AGL will shift almost all computing to the cloud by 2022. The move comes as the once glacial utilities sector finds itself in the midst of accelerating transformation, driven by regulatory changes, new energy retailing models, and a long term realignment caused by the emergence of alternatives to coal.
Cloud computing provides energy companies with the flexibility and agility they need to respond to these changes wrought by these trends.
According to AGL Executive General Manager Future Business & Technology Simon Moorfield AGL will migrate most systems and 200+ applications to Microsoft Azure, which has been selected as its primary cloud platform as part of a three year deal.
“Moving to cloud has already allowed more than 4,000 staff to successfully transition to working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leveraging Microsoft Teams and securely accessing corporate systems remotely,” he said.
“More broadly, it underpinned our $300 million Customer Experience Transformation (CXT) and our $165 million People, Processes and Performance Transformation (PT3) projects.
“These programs have allowed us to drive efficiencies, develop more products and improve customer offers, as well as upgrade our enterprise systems and processes and improve our technology performance.
The companies will also collaborate to build AGL’s Centre of Excellence, harnessing data and leading-edge technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) to boost efficiency and create new and compelling customer experiences.
AGL will be using Microsoft’s data and AI services for projects such as AGL’s world-leading Virtual Power Plant.
Moorfield said the agreement with Microsoft was consistent with AGL’s aspiration of using the trusted public cloud for all applications except those that cannot be hosted there for security or technical reasons, such as some systems used in power stations.
“This would make AGL the largest energy company and one of the first ASX50 companies with almost all technology applications in the public cloud, including all of those used at its corporate sites such as offices,” he said.
“Already we have nearly 50 percent of our applications in the Azure cloud, which includes systems that support our human resources functions such as payroll, leave, performance reviews and professional development.
“We expect to complete moving our technology from corporate data centres in Sydney and Melbourne to Azure within two years under our Cloud Transformation Program.”
Moorfield identified a range of benefits from the program including:
- increasing the speed at which innovative services are delivered to customers
- access to advanced Internet of Things and advanced analytics platform services
- reducing operational risk and supporting growth by providing secure, faster and better access to evolving technology, and
- enabling better ways of working through automation.
“The announcement is the culmination of a process that started last September when AGL invited proposals for hosting AGL applications in the public cloud.”
Microsoft Australia Managing Director Steven Worrall said: “AGL is a global trailblazer in terms of digital transformation in the utilities sector and keenly aware of the innovation, scalability, security and resilience that our Azure cloud delivers.
“This partnership will see us continue working together and leveraging the growing array of advanced Azure platform capabilities that will underpin new generation services and customer experiences, setting the pace in the global energy sector and helping to rein in environmental impacts of energy production and use.
“Many of the world’s leading companies run their businesses on Azure and Microsoft is delighted to be working closely with AGL as it continues to transform and innovate, delivering exceptional customer experiences, driving efficiency and supporting an engaged and safe modern workplace.”