Source: Microsoft

Microsoft's Azure cloud platform leads the future for Redmond now, beating Windows and all of the company's "classic" products as the centerpiece of its growing business. The "cloud," as it is affectionately known, has led to a huge boom in Microsoft's market cap, with some analysts predicting it could lead the company to that fabled $1 trillion dollar mark before Google or Apple.

Microsoft shouts loud and proud that up to 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies are utilizing Azure cloud services over Amazon and other services. That figure includes huge players like Adobe, HP, and Dell, and it powers Microsoft systems like Office 365 and Xbox Live.

Speaking of Xbox, as Microsoft ramps up its Game Pass service and looks to the future of streaming, both across Mixer and the possibility of a Netflix-like cloud game streaming service, I wondered just how far Azure would be able to stretch to provide a quality service. Streaming game services like the now-defunct OnLive and PlayStation's own "Now" service suffer from poor latency between client and service, creating a generally poor experience.

The physical locations of Azure data centers will go some way to improve the latency for these sorts of features, and judging by the spread of Azure across the globe, I'd say Microsoft is better positioned than most to deliver these sorts of systems.

Source: Microsoft

As of April 2018, Azure is available in 140 countries, with well over 40 data centers. Microsoft is in the process of setting up new data centers in the UAE, Germany, and South Africa.

Last year, Microsoft also completed the set up of an undersea cable that connects the US to Europe, in partnership with Facebook. The cables provide speeds several million times faster than what is available in your home, offering priority access to Microsoft's cloud infrastructure across both continents.

This video from 2014 gives you a tour of one of Microsoft's US datacenters.

As the world moves deeper into the cloud, it'll be interesting seeing how far Redmond can spread Azure, particularly in developing nations, and other areas with restricted data infrastructure, especially in an age where cloud privacy and data sovereignty are under the spotlight.

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