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Microsoft and Auckland Transport announce new cloud agreement

By Mitchell Hageman
Mon 1 Aug 2022

Auckland Transport (AT) and Microsoft have announced a new cloud agreement aimed at promoting innovation, reducing costs and improving sustainability in transport services.

A significant part of the agreement involves shifting Auckland Transport's data and computing from on-premises servers to Microsoft Azure cloud, making it easier for the organisation to enhance its workforce and provide better services.

The agreement also involves education, with Microsoft training AT employees in cloud fundamentals, security and other digital skills in order to help them navigate emerging technologies and utilise them to their full potential.

An outcome of the agreement will be a shift in focus for AT, giving the transport provider new opportunities to explore innovative ways technology can be harnessed. This will allow them to create new services and enhanced experiences for customers.

Auckland commuters will benefit from the cost saving and the extra agility and efficiency that public cloud creates for AT. During times of high demand, AT will now no longer need to wait for more physical servers to be ordered, and public cloud services can expand to deliver extra capacity as needed. This will help take on and manage more web traffic, transport service updates and card top-up requests. 

AT also won't be left paying for unused infrastructure when demand falls, which was a significant problem for the organisation during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The addition of next-generation security services will also boost the resilience of AT's transport systems and better protect customer data.

AT executive general manager business technology Roger Jones says that the new agreement is aided by Microsoft's sustainability values and strategy, which align with the organisation's own.

"At its core, this agreement is about smarter use of resources: using less of the planet's precious resources, optimising operations and increasing our internal capability to make the most of data and modern technologies," he says.

"All of this will help us become a much more agile, efficient organisation that will deliver better services across the region and improve the liveability of our city for many decades to come."

Microsoft has also announced recently that its forthcoming hyperscale datacenter region will be among the most sustainable ever built. The company says it will run on 100% renewable energy from day one and use waterless cooling technologies. Using Microsoft's cloud solutions, AT will easily be able to track emissions across its networks and adjust policies or services to reduce these further.

"One of the things we're getting lots of enquiries about is latency – the ability to upload and download data in almost real time, which AT's CCTV networks at stations and intersections rely on," says Microsoft New Zealand MD Vanessa Sorenson.

"Having a local datacenter region here in Aotearoa means much lower latency than ever, so transport systems can run more smoothly and AT is able to respond faster to security or safety incidents, in partnership with Waka Kotahi and the police," she says.

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