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Earlier in the year, technology analysts predicted that Microsoft Azure would soon ascend through the cloud computing ranks to challenge Amazon Web Services for supremacy in the space. However, it appears this climb is materializing faster than previously thought, according to new data from Gartner. The technology research firm recently ranked Microsoft Azure near the top of its Magic Quadrant for worldwide Infrastructure-as-a-Service technology, putting the platform just behind AWS, which scored slightly better on execution ability.

This research indicates that Microsoft is poised to increase its presence within the cloud computing industry and maybe gain enough traction to overtake AWS. In fact, the Redmond, Washington-based technology giant’s Intelligent Cloud division has logged impressive financial gains in recent months and appears to be growing twice as fast as its Seattle-centered competitor, CNBC reported. Azure and Microsoft’s other cloud services offerings netted $6.8 billion in revenue during the first quarter of 2017, expanding an astounding 11 percent. Sales for Azure increased 93 percent in March. This and other gains in the division pushed its annualized run rate to more than $15.2 billion, slightly above the Amazon’s mark of $14.6 billion.

Why are so many organizations leaving behind AWS and flocking to Azure? Microsoft is actively encouraging the engineers behind the cloud services platform to innovate as quickly as possible. The recent Magic Quadrant research reveals as much. Gartner has Azure in lockstep with AWS when it comes to visionary product innovation, an arena Amazon’s cloud division once thoroughly dominated. Now, Microsoft is on the leading edge, producing new and exciting cloud computing products that can take the industry to the next level and, ultimately, bolster businesses along the way.

Microsoft Azure is gaining momentum in the marketplace due to recent internal shifts.Microsoft Azure is gaining momentum in the marketplace due to recent internal shifts.

An open-source embrace
Prior to 2014, Microsoft had a rocky history with open-source software. Former CEO Steve Ballmer once deemed the industry-leading open-source operating system Linux a “malignant cancer,” accusing its builders and users of stealing proprietary innovations from Microsoft and other companies with formalized product lines, according to Wired. This sentiment characterized the company’s outlook on the subject until February 2014 when Ballmer left Microsoft and current CEO Satya Nadella took over at the helm. His view on the open-source OS that Ballmer despised?

“Microsoft loves Linux,” he told Wired months after moving into the executive suite.

In the years since, Nadella has backed up that bold assertion, directing Microsoft engineers to produce cloud computing solutions that connect with Linux users and other open-source advocates. Last month, the first product stemming from this change in direction emerged, ZDNet reported. Microsoft debuted Draft, an Azure-based open-source development tool, at CoreOS Fest in San Francisco. The platform allows developers to craft applications via the container-based Kubernetes framework, a product of the open-source software vendor Deis, which Microsoft acquired in April.

In addition to developing products like Draft, the company has engaged the open-source community. In November of last year, Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation, according to an organizational news release. Earlier this month, it signed on as a gold partner at the Cloud Foundry Foundation, a community for open-source cloud development entities, according to ZDNet.

Why has Nadella orchestrated such a sea change? AWS and other cloud competitors have long engaged with open-source advocates. Now, Microsoft is actively building relationships in the community it once shunned and melding its respected product suite with open-source infrastructure. If the latest Gartner data is any indication, this strategy is yielding results.

The serverless revolution
Cloud computing technology evolves daily, as innovators look for ways to further lighten virtual processing loads. Microsoft is at the forefront here, developing new services that bolster efficiency and cut costs. The company’s Azure Functions offering is a good example. This product is one of the first and finest serverless cloud computing products on the market. Solutions such as Functions do in fact rely on servers. However, these systems take the burden off physical processing units and their operating systems, and instead utilize application programming interfaces to automatically carve out space for cloud applications, according to the International Data Group.

This allows developers to build on the API rather than a virtual server and cut costs for cloud services users, as processing power is used only when needed. This innovation presents immense opportunities for businesses and speaks to Microsoft’s will to innovate, a push that has allowed them to capture more market share and move up the cloud computing ranks.

Microsoft Azure is quickly becoming the industry-standard cloud solution for organizations across a variety of sectors. Is your firm prepared to adopt Azure and take its networking infrastructure to the next level? Connect with B2B Technologies. We offer robust Azure implementation and managed services options, as well as Office 365 and SharePoint integration packages. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings.

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