Saves money, boosts agility, transforms operations
Pitcher Partners has begun a major digital transformation program, shifting key workloads across to the Microsoft Azure Stack as an important stepping stone toward embracing public cloud services, with expectations of 30 per cent cost savings over three years and greatly enhanced agility and flexibility.
The accounting and business advisory association exists as a network of independent firms around the country – with a shared commitment to high levels of client service and technical expertise.
The transformation initiative underway extends that to the information systems that underpin the business. According to chief information officer,Andrew Young, the hybrid cloud approach will turn his team into a true business enabler, able to digitally transform business processes in hours rather than the months of work required with previous legacy platforms.
Working with Microsoft partner, Byte, Pitcher Partners has transitioned key workloads to the Azure Stack – one of the first handful of Australian firms to make the move. According to Young; “This is truly a way of leap frogging a more traditional cloud adoption approach. You can move quickly, yet safely with little interruption to service.”
Pitcher Partners has already rolled out Office 365 for its 800 personnel and a further 20 per cent of legacy applications have been transitioned to public cloud services. Young plans to move more workloads to the public cloud over time with the Azure Stack now complete after a July kickoff.
“For example, we’ve moved traditional virtualised SQL servers into Azure Stack. But now that they’re in Azure Stack, the path to migration to SQL Azure, is less risky, and more direct. Some of the stuff we’ve done, we’ve moved in days and hours, as opposed to weeks and months.”
He said that there had also been a considerable improvement in performance. “In terms of the overall project, including networks as well as Azure Stack, we’re seeing a 10 times uplift in performance. It’s been very, very successful.”
Future plans include running Azure Data Factory in Azure Stack before moving it to the Azure public cloud. Young noted that Azure Stack had opened up a whole new road map of possibilities for the firm.
“We’re looking at ERP, and where our ERP sits in the future. We’re looking at Dynamics, at PowerApps, and robotic process automation.
“And augmented intelligence. Artificial intelligence gets a bit overused,but augmented intelligence – how can we ensure that our client-facing staff canhave more meaningful, more insightful conversations - that includes giving them the right tools and the right platforms to do that.”
According to Glenn Neyland, Client Engagement Executive at Byte; “This transition to Azure Stack has constructed exceptionally strong cloud foundations for Pitcher Partners. By taking a hybrid approach the firm has been able to modernise its digital platforms, injecting agility and flexibility – and establishing the IT team as a true business partner for the firm. It’s able to do so much more than just keep the lights on – it can be a genuine agent for change.
“One of the key requirements with this program of work was that there was no service interruption for Pitcher Partners’ employees or clients. There wasn’t – this was seamless and swift.”
Young paid tribute to the support provided by Byte,which augmented his relatively small IT team of 16-20 people, and took on the“heavy lifting” associated with the move to Azure Stack.
With the move to Azure Stack Young and his team are now able to invest more time and effort in genuine innovation for Pitcher Partners– developing new tools to support staff and making more extensive use of the firm’s data collection in order to enrich the interaction with clients, which is especially important as the routine elements of accounting are increasingly automated.
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