore, businesses that want to adhere to European data privacy regulations should ensure that their data stays within the EU.
Perhaps this comes as no surprise, given that major tech companies have come to dominate various segments in most parts of the world. It is nearly impossible to operate online without using a service of e.g., Apple, Meta, Google, Microsoft or Amazon. While you may think you are aware of when you are using products or services of these companies, when it comes to web hosting, it’s a lot less obvious. But, the majority of digital services, in one way or another, rely on Amazon’s cloud-computing service.
Among the top three hosting companies for .gov government websites, we see Cloudflare (6.7%), Amazon (6.1%) and Microsoft (5.7%).
Also, digital services are often a part of government websites. Looking at some of these, which we identified by making use of the .gov as part of their hostname, we identify around 56,000 websites globally from a range of countries. This includes but isn’t limited to India, USA, China, Vietnam, Brazil and many more. Among the top three hosting companies for these government websites, we see Cloudflare (6.7%), Amazon (6.1%) and Microsoft (5.7%).
Cloudflare has recently won a contract from the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to deliver registry and authoritative domain name system (DNS) support to the .gov top level domain, taking over from Verisign, who has been managing registrations for .gov. While the aim of this deal is to reduce attacks to government pages, this move is not without controversy. Ironically, Cloudflare has also been shown to provide services to several terrorist associations.
Looking back over the past years, Cloudflare together with Amazon and Google are increasing their worldwide share in the web hosting industry, expanding their overall power to control large parts of the web and potentially impeding economic competition.