After years of baby steps, hospitals nationwide are moving increasing amounts of health data into the cloud to guard against malware attacks and seize opportunities to use artificial intelligence to analyze data on patients, operations, and finances.

Health care’s shift to centralized data storage on the internet — and away from on-premises server warehouses — seems as dull as the laying of new water pipes in hospital basements. But these pipes are carrying vast amounts of sensitive data as well as the ambitions of dominant vendors such as Google Cloud, Amazon (AMZN) Web Services, and Microsoft Azure — all of which are swiftly ramping up their offerings to win hospital contracts.

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