AGL Energy has jumped on the Azure bandwagon to develop its 'next generation' digital platform and is moving its SAP "smartmeter" platform to the new Australian Geo.
AGL chief information officer, Owen Coppage, said AGL needed a common platform that met both internal and customer-facing needs.
"The first step in this journey was to consolidate our 50 independently-managed business websites into one consolidated platform, which we achieved with Microsoft Azure," he said.
"Working with Avanade and Accenture, we then implemented a customer experience solution from Sitecore running on the platform.
"This enabled us to take advantage of its rich and scalable features, while leveraging our existing investments in Microsoft technology, such as Office 365."
He said running the company's customer service solution in the Cloud was a crucial element of the experience the company aimed to deliver at AGL.
"First and foremost, it means we can rapidly scale our solution to address demand," he said.
"For instance, there are particular times during the month – such as after pay days – where we know customers will go online to pay their bills.
"We can plan for this spike in activity and, with Cloud, can scale up services to ensure there is no downtime impacting the customer."
The AGL deployment follows the launch of Azure Cloud services to be hosted in Australia, addressing data sovereignty concerns of Australian businesses.
Coppage said, as a Private Preview customer for Australia, the company had been working to develop its next generation Digital Platform, which was being hosted in the new Microsoft Azure Geo in Australia.
"We’ve been working on a Web API designed to support a variety of communication channels, and we hope that by unifying them at the back-end we’ll drive the customer experience even more," he said.
The company has also moved its SAP platform, which manages digital meter data, and test environments to Microsoft Azure.
Coppage said this had resulted in a significant improvement in self-service and speed of deployment of existing arrangements.
"Similarly, as consumers increasingly embrace digital meters gathering increasing data volumes, we can effectively scale the platform to manage the demand being placed on it," he said.
"We anticipate that from migrating this part of our workload to Microsoft Azure’s Australian offerings we’ll realise over 60 per cent in annual hosting cost savings.
"As digital meters become a common fixture in homes across the country, we’ve also used the Private Preview stage to establish an entirely new metering business in the Cloud.
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"We’re hoping to deliver this later next year, which is only made possible due to how quickly we can launch new services in Microsoft Azure."
AGL has adopted “Cloud first policy” for all new services, and Microsoft Azure is the preferred platform.
Coppage said the company would also continue to invest in Cloud from a Digital perspective, providing support for native mobile applications and adopting Service Bus Notification Hubs for cross-platform device notifications.
"Disaster recovery is another area we’re investigating, and is somewhere we see significant cost savings," he said.
"Lastly, we’re in the final stages of a decision regarding an internal switch from VMWare to Hyper-V. This is being driven by cost-savings and the ease at which we can move workload between on-premise and Cloud."