Microsoft Azure secures 64% growth with goal to build 'world's computer'

Microsoft has unveiled its fourth quarter results to almost universal acclaim, with revenue up 12% to $33.7 billion (£26.9bn) and Azure revenue growth up 64%.

The company has been resolutely sticking to a theme on its earnings reports. "Microsoft Cloud drives record fourth quarter results," the release read this time last year. It was "Microsoft Cloud strength powers record first quarter results" three months hence, and for Q2, "Microsoft Cloud strength fuels second quarter results." 

Now, it was simply "Microsoft Cloud powers record fourth quarter results" - and it makes sense as to why. Revenue across its various buckets went up; intelligent cloud, which covers parts of Azure as well as server products and enterprise services, was at $11.4 billion up 19%, while productivity and business processes - focusing predominantly on Office 365 and LinkedIn - was at $11bn and up 14%. 

Speaking to analysts, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company was building Azure as 'the world's computer, addressing customer's real world operational sovereignty and regulatory needs.' Nadella noted the company's presence in Cape Town and Johannesburg, representing the first major move into Africa from a hyperscale cloud provider, as well as increased partnerships with Oracle, Red Hat and VMware.

"Azure is the only cloud with limitless data and analytics capabilities across the customer's entire data estate," said Nadella. "Our differentiated approach, from developer tools and infrastructure, to data and analytics, to AI, is driving growth. The world's leading companies trust Azure for their mission-critical workloads, including more than 95% of the Fortune 500."

Of those, the most recent - announced just yesterday - was AT&T, following a similar deal the telco penned with IBM. The partnership with Oracle, as this publication mused in June, was potentially another one with retail as a focus. Of the three customers cited in the press materials, two were large retailers, in particular Albertsons, whose CIO all-but-said in January that the move to Microsoft was partly down to Amazon's retail presence.

According to guidance released overnight by Synergy Research, Microsoft remains the clear number two in cloud infrastructure services, well behind AWS but significantly ahead of the chasing pack. The company remains the 'very clear' market leader in software as a service, with its growth rate above the market rate in both SaaS and IaaS.

The two cloud infrastructure leaders' competition is soon set to come to a head with the award of the single-vendor JEDI cloud computing contract from the Pentagon expected to be announced next week. 

You can read Microsoft's full results here.

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