Centrica is migrating to the cloud as part of a “big transformation” that also involves working with open data and APIs, according to its Group CIO David Cooper.
The former British Gas CIO, who will soon be leaving the organisation, said that the transformation programme was part of series of work at the electricity and gas supplier to keep on top of industry trends and gain a competitive advantage on other organisations in the utilities sector.
“We have consolidated existing applications which have helped push us into leveraging new technologies being used in the industry and migrating to the use of cloud,” Cooper said.
“As cloud services are maturing at a significant rate, the challenge for us to review the workloads,” he said. “That can support by cloud platforms and the economics for that particular application.”
But Cooper said that cloud services could not necessarily guarantee the same levels of performance Centrica could achieve with its own systems.
“If we include this into the sensitivity of the data, the complexity of the application; it’s a simple one size fits all approach,” he said.
Another consideration for Centrica is security, with Cooper having hired ethical cyber expertise for ensuring safety of the new cloud provision, although the CIO is confident in his team who assess the risks and accountability in delivering solutions which contain customer data.
“We use techniques like white hat hackers, where we employ good hackers who try and break into the system, whether it’s data centres or carrying out penetration tests to access the whole process,” he said.
The cloud system will help larger applications cope with security and user capacity, having up to 10,000 people using the server at once.
Cooper said: “Having call centres and back office people use the app can impact on performance. So if we paralyse this with our business you can imagine how risk averse we are in putting those on to the cloud and how sure we have to be.”
Group CIO Cooper will is leaving Centrica after five years at the organisation and its subsidiary British Gas, saying his biggest achievement had been in changing the culture of the IT team.
“When I joined I think there was a state of mind of the digital team building what they were asked to build and that wasn’t the right solution,” he said. “There were quite a few issues and by changing the way we do things we could cut costs by £200 million.
“By understanding the business problem better we are much more confident and proud in delivering radical, revolutionary technology at Centrica.”