Microsoft has announced three new industry-specific cloud offerings for Azure in the form of Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, and Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit. The tech giant debuted Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare last May before launching it in general availability a few months later. Last month, the company announced Microsoft Cloud for Retail, which will be available for public preview in March.
Microsoft created its industry clouds by bringing together common data models, cross-cloud connectors, workflows, APIs, and industry-specific components and standards with its cloud services which include Microsoft 365, Teams, Azure, Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics 365, and security solutions. Through its industry clouds, the company hopes to empower organizations to deliver value faster, adapt quickly to changing conditions, and build for the future with security at the core of everything they do.
While sector-specific offerings can seem like a ploy to sell the same cloud to different industries, Microsoft actually does the work to offer a range of specific offerings, including “unique templates, APIs, and additional industry-specific standards,” according to a blog post from the company.
For financial services, this includes additional security and compliance capabilities for finance companies, as well as customer onboarding tools designed to streamline loan applications and a “loan manager” that offers banks and lenders a centralized platform for appointment scheduling, virtual customer meetings, and team collaboration. For its previously announced healthcare cloud, Microsoft also offers a telehealth scheduling feature through the Microsoft Teams and Bookings apps.
While Microsoft’s investment in industry solutions is not new, it is raising some eyebrows as the company deepens its vertical SaaS offerings.
Cloud services can be used to build whatever an organization needs, and Microsoft’s vertical clouds include specialized versions of general services. With the industry clouds, Microsoft does the engineering to make components that partners use to create solutions, and then helps them sell and run those.
The building blocks Microsoft creates for partners to use in industry clouds will be built for those specific industry scenarios, and what it learns will likely show up in more general tools for Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365 down the line.