by CIO Staff

How UK CIOs are migrating to the cloud

Jul 15, 2019
Cloud ComputingIT Strategy

RSA Group Chief Information and Technology Officer David Germain

David Germain, Group CITO at RSA Group, is moving the insurance company from a single, monolithic platform to a more modern technology stack as part of a new “re-platforming” strategy.

Since joining the firm in 2017, Germain has been looking to help drive change in a way that could help it innovate faster.

“To me that means cloud-first, so moving to private cloud or public cloud or some hybrid environment, exploiting some packaged SaaS where we can, and driving analytics in that environment towards more usage of AI and Robotic Process Automation,” said Germain.

“We have been able to work with cloud providers to have an environment that allows them to do that themselves, and not have IT help build an environment,” added Germain – as long as the right guardrails are established beforehand.

Another initiative that has proven successful at the insurer is the introduction of quarterly Kaggle competitions. This provides underwriters with “data sets and aspects of our global products to look for new opportunities,” and has directly led to the creation of new pricing models that can be utilised across the group.

Read next: RSA Group Chief Information and Technology Officer on the challenge of his dual role

Orbis CIO Matthew Scott

Orbis CIO Matthew Scott

Orbis, a partnership between the local authorities of Surrey County Council, East Sussex County Council and Brighton and Hove City Council, has made some changes to the core infrastructure that supports its customer-facing processes.

According to Orbis CIO Matthew Scott, the department had been operating multiple data centres before deciding to move to a public cloud with Microsoft Azure.

“I also recently gained agreement from the three councils to put in place a step change in the infrastructure capability, so we’ve started to invest in hyper-converged technology in the data centre,” he said.

“So the intention is to step change it with an infrastructure capability that enables us to actually provide the resilience and high performance and security required to support the digital business.”

By moving data centres, refreshing devices, upgrading connectivity and introducing cloud-based productivity tools, Scott’s team has enabled more collaborative working and greater productivity.

Read next: How Orbis CIO Matthew Scott merged the best of three IT departments together

Caesars Entertainment CIO Les Ottolenghi

Caesars Entertainment CIO Les Ottolenghi

Image by iStock

Caesars Entertainment is architecting a new cloud technology stack as part of its transformation strategy, which includes a shift from old systems to a digital model.

“We started by replacing legacy systems with cloud platforms for functions like general ledger and accounts payable,” Caesars Entertainment CIO Les Ottolenghi said.

“We replaced disparate systems for human capital management with a common cloud platform that allows employees to engage with us whether they are in Las Vegas or in one of our more than 50 locations around the world.

“By having superior technology and better processes for delivering that technology, we would be able to capitalise on new business opportunities, particularly those that improve customer experience.”

According to Ottolenghi, the launch of its new five-star resort in Dubai in November 2018 became the first high-tech integrated property in the world.

“We also used a cloud-first approach for customer engagement,” he said. “We’ve just completed a project called Maestro, which will launch during the first quarter of 2019. We are creating a 360-degree view of our customers in Salesforce, which will be tied to all of our other operational systems.”

Read next: Caesars Entertainment applies ‘digital first’ strategy for rapid growth

British America Tobacco CTO Nick Giannakakis

British America Tobacco CTO Nick Giannakakis

In 2019, British American Tobacco began working on a series of transformations designed to create new user experiences.

BAT CTO Nick Giannakakis, who joined the organisation in February, has been in charge of the company’s global technology strategy and digital transformation initiatives. As part of this, Giannakakis has started investing in the cloud to give the organisation the scalability and elasticity it needs to adopt emerging technologies.

“Currently, we have a multi-cloud strategy,” he says. “Our idea is to enable platform-as-a-service technologies and this multi-cloud offering. We consider cloud as a platform of innovation. That’s why we always discuss with our partners what they can do towards the platform.”

The cloud strategy is based on close collaboration with vendors. “Our aim is to create our partner ecosystem,” he says. “We will work with selective partners and we have strict rules of engagement with them. We have specific KPIs on how we will work with them, what we expect from them and what they can offer… And we will try to move to an agile way of operating with them.”

Read next: British American Tobacco CTO Nick Giannakakis reveals the digital foundations of an evolving business

Vodafone UK CTO Scott Petty

Vodafone UK CTO Scott Petty

Vodafone UK CTO Scott Petty believes becoming “cloud native” is about moving beyond migrating standard services to the cloud to take full advantage of cloud technology, on everything from design to delivery.

This strategy led Vodafone to develop an initiative called “Everything as Code”, which leverages cloud techniques for almost everything they need to do.

“We haven’t stopped there,” Petty wrote in CIO UK. “A few months ago, our teams set themselves a target of making it quicker to rebuild than to repair an environment when something goes wrong. Repairing tends to be fraught with unknowns – it’s hard to tell how a change you’re making will affect other parts of the system. The cloud enables us to build new environments quickly, and by rebuilding instead of repairing, we’ve reduced our delivery time from six weeks to just 30 minutes. This approach also makes it easier to introduce any improvements; we just change the source code and rebuild!”

Read next: Empowering people is key to digital transformation

Staffordshire University CIO Andrew Proctor

Staffordshire University CIO Andrew Proctor

Staffordshire University has steadily migrated to the cloud in recent years as it aims to increase its use of data and automation to reduce repetitive tasks.

“We have a lot of very, very talented academics,” said CIO Andre Proctor. “It doesn’t make sense for them to be buried down in painful work and really low-level work.”

Proctor explained that researchers previously had to work with ageing on-premise hardware, which made it hard for them to innovate at the speed that they desired. Moving to the cloud has provided them with the agility they need to experiment with new ideas.

“We’ve got instant access to infrastructure in Azure, and we can just move so much more quickly than we used to be able to,” said Proctor. “Knowing how quickly the market is developing, we don’t want sort of big, three-year heavy programmes of work that take a long time to deliver results. We want to try something out, move quickly and evolve it.”

Read next: Staffordshire University to launch AI-powered bot for students CTO Thierry Bedos CTO Thierry Bedos CTO Thierry Bedos has gone all-in on cloud since its parent company Expedia migrated the majority of its workload to Amazon Web Services, which provided Bedos with the agility to scale services as required, break down barriers between engineers and developers and standardise machine learning features.

“Now we have all these teams working together to be a lot more efficient at delivering software,” Bedos told CIO UK. “But to me, one of the main things that we are seeing from the cloud is this ability to operate data and machine learning at scale.

“If you’re not able to have large clusters to train, you’re not going to really crunch the data and be able to drive a huge amount of computing in a short period of time, and then all the machine learning algorithms and features are just not possible. It has been very transformational, for that pinpoint ability to spin up those large clusters and be able to train algorithms a lot more efficient, and then deliver that experience to the customers.”

Read next: CTO Thierry Bedos discusses cloud, data, DevOps and developing diversity

Carlsberg CTO Sarah Haywood

Carlsberg CTO Sarah Haywood

Carlsberg CTO Sarah Haywood joined the company in 2018 with plans for a new network infrastructure that would provide the foundations for shifting the entire suite of applications for Western Europe to the Microsoft Azure cloud, including a core SAP platform that manages all operational activity.

Carlsberg chose the Azure cloud because it offered a combination of stability and investment in technology that the company can use to do more agile and innovative work, from AI-enhanced brewing to data analysis of staffing.

“We are looking at ways in which technologies can disrupt the brewing industry and how we ensure that we are leading from the front in that and a first mover on some of those digital opportunities,” Haywood told CIO UK. “What we recognised pretty early on is that we didn’t have the base to do that from.”

Although starting in Western Europe, Haywood plans to focus on other regions such as Asia in 2019.

“For me, this was the first step and clearly implementing SDWAN or migrating to the cloud is not a means to an end,” she explained. “You do that for future leverage of that capability and to really start to drive the business value. We’re definitely at the point in the majority for Western Europe and we’re probably still foundationally building that in Eastern Europe and Asia.”

Read next: Carlsberg CTO Sarah Haywood brews disruption on new hybrid network

Dentsu Aegis Network CIO Gideon Kay

Dentsu Aegis Network CIO Gideon Kay

Japanese-owned media and digital marketing communications firm Dentsu Aegis Network has begun adopting cloud to remove points of friction within the company.

According to CIO Gideon Kay, the move to the cloud will help with innovation and keeping ahead of its rivals in a massive changing industry.

“It’s a business climate that is extremely challenging, extremely fast-moving and quite demanding,” said Kay. “One of the things I started with was by asking ‘how do I take as much friction out of the systems as possible? How do we enable self-service more and more? How do I maintain and deliver a solution to what is quite an entrepreneurial business, but do that in a way that continues to be compliant and responsible?”

The adoption of cloud services was deemed the best option based on the nature of the industry, the organisation’s client base and its history of acquisitions.

“My specific pivot around a strategy based on cloud is really about understanding how we take friction and tension out of the system,” he added. “We’re very cognizant and coherent of the fact that what we need is something that’d be much more flexible and agile, much more scalable and much more responsive.

“It may seem a little bit clichéd in many respects, but what I’m looking to do with our transition to cloud is to repurpose and refocus our people on more of the value-add and less on managing the commodity and the engine room.”

Read next: Dentsu Aegis Network CIO Gideon Kay interview – Accelerating cloud use to remove friction

Hovis Supply Chain Planning and IS Director Dominic Howson

Hovis Supply Chain Planning and IS Director Dominic Howson

After joining Hovis in 2014, Dominic Howson kicked off a plan to move the organisation to the cloud. The team is now using the new infrastructure to roll out a host of new apps.

This helps the bakery deliver over 1.3 million loaves of bread every day.

“I’m a big cloud advocate,” saidHowson. “We’re cloud by default in this business, so we don’t own any of our own assets. Whether it runs on infrastructure as a service, or its public cloud, or its software-as-a-service, that’s how we run as a business.

“It makes us quite agile, in terms of the size of our organisation. You don’t have an infrastructure that weighs you down.”

Hovis now runs services in Google, Microsoft and AWS. Howson says that the company will continue to make transitions in cloud, with plans to become a customer of SAP’s public cloud ERP platform.

Read next: Hovis IS Director Dominic Howson explains power of apps in the cloud

Waltham Forest CIO Paul Neville

Waltham Forest CIO Paul Neville

Paul Neville, CIO of the London Borough of Waltham Forest, is currently in the process of overseeing a transition to cloud, which will involve shutting down the organisation’s main data centre. “What we’re doing is updating our core technology to make sure we take of advantage of the latest developments, and a key element of that will be a move to cloud technology,” he told CIO UK.

The move to cloud will provide a number of benefits in terms of analytics. “This is big data: we’re really kind of uniting lots and lots of data, but using the cloud to enable us to be doing that quickly and access local services which help us do that in a much more effective way than we could ever have done in the past,” said Neville.

Read next: Paul Neville, CIO at Waltham Forest, brings the customer focus of business to government

Post Office Group CIO Rob Houghton

Post Office Group CIO Rob Houghton

Rob Houghton, CIO of the Post Office Group, spoke to CIO UK about migrating to various different cloud platforms in a largely outsourced environment.

“Our financial services system is hosted in a cloud environment, and we’ve got variable pricing-services systems in the cloud,” he said. “We run Success Factors to get a software-as-a-service type offering and we run Office 365 and Yammer, which is all cloud-based.

The financial services and variable pricing systems are already in the cloud, and Houghton wants the retail systems to soon join them so that the capacity of services can be optimised to demand.

Read next: Post Office CIO Rob Houghton fuses digital and physical customer needs

Trainline CTO Mark Holt

Trainline CTO Mark Holt

Trainline CTO Mark Holt completed a full infrastructure migration to the cloud through Amazon Web Services (AWS) within 14 months, which has helped the ticket retailer save £1.2 million in capital expenditure every year while keeping operational expenditure flat.

Releases are now broken down into small components rather than kept as monolithic applications, which has helped Trainline go from making one release every six weeks to more than 100 every week.

Holt believes the scale and innovation at AWS sets it apart from older rivals.

“They’re managing this massive infrastructure at hyper-scale, and the costs of them doing awesome security is tiny on a per customer basis, but it’s incredibly valuable for them to do it,” he said.

“Go and talk to some of the other vendors and it’s basically just an old style data centre that happens to be in the cloud. That’s not quite the same… If you’re competing on your ability to run infrastructure, then you’ve really lost already. Compete on your user experiences, compete on top-line, compete on speed, compete on all sorts of things. But don’t compete on the ability to run services.

“Do you want to be on Amazon’s innovation curve where they’re doing 400 releases a year of actually really cool stuff, most of which is really valuable? Or do you want to be on some legacy vendor who is talking to you about VMware stuff, and you ask for a new server and it takes a really long time for them to install things?”

Read next: Trainline CTO Mark Holt on the company’s journey from cloud-first to 100% cloud with Amazon Web Services

Unilever CIO Jane Moran

Unilever CIO Jane Moran

Unilever has been on a major transition to the cloud in recent years. CIO Jane Moran favours a multi-cloud deployment strategy and has fully moved its estate of more than 100,000 office-based employees to Office 365 and Skype for Business, which has improved service provision and massively cut down on hardware.

“Over the last few years we have moved more proactively to cloud services, whether its software as a service, infrastructure as a service, platform as a service or data as a service,” she said.

“We primarily use Amazon Web Services for our business applications and IaaS, and Microsoft Azure as a Platform-as-a-Service for Unilever’s data and analytics applications.”

Read next: Unilever CIO Jane Moran interview – Developing an Agile platform for growth and innovation

Ryder Cup CTO Michael Cole

Ryder Cup CTO Michael Cole

Ryder Cup and European Tour CTO Michael Cole is moving more systems to the cloud to add the security, accessibility, and flexibility that the golf organisation will need for the future.

“It’s really recognising that the European tour requires a transformation of its technology if it’s going to support the transformation of global golf,” he said. “What does that mean in reality? It means we have to reinvest in some legacy systems that haven’t changed in perhaps 20 years.

“It means that we need a more robust and secure environment, so we are moving more of our systems out to the cloud to give us the security, accessibility, and the flexibility to move forward. We are migrating digital systems onto next-generation platforms and we’ll see that come to life in the early part of 2019.”

Read next: Ryder Cup CTO Michael Cole interview – Driving transformation of global golf

DVSA Director of Digital Services and Technology James Munson

DVSA Director of Digital Services and Technology James Munson

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) was one of the earliest adopters of the cloud in the public sector. In 2015, the MOT test became the first national government service to be hosted at scale on AWS, which cut the cost of running the service in half.

The success of the 10-week transition to AWS convinced James Munson, Director of Digital Services and Technology at the DVSA, to move more services to the cloud that could benefit from the flexibility of use and deployment without downtime.

“We’ve continued that journey,” he said. “We’ve continued to build our public cloud and build services that we can then iterate on in those digital platforms.”

Read next: James Munson explains new digital strategy at the DVSA

Photobox Group CTO Richard Orme

Photobox Group CTO Richard Orme

Photobox has migrated nine petabytes of files from its data centres to the AWS cloud to help the online photo printing company process the huge quantity of images it handles, which previously forced the IT team to dedicate too much time on hardware maintenance.

Photobox Group CTO Richard Orme was impressed by the level of support and personal engagement offered by AWS, which helped his team overcome some early constraints with the Amazon hardware.

“They worked around the clock with us, so night and day we were speaking to engineering teams in Seattle, at what must have been 4am their time,” said Orme. “They changed their product roadmap in order to support us. Very quickly, within the space of three weeks, we got past that problem.”

Read next: Photobox Group CTO Richard Orme developing emotionally intelligent AI and realising DevOps squad goals

Ascential CIO Sean Harley

Ascential CIO Sean Harley

Ascential CIO Sean Harley has taken a patient approach to cloud migration to ensure that the media company fully understands the costs and governance requirements of the move.

“You can’t just go into the cloud all-in,” he said. “You have to focus in on what the governance processes are – how do you manage costs predominantly – as well as the governance around cloud infrastructures.

“And just because something’s in the cloud it doesn’t mean that you have to take away some of your traditional operating procedures like patching and delivery change management. These processes still have to be a key part of that.”

Read next: Ascential CIO Sean Harley on technology strategy and guiding media company through its successful IPO

SGN Director of IT and Innovation Andrew Quail

SGN Director of IT and Innovation Andrew Quail

SGN Director of IT and Innovation Andrew Quail has given the gas distribution company a cheaper, more scalable, more agile and more secure IT estate by moving it to the public cloud.

Quail earned the board’s support for his strategy by communicating his plan in general business terms.

“The word cloud was rarely used,” he said. “It was very much about what the IT department needs to do to support broader business strategy.

“That strategy was signed off and we are partway through that journey. It’s been pretty challenging but very exciting, and I am absolutely confident that it’s going to be worth the effort and worth the challenge.”

Read next: Andrew Quail reveals how SGN works with regulators on digital strategy