Back in 2015, Satya Nadella made a promise: Microsoft was going to build a cloud services business with $20 billion in annualized revenue to rival Amazon’s heavy-hitting cloud service, Amazon Web Services.
The original deadline Nadella, the company’s CEO, gave the company was the end of the 2018 fiscal year, but today (Oct. 25) Microsoft reported beating the figure during the first quarter of 2018—nearly a year ahead of schedule. The company’s cloud services brought in $6.9 billion in Q1 2018, part of Microsoft’s total reported revenue of $24.5 billion. Analysts expected $23.6 billion in revenue during the quarter.
Cloud services have played an increasingly important role in what Nadella says is the company’s future: providing “intelligent” services as an AI-first company. A strong cloud business allows Microsoft to serve as a digital backbone for other companies, selling server space to run applications and the use of AI algorithms for tasks like facial recognition and speech detection.