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Laing O’Rourke Australia chooses private cloud route

The Australian arm of global engineering firm Laing O’Rourke signs up for Nutanix to run its core applications on a private cloud

Australia’s construction industry may be slowing down, but to the Australian arm of Laing O’Rourke, a $6bn global engineering firm, maintaining the status quo is never an option.

According to the Australian Industry Group’s latest Performance of construction index, the construction industry recorded its seventh consecutive month of decline in February 2019.

For five decades, Laing O’Rourke has been involved in construction and engineering projects across the transport, building construction, defence, airports, mining, civil and social infrastructure sectors in Australia.

In recent years, it has been ramping up on the use of emerging technologies in these projects to improve efficiency and safety in order to stay competitive amid tough market conditions.

For example, it recently developed a prototype camera which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect if workers are wearing protective clothing in hazardous areas. Other technology initiatives include using big data to test the hardening of newly laid road surfaces.

To support these initiatives, it recently signed a deal with Nutanix to deploy the latter’s Enterprise Cloud OS software to run its core applications on a private cloud hosted in co-location datacentres in Sydney and Melbourne.

These applications, and the data they generate, are being used to support critical decision-making on projects throughout the business, according to John Rich, Laing O’Rourke Australia’s data, integration and development manager.

“We use data to optimise and analyse our opportunities, supply chain and projects to ensure that we deliver value for our clients, while continuing to lead the way in innovation in construction and engineering,” he added.

Laing O’Rourke had considered going the public cloud route, but realised they could do it cheaper and more securely over a five-year period on-premise.

In addition, it could be difficult to forecast the costs of operating on a public cloud, which could lead the IT team to spend too much time balancing the books rather than developing new digital services, said James Fields, head of IT infrastructure and operations at Laing O’Rourke Australia.

Fields added that Nutanix was chosen because it enabled the firm to maximise resources, with higher returns on investment, as well as improved security by enabling faster and more regular patching compared to offerings from other suppliers.

Neville Vincent, Nutanix’s vice-president for ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), and India, said: “As the construction industry in Australia continues to transform, cloud technologies will become vital to securing a long-term profitable, productive and sustainable future.

“The future success of Australia’s construction industry will rely on using the simplest, most effective and most flexible solutions out there – and they all emanate in the cloud.”

Separately, Nutanix announced the general availability of Nutanix Karbon in ANZ that lets enterprises deploy and manage containerised applications with Kubernetes, the open-source container orchestration system developed by Google.

Karbon is part of Nutanix’s Cloud Native stack that includes on-premise tooling and automation capabilities required for development and continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) of applications in a private cloud environment.

“ANZ is one of the most virtualised regions in the world – the need to modernise and simplify applications and developing the right cloud experience is greater here than our global peers,” said Jamie Humphrey, Nutanix’s ANZ managing director.

“As enterprises continue to seek new ways of redefining their business – while keeping control of choice – container services such as Kubernetes will become even more vital.”

Read more about cloud in ANZ

  • Hosted by Canberra Data Centres, Microsoft’s additional Azure datacentre regions will provide the necessary security controls for handling government data in Australia.
  • Urs Hölzle, Google’s head of technical infrastructure, talks up efforts to deliver what he claims to be the first open source cloud stack.
  • Machine learning model powered by Google Cloud’s AutoML Tables service enables Fox Sports Australia to predict the fall of a wicket in live cricket matches.
  • Companies in Australia and New Zealand are embracing public cloud, but many still prefer a hybrid IT setup.

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