Earlier this week (both on-stage and on this blog) I commented that “cloud computing is no longer a spectator sport“ and that now, more than ever, there are countless reasons to get excited about what your business can do in the cloud.

Whether you’re looking to dramatically scale, dynamically innovate, or any other combination of superlatives – the cloud is the future of business.

To give you an idea of how far the cloud has come, and to what lengths Microsoft is going to support it, consider these developments:

  • 76% of all enterprise apps now run on the cloud-friendly Windows Server platform.
  • Microsoft recently announced the availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services to make moving apps to the cloud simple.
  • This announcement also featured a commitment to match Amazon Web Services prices.
  • We have also recently announced a new $1 billion investment in Windows Azure datacenters around the world – which includes $100 million in Asia.  Microsoft is also the first multinational public cloud provider to offer public cloud capacity in China (through a strategic partner in mainland China).
  • Windows Azure continues to rapidly grow – reporting YoY revenues up 210%, and a subscriber rate of 1,000 new customers every day.
  • The growth of Hyper-V has now reached 3x of VMware’s growth.
  • Microsoft SQL Server is now the most widely used database in the world (46% market share), and has outgrew Oracle by nearly 2x.
  • In terms of productivity, the cloud-based Office 365 is now the faster growing product in Microsoft’s 38 year history.
  • To further remove barriers to enterprise cloud adoption, Microsoft is now giving more than half a million MSDN subscribers free, year-round access to 3 new development servers to develop and test new apps on Windows Azure (and keep in mind the announcement on Monday during my keynote about how to win an Aston Martin from the MSDN team!).

As we all prepare to head back to our companies and make the most of what we’ve learned from each other at TechEd 2013, I want to conclude with four ideas about where IT teams should seriously consider focusing right away:

  1. Extending the on-premises fabric to meet the cloud.  In other words, use automation and management to create a more resilient fabric in the datacenter, deploy apps to a public cloud, or – better yet – combine these two approaches.
  2. We’ve made it easy for you to tackle big technologies like cloud-integrated storage or software-defined networking.  A unified approach to the datacenter (combined with a rethinking of how you do storage/networking/identity) can make things like multi-tenancy much simpler.
  3. Leverage automation and self-service in order to offer your business an array of options for app deployment that is secure and compliant.
  4. Manage devices where they live.  With tools like Windows Intune you have cloud-based MDM that seamlessly integrates with System Center Configuration Manager.  A great example of this at work are the 35,000 unique customers already using Windows Intune.

With areas of emphasis like these, and the power and scale of a modern datacenter, this is a genuinely limitless opportunity for our industry.