What is the cloud? Everyone’s heard of it. We all use it in some way. But how do you define it?

Many think of “the cloud” as an abstract invisible place up in the sky – but in reality, it is just a type of computing where individuals and devices rely on a third party to manage their data and computer processing through the internet. Instead of all the computer hardware and software sitting on your desktop or somewhere inside your company’s network, this is now provided as a service over the internet.

A practical way to think of it is as a utility like gas or electricity that many companies are taking advantage of. The cloud is a service supplied that is secure, reliable and scalable from a shared data center that you simply plug into.

On-premises IT departments are expensive and usually limiting. Organizations must pay for hardware, software, licensing, electricity and space, as well as the time and staff that is spent protecting and maintaining it all.

The cloud enables organizations to run faster and cheaper than ever before, by paying for the resources when they are consumed and bursting in scale when needed. It’s not only a pay as you go model but pay as your grow. Instead of worrying about maintenance and upkeep, cloud users can spend more time innovating and creating new business opportunities. This is what is driving organizations to cloud platforms like Azure.

What is more, cloud users can relax with the guarantee that their most valuable assets are protected by a global workforce serving over 140 countries with strict compliance and regulation to adhere to. The Microsoft cloud has solutions that are being built in hours not days, applications operating with greater insights, with better security and a global reach.

Whichever industry you’re in, cloud technology is a critical enabler of the next industrial revolution. It’s already changing the way we communicate, live and work by providing the means for businesses to innovate and push further than ever before. There is no doubt that the future is now.

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