The Future of Business is in the Cloud

Microsoft’s Azure Summit 2018 saw over 700 business leaders, IT experts, partners and customers come together to discuss how Kiwi organisations can harness the next generation of cloud to transform their business.

A recent Microsoft survey of 100 New Zealand IT professionals found that 42 percent are using the hybrid cloud to advance their business journey, and it is predicted that over the next 12 to 18 months this will increase by a further 47 percent [1].

Jennifer Cherrington-Mowat, Executive General Manager of Technology and Digital at Genesis Energy, kicked off proceedings with an insightful presentation exploring where New Zealand is at on the digital transformation continuum and unpacking what the term means for businesses, individuals and other entities.

“Digital Transformation has the power to both seduce and alienate people. But either way it will significantly disrupt modern business, whether it knows it or not,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer went on to point out that New Zealand businesses must embrace digital transformation and seize the opportunities it presents. But businesses must have a strategy and adopt purpose-led technology, not just for the sake of having all the new bells and whistles. A digital strategy cannot exist independently from the overall business strategy, she warned. When embracing technology like cloud and data analytics, business leaders must have realistic expectations around what it can deliver for the business and understand the costs involved.

“At Genesis we have been upscaling our technology offerings significantly over the last few years, but it hasn’t happened oovernightand we still have a long way to go. It takes time, money and the right people to get a business into the right place technologically. But what’s important is that the business community moves in the right direction with purpose and that our business plans guide our digital strategy.”

Next up was Vijay Tewari, Microsoft’s Principle Azure Group Programme Manager, who travelled all the way from Seattle to lead a presentation on intelligent cloud.

“We are all going to live in a hybrid world and Microsoft has developed Azure Stack as an extension of Microsoft Azure, to give businesses and individuals autonomy over where their sensitive data is stored.”

“At Microsoft we are customer-obsessed, and the Microsoft Azure Stack is designed to meet the unique needs of different businesses and organisations.”

Vijay emphasised that organisations that are dispersed or operating remotely, like mobile sales teams, tourism operators, and even cruise ships and defence force units like Navy vessels, can benefit from hybrid cloud offerings like Azure Stack. It enables them to gather, store and send mission critical data no matter how poor their internet coverage is and where in the world they may be – even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

For a country like New Zealand, which has no fixed data centres, Azure Stack makes it possible for businesses and individuals, including health and government organisations handling sensitive information, to securely store data within New Zealand, rather than in an offshore data centre.

Data security and sovereignty remains a hot topic and for Russell Craig, Microsoft New Zealand’s National Technology Officer, it is a key focus to build trust in Microsoft’s cloud solutions. Russell gave insight into Microsoft’s commitment to protect sensitive information held by its customers in healthcare and the public sector and the rigid safeguards in place to ensure Azure is watertight.

“At Microsoft we are committed to protecting the privacy of our customers’ data. In an age where technology holds more and more of our personal information, as a technology provider Microsoft recognises that we have a duty of responsibility to this data. As a result, we apply a holistic approach to security, are leaders in compliance and remain committed to transparency,” he said.

“We help you to keep your data secure, ensuring it remains private and under your control 24/7. We manage your data in accordance with the law, and are open and transparent with our practices so you know what we are doing with your data at all times.”

Recently Microsoft challenged the US government’s request to access data that is stored off shore in a much-publicised US Supreme court case. Russell explained that while Microsoft recognises the government’s role and responsibility to represent and protect its people, they also believe overzealous governments should not be able to demand access to data that is not stored in their country. Microsoft is determined to represent the best interests of its customers and continues to work alongside governments around the world to strike the right balance.

Microsoft is leading a global push to modernise international laws and treaties to protect everyone’s data that is stored in the cloud and in new and emerging technologies. Doing the right thing when it comes to people’s data and privacy is a self-imposed mandate for Microsoft in order to earn and keep the public’s trust. As the current Microsoft Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella explains, “Businesses and users are going to embrace technology, but only if they can trust it.”



[1] Survey shows growing preference for hybrid cloud solutions by Kiwi IT Leaders