Microsoft announces first vertical cloud offering: Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare

At Build 2020, Microsoft is taking the wraps off the first of its planned industry-specific clouds, the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, which is due to start rolling out in Q4 this year.

Microsoft Build 2020: All developers need to know
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At Build 2020, Microsoft officials are announcing a public preview and six-month free trial for its first industry-specific cloud offering, the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. The Cloud for Healthcare is going to be one of several "Microsoft Industry Clouds" that are designed for data analysis, collaboration, and operations for some of the company's key vertical markets.

To create the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, Microsoft is building on top of and extending Dynamics 365 Marketing, Dynamics 365 Customer Service, the Power Platform tools, and Azure IoT. The Microsoft Healthcare Bot Service is an example of one of the components of the Cloud for Healthcare. New built-in features in Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams that target healthcare and firstline workers are also considered foundational pieces.

Officials said during Build that the Microsoft Industry Cloud solutions will integrate the Microsoft Cloud (Azure, Microsoft 365/Office 365, Dynamics 365) with "an industry-specific data model, cross-cloud connectors, workflows and APIs to provide industry solutions aligned to priority scenarios." The Cloud for Healthcare will use a common data model for sharing data across apps.

Microsoft already offers individually many, if not all, of the pieces of what it will be branding as Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. It's not surprising, given the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, that Microsoft has chosen to target healthcare as its first industry-cloud vertical.

Microsoft made its initial foray into healthcare over a decade ago but ended up retrenching and selling off most of the health assets it originally acquired. A couple of years ago, Microsoft announced it was creating a new healthcare-focused research unit, Healthcare NExT.    

Healthcare is one of Microsoft's highest priority verticals, as it's a growing and pervasive market. In the US, various Microsoft product teams, along with Microsoft Research have been working with customers to build cloud-based AI platforms to "integrate information across healthcare providers, pharmacies, and payers in ways that create personalized, community-based care network." 

Officials haven't said which other vertical markets Microsoft will focus on next with industry-specific clouds. But Microsoft's top verticals include automotive, banking, consumer goods, defense and intelligence, energy, insurance, manufacturing, media and entertainment, retail, and telecommunications. The company also is continuing to pursue its long-time goal of making Office client apps and services more tailored to particular vertical markets.

Officials said to expect Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare to be generally available starting in the fourth calendar quarter of 2020.