Azure gets top billing for Adelaide Festival Centre’s technology upgrade

Each year the Adelaide Festival Centre has over 980,000 patrons visiting the hundreds of shows and events it puts on in Adelaide and surrounding areas. These visitor numbers are set to grow as a massive Adelaide Riverbank precinct upgrade nears completion.

The precinct is undergoing a major overhaul which includes a new-look Adelaide Oval, an upgraded Adelaide Convention Centre, a new casino, a new plaza and a $90 million grant to Adelaide Festival Centre to invest back into the arts in Adelaide.

Billed as Australia’s first multi-purpose arts centre opening back in 1973 – three months before the Sydney Opera House – the Adelaide Festival Centre has long been a major player in the Australian arts scene.

For Carlo D’Ortenzio, the Festival Centre’s Chief Operating Officer, it was apparent that one of the most important investments the organisation could make was in its technology.

“It was clear that we needed a platform that could scale up and down to meet the demands of an industry that experiences peaks and troughs throughout the year. Importantly, we needing a back-end system that our patrons, as the lifeblood of our business, could interact with smoothly and efficiently,” he said.

With its existing server being located in a part of the Festival Centre which was earmarked for demolition, the decision had to be made to either build a new on-premise server or move to the cloud.

“Looking at the trends and doing the numbers, we found that moving to the Azure Cloud provided better value for money, and eliminated the need to replace capital equipment going forward and we will have immediate access to the best available technology in future.”

From an external point of view, the Adelaide Festival Centre’s most important touchpoint with its customers is undoubtedly its website. It is typically the first contact a potential patron has with the venue and so its importance cannot be understated. For some time the website has run on Red Hat software, which made the recent announcement that Red Hat Enterprise Linux could now be run on Microsoft’s Azure music to the Festival Centre’s ears.

For Andrew Wroniak, Manager of the Centre’s Business Services, Microsoft Azure’s partnership with Red Hat was exciting news. “We’ve got a good relationship with Red Hat and have been using its services for many years, and obviously we want to continue that relationship going forward,” he said.

“With this in mind, the decision to choose Microsoft Azure as our cloud platform became even more obvious. We have moved our web servers to Microsoft Azure and we are able to deliver so much more to our patrons via the web.

“We pride ourselves on being a progressive organisation and cloud was the best way forward for us. Not only did we avoid costly capital outlay, we were also opening ourselves up to the best technology available. Our IT team is excited about what the future holds and now we can also start thinking about our next project – deployment of Office 365 across our 300 staff.”

The Office 365 deployment will be crucial for Adelaide Festival Centre when it comes to achieving some of the strategic goals that Mr D’Ortenzio and his team have set, with one of the key goals being to enable a mobile workforce and to support employees who want to work anytime, anywhere. “A key factor in this is creating a more connected and agile way of working”.

Another goal is to remain ahead of the competition and delivering on customer expectations.

“For years we have been lagging behind our Precinct partners significantly in terms of technology, and now I’d like to think that we are at the forefront of technology,” Mr D’Ortenzio said. “Operating successfully and meeting stakeholder and customer needs can be hugely complex. But it is a challenge we intend to meet, by embracing technology and investing in our presence in-market.”

“As the leading arts and cultural centre in the state we need to take both a wide and long-term view of the most significant developments within business, relationships and society and pursue a strategy that is robust and flexible enough to meet our future needs – we believe that this type of technology will do it for us.  We are very clear about where we want to go and where we want to take it.”

Mr D’Ortenzio summed up the transformation project by saying, “This is a journey for us and we welcome all private and government investment believing the right kind of investment will attract mass of activity necessary to make the Precinct and Adelaide Festival Centre a success for the Government and the public of South Australia. I believe by moving to Microsoft Azure, we are really setting ourselves up for success.

Adelaide Festival Centre is South Australia’s principal performing arts venue and presenter of dance, theatre, music and exhibitions.  It is a leading Asia Pacific cultural centre, producing 4 international festivals, hosting 1,813 events and attracting 980,443 patrons annually. For more information click here

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