POSTED ON September, 13 2018

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Every organisation is on its own journey and the job of companies like Innovate is to support them in achieving their business goals through the best application of technology. That was the take away message from a packed Innovate event held at Microsoft’s EMEA headquarters in Leopardstown in early September.

Company representatives led a series of discussions aimed at helping organisations looking to use cloud technology to drive organisational strategy, and many of the attendants reported that cloud engagement was making strategic growth happen faster.

 

Cloud Strategy Brifing Event One Microsoft Place

“To me how technology works is the least interesting aspect of it – what it lets the customer do is far more engaging,” said Michael Redmond, cloud technical lead with Innovate.

“I want to understand how a company operates so we can more fully match its needs with the possibilities that the cloud promises. This process is extremely important but there are certain aspects of every business that just make sense in the context of cloud technologies.”

Ian Bowell, digital advisor for Microsoft, suggested that ideally the entire management team of a company needs to be involved in steering the technological direction of any company considering making major change and engaging a digital transformation project.

“You don’t want it to just be an IT discussion, it’s about sharing ideas and bringing to the organisation the subject matter experts and examples of where transformational value has been delivered elsewhere. The CTO needs to be involved, absolutely, but so to do the CFO, the COO, the CCO and the CEO,” he said.

The Irish Greyhound Board decided to move its activities to the cloud long before it was mainstream, and senior project manager Paddy O’Grady discussed the factors that drove that decision.

“For us, it was the cost and inconvenience of looking after 10, 20 or 30 servers at a time. Doing anything cost a lot of money, and a lot of good ideas didn’t get followed up because of that. We moved everything to the cloud and instead of the IT staff spending 75 per cent of their time keeping the lights on, they were able to dive into projects instead. That was a game changer for us,” he said.

Freeing up staff in this way provides enormous flexibility in terms of resources and one of the things that can be engaged with more seriously as a result is digital transformation. David Cully, operations manager of Cully Automation, discussed the way in which that company used digital transformation as a means to open up its service offerings to its customers.

“We’re primarily all about measurements – that’s what our business is built on -- but as the years went on our customers were no longer happy to just have instruments on site at their locations, they wanted to be able to monitor them remotely on their phones and in their offices,” he said.

“As the market changed to being more interested in this kind of functionality, the cloud was the natural fit for us in terms of providing it. We installed 3G and 4G routers on site to bring that connectivity to life, whether it be the water level of a reservoir or the status of the pumps that people want to know.”

Cully Automation did this by harnessing the technology infrastructure available within Microsoft Azure along with the technology ability of Innovate which “we didn’t have in-house’.

“The end result is a system which delivers the information our customers want, pretty much wherever they are,” said Cully.

One of the challenges facing companies in 2018 is how to move workloads from one cloud provider to another if they find that their original cloud provider is no longer the best fit for their needs. Innovate worked with one accountancy practice with 50 employees based in Dublin but with branches in Portugal and India that encountered a major problem as it grew.

It discovered that it’s private cloud infrastructure couldn’t accommodate the company’s rapid growth.

Cloud Strategy Briefing Event One Microsoft Place

“When they originally went into the cloud, they specified a system geared up for around 30 to 35 people but the business subsequently grew and the infrastructure they were using couldn’t cope with the demands they were placing on it,” said Enda Cahill, chief technology officer for Innovate.

“This was a serious situation for this company. They were hesitant about going to the public cloud and we had to do a lot of work with them, showing them exactly how it would work.”

Cahill reported that significant support from Microsoft helped the company to understand that Azure was going to be the best solution for them, because the owners were naturally sceptical of going back into a cloud environment.

“Microsoft was able to show them a live environment that they could test out and be happy with before pushing the button on the whole thing. But we have had other clients which have said ‘no, we just want a server’,” he said.

“It’s the individual organisation’s journey and it’s our job to support them.”

 

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