If you still view the cloud as something outside of your central IT strategy, it\u2019s time to change your thinking. Computerworld\u2019s annual Forecast study of IT executives found that cloud projects are a top priority for 2015, with 42 percent of respondents planning to increase cloud investments in the year ahead. With the cloud becoming a critical component of companies\u2019 digital transformation efforts, CIOs need to give the same serious consideration to choosing a cloud platform as they formerly gave to in-house IT infrastructure.\u00a0\n\n\nCommon sense dictates that the cloud platform should be enterprise-class in all respects and should encompass not only Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), but also Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). And the level of integration between all these services must be high. Further, many observers believe hybrid clouds that combine public and private platforms offer the greatest benefits. So your cloud platform should have commonality with your on-premises IT, enabling you to move workloads seamlessly between private and public clouds. \u00a0\u00a0\n\n\nThat\u2019s a serious list of requirements, but serious cloud providers are moving in this direction. Here\u2019s an article by Serdar Yegulalp in InfoWorld that covers recent steps by Microsoft. For example, the company has added several SQL Server enhancements to Azure \u2013 such as in-memory support and the ability to easily move SQL Server applications to Azure \u2013 that bring enterprise-class features to the cloud and pave the way for seamless hybrid cloud utilization.\u00a0\n\n\nThe growing list of Azure Active Directory features is also worth a close look. \u00a0Enterprises have come to rely on Active Directory for secure identity and access management, and AD support through Azure should further encourage the adoption of hybrid clouds. AD support also gives Windows Server 2003 users a solid migration path to Azure.\u00a0 \u00a0 \u00a0 \u00a0 \u00a0 \u00a0\n\n\nThe new Azure App Service provides developers with a seamless and rapid development platform for building enterprise-grade web and mobile apps.\n\n\nPlus, features such as Azure Websites Migration Assistant helps IT migrate existing websites that run on IIS 6 or higher to Azure.\u00a0\n\n\nAzure support for Docker is another boon for hybrid clouds and DevOps enablement, since Docker and Microsoft also have committed to build Docker Engine for Windows Server. \u00a0The partnership furthers Docker\u2019s goal \u201cto build the \u2018button\u2019 that enables any application to be build and deployed on any server, anywhere.\u201d\u00a0\n\n\nAdd it all up and you get transformative capabilities: an enterprise platform that enables you to deploy new applications quickly, to augment your resources as needed, and to move applications seamlessly between private and public clouds.