Microsoft announces three new industry-specific cloud offerings

Microsoft quietly announced the preview launch of three new cloud offerings for the finance, manufacturing and nonprofit sectors at its Ignite conference.

In the midst of other headlines, like the launch of a new hardware and software platform that makes it easier for customers and partners to develop smart IoT devices and sensors, Microsoft confirmed that its Cloud for Financial Services and Cloud for Retail solutions will be available for public preview before the end of this month. Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit, and Cloud for Manufacturing will begin accepting customers for public preview by the end of June 2021.

These new offerings will join the already available Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, launched in October 2020, and Microsoft Cloud for Retail announced in January 2021. Moreover, the first update to the healthcare solution will be released in April 2021 and will include four new features and adds support for eight additional languages. 

“We recognize that every industry is unique,” Satya Nadella said during his keynote address on March 2. “Our aim is to deliver solutions tailored to their specific needs.”


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Lenders will get to play with a new feature called Loan Manager once the public preview launches this March. Microsoft name-dropped ABN AMRO and Manulife while citing the customers already taking advantage of the new software.

By using Cloud for Retail, IT administrators will have new ways to deal with the surge in online orders and curbside pickups, and with the help of channel partners, the potential use cases across other sectors are nearly infinite.

“Because of the breadth and depth of the Microsoft partner ecosystem, Microsoft industry clouds also provide new opportunities to strengthen and extend for the last mile of industry execution,” wrote Alysa Taylor, corporate vice-president, business applications and global industry.

While these offerings are each intended to meet a particular industry’s specific needs, Microsoft says they’re also designed to work together to bring new capabilities and customizations across its broad range of solutions. 

Cyberattacks increasing in sophistication

The software giant dedicated significant air time touting its security offerings (it did recently surpass $10 billion in security business revenue) and reminding everyone how nation-state hackers compromised SolarWinds’ supply chain network.

Vasu Jakkal, Microsoft’s corporate vice-president for security, compliance and identity, broke down the supply chain attack during a sitdown with Tom Burt, the company’s corporate vice-president of customer security and trust.

Microsoft was tipped off by security company FireEye, one of the many victims of the sophisticated supply chain attack. After a thorough analysis of the attack, the two companies concluded that a nation-state actor had cleverly weaved malware into the build process for an application belonging to SolarWinds called Orion.

Once downloaded by more than 18,000 customers, many of them from the government, the attackers deployed second-stage malware on a subset of companies to conduct further espionage. 

“It was very hard to detect,” Burt said.

He also acknowledged the rise in business email compromise attacks and the impact they’re having on customers. They’re also much more sophisticated, he says, and largely emanate from Russia, Iran, North Korea and China.

In addition to the four new Security Compliance and Identity certifications and added security features for Teams, Microsoft says its Attack Simulation Training is now generally available in Microsoft Defender for Office 365. General availability began on Jan. 6, 2021. A public preview was announced in September 2020 and extended to all Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 customers in November 2020.

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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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