Location: Redmond | Employees: 102,000 (worldwide)
43,000 (Puget Sound area)
When Satya Nadella was named CEO of Microsoft last February, the reaction of more than a few people was: “Satya who?” Compared to other candidates for the job, such as Ford’s then-CEO, Alan Mulally, Nadella wasn’t among the most prominent. But the rationale became clearer after one considered Nadella’s role in building Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform and its importance to the tech monolith’s future.
Microsoft has been considered late to the party in many sectors, such as mobile systems and handheld tablets. Not so in cloud computing. It entered on the ground floor in 2010 and represents the prime competition to Amazon Web Services. Azure takes an enterprise-friendly approach that has attracted many businesses, but it can also claim a sizable impact on the consumer side. Microsoft’s Xbox One and recent hit games like Titanfall rely on Azure’s stability and power.
Getting “on the cloud” may eventually become as common sense to companies as getting a website. Azure presents the key to that equation for companies worldwide.
As for Azure’s importance, Nadella says, “Our cloud operating system represents the largest opportunity, given [that] we are working from a position of strength. … We will enable our customers to use our Cloud OS to accelerate their businesses and power all of their data and application needs.”
To that end, Azure’s year-over-year growth, according to Microsoft’s latest earning report, was more than 100 percent.
2nd Watch Inc.
Location: Liberty Lake | Employees: 92
Moving a company’s IT systems to the cloud can be a daunting task, especially when those systems are complex and diversified. 2nd Watch strives to transform that heavy lift into something more featherweight, migrating companies onto cloud services (primarily Amazon Web Services) in a way that minimizes risks and maximizes performance and cost benefits. Based outside Spokane since 2010, the company this summer opened an office in the cloud’s epicenter in Seattle, with plans to double staff in coming years.