The explosive growth of Microsoft's cloud business, in one chart

Microsoft is about to make a two-year-old dream come true.

The tech giant reported strong earnings on Thursday, with the headline figure being the continued growth of its cloud business. Led by its Azure platform and increasingly popular Office 365 productivity suite, Microsoft’s cloud efforts are now sitting at a $US18.9 billion annual run rate. (Here, “annual run rate” means how much revenue the business would make over the course of a year if it continued at its current pace.)

As this chart from Statista shows, that’s more than double where it was at this point two years ago. But perhaps more notably, it’s very close to fulfilling a promise made in 2015, when CEO Satya Nadella vowed that the company’s cloud business would reach $US20 billion in revenue by the end of its 2018 fiscal year.

At this rate, though, Microsoft should hit that goal, perhaps even sooner than anticipated. The company has come a long way from relying on Windows PC sales.

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