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Azure has allowed Coates to make use of all the Azure services, such as machine learning and IoT capabilities to accelerate innovation.

Coates Hire tools up for transformation with Azure

Three-day cloud transition accelerates safety apps and IoT

Coates Hire has overhauled its information systems, transitioning 300 virtual machines and seven core applications across to Microsoft Azure.

After a detailed planning and preparation phase the transition to the cloud took just three days and poises the business for accelerated transformation.

Coates Hire is Australia’s largest equipment hire businesses with branches in more than 160 locations nationwide. It offers more than 1 million pieces of equipment for rent.

Previously the company ran information systems across two data centres, but with a hardware refresh due Coates Hire took the opportunity to modernise its infrastructure and move to the cloud.

According to Coates Hire’s chief information officer, Ben Waterhouse; “We worked out that it was significantly beneficial from a cost perspective to actually transition to Azure as a platform, but more importantly, it also helped us drive efficiency to support those other strategic needs, from a digital transformation perspective.”

Over five years, factoring in all costs including licences, co-location costs and maintenance the migration to Azure Infrastructure as a Service has proven about 25 per cent cheaper than refreshing the on premises setup said Waterhouse.

Selecting Microsoft Azure also provides Waterhouse and his team access to a broad array of Azure services such as machine learning and Internet of Things capabilities that will accelerate the pace at which it can deliver new solutions for the business, suppliers and customers.

“If you go past thinking simply about IaaS and you start to think about platform and what you want to do in the future, and what you need to be able to do in the future, suddenly the Azure environment become a much more compelling conversation,” said Waterhouse.

The company conducted a market analysis before selecting Azure, during which it realised that at the time neither AWS nor Google could provide platform as a service for key applications which would have forced Waterhouse to containerise the application, adding technical overhead with no benefit.

Azure made most sense, and also delivered the opportunity to dovetail with Coates’ existing Microsoft investments in Office 365, .Net, SQL Server and Xamarin which it leverages for mobile application development.

Brett Shoemaker, Cloud and Enterprise lead, Microsoft Australia, said; “Transitioning to Azure Infrastructure as a Service is an important first step in the transformation that Coates Hire has planned.

“The company is already rolling out APIs that will allow its systems to integrate with trusted third parties and deliver ground breaking solutions for customers. One of the first will be a safety focussed solution that will make equipment manuals accessible on people’s smartphones.”

This application sees Coates Hire working with a third-party workforce and plant management technology business, 3D Safety Systems. Coates presents internal data to the 3D Safety platform via the API which then makes that available to customers so there is no longer any need to print off safety documentation when large heavy machinery is hired – the 3D Safetysystem puts that information into the hands of customers in the field via iOS and Android devices.

Shoemaker added that; “Coates Hire is also finalising an Internet of Things application that is going to transform the business value it offers to customers and the efficiency of Coates Hire itself. Microsoft is delighted to be able to play a role, working with Coates Hire to yes, get the digital foundations right with Azure – but more importantly work alongside Coates Hire as it digitally transforms.”

Critically for Coates Hire there are also total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits that the business will reap following its move to Azure.

“If you sit back and actually look at the whole TCO – so licence costs, storage costs, maintenance costs, colocation costs, power costs, support costs for the hardware environment – and you start adding those all together, the proposition is far more becoming. You then add the soft benefits about around scalability and ease to deploy and speed to deploy, and it’s a very compelling TCO,” said Waterhouse.

Coates Hire tools up for transformation with Azure