Microsoft & Boeing Team Up to Showcase the Power of Cloud

Last week Andrew Brust with ZDNet wrote an article that I found particularly interesting and a great illustration of the continued impact of the cloud market. The article was about a recent partnership with Microsoft and Boeing and how they are using Azure data technologies to make commercial flights more efficient and pleasant. I’ve often heard Big Data explained using an airplane; I’ve even used the story myself to help my daughter understand the industry I work in. Seeing this story about a real partnership between two technology innovators brought reality to the tale. Here are some excerpts of the story as reported by Andrew:

Under the existing partnership, things like Maintenance Optimization, Crew Planning, and Crew Training were already being addressed. Fuel optimization was in motion as well, and it’s fascinating. By observing fuel usage over all of its flights, an airline can build predictive models which predict fuel usage needs over time. These predictive models can account for the idiosyncrasies of certain routes (and their typical air traffic delays), seasonal anomalies, equipment, passenger load, and so forth. These models can then be used to drive policy, performance targets, financial aspects of fuel procurement (potentially including hedging strategies), and the necessary change management to make all of these procedures and systems work better.

Here’s the key impact of the partnership:

Have you been on a flight that seemed to be running on-time only to encounter a maintenance issue at the last minute? Ever waited for the part and the technician to arrive and fix the problem or, worse yet, have to deplane and switch aircraft? When such things happen, it infuriates passengers. It’s also expensive and disruptive to the airline — the delays are costly and the impact on flight crews’ morale and performance is non-trivial.

The good news is that predictive models can help here, in many ways. Predictive maintenance can avoid operational maintenance incidents overall. And where they can’t do that for specific aircraft, they can still assist greatly in making sure the right parts and personnel are on-call, in the locations where such issues are most likely.

As Microsoft builds out its data cloud with services like Azure Machine Learning, HDInsight (with Spark and R), Azure IoT Suite, and Power BI, Boeing thinks it’s got a full-on platform on which it can standardize. Microsoft is a database company, an enterprise software company, and a cloud computing company. It seems that combination is exactly what a company like Boeing needs as it establishes such a wide-ranging partnership.

See here to read the full article.

This article nicely illustrates how cloud computing, when harnessed correctly, can greatly impact the experience that your end user has with your product or service. IT can be a key competitive differentiator when maximized efficiently yet many organizations don’t understand the bigger business implications and huge market potential.

It’s exciting to think of the cloud benefits we often discuss — reduced overhead, increased efficiency, and long-term cost savings — being passed on directly to consumers in this way. As an increasing number of applications move to the cloud, expect to see more cloud-based service models used to not only transform the enterprise, but also transform experiences in your day-to-day life.