How Microsoft Makes Money: Computing and Cloud Services

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), one of the world’s biggest tech companies, sells personal computing devices, cloud systems and services, software, and other products.1 With products geared toward both consumers and businesses, Microsoft competes in a broad range of industries against companies including Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (MZN), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), and Oracle Corp. (ORCL).

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft sells computing devices, cloud systems and services, software, and other products to consumers and businesses.
  • The company’s intelligent cloud segment is the largest source of profit, as well as the fastest-growing.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had positive impacts on certain aspects of Microsoft’s business, including its cloud business and productivity tools.
  • Microsoft announced in mid-January plans to acquire popular video game company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.

Microsoft’s Financials

Microsoft announced in late January financial results for Q2 of its 2022 fiscal year (FY), the three-month period ended Dec. 31, 2021. Net income rose 21.4% to $18.8 billion. Quarterly revenue expanded 20.1% year-over-year (YOY) to $51.7 billion. Microsoft uses operating income as its profit metric for gauging the performance of its individual business segments. Operating income for the quarter grew 24.3% YOY to $22.2 billion.

Revenue for the fiscal second quarter benefitted from strong growth in Microsoft Cloud and other cloud services.3 Microsoft also noted in its quarterly filings that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on its business operations and financial results, but that some of the effects have lessened. The company said that its commercial and consumer businesses have benefitted from demand for its cloud and productivity tools.

Microsoft’s Business Segments

Microsoft divides its business into three reportable segments, breaking out results by both revenue and operating income: productivity and business processes, intelligent cloud, and more personal computing. These segments are categorized according to both product type and customer demographic. Productivity and business processes, for instance, includes products across multiple platforms and devices relating to productivity and communication. And more personal computing focuses on products designed with end-users, developers, and IT professionals in mind.5

Productivity and business processes

Microsoft’s productivity and business processes segment includes a portfolio of products designed to enhance corporate productivity, communication, and information services. One of its major products is Microsoft’s Office software suite, including both the commercial and consumer divisions. The segment also includes business solutions products such as dynamics, as well as the professional networking site, LinkedIn.5

In Q2 FY 2022, productivity and business processes generated $15.9 billion in revenue, comprising 31% of Microsoft’s total revenue. This amounted to an increase of 19.3% from the year-ago quarter. Operating income for the segment grew 24.4% YOY to $7.7 billion in Q2 FY 2022, accounting for less than 35% of the total.6

Intelligent cloud

The intelligent cloud segment comprises all of Microsoft’s public, private, and hybrid server products as well as cloud services for business. These include Microsoft Azure, SQL Server, Windows Server, GitHub, Enterprise Services, and more.5

For Q2 FY 2022, Intelligent Cloud generated $18.3 billion in revenue, accounting for over 35% of total revenue. Up 25.5% compared to the year-ago quarter, Intelligent Cloud was the fastest-growing revenue segment in the company’s fiscal second quarter. It was also the fastest-growing segment in terms of operating income, which was up 26.3% YOY to $8.2 billion. Intelligent Cloud operating income accounts for just under 37% of Microsoft’s total operating income, making it the most profitable of the company’s three segments.6

More personal computing

Microsoft describes its more personal computing segment as consisting of products and services aimed at putting “customers at the center of the experience with our technology.” The Windows operating system, surface device, gaming products, and search and news advertising are all included in this segment.

In Q2 FY 2022, more personal computing generated $17.5 billion in revenue, comprising about 34% of total revenue. While revenue grew 15.5% YOY for the segment, operating income rose 21.8% YOY to $6.4 billion. More personal computing accounts for about 29% of the company’s total operating income.6

Microsoft’s Recent Developments

On Jan. 18, 2022, Microsoft announced a plan to acquire video game developer Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The deal is expected to close in fiscal year 2023. According to Microsoft, the acquisition will make it the third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind only Tencent and Sony.7

How Microsoft Reports Diversity and Inclusiveness

As part of our effort to improve the awareness of the importance of diversity in companies, we offer investors a glimpse into the transparency of Microsoft and its commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and social responsibility. We examined the data Microsoft releases to show you how it reports the diversity of its board and workforce to help readers make educated purchasing and investing decisions.

By: Nathan Reiff

Source: How Microsoft Makes Money: Computing and Cloud Services

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12 Things You Should Know About Observability

Observability is the ability to measure the internal state of a system — an application, for instance, or even a distributed IT system) by examining its outputs, namely sensor data. While it might seem like a recent buzzword, the term originated decades ago.

(Fun fact: In-the-know types abbreviate observability to “o11y,” because there are 11 letters between the initial O and the final Y. Those are some cool m11s.)

Observability uses three types of telemetry data to provide deep visibility into distributed systems and allow teams to get to the root cause of a multitude of issues:

  • Logs — a record of events, e.g. what happened
  • Metrics — measured against a standard, e.g what changed by how much and over what period of time
  • Traces — where in the system did it happen

Now let’s take a look at those immutable rules to keep in mind when considering, adopting and improving an observability solution.

1. An observability solution uses all your data to avoid blind spots

The best way to solve a problem is to collect all the data about your environment at full fidelity — not just samples of data. Traditional monitoring solutions fall short when working with microservices-based applications because they randomly sample traces and often miss the ones you care about (unique transactions, anomalies, outliers, etc.).

When assessing observability solutions, look for those that do not sample and also retain all your traces, as well as populate dashboards, service maps and trace navigations with meaningful information that will actually help you monitor and troubleshoot your application.

2. Operates at speed and resolution of your software-defined (or cloud) infrastructure

Different use cases require different resolutions, depending on how critical they are (a.k.a. how many people are angry at you and/or how much it’s costing). As you start to collect data from more dynamic microservices running on ephemeral containers and serverless functions, you’ll need to collect data in different ways than you did in a virtual machine environment.

If you have microservices running on Kubernetes-orchestrated containers that spin up and down automatically in minutes, or serverless functions that instantiate for only seconds, you’ll need a much finer view. Plan for that need now, as you begin to adopt microservices, because it will be very difficult (and costly) to add it later.

3. Leverages open, flexible instrumentation and makes it easy for developers to use

Plan on using open, standards-based data collection from day one. Proprietary agents are difficult to maintain, degrade service performance and may be outdated before you know it. Choosing to rely on common languages and frameworks will give you the most flexibility not only in how you collect data, but also what cloud solutions you use.

4. Enables a seamless workflow across monitoring, troubleshooting and resolution with correlation and data links between metrics, traces and logs

Organizations manage multiple point tools. It’s not uncommon to find application owners flagging a performance issue with one tool, then contacting another IT operations team that uses a different tool to try to understand how the issue is impacting critical workloads and business performance.

Obviously, this doesn’t work when your actions are measured in seconds. Your observability solution should have all capabilities fully integrated, providing you with relevant contextual information throughout your troubleshooting.

5. Makes it easy to use, visualize and explore data out of the box

A completely fake statistic by a fictional analyst firm shows that most companies use only 12% of the capabilities their software systems provide. Now that’s a powerful made-up statistic. Observability should give you intuitive visualizations that require no configuration — like dashboards, charts and heat maps — and make it easy to interact with key metrics in real time. Your solution should also allow custom dashboards that can help keep an eye on particular services of interest.

6. Leverages in-stream AI for faster and more accurate alerting, directed troubleshooting and rapid insights

As much as we love humans, there’s no denying that cloud-native environments produce too much data for people to make sense of manually. Old-school alert triggers are often inaccurate, causing floods of alerts that frustrate on-call engineers. Observability solutions built with real-time analytics surface relevant patterns and deliver actionable insights before you need them. Look for solutions that are effective at baselining historical performance, performing sophisticated comparisons and detecting outliers and anomalies in real time.

7. Gives fast feedback about (code) changes, even in production

Observability is not just for operations and should be employed during development. Once code is deployed, teams need to understand what is happening within their applications as each release flows down the delivery pipeline. You can’t understand your pipeline, or correlate pipeline events with application performance and end-user experience, if you don’t understand what is happening inside your application. Observability delivers synthetic monitoring, analysis of real-user transactions, log analytics and metrics tracking, so teams can understand the state of their code from development through deployment.

8. Automates and enables you to do as much “as code”

The idea behind the “observability as code” movement is that you develop, deploy, test and share observability assets such as detectors, alerts, dashboards, etc. as code. Monitoring and alerting as code involves automated creation and maintenance of charts, dashboards and alerts as part of service life cycles. Doing so keeps visualizations and alerts current, prevents sprawl and allows you to maintain version control through a centralized repository, all without having to continuously manage each component manually.

9. Is a core part of business performance measurement

In the data age, you need to know what’s going on from development through delivery in order to measure business performance. Observability gives you a view into every layer of the stack, as well as key metrics tailored to your business needs. In cloud-native environments, small upticks in service usage can spiral, even creating increased latency for specific customers. It’s important to understand the KPIs by which your business is measured and how the teams within your organization will consume the data. Observability does that.

10. Provides observability as a service

Modern observability platforms provide centralized management so teams and users have access controls and gain transparency and control over consumption. Implementing clear best practices for observability across your business can not only cultivate a better developer experience, empowering them to work more efficiently and focus on building new features. It can also improve cross-team collaboration, cost assessment and overall business performance.

11. Seamlessly embeds collaboration, knowledge management and incident response

While incidents may be inevitable, a strong observability solution can mitigate downtime or even prevent it entirely, saving businesses money and improving the quality of life for on-call engineers. To respond to and resolve issues quickly (especially in a high-velocity deployment environment), you’ll need tools that facilitate efficient collaboration and speedy notification. Observability solutions should include automated incident response capabilities to engage the right expert to the right issue at the right time, all leading to significantly reduced downtime.

12. Scales to support future growth and elasticity

Have you ever heard the phrase “Duty Now for the Future”? It’s a Devo album from 1979, so it has nothing to do with observability. But the phrase does contain a relevant — immutable — truth. You need to invest now for your future needs and not just your current needs. The same is true for observability.

To meet the needs of any environment — no matter how large or complex — observability solutions should be able to ingest petabytes of log data and millions of metrics and traces, all while maintaining high performance. This ensures that your investments are future-proof.

Now that you’ve read about the benefits of observability and the characteristics of a modern observability solution, take the next step and find out more, including how to implement an observability solution that meets your needs now and in the future. Be sure to download 12 Immutable Rules for Observability.

Splunk Inc. turns data into doing. Splunk technology is designed to investigate, monitor, analyze and act on data at any scale.

Source: 12 Things You Should Know About Observability

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25 of The Best Educational Podcasts

Listen, and you might learn a things or two.

Most folks love learning, regardless of whether or not school is “their thing.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right teacher for your learning style—or maybe even the right medium. For auditory learners, podcasts can be excellent vehicles for processing knowledge that’d be less digestible in more visual mediums like video or even the written word.

The American education systems tends to fail students in myriad ways, requiring continual education after the fact to learn the truth behind what we were taught in history, art, science, language, literature, and math. Privileged gatekeepers deciding who and what gets taught can result in the denial of diverse voices and perspectives.

Podcasts radically shift the dynamics around who gets to teach, and who gets to learn. A lot of the most beloved and popular shows, like Radiolab and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, basically boil down to what you wish your science or history class had been like in the first place. Many others, like 1619 and You’re Wrong About, aim to correct the misinformation in many accepted cultural narratives from both our near and distant pasts.

Now, obviously, podcasts can’t replace a world-class, bonafide, IRL, teacher-to-student relationship. But they can teach us more than a few vital lessons. Here are a few of our most educational favorites.

1. Unexplainable

While Vox is known for explaining complicated ideas in easily understandable ways, it’s new podcast Unexplainable flips that premise on its head. Instead of demystifying the daily information onslaught, Unexplainable sits with the most mystifying unknowns of all time. From questioning whether everything we thought we knew about psychology is wrong to the quest to understand what the hell dark matter is, Unexplainable teaches us to get comfortable with the idea that human knowledge has many limits. And that’s kinda awesome.

2. You’re Wrong About

You’re Wrong About is doing God’s work by correcting the record on everything we misremember or misunderstand in our collective cultural memory.Each week, journalists Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes debunk popular myths, misconceptions, and mischaracterizations of figures like Tonya Harding and Marie Antoinette, or topics like sex trafficking and events like the O.J. Simpson trial.” [From our Best Feminist Podcasts roundup.]

3. 1619

“As all-encompassing as it is powerfully specific and personal, 1619 is the story of modern America — and the people who built it through blood, sweat, tears, and hope. It’s a version of the story a great many of us never hear, purposefully kept hidden in the margins of U.S. history books. But 1619 isn’t just a podcast about the history of slavery as the genesis of almost every aspect of American society and culture today.

This isn’t just a sobering lesson, or hard pill to swallow. By weaving the historical with the personal and the poetic, Nikole Hannah-Jones (alongside other guest hosts) paints a viscerally captivating portrait of Black Americans’ lived experience, and all the simultaneous struggle, strength, oppression, ambition, pain, and humor needed to survive. 1619 is a story about race and the inequalities embedded into a system predicated on its conceit. But above all it’s a story about us, the people we were then and still are now.” [From our Best Limited-Series Podcasts to Binge roundup.]

4. Encyclopedia Womannica

“History class often paints a portrait of the world that excludes about half of its population. That’s what Wonder Media Network’s Encyclopedia Womannica sets out to fix, by releasing 5- to 10-minute episodes on women who made history in a certain field. Each month focuses on a different area of expertise, which most recently included activism and music.” [From our Best Feminist Podcasts roundup.]

5. You Are Not That Smart

There’s a kind of fallacy that comes with being knowledgable or well-educated: You can start to think you know everything. In reality, human knowledge is always flawed, a work in progress rather than an end goal in itself. That’s the backbone of this psychology podcast, which dives into the ways we think and why they’re often faulty or misunderstood.

6. 99% Invisible

Invisible forces increasingly rule our world, and this legacy podcast is determined to reveal exactly how and why. Host Roman Mars uncovers a different facet of the hidden world of design in every episode, whether it’s the user experience of an app on your phone or your entire home’s architecture.

7. Radiolab

“NPR’s Peabody-winning, textbook example of rich, expertly-produced documentary podcast-making was started by Jad Abumrad way back in 2002. Hosted by Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Radiolab tasks itself broadly with ‘investigating a strange world.’ It’s constantly referred to in the same breath as their friends at This American Life, but tends toward the more science-related topics.” [From our Best Science Podcasts roundup.]

8. Every Little Thing

Like the teacher who encouraged you to ask all the questions, Gimlet’s Every Little Thing seeks to answer listeners’ questions about, well, everything. Whether it’s trying to determine if a listener’s very specific early childhood memory is real, or investigating why we cry, there’s no quest for understanding too small or too big for this podcast.

9. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

Dan Carlin is the history teacher we all wish we’d had in grade school, able to turn the most fascinating and dramatic episodes of our past into multi-part epic sagas. Tuning into Hardcore History‘s three hour-long behemoth episodes transports your imagination. As informative as they are enthralling, each deep dive can transform what you thought you knew about both ancient and modern history.

10. Lolita Podcast

“The influence of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita can’t be overstated. From fashion to music to film to sexual expression itself, the novel’s impact on society far exceeds literary circles, affecting the mainstream in ways you may not even be aware of. You don’t need to have read Lolita — a cautionary tale about a predator grooming, kidnapping, and repeatedly raping a child — to be riveted by the podcast, which is more focused on tracing its ripple effects on the zeitgeist.

Comedian, podcaster, and writer Jamie Loftus wrestles with this tangled nexus of significance in a society that perpetually sexualizes young girls. Weaving in her own personal experiences and analysis with expert interviews and source materials, Loftus leaves no stone unturned — no matter how uncomfortable. Diving headfirst into a minefield of impossible yet crucial questions, Lolita Podcast delivers nuanced perspectives that only unfurl more layers of complexity rather than offering easy answers.” [From our Best Podcasts of 2020 roundup.]

11. Grammar Girl

Delving into the ins and outs of grammar can be pretty boring sometimes. (Apologies to our editors.) But this beloved show from host Mignon Fogarty brings a much-needed lack of judgment, accessibility, and fun to learning about the nitty-gritty of the English language. It’s an essential resource for writers of all sorts, diving into not only the rules but the historical and cultural contexts behind them.

12. Ologies

“If you want to dig into the niches of study that professionals choose to dedicate their lives to, check out Ologies with science correspondent and humorist Alie Ward. Each episode, Ward takes on a different ‘ology,’ from conventional ones like palaeontology and molecular neurobiology, to more niche ones like philematology (the study of kissing).” [From our Best Science Podcasts roundup.]

13. Planet Money

Planet Money’s success lies in how it tackles complex subjects with great storytelling. A financial instrument like a Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) may sound impossibly boring, but Planet Money routinely makes these types of things the heart of a thrilling narrative. The team continues to explore the financial collapse, but they’ve expanded their scope to include all aspects of the global economy.” [From our Best Back to School Podcasts roundup.]

Alternatively, try NPR’s Indicator: “Its more compact, daily sister podcast is a knockout. But for those a little less interested in talk of money stuff, NPR’s The Indicator is a great gateway drug. Tackling smaller yet still robust and integral stories related to work, business, and the economy, you’ll be surprised by how much crucial information you can gain in just 10 minutes.” [From our Best Daily Podcasts roundup.]

14. Hidden Brain

“NPR’s popular podcast hosted by social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam delves into the recesses of the human mind, and questions why the hell we do and think the things we do. Vedantam conducts excellent, well-researched interviews with experts on complex topics that are made simple to understand, and will have you really getting in your own head.” [From our Best Science Podcasts roundup.]

15. Floodlines

“No matter how much you think you know about Hurricane Katrina, Floodlines reveals how America has only reached the surface of reckoning with this deep national wound. Through interviews with survivors and reporting that addresses the media misinformation and government incompetence around the catastrophe, host Vann R. Newkirk II shows how the real storm that devastated New Orleans was the same one that’s been brewing in America for centuries.” [From our Best New Podcasts of 2020 roundup.]

16. The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos

“Happiness is a tricky goal, especially when we think about it in terms of things that will finally make us happier. But no ‘thing’ can make you happy except yourself, and achieving that state of mind takes daily work. That’s what Dr. Laurie Santos, who studied the science of happiness at Yale and has a doctorate in psychology, makes clear in her podcast tackling the wide range of questions about how to live a life with more joy in spite of, well, all of it. While many other podcasts tackle similar topics, Dr. Santos sets this one apart by taking them to panels of experts and researchers in psychology, behavioral science, and more.” [From our Best Self-Improvement Podcasts roundup.]

17. Nice White Parents

Nice White Parents, released on July 30, is a five-part limited series from [Serial,] the team that redefined podcasting back in 2014. Instead of complex true-crime cases, however, Nice White Parents puts a different criminal on trial: the white liberalism that has helped perpetuate the segregation of public schools in America for decades under the guise of progressive ideals. This American Life producer Chana Joffe-Walt tells the story through an on-the-ground investigation into the School for International Studies (SIS), a New York City public school that was predominantly serving students of color.

That is, until a flood of white parents who couldn’t get their kids into preferred white schools instead decided to enroll them there, causing it to become a battleground of racial tensions and inequalities. It’s a story that comes from a personal place for Joffe-Walt. She began reporting on it after shopping around for schools as a new parent herself, only to discover she was part of a larger history of white parents who have shaped our public school education system into what it is today — which is to say, a system that overwhelming and repeatedly fails students of color.” [From our full review.]

18. Philosophize This!

Philosophy, aka that insufferable elective you skipped each week in college, can get a bad rap for being elitist and impenetrable. But Stephen West makes Philosophize This! precisely for those who want to delve into the nuanced ideas of our great thinkers, only without all the BS. Meant to be consumed somewhat in chronological order, you’ll gain a working, buildable knowledge of everything from media theory studies to multiple theories of justice.

19. Making Gay History

“History isn’t often told through a gay lens and Making Gay History looks to change that, telling the stories of the people who fought for decades for LGBTQ civil rights. Many of them have largely gone uncelebrated — until now.” [From our Best History Podcast roundup.]

20. The Experiment

The American experiment, often repackaged as the American dream, is one of the biggest sources of miseducation in our country. In this WNYC Studios and Atlantic collaboration, host Julia Longoria applies the ideals of America’s past that were held to be self-evident, then measures them up against our current reality. Bringing the high ideals of this country’s founding to everyday experiences, The Experiment can even find lessons in trash reality TV shows like 90 Day Fiance.

21. Artcurious

Art history isn’t for everyone, but curator and art history student Jennifer Dasal is definitely the one who could spark your interest. With a distinct theme for every season, she brings what might otherwise be dry material to life by telling the strangest and most enthralling stories behind the art. Season 9, which is all about cursed art, feels especially right for the general vibe of the past several years.

22. Blowback

“OK, first a disclaimer: Blowback is an unapologetically left-wing podcast. Like very left-wing. If that’s not cool with you, then it’s not the podcast for you. It tells the story of the Iraq War from that leftist point of view, and it’s both fascinating and necessary. Much of the Iraq War, as the American public knew it, was laundered through a right-wing government, and it was some time before anyone was open to admitting the disastrous war was just that. Blowback details how horrific and wrongheaded the Iraq War was, how its tentacles still shape America today, and how few consequences befell the people who sold it to the public.” [From our Best History Podcast roundup.]

23. Coffee Break Spanish (or other languages)

Not everyone vibes with language learning apps like Duolingo. Alternatively, what’s great about podcasts like Coffee Break from Radio Lingua Network is just how casual it feels — digestible enough to compliment your coffee break (as the name suggests). The lesson plans in each successive season increase in difficulty, with Season 1 being for true beginners. But the podcast really sings in its travel log episodes, applying those lessons to a conversational grasp of the language. There’s also versions in French, Italian, German, Chinese, and Swedish available too.

24. Curiosity Daily

Curiosity Daily is kind of like the r/TodayILearned subreddit but in podcast form. Every weekday, you can learn something new from hosts Cody Gough, Ashley Hamer, and Natalia Reagan. They offer 10- to 15-minute summaries of interesting, research-backed news and facts relevant to our everyday lives from the science, psychology, and technology fields.” [From our Best Daily Podcasts roundup.]

25. Spotify Original Audiobooks: Hear the Classics

Let’s be real: many of us skipped the reading when we were in school, only to regret it later on. That’s why Spotify’s list of original audiobooks, some even voiced by A-list actors like Hilary Swank, is a great treasure trove of educational audio. Currently, it offers many of the classics for free, like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and the memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. They even have a separate podcast for unpacking the literature called Sitting with the Classics. You can check out the full collection here.

Source: 25 of the best educational podcasts

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