Today, more than ever before, it is essential that our colleagues, customers, and partners be able to react quickly and confidently to rapidly changing circumstances. The ability to ingest, analyze, and act on incoming information requires that an organization have a robust, scalable technology infrastructure.

Such an infrastructure is not limited to one place or one platform. Modernized, and cloud-native applications can span across on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge environments. Creating and managing this vast technology estate requires a modern paradigm that enables seamless experiences, no matter where the workload exists. The mindset of combining on-premises and cloud environments into a hybrid cloud has become a force in today’s industry and has been a core part of our strategy since the inception of Azure. In the face of the unprecedented transitions in today’s world, our mission remains the same: To enable our customers and partners to transform their organizations to achieve more, wherever they are.

Healthcare and Azure Stack

The healthcare industry has recently been confronted with incredible demands. Healthcare providers must balance the need to efficiently treat many new patients, and work with sensitive data to unlock possible treatments. These missions require that healthcare organizations practice diligent and careful stewardship to protect private patient and clinical data. The Azure Stack family brings intelligent, highly secure, real-time analytics using AI to any on-premises infrastructure, empowering healthcare providers to find answers while being good data stewards. We are working to bring solutions that enable digital pathology, medical imaging, and research and genomics at the edge, lowering latency and increasing throughput. The Azure hybrid platform equips healthcare systems to find previously hidden innovations that can improve operations – for example in emergency room wait times, operating room efficiencies, bed utilization, and patient-flow bottlenecks.

Here is a recent example of how Olympus is finding new ways to innovate in the operating room providing room status in real-time using Azure Stack Edge to enable edge computing using Azure AI and Azure Machine Learning.

Edge and hybrid computing expand the reach of cloud-native technologies to locations around the world. In the context of healthcare, the largest hospitals to the smallest clinics can be digitally transformed with edge computing. More broadly, there are often cases where edge compute needs to run in harsh environments, such as a field hospitals, rural clinics, disaster areas, factory floors, or retail stores. Our Azure Stack Rugged series, currently in preview, brings the power of the intelligent cloud to these demanding environments. The Rugged series includes innovations such as a battery-powered form factor that can be carried in a backpack into many unconventional situations, including search and rescue operations.

First responders using the new Azure Stack Edge rugged series on a search and rescue mission, when every second counts.

We’d like to share some of the efforts we’re taking on to enable healthcare workers to be successful in uncertain times.

Healthcare providers depend on the ability to share, with patient permission, health information within their systems, and between providers. The Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) project provides a platform for this data interchange. Last year, we released a software as a solution (SaaS) version of the FHIR platform in Azure. This robust platform is now available on Azure Stack Hub and Azure Stack Edge, allowing healthcare providers to quickly connect existing on-premises data sources, such as electronic health record systems or research databases, and enable the rapid exchange of data in between legacy and modern implementations of mobile and web development as well as between departments. Most importantly, FHIR on Azure Stack can simplify data ingestion and accelerate development with analytics and machine learning tools.

Researchers are constantly searching for answers and are increasingly turning to machine learning to crawl through mountains of data and visualize the results. We’re multiplying the machine learning inferencing and training power available to the Azure Stack family, working closely with AMD and NVIDIA to make GPUs widely available across Azure Stack. These new GPUs will enable a large number of AI/ML scenarios that work with on-premises data, as well as remote work with graphically intense workloads that require low latency and are data sensitive.

An ever-expanding ecosystem is what completes our platforms. We’re collaborating with our independent software vendor (ISV) partners to create solutions that bring their intelligence and power to the edge. The Aware Group, which builds IoT Edge modules that use AI to detect anomalies and perform noise classification, is creating a set of solutions tailored to several different industries. Avanade, a cloud services partner, is offering customers a way to easily deploy and manage Azure Stack Hub in locations that do not have a datacenter. This offering is based on HPE’s Edgeline EL8000, a small form factor server that does not require external cooling, making it ideal for unconventional locations.

Next steps with Azure Stack

Whether your goal is to reduce costs, comply with regulatory and data sovereignty requirements, enable low latency and edge workloads, or modernize your datacenter and applications, Azure Stack is here to enable your hybrid cloud strategy. For more details on how Azure Stack can help your organization, we invite you to watch this webinar.