Origin Energy brings cloud back into IT

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Origin Energy brings cloud back into IT

From business ‘blackops’ to IT-sponsored 'cloud-first'.

Origin Energy has signalled its intention to “aggressively” adopt a cloud-first approach and outlined plans to create a formal cloud practice within IT.

The utility over the weekend revealed plans to appoint a head of cloud services, reporting into its general manager of IT infrastructure and operations.

As well as taking the lead in establishing the cloud practice, the new head of cloud services will develop and roll out an “enterprise-wide cloud strategy”.

This will include working with internal business units “inventorying and categorising current applications and workloads to determine migration ‘readiness’ and required investments", and “prioritising and driving the application and workload migrations”.

An Origin spokesperson told iTnews that the company plans to migrate "more than a thousand workloads to the cloud" and to reduce its data centre footprint over the next few years. 

"We have started this journey by migrating core applications to the cloud while achieving a reduction in total cost of ownership, improving speed, delivering value to the business and driving innovation for our customers," the spokesperson said.

The move to formalise an enterprise-wide cloud strategy comes after business units started buying in cloud services themselves without involving IT.

In April this year, the company’s market risk unit revealed it had spun up Origin’s first public cloud account by stealth to quickly simulate a new project.

The team used a corporate credit card to get around AWS not being an approved supplier, and “free wi-fi from the hotel across the road” to skirt the corporate firewall.

One issue that project raised was around the way IT infrastructure was scoped for new projects. Applicants had to rigorously specify their infrastructure needs before they knew exactly what they would be; local infrastructure costs were high and simulations took days to run on local servers.

AWS instances on the other hand provided the market risk team with a cheap, scalable testbed for their ideas, and enabled them to refine the scope of their infrastructure specifications before going to IT with a formal proposal.

It appears Origin IT is keen to improve that process, eyeing cloud infrastructure as a way to “deliver flexible, scalable, and cost effective solutions and services in an agile manner” to internal customers.

Potential cost savings from greater adoption of cloud are likely to be particularly attractive; the market risk team cut its IT infrastructure costs from $250,000 a year to just $2000, and similar savings could be found in other parts of the business.

It is unclear just how much influence the 'black ops' cloud project had on Origin's decision to formalise cloud procurement and governance under IT.

An Origin spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.

The company did not reveal the architectural make-up of its cloud strategy, though it is known to have instances of AWS and an interest in Azure.

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