COVID-19 has turned cloud from an aspiration to an urgent mandate—creating a new inflection point that requires every company to dramatically accelerate the move to the cloudIt’s the foundation required for digital transformation, enabling resilience, trustspeed and structural cost reduction. 

However, just as every business must become a cloud-first business, there is another urgent global issue that requires immediate action: climate change.  

Companies have historically driven financial, security, and agility benefits through cloud, but sustainability is becoming an imperative. We want to highlight a forward-looking client that has demonstrated how valuable migrating to Microsoft’s Azure Cloud can be, and how it accelerates new levels of digital performance to serve different customer expectations and unlock new opportunities like cloud-enabled clean energy transitions and  material waste reductions from better data insights 

Today’s water shortage and tomorrow’s challenges 

Our client, PWN, is a water utility in the Netherlands that serves a million and a half citizens. Climate change is creating new challenges for utilities around the world, and for PWN, 2018 brought a record drought—in a part of the world known for dealing with floods, not droughts—that caused water levels to fall, and salinity to rise. 

They knew that the challenges brought by climate change and the drought were twofold. One, they needed to monitor the dunes surrounding the lake to be able to make proactive decisions based on water levels and salinity. And two, they needed to help customers on an individual level to make better choices conserving water and alert them to leaks and other avoidable wastes. To meet both these imperatives, they needed to connect two unrelated systems—IoT sensor data from the dunes and granular, customer-specific data. They also needed to migrate their SAP ERP system that included modules in a traditional on-premises data center to the cloud. 

These were urgent needs. PWN had to act fast. But how could they know the right steps to take?  


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Transforming with confidence amidst uncertainty 

PWN turned to Accenture, Avanade and Microsoft to move its SAP estate to the Azure cloud. There, the utility could leverage one new data insights platform for all its data needs. 

They chose to work with us for a few reasons:  

  • First, our 20+ years of partnership, and our work serving on over 34,000 cloud projects, gave them the confidence that we’d take the right approach to their migration, so they could get up and running faster.  
  • Second, Accenture has over 65,000 SAP practitioners—the largest such team in the world—so they trusted our SAP expertise.  
  • Third, migration to Azure offers a greener cloud. Azure runs on 100% renewable energy and is up to 98% more carbon efficient than traditional datacenters, helping PWN further do their part in combating climate change. 
  • And finally, our combination of technical expertise and industry-specific depth of experience helped PWN get the most out of their Azure migration.  

PWN saw a substantial cost benefit from migrating their SAP applications to Azure, in part from being able to rely on Azure for security and GDPR compliance requirements, instead of having to take care of that in-house. Azure tools such as SAP Intelligent Asset Management also optimize how PWN manages three billion euros’ worth of assets and allows PWN to pass along cost savings to its customers. 

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Now our innovation team can quickly spin up test environments in Azure, thoroughly explore their ideas using huge amounts of comprehensive data, and then remove the environments just as easily afterward. This greatly lowers the barrier to innovation.  

-Gijs ten Bosch 
Chief Operations Support Officer, PWN  

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Building a sustainable business 

Having better analytics tools, and access to all its data in one place not only simplifies management and security but has taken innovation to new heights for PWN. It now takes less time and fewer resources to spin up test environments in Azure where employees can explore new ideas using vast amounts of data.  

Efficient operations and the agility to innovate quickly are what PWN is doing to be a cloud-first and sustainable business. And with their SAP applications on the Azure cloud, they are better positioned to ensure customers have a sustainable water supply for years to come as their needs, and the climate, continue to change. To us, this is a shining example of how transformative a cloud migration can be, and why companies need to make the move to the cloud now—not just for their business, but for our world.

Emma McGuigan

Global Lead – Intelligent Platform Services

Deb Cupp

CVP Enterprise & Commercial Industries, Microsoft

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