Source Code: Your daily look at what matters in tech.

enterpriseenterpriseauthorTom KrazitNoneAre you keeping up with the latest cloud developments? Get Tom Krazit and Joe Williams' newsletter every Monday and Thursday.d3d5b92349
×

Get access to Protocol

Your information will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

I’m already a subscriber
Protocol | Enterprise

To score new clients, cloud providers are focusing on specific industries

The current crop of cloud computing adoptees have different needs than the early adopters, and vendors like Microsoft are adjusting.

Factory machine

Microsoft has introduced new infrastructure and enterprise software services tailored to manufacturing, financial services and nonprofit organizations.

Image: Clayton Cardinalli

Most companies have come to terms with the need to modernize their digital infrastructure. That doesn't mean they want to follow the same path as the earliest cloud adopters.

New arrivals to cloud computing increasingly want packaged solutions to their tech problems. Or at least that's what Microsoft is betting: The company introduced three new "industry cloud" services Wednesday, adding bespoke packages of Microsoft's infrastructure and enterprise software services for manufacturing, financial services and nonprofit organizations.

"This is something that we've heard directly from the customers that we serve as an organization, the need for their digital transformation partners to have deep industry and vertical expertise," said Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president for business applications and global industry at Microsoft. The three new packages join similar ones for retail and health care customers, introduced last year.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that the public cloud still represents a very small percentage of overall IT spending: Cloud services only made up 9.1% of the entire global information technology market in 2020, according to Gartner. Those that have yet to make the move are often motivated by the old adage that if it ain't broke, you shouldn't try to fix it.

At a certain point, however, that adage becomes an albatross as newcomers unrestrained by legacy IT systems are able to move more quickly than incumbents to capitalize on changes in demand for their products or services. Retailers learned that lesson very quickly in the early days of the pandemic, yet they still needed help: Most companies outside the tech industry find it really hard to recruit (and retain) the people who understand how to operate modern IT infrastructure at scale.

That's part of the motivation behind the industry-specific approach to the cloud, which is the natural extension of a tried-and-true product-development strategy in enterprise tech based around vertical markets like retail or manufacturing. Google Cloud introduced a similar approach last year as part of CEO Thomas Kurian's efforts to cater to traditional enterprise tech buyers, and niche cloud players like IBM have also tried to sell cookie-cutter packages of cloud services to customers that need to be coaxed onto the cloud.

"When you talk about digital transformation, it's an iterative process," Taylor said. "It's not one [where] you're going to rip and replace all your back-end systems."

In the new financial services package unveiled Wednesday, Microsoft customers will be able to draw on a new feature called Loan Manager, which promises to speed up the process of evaluating, clearing and closing a loan. The first industry cloud introduced last year — Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare — will be updated later this year with support for new languages and remote patient-monitoring services, according to the company.

Microsoft also plans to open the just-announced Microsoft Cloud for Retail to a public preview next month. Both Microsoft and Google have made retail customers a priority over the last year or so, not just because of the challenges that industry has faced from the pandemic but as a not-so-subtle reminder to the retail industry that AWS finances a pretty big retail company.

The moves are another sign of the maturation of cloud computing, which began as a skunkworks IT provider for developers who wanted to work on side projects without having to ask the CIO for computing resources. That pay-as-you-go model has for several years been transitioning to a more traditional multiyear contract process between cloud providers and their customers as companies buy cloud resources for their entire organization.

And while early cloud customers had a strong interest in mixing and matching individual cloud services to build infrastructure themselves, the companies eyeing cloud services in 2021 are looking for help putting together the basic building blocks needed to run a modern internet business, preferring to focus on building custom touches on top of the cloud industry's heavy lifting.

"If you just look at something like retail, how do you take all of the data that retail has at their disposal, and be able to aggregate that data in a common data framework, to be able to then surface it up to get proactive insights?" Taylor said. "That's very timely and costly for a retailer to build, and so they look to their technology providers to be able to assist while their core competency is serving their customers in a retail capacity."

Clarification: This story was updated Feb. 24, 2021, to clarify which customers would be able to use Loan Manager.

The metaverse is coming, and Robinhood's IPO is here

Plus, what we learned from Big Tech's big quarter.

Image: Roblox

On this episode of the Source Code podcast: First, a few takeaways from another blockbuster quarter in the tech industry. Then, Janko Roettgers joins the show to discuss Big Tech's obsession with the metaverse and the platform war that seems inevitable. Finally, Ben Pimentel talks about Robinhood's IPO, and the company's crazy route to the public markets.

For more on the topics in this episode:

Keep Reading Show less
David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

After a year and a half of living and working through a pandemic, it's no surprise that employees are sending out stress signals at record rates. According to a 2021 study by Indeed, 52% of employees today say they feel burnt out. Over half of employees report working longer hours, and a quarter say they're unable to unplug from work.

The continued swell of reported burnout is a concerning trend for employers everywhere. Not only does it harm mental health and well-being, but it can also impact absenteeism, employee retention and — between the drain on morale and high turnover — your company culture.

Crisis management is one thing, but how do you permanently lower the temperature so your teams can recover sustainably? Companies around the world are now taking larger steps to curb burnout, with industry leaders like LinkedIn, Hootsuite and Bumble shutting down their offices for a full week to allow all employees extra time off. The CEO of Okta, worried about burnout, asked all employees to email him their vacation plans in 2021.

Keep Reading Show less
Stella Garber
Stella Garber is Trello's Head of Marketing. Stella has led Marketing at Trello for the last seven years from early stage startup all the way through its acquisition by Atlassian in 2017 and beyond. Stella was an early champion of remote work, having led remote teams for the last decade plus.

Facebook wants to be like Snapchat

Facebook is looking to make posts disappear, Google wants to make traffic reports more accurate, and more patents from Big Tech.

Facebook has ephemeral posts on its mind.

Image: Protocol

Welcome to another week of Big Tech patents. Google wants to make traffic reports more accurate, Amazon wants to make voice assistants more intelligent, Microsoft wants to make scheduling meetings more convenient, and a ton more.

As always, remember that the big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future

Keep Reading Show less
Karyne Levy

Karyne Levy ( @karynelevy) is the West Coast editor at Protocol. Before joining Protocol, Karyne was a senior producer at Scribd, helping to create the original content program. Prior to that she was an assigning editor at NerdWallet, a senior tech editor at Business Insider, and the assistant managing editor at CNET, where she also hosted Rumor Has It for CNET TV. She lives outside San Francisco with her wife, son and lots of pets.

Protocol | China

China’s edtech crackdown isn’t what you think. Here’s why.

It's part of an attempt to fix education inequality and address a looming demographic crisis.

In the past decade, China's private tutoring market has expanded rapidly as it's been digitized and bolstered by capital.

Photo: Getty Images

Beijing's strike against the private tutoring and ed tech industry has rattled the market and led observers to try to answer one big question: What is Beijing trying to achieve?

Sweeping policy guidelines issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on July 24 and the State Council now mandate that existing private tutoring companies register as nonprofit organizations. Extracurricular tutoring companies will be banned from going public. Online tutoring agencies will be subject to regulatory approval.

Keep Reading Show less
Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

It’s soul-destroying and it uses DRM, therefore Peloton is tech

"I mean, the pedals go around if you turn off all the tech, but Peloton isn't selling a pedaling product."

Is this tech? Or is it just a bike with a screen?

Image: Peloton and Protocol

One of the breakout hits from the pandemic, besides Taylor Swift's "Folklore," has been Peloton. With upwards of 5.4 million members as of March and nearly $1.3 billion in revenue that quarter, a lot of people are turning in their gym memberships for a bike or a treadmill and a slick-looking app.

But here at Protocol, it's that slick-looking app, plus all the tech that goes into it, that matters. And that's where things got really heated during our chat this week. Is Peloton tech? Or is it just a bike with a giant tablet on it? Can all bikes be tech with a little elbow grease?

Keep Reading Show less
Karyne Levy

Karyne Levy ( @karynelevy) is the West Coast editor at Protocol. Before joining Protocol, Karyne was a senior producer at Scribd, helping to create the original content program. Prior to that she was an assigning editor at NerdWallet, a senior tech editor at Business Insider, and the assistant managing editor at CNET, where she also hosted Rumor Has It for CNET TV. She lives outside San Francisco with her wife, son and lots of pets.

Latest Stories