Gartner: Public cloud services to hit $131B by 2017

Trying to assess the size of any or all of the cloud computing market is like tacking Jello to the wall so thank God someone — Gartner(s it) — attempts it.

gartnerlogoIn a new report, the big researcher estimates that the public cloud market overall will grow 18.5 percent, to $131 billion, in 2017 from $111 billion in 2012. Under this broad umbrella term for public cloud services, Gartner includes the usual suspects — Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) a la Amazon(s amzn) and the growing crowd of OpenStack-based public cloud providers.

The public cloud IaaS and file and storage represents the fastest growing part of public cloud services, growing 42.4 percent in 2012 alone to $6.1 billion. With growth accelerating to 47.3 percent, it’s expected to hit $9 billion in 2013. Gartner research director Ed Anderson said that’s happening as more companies go beyond the usual development and test scenarios to more for-real production deployments — a topic we’ll doubtless touch on at GigaOM’s Structure: Data event in New York March 20-21.

Gartner also includes “cloud-based advertising services” as another hot sub-category. I assume this includes such offerings as Akamai’s(s akam) new ad integration service plus, perhaps, SaaS based ad and marketing tools a la crm). I’ve asked Gartner for some clarification on this so stay tuned. Update: Gartner defines Cloud advertising as “processes that support the selection, transaction, and delivery of advertising and ad-related data where content and price are determined at the time of end-user access, usually by an auction mechanism that matches bidders with impressions as they become available.” Relevant vendors include AOL(s aol), Apple(s aapl), AppNexus, Baidu, Facebook(s fb), Google(s goog), Microsoft(s msft), OpenX and Yahoo(s yhoo).

The report also shows geographic differences persisting. According to Anderson:

“Although forecast growth is generally high across all regions, the adoption of cloud services varies significantly by country. Providers should not assume that a generic strategy applied to specific countries or regions of the world will produce the same outcome when applied to other countries, even countries with similar market characteristics … Local economic factors, regulatory issues, the local political climate, the diverse landscape of global and local providers, including noncloud providers, and other country-specific factors ensure a unique marketplace in each country and region.”

North America is the most enthusiastic adopter of public cloud services, with Gartner expecting it to account for 59 percent of all new spending in the overall category from now until 2016. Despite local challenges, Western Europe is projected to remain number 2, with public cloud expected to account for 24 percent of spending in the category. But, as expected, the highest growth rates will be seen in emerging markets in Asia (especially in Indonesia and India), China and Latin America.

So now comes the hard part: Remembering to come back and re-check this prediction in three or four years.

This story was updated at 5:05 a.m. PDT to include Gartner’s definition of cloud-based advertising services.