Cloud Breakfast – Learning from early adopters

If you attend almost any IT conference these days, you could be mistaken for thinking that every serving of The Cloud comes with a free side of business transformation. Can our clients achieve complete business transformation simply by migrating their IT systems to The Cloud, or is there more to it than that? We were recently treated to a breakfast briefing from two clients that have already made the journey to The Cloud and helped to answer this question from first-hand experience.

Datacom’s Cloud Insiders Breakfast was held at Pilkington’s in Auckland last month, during the Microsoft Ignite conference. “Insights from early adopters” was the theme of the breakfast and Kotahi CIO Neville Richardson and Zespri Global Manager of Information Systems Andrew Goodin presented to a packed room of Datacom clients.

Datacom assisted Zespri to migrate their IT systems into the Azure Cloud in 2014 and now provide ongoing Managed Services to monitor, automate and support the platform. Kotahi’s journey to the cloud began with Datacom’s annual Datacomp hackathon in 2015, which produced a unique logistics solution using Azure PaaS (Platform as a Service) software. This has since become a mission-critical business system for Kotahi, who are now migrating their legacy systems into Azure also.

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Kotahi’s Neville Richardson describes how Kotahi made its Cloud migration.

Michael Farrell – Datacom’s BU manager for Microsoft Managed Services and ALM opened the breakfast by sharing his view that a move to the cloud doesn’t guarantee transformation. In his experience, if clients don’t create or correctly apply a cloud strategy, most are simply consolidating and reducing their total cost of ownership (TCO).

“Azure enables transformation. It doesn’t guarantee it. “

Some key points made by Kotahi’s Neville Richardson:

  • Kotahi’s IT strategy supports differentiation by delivering “cloud as a service”, an integrated platform utilising familiar technologies
  • Choosing the right platform is key, including geo location, sizing to requirements, platform flexibility, value for money, implementation and management expertise, utilising data for new insights
  • Richardson said it was important to start small and test the environment, select a good partner to support and don’t try to make all workloads fit. He advised creating a “cloud first” culture for all new applications.

Andrew Goodin had a different, more tumultuous story to tell – the first steps towards cloud migration for Zespri began at a dark time for the kiwifruit industry – a time of retrenchment and fear for the future, brought on by the arrival of the PSA virus in New Zealand.

The PSA virus was ravaging Bay of Plenty orchards and the company was investigating ways of easily scaling down operations. But now – with PSA beaten quickly and record export volumes flowing out of New Zealand – the Azure cloud is proving to be the perfect framework for innovation and flexibility.

“But the cloud is not for everyone”, said Goodin. He advised other potential cloud users to make a migration decision based on the facts, not emotions. “I built this, I look after it – it’s often at the heart of it.” he said, describing the emotional attachment some IT staff had to buying and managing their own infrastructure – even when it could be done more efficiently and effectively at scale – by a partner on the public cloud.

goodincloudpicZespri’s Andrew Goodin shares his Cloud migration story

Some cloud lessons from Zespri:

  • Partnerships are essential when you embark on this journey – since not everything will go to plan
  • Test your platforms against performance and cost models
  • The cloud opportunity should be considered for driving innovation and scalability, and not just for cost savings
  • Not every workload is suitable for the cloud – but always challenge that assumption!
  • The financial benefits are real, but that’s not the only reason to move to the cloud.

There’s nothing better than shared first-hand experience when you’re about to embark on tough, demanding journeys. This is a key part of the value Datacom brings to our client partnerships; our breadth of skills and experience as the leading enterprise IT solutions provider in NZ is unrivalled.

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We don’t just migrate our clients into the cloud and leave them there to try and optimise it themselves either. Our services cover the entire lifecycle of a client’s Cloud journey; from creating a clear and structured cloud strategy to managing and supporting the cloud platform and products that run on it.

We would like to say a big thank you to our friends at Kotahi and Zespri for sharing their experiences with us and those about to take the first step to business transformation on the cloud.

James Stainton

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