Cloud computing is ushering in a new era of opportunities, challenges and innovations that businesses can benefit from, according to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.
Speaking at the London School of Economics (LSE) on Tuesday morning, Ballmer talked up the cloud's potential to revolutionise the way businesses operate.
"The cloud will open a whole new range of opportunities to use computing in more valuable ways. There are new applications that you couldn't have built in a world without the cloud," he said.
"It's important the world of business embraces this phenomenon – the whole knowledge of your company should be available to you in a way that you can access and take advantage of."
Ballmer also said the cloud would give technology vendors the chance to spend more time and money developing new systems by automating the maintenance of services and freeing up staff to innovate.
"Most IT companies have a backlog of things they would like to build and with a decrease in IT spend on maintenance you can increase IT investment that's spent on new developments," he said.
However, he warned that while the cloud brings many opportunities it also brings with it a whole raft of responsibilities around security, privacy and data availability.
"As soon as you start pooling data in new ways, then redefining and being careful about laying out who owns what data, and how it gets controlled and used, there is a fundamental responsibility for every participant in that chain, " he said.
Ballmer also said he was happy with Microsoft's position in the cloud market and was bullish on the firm's financial performance, even though he revealed that its Bing search service was losing money at the moment.
"I love where we are in the cloud – we have done a fantastic job. On the business side I feel like we are way ahead of whoever the closest second competitor is," he said.
"We're a company that will make $26bn profit pre-tax and I'm not going to be apologetic about that. We're making money on what we do in the cloud, with the exception of our search service where we made a deliberate decision to invest."
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