The cloud and your health data: Who do you trust?

Microsoft, Google and Apple are all looking to aggregate your health data, launch wearables and crunch your information in the cloud. How much does being an enterprise class cloud provider matter?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Microsoft has launched a new platform dubbed Microsoft Health and a band that's designed to track your health data and serve out insights. Microsoft Health also comes out of the gate with Android, iOS and Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper compatibility, but the real win may be in the cloud.

If Microsoft's health effort and wearable sounds familiar that's because the tech titans are all deploying similar efforts. Apple has its HealthKit effort---to be complemented by Apple Watch in early 2015---that has a long list of app and wearable partners sans Fitbit. Google Fit is another effort to aggregate the health data being tracked by a bevy of wearable devices and apps.

CNET: Best wearable tech of 2014

The strategies of these combatants all boil down to this:

  • Aggregate data from a disparate field and serve out personal analytics.
  • Compete in the wearable space. 
  • Ultimately win with a cloud and application that serves as a hub connecting other devices and tools.

I use the Jawbone Up 24 and like the app. I've tried other trackers and use MyFitnessPal. I wouldn't mind sharing that data with my medical provider or insurance company for a discount, but haven't.

Earlier: Microsoft Health service launches across mobile platforms, Microsoft Band available for $199 | How Microsoft's expected fitness band fits into its new wearables game plan

The biggest issue is what I'd call the rollup conundrum. Jawbone's app and MyFitnessPal talk and that's handy. That additional layer above that app line is where things get interesting. Do I need Google, Apple and Microsoft as an uber aggregator? The short answer is that answering that question will depend on the insights and analytics capabilities the giants can offer as well as trust in their clouds.

I don't know if I'd go for the Microsoft Band. I don't want messages on my wrist and most wearables try to do too much. Exhibit A of a smartwatch that goes overboard is Samsung's lineup. There's a reason Jawbone Up works for me: There's no screen and the device isn't intrusive.

What I would go for is Microsoft's approach, which is summed up in this graphic:


When it comes to the personal health game, I'm going to want an enterprise cloud. Certainly, Apple will manage a ton of health data in its iCloud. But I'm wary. I know Apple is striving to do well in the cloud game, but I wouldn't call it enterprise class. Google can certainly scale and will be a serious Amazon Web Services rival. But something about giving Google my health data gives me pause. Given my personal cloud portfolio---stretched among various providers---Microsoft looks like a great diversification tool in the health tracking game.

This thinking about the cloud and my health data fits in with what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is pitching with Azure as the center of the universe. Because Azure is successful and a major enterprise player, I'm more likely to trust Microsoft's other cloud efforts more.

The cloud flywheel is an interesting development and it hits home when you put your personal data in the middle of it. In the end, the cloud health game boils down to who you trust. Your answer and ultimate decision will depend on multiple factors, but do give it thought.

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