Digital Transformation in the Water Industry – Cloud Infrastructure

Pubished 18th April 2019

Cloud computing has been an integral component in enabling digital transformation initiatives. The worldwide cloud infrastructure market had another strong quarter in Q4 2018 growing by 46% to exceed US$80 billion for the full year. InterQuest’s Technology Practice caught up with Yorkshire Water’s Cloud Technical Lead to discover how cloud is transforming their services.

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“My name is Nick Preston and I’m a Cloud Technical Lead within the Digital Development team.

I have 25 years of experience within IT at Yorkshire Water, performing various Infrastructure and Platform roles during that time.”

“As a Cloud Technical Lead, the main aspect of my role is to ensure we have an appropriate platform on which to host the software created by the developers within the team. The platform is primarily based on Azure, which ensures we are using the latest and best technologies and that those technologies can be delivered in minutes or hours, not weeks.”

While overall spending on cloud has grown, Microsoft Azure’s market share grew to 16.8% from 13.5% in the same period a year ago. In a survey by RightScale they found Azure’s adoption rate accelerated from 45% from last year to 52% of respondents with the majority of growth among enterprises gaining ground on Amazon’s AWS.

“The flexibility of Cloud not only allows us to keep pace with the demands of our developers, it allows us to seamlessly scale resources to meet the demands of the wider business or the changing demand from customers.”

One major advantage of scalable architecture is the ability to scale up to handle spikes in demand with little or no notice. Scalable systems can keep an application or online business running during peak times preventing reputational damage.

“A good example of this was scaling the platform for the Yorkshire Water website to cope with demand from customers following the impact of “Beast from the East”. We simply couldn’t have achieved this with traditional server infrastructure.”

“It’s a DevOps team, so I work closely with the developers on the team, providing architectural input and advice, carrying out Proof of Concept work and diagnosing issues. To do this effectively, we also have to keep up with the new and updated capabilities in Azure, which is a full time job in itself. That’s key to the success of our projects and means we are always using the best-fit capability for our needs. It also enabled us to propose and lead changes to the architectural templates used within the team.”

Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of enterprises will migrate from on-premises data centres moving workloads to colocation, hosting and the cloud. A top reason for this move is that on-premise systems come with a large upfront capital expenditure while cloud has a more predictable operational expense of ‘pay for what you use’.

“My previous experience and roles also mean that when integrating with legacy, on-premise systems I’ve got a deep understanding of the infrastructure, platforms and capabilities so we can exploit them effectively.”

“Within the team, I can also influence on the collaboration technologies used within the team, optimising the way we work and incorporating newer platforms like Azure DevOps, helping us to work faster and smarter than ever before.”

Microsoft’s launch of Azure DevOps was a strategic response to the changing dynamics of the industry. It enables developers to get the most out of open-source projects with cloud-hosted pipelines for Mac OS, Linux and Windows with unlimited minutes and 10 free parallel jobs.

“I’m also an advocate outside of the team, working to influence senior stakeholders on the proposed solutions and the merits of Cloud adoption.”

“Enjoyment comes from the vast array of technologies at my fingertips, combined with working closely with a cohesive team of people who all work for an excellent manager.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Cloud infrastructure, InterQuest and ECOM are hosting an event as part of Leeds Digital Festival on Wednesday 1st May 2019 in partnership with Yorkshire Water.