In 2014, Australia’s Objective Corporation wanted to expand its unique, high-security, content-collaboration service – Objective Connect – to customers around the world. The company selected Microsoft Azure because the cloud platform can provide support for the open source based service, as well as meet the required compliance and regulatory requirements in multiple countries. By using a single, global cloud partner, Objective Connect is now available in 68 countries.
“We wanted a cloud provider who could partner with us around the world,” says Rob Mills, Global Vice-President, Objective Connect. “As our customers are in government, health and regulated industries, the information they deal with is highly sensitive and must be hosted in their local geography. So along with security, Data Sovereignty is key. In Australia, more than 15,000 public servants use our service, and they require their data to be stored in Australia, where it is subject to Australian law. Overseas governments want the same assurance in their own territories.”
Mills’ other main challenge was finding a cloud service that proactively supports his company’s choice of technologies. “We wanted to consolidate the engineering effort on a single, consistent, global technology platform, instead of using different providers in various countries” he says. “That partner had to be one hundred percent supportive of the technologies we use.”
In late 2014, the company’s engineers assessed the cloud infrastructure service, Microsoft Azure. Microsoft was rapidly expanding its global footprint of Azure data centres, giving it the scale that Objective needed in a global partner. But the fundamental question for Objective engineers remained: could Azure seamlessly support their choice of technologies — now and in the future?
David McGhee, Microsoft Global Business Strategist, helped Objective engineers understand that Azure would meet their needs. “We have deliberately built Azure so that it is open to any language, interface and platform. With Objective Connect we proved it works.”
Over a five-month period, the Microsoft team in Australia worked directly with Objective to build an Objective Connect pilot on the Azure platform. They also assessed Objective’s commercial needs, to ensure that an Azure-hosted Objective Connect service would suit the company’s business model and provide customers with the service levels they required.
- Microsoft Azure proves open source credentials. “Our engineering team conducted a thorough due diligence on Azure,” says Mills. “This revealed that Azure would fully support our technology stack, and give us a comparable or improved technical performance as compared to our existing cloud provider. Azure has a robust set of certifications around the world, which also gives our customers confidence in the security of our service.”
- Ongoing support means engineers focus on design. By partnering with a global network that actively supports a blend of technologies, Objective Corporation has the resource it needs to rapidly expand its game-changing service. The fact that Azure is intentionally designed to be technology agnostic is the core enabler of global partnerships. “Open source on— the Azure platform is improving all the time,” says Mills. “What this means is that as more and more Azure services come online natively, our engineers’ tasks become simpler.”According to McGhee, as the Azure platform evolves, customers will find that the challenges of delivering a global online service will become less complex, as services themselves will become more secure. “This means Azure customers can focus on developing software, while we take care of compatibility, capacity, caching and resilience,” he says.
- Day-to-day partnership powers global growth. “Having one global partner allows us to focus our engineering on one set of relationships, and develop our product on one global platform,” explains Mills. “Azure gives us the opportunity to develop on a single code base using the technologies we prefer.”The partnership itself is highly collaborative. Today, Microsoft experts work with Objective Corporation across more than 50 separate business line items. Microsoft teams are also helping Objective engineers to develop the potential for future cloud capabilities. This includes inviting Objective engineers to Azure program and design sessions, to accelerate the pace of technology adoption.
- Cloud service a catalyst for game-changing services. “We like the way that Azure is evolving, and we will use more and more of the native services as they are rolled out,” says Mills. “This is critical for us because we are pioneers, helping customers re-think their own operations. Rather than moving content and creating silos of information, our customers can now just grant access to external parties ensuring a single source of truth. Services such as Office 365 will mean that all parties will be able to do more with that content, no matter where they are or what device they are on – ultimately leading to faster and more productive outcomes for our customers.”