You may not recognize the name “Underwriters Laboratory,” but “UL” is a mark you’ve seen everywhere. In fact it’s on 22 billion products, systems and materials from drywall to fire extinguishers to lamps to mattresses. The company got its start more than a century ago at the Chicago World’s Fair, where the “White City,” built to host the event on the shores of Lake Michigan, was one of the first to be illuminated entirely by electricity.
Insurance underwriters of the World’s Fair asked William Henry Merrill, a 24-year-old electrical engineer from Boston to come to Chicago and investigate how to deploy this new technology safely. Merrill never went back to Boston. He stayed in the Windy City and with $350, formed a new company that would test and develop safety standards for electricity and other new technologies entering the marketplace at the turn of the 20th Century. He called it “Underwriters Laboratory.” Today, UL uses Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure to securely store and share scientific findings and other information between employees, researchers and clients who collaborate around the world.
It wasn’t an easy transition for a company worried about security. Initially, UL was leery of trusting its intellectual property outside of the four walls of their Chicago-based headquarters. But now that they’ve enthusiastically embraced the cloud, UL can’t imagine doing business any other way. The cloud has changed the speed the company moves and helps clients, and ultimately, made it a leading innovator today, in the 21st Century. Here’s more in a video.
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