The Instillery taps Azure for Watercare IT infrastructure overhaul

The Instillery taps Azure for Watercare IT infrastructure overhaul

Watercare drew upon Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams to support its transition.

Credit: Dreamstime

IT professional and managed services partner The Instillery has stepped in to give Auckland Council’s Watercare a hand migrating away from its old systems and provider to Microsoft Azure.  

Watercare partnered with The Instillery to embark on a journey of consolidating and optimising business processes through the upgrade and building of new infrastructure.  

With an end goal of empowering staff and drive business risk reduction, Watercare drew upon Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams to support its transition.  

Owned by Auckland Council, Watercare delivers around 379 million litres of water to 1.7 million people daily. As part of the organisation’s Strategic Transformation Programme, Watercare is moving to a customer-centric digital focus as a strategic priority.  

This focus sees a drive for consolidation and optimisation of business processes, as well as the desire to make insight-informed, fact-based decisions across assets, customers and billing activities.

However, Watercare’s legacy corporate infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider was “expensive and too rigid” to keep up with the company’s growth and its workforce needs.  

“We were looking for something more affordable that offered public cloud scalability,” said Rebecca Chenery, Watercare’s chief digital officer. “The legacy provider didn’t have the business agility or the service catalogue that Microsoft Azure offers, which enable us to integrate corporate and customer facing systems.”  

In addition to avoiding a substantial cost burden, Watercare wanted to focus on business risk reduction, a vital element for a public sector organisation.  

Azure represented a way for the organisation to consolidate its compute workloads by way of a large migration into the public cloud platform, modernise critical workloads and managed significant operational cost savings in the process.

When discussions about the overhaul with Microsoft and The Instillery began, other benefits, such as remote working, came to the fore – a valuable asset as COVID-19 forced many to work from home.  

“We wanted to use technology to give our staff more freedom, untether them from their desks and get out of their way,” Chenery said. “This meant putting in their hands collaborative tools that would help us reach their and our desired outcomes.”

In the end, a shared risk model between The Instillery and Watercare allowed for a rapid migration to Azure.

Instead of having employees commute to headquarters, Watercare began communicating and collaborating over Microsoft Teams.  

“While we were already using Microsoft solutions, digital collaboration was limited,” said Chenery.

However, the New Zealand government’s call for organisations to have their staff work from home during the COVID-19 lockdown was a good time to test the capabilities of Microsoft Azure in terms of speed and flexibility.

“It opened doors to frictionless collaboration and fostered engagement without having to rely on physical presence,” Chenery said. “The decision to move to Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365, specifically Microsoft Teams and all its capabilities designed for work-from-home (WFH), modernised our pace of work entirely.”

According to Ryan Joe, general manager of The Instillery, the migration also opened up the possibility of accessing a whole suite of new Microsoft services and applications.  

“It also meant that some of Watercare’s existing team could be freed up to make human connections, rather than having to worry about operationally managing the new system,” Joe said.

“Watercare, Microsoft and The Instillery worked together and supported the project’s decisive success factors,” he added.

Now, Watercare is looking at bringing older systems into Microsoft Azure, and further scaling and modernising applications. Migration of key business systems like SCADA to Microsoft Azure is also on the horizon, as is process automation and data, an important factor, given that Watercare operates the whole business chain from catchment to tap.

“As an incredibly data-rich organisation that runs expensive and extensive control systems, we’d like to draw data from numerous widgets, like billing from smart meters, for practical purposes. It’s gold we’re not mining to the fullest yet, and we’re excited about transforming it into insights,” Chenery said.

As reported by Reseller News in September last year, Watercare revealed it had spent $8.6 million with Infor in the period from September 2019 to August 2020.

NTT received $3.8 million and Revera $3.7 million. Online reseller and distributor Acquire earned $2.3 million.

In an earlier report, from August 2019 to July 2020, Watercare had spent $9.5 million with Infor and $3.8 million with both NTT and Revera.

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