5 Boldest Statements Microsoft Has Made About The Cloud

Head In The Clouds

Microsoft took to its annual partner conference this week, Microsoft Inspire 2018, to share some strong sentiments about its booking cloud platform, Azure, and the tech giant didn't mince words.

Across the board, Microsoft executives highlighted Azure's record growth in consumption and revenue, and praised partners for their hand in helping the hyper-scale platform reach a new level of dominance. Talk about "inspiration."

Here are five bold statements that Microsoft executives, including CEO Satya Nadella (pictured), made during Inspire 2018 about Azure.

Azure: The Fastest-Growing Cloud

Jason Zander, Azure's executive vice president, said that Microsoft had 100 percent year-over-year growth for consumed Azure revenue, which he said was a testament to the partnerships it has in place and the hard work of the channel.

"We have the fastest growth out there of all the cloud providers. That's going to lead to momentum. Not just for us, but for [partners] as well. … "We had 122 percent Azure premium services growth. This really tells me that the cloud wave is in full swing, and we're really trying hard to keep that momentum going."

The Azure Ecosystem Is Growing

Azure now has 54 data center regions -- and recently expanded to its first underwater data center -- though "of course, computing needs will go far beyond the data center," Nadella said during his Inspire keynote.

"Essentially, wherever there is data, compute will migrate to data," he said. "And so we are going and taking Azure to Azure Stack, to Azure IoT Edge, to Azure Sphere."

The Azure Stack hybrid cloud platform has seen "incredible customer demand" since its debut in July 2017, Nadella said during a quarterly earnings call in January. Meanwhile, Azure Sphere — a solution for securing the billions of microcontroller unit (MCU) devices in existence, which Microsoft unveiled in April — is already "being used across a lot of very different customers," Nadella said during his keynote.

The ultimate result is "one ubiquitous, distributed computing fabric," he said. Having all of these pieces "is the biggest unique thing that this ecosystem has as the world gets embedded with computing. Every use case out there is going to be powered by something like this."

Partners Paving The Way To The Cloud

Microsoft netted more than $5 billion in partner sales during its 2018 fiscal year, an impressive feat marking the company's most successful year with the channel, as well as its biggest year for cloud sales, according to Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of Microsoft's One Commercial Partner organization, a new channel model introduced by Microsoft during last year's Inspire.

"We have built over 28,000 solutions, services and applications with [partners] this past fiscal year. We have generated over 3 million leads out to partners, and jointly developed over 100,000 co-sell opportunities," Schuster said. "That's not bad for a first-year start."

Doubling Down On The Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge Strategy

Judson Althoff (pictured), executive vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Commercial Business organization, said during his Inspire keynote that "the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is real -- it's here and it's now." Althoff cited work by solution provider BlueMetal to bring processing, computation and reasoning at the edge for freight railroad operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, leading to major improvements in efficiencies. Ultimately, Althoff said, "the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge will create more opportunity for the Microsoft ecosystem than we have seen in our history."

Nadella echoed the sentiments during his keynote. "As we look forward, the opportunity for us to serve our customers in this new era of the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge is far greater," Nadella said. "I've lived through the client/server, the web, mobile, cloud. But what we're going to see going forward is going to be even more profound."

The "Rush" To The Cloud

"The cloud is our modern-day gold rush, and data is the currency of the cloud," Schuster (pictured) told partners during her keynote Tuesday.

Similar to the gold rush in the West, fortunes were largely made off of the industries and commerce that sprang up around gold mining – not from mining gold alone. The channel has a tremendous revenue opportunity from the infrastructure, managed services and capabilities that partners are building around the cloud today, as well as around the data being stored in the cloud.