SBB Cargo sets the course for its digital future with the Microsoft Cloud

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SBB Cargo is relying on Microsoft’s Azure services in its cloud strategy. In addition, the company already obtains Power BI and Microsoft 365 from Microsoft’s Swiss data centres.

Especially in today’s connected world, a highly competitive market and in times of global delivery delays, customers have a need for real-time data. They want to know where their goods are and when they will arrive at all times. “For this to work, a solid digital infrastructure and clear data strategy is imperative,” says Andreas Blum, CIO of SBB Cargo. For this reason, the company is already using various cloud solutions to gradually replace its operational legacy systems.

Now, on this journey, SBB Cargo has adapted its cloud strategy. Previously, the strands ran together in a multi-cloud environment – for example, from Microsoft 365, Power BI and Power Apps by Microsoft and from cloud services from other providers. “However, the limited compatibility between the individual interfaces led to delays in important data transfers,” explains Stefan Schillings, Information Security Officer and Cloud Architect at SBB Cargo. “That’s why we decided to focus on a single cloud provider with Microsoft Azure.” In addition, with Power BI and Microsoft 365, cloud applications are already in operation that harmonize perfectly with Azure.

Meanwhile, SBB Cargo has migrated its data from the Data Lake to Azure and is using Azure Synapse Analytics for the data warehouse. “For us, real-time data with a clear focus on our customers is central. In this way, we want to integrate our services even better into our customers’ logistics chains in the future,” Blum said. In addition, he says, real-time data is fundamental as a basis for decision-making in order to cover, among other things, safety aspects of transport.

Another crucial aspect for SBB Cargo is cyber security. Schillings explains: “With Azure, we were able to easily implement our group’s zero-trust concept and drastically reduce the complexity of the infrastructure.” As a result, he says, cloud operations have also become more performant and transparent: “In addition, I have all the necessary tools at my fingertips, such as Defender for Cloud for our security or Azure Advisor to optimize our costs.” The company sources all of its services from Microsoft’s Swiss datacenters in Zurich – and soon in Geneva.

As a result, SBB Cargo is now equipped to move on to the cloud to modernize its current systems and better integrate with its customers’ processes in the future. In the near future, further automation such as Automatic Coupling, Automatic Brake Testing and machine learning for damage detection on freight wagons will also be available to simplify work in shunting operations.

“The example of SBB Cargo makes it clear that companies from the public sector are also using the cloud as an important means of increasing their innovative strength,” says Christian Widmer, Public Sector Director and Member of the Executive Board at Microsoft Switzerland. “That’s why we are particularly pleased to accompany SBB Cargo on its further journey into the cloud.”

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