A few analysts picked up on Nadella's comments.
"We are pleased to hear of continued early traction with Azure Stack as we think it offers Microsoft a unique hybrid-cloud play," Stifel analysts led by Brad Reback wrote the next day.
In the past few weeks, Amazon and Google have made announcements to more fully support customers that want to keep doing computing work on their own servers, rather than solely using public clouds.
On July 17, Amazon announced new capabilities for Snowball Edge, a hardware device that was originally meant as a way to do lightweight computing and eventually move data into the Amazon cloud. Now customers can run a variety of standard EC2 virtual-machine instances -- each of which can perform multiple computing tasks -- on these boxes. EC2 instances are widely used for all sorts of computing tasks in Amazon's main public cloud.
"If you need to move very large amounts of data into the cloud, or if this data sits in a location where it's not easily brought into the cloud, we need to give you the tools," Amazon chief technology officer said at a company event in New York.
Then, earlier this week, Google introduced hybrid-cloud software called the Cloud Services Platform. One of the new technologies is GKE On-Prem. GKE stands for the Google Kubernetes Engine, which is a cloud tool Google offers to help customers manage containers — an alternative to more traditional virtual machines for running programmers' code. The new tool is similar, except it can work on companies' existing data center infrastructure.
Amazon has introduced other tools for use in corporate data centers in the past, like providing broader access to the Amazon version of Linux, and Google has announced partnerships with companies that sell corporate data center gear, like Cisco and Nutanix. But the new moves indicate the cloud providers are more interested in meeting the needs of businesses, government agencies and other groups that don't want to depend exclusively on outside providers for their IT needs — or at least not yet.
"I want to support the customer no matter where it is, and really, it's not a race," Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene said in an interview with CNBC earlier this week. "This is a long-term play, and we want to do the right thing for the customers, because we want to be their partner long-term."