It can be difficult to figure out who is number two in a market where there's a very clear winner, but Microsoft (MSFT) looks to be increasingly claiming the runner-up spot in the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) race. According to Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise division of Microsoft, Azure is gaining 8,000 new users every week—a number that, if true, could eventually put Azure in a position to truly give Amazon Web Services (AWS) a run for its money.

In the continuing battle for IaaS dominance, each of the major competitors has periodically fronted a list of important key differentiators. Anderson noted there are three major reasons end users and organizations are choosing Azure—its enterprise capabilities, its financially backed service level agreements (SLAs) and its ability to deliver an enterprise-grade cloud.

Although Microsoft may be able to say it delivers on those promises, other IaaS vendors can also show they offer many key differentiating features. Perhaps Microsoft should be putting as much or more faith into its marketing machine, which has certainly stepped up its game in recent memory.

Of course, making the switch from on-premise, traditional IT to the IaaS world is playing a huge role in the success of Azure, as well as other IaaS offerings. There is a reason, after all, that we see so many announcements from various cloud vendors about changes that affect not only ease of use, but ease of migration.

Another sure sign of Azure's momentum is how Microsoft itself is changing. The Redmond company has managed to make itself a leader in the IT space in several areas, but it has also missed the mark in several growing markets—some of which have become critical to end users and organizations.

Microsoft came a little late to the cloud world, but it's picking up steam and really gaining some traction as Azure continues to expand and evolve.