Getty Images/iStockphoto


Learn the basics of industry cloud platforms

Healthcare, finance and other specialized industries can ask a lot of cloud services. Find out more about industry cloud platforms, and compare tools from the major cloud providers.

Some enterprises need more than a one-size-fits-all cloud platform. Industry cloud platforms, also known as vertical cloud platforms, provide specialized services to meet specific requirements for an industry, such as healthcare, finance or manufacturing.

Security- and compliance-focused industries face many cloud challenges, including the following:

  • Securing cloud workloads, via either the provider's tools or third-party options.
  • Complying with regulations for public cloud services.
  • Customizing to meet industry-specific needs.

Companies dealing with these challenges should compare approaches: an industry cloud option versus doing it themselves with in-house or contracted teams or with a professional services engagement. If choosing a public cloud option, consider this regional hospital conglomerate example.

It can access tools such as AWS HealthScribe, which AWS promotes for the healthcare and life sciences industries. This tool creates clinical notes from clinician-patient conversations using generative AI. It's also a HIPAA-eligible service on AI and machine learning (ML) infrastructure that AWS runs, maintains and secures. AWS also includes secure and compliant storage and analytics tools tailored to healthcare and life science use cases and a partner network for healthcare customers.

Check out the benefits of industry clouds and the features offered by the top three cloud service providers: AWS, Microsoft and Google. Additionally, look ahead to the future of industry clouds to determine whether to invest in the switch to a vertical cloud service.

Benefits of industry cloud platforms

Unlike general public cloud offerings, which provide a broad set of tools and services for various applications, industry clouds offer specialized services and capabilities. These services are tailored to a particular sector, aiming to accelerate innovation, improve efficiency and achieve competitive differentiation.

Enterprises might choose an industry cloud over a public cloud for several reasons, including the following:

  • Specialization. Specialized tools and technologies for specific industry needs can improve operational efficiency and processes.
  • Enhanced security and compliance. Enhanced security features and industry compliance controls are built into the cloud platform.
  • Streamlined releases. Industry-specific tools, data models and workflows enable faster development and deployment of new products and services versus developing or procuring industry tools and infrastructure.

If your organization is considering an industry cloud, it should be cognizant of potential challenges as well. These include control over data, vendor lock-in with the cloud provider and integration issues with existing systems.

Industry cloud platform examples

AWS, Microsoft and Google had clients using their public cloud services across all the industry verticals well before the advent of industry clouds. Some examples of industry cloud platforms from the top three providers include the following.

AWS offerings

AWS offers tailored cloud services for various industries. It has extensive cloud capabilities, including industry-specific knowledge and partner networks. AWS Marketplace has software that covers automotive, consumer packaged goods, energy, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, media, retail, and other security- and compliance-conscious industries.

Microsoft offerings

Microsoft offers various options for different industries, one of which is healthcare. It offers a range of tools to help healthcare organizations manage large amounts of health data. Organizations that use these tools have potential to improve the patient experience, coordinate care and increase operational efficiency. Its industry cloud offerings also provide support for data security, compliance with applicable regulations and interoperability throughout on-cloud activities.

Google offerings

Google takes a different strategic approach to industry clouds. It focuses on operating at scale with infrastructure, AI, ML and big data offerings versus the service focus that both AWS and Microsoft take to address the unique cloud requirements inherent in specific industries. Google's customers benefit from the same secure and extensive infrastructure that runs demanding applications, such as YouTube and Google Search. Firms such as PwC wrap professional services around this approach to address vertical industry use cases -- an example of how this could be a good fit for large enterprises.

The future of industry cloud platforms

While building out industry-specific clouds remains a common practice across security- and compliance-conscious industries, organizations are reassessing their cloud initiatives and spending with hybrid and private clouds. Some enterprises are even repatriating applications back to data centers to manage costs.

There are contradictory reports and predictions about the industry cloud market. For example, Gartner expects that, by 2027, more than 70% of enterprises will use industry cloud platforms to accelerate their business initiatives, up from less than 15% in 2023. Then again, there are companies hesitating on specialized industry clouds because CIOs don't see the business case, according to The Wall Street Journal. The question remains if AI services from the major cloud service providers will promote industry cloud adoption or if third-party AI tools will tackle niche industry use cases.

Predictions about industry clouds are mixed because they are still relatively new and immature cloud offerings. Depending on your organization's IT budget and digital transformation priorities, such investments could be difficult to justify.

To evaluate an industry cloud's potential ROI, analyze industry-specific tools and comparative advantages that meet your organization's needs, as well as its regulatory environment and strategic goals. Consider how well the industry cloud aligns with business requirements and its ability to provide targeted solutions and efficiencies.

Will Kelly is a freelance writer and content strategist who has written about cloud, DevOps, AI and enterprise mobility.

Dig Deeper on Cloud provider platforms and tools

Data Center