Coles will spend the remainder of 2019 building security controls and standard patterns for consuming Azure-based cloud infrastructure before it begins to migrate more applications into the cloud.
The supermarket operator declared Microsoft’s Azure as its “preferred and strategic cloud” on Tuesday via an extended partnership arrangement with the vendor.
In addition to using Azure for infrastructure-as-a-service, Coles plans to use Azure as the foundation for an enterprise data platform and Azure services to power some artificial intelligence capabilities.
Chief information and digital officer Roger Sniezek told iTnews that Coles has a “draft plan” for how it plans to tackle application migration into the cloud.
“From speaking to Microsoft, and other retailers around the world, I think the one thing that we learned is that we've got to set this thing up right from the start,” he said.
“So this year we'll complete an initiative that will sort out all of the security and standard patterns etc and allow us to join the Azure public cloud into our private cloud seamlessly.
“Then, year by year, we have a range of things that typically we might replace the underlying infrastructure [for], and we've got a plan about how we would move those to the cloud.”
Sniezek indicated that Coles wouldn’t be looking at application migration as a large-scale piece of work, but more on a case-by-case basis.
“This isn't something huge that takes multi-years to deliver anything,” he said.
“This is a month by month, week by week delivery.
“We've got things across the current horizon - next year - and then the future horizon. That's why it's very exciting to us because we'll see things drop in week-by-week.”
Some cues on applications ripe for migration could come from Microsoft, which has had its engineers sit in various parts of Coles’ operations for several weeks.
“Microsoft teams have spent weeks with us here in our stores and distribution centres and supply chain, looking at what the opportunities are that they see from their global experience that are also some of the unique challenges that we've got,” Sniezek said.
“Then we've got an opportunity list to work on together.”
Shelley Bransten, corporate vice president of worldwide retail and consumer goods for Microsoft, said that the vendor and Coles had an “ambitious, shared roadmap” on how they would work together.
However, she said that action under the extended partnership arrangement was already underway.
“The market will start to see some of this innovation come to life very soon,” she said.
“In the spirit of an agile workplace and work style, this will be an iterative and immediate release into the market.”
Bransten said that Microsoft engineers were supplying “skills and competencies” to Coles covering “monetising and figuring out how to activate Coles' data around their customers, their team members’ productivity and supply chain or in-stock availability”.
Sniezek added that Microsoft’s presence and its engineering resources would help Coles move more quickly.
“Really what's most important to me is … the direct support that we're getting from Microsoft that we've already seen has allowed us to go much faster, and get things done in a much simpler way,” he said.
Coles is also deploying some Microsoft software-as-a-service offerings including Dynamics 365 “in a couple of our business units - one of those will go live this month”, Sniezek said; and Office 365.