Auckland Transport signs Microsoft deal to move IT infrastructure to the cloud

Auckland Transport
The US tech giant will also train AT's employees in security and other skills. Photo credit: Getty Images

Auckland Transport (AT) has signed a deal with Microsoft to move its data and computing to the cloud from on-site servers.

According to the companies, the deal is aimed at boosting innovation while reducing costs and improving sustainability of AT's transport services.

The move to Microsoft's Azure cloud is the biggest aspect of the deal although the US technology giant will also train AT's employees in security and other digital skills.

"Not only does this investment in its team help attract and retain the best people, it also enables AT to shift its focus from business as usual to exploring innovative ways technology can be harnessed to create new services and enhanced experiences," the organisation said.

With technology infrastructure moving the cloud, Aucklanders should benefit from both cost savings as well as increased agility and efficiency.

During periods of high demand AT will no longer have to order physical servers - the cloud services can simply expand to deliver the capacity needed. That means web traffic, transport service updates and AT HOP card top-up requests are seamlessly handled.

And if demand ever falls, like it did during the COVID-19 lockdowns, AT won't be left paying for unused infrastructure.

Roger Jones, executive general manager business technology at AT, said he was thrilled to have found a technology partner whose sustainability values and strategy aligned so well with the organisation.

"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," Jones said.

"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's hyperscale datacenter region, currently being built in West Auckland, will be among the most sustainable, Microsoft said. It'll run on 100 percent renewable energy from day one and use waterless cooling technologies.

AT, by using the cloud, will be able to track its emissions across its network, allowing it to adjust policies and services to reduce them further, it said.

Vanessa Sorenson, Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand, said she was excited by the potential for innovation.

"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.

"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 said.