How Azure Helps Royal Dutch Shell Fuel Innovation – Inspiration Series

With a rapidly growing population, energy consumption will continue to rise over the coming decades. And as the demand for limited resources increases, energy companies face huge competition. Everyone wants to produce the most innovative solutions as quickly as possible and, ultimately, to please their customers. In a bid to become the most competitive and innovative out there, Royal Dutch Shell has come to rely heavily on technology to power its business processes. However, the team needed to collaborate more effectively to deliver solutions at speed. The company chose to migrate their on-premises infrastructure to Azure to achieve a more streamlined, centralised solution that would help them accelerate software development and fuel global energy production. 

What Challenges Was Royal Dutch Shell Facing?

Royal Dutch Shell is a gigantic corporation, the third-largest company in the world in 2018 and one of the largest energy companies. Every day, the company produces more than three million barrels of crude oil. As such, they have an awful lot to live up to and a constant demand to remain efficient and competitive. 

The software team at Shell work continually to keep specialised software up to date and to deliver new features, which its customers want more frequently and more quickly. To deliver on customer expectations, the company invest huge amounts into research and development, searching for innovative solutions to oil and gas exploration. 

Shell realised that the key to the continuous delivery of new solutions to its customers was in collaboration. The software team work across multiple locations with multiple technologies and with multiple external vendors. Giving everyone access to the necessary corporate network accounts was becoming increasingly time-consuming. Shell needed a more streamlined, centralised solution that would be capable of supporting its application development. 

Why Did Shell Choose Azure

Shell needed a solution that would help them collaborate more efficiently and moving its software development environment to the cloud seemed like the perfect choice. They didn’t want to deal with the cost and time involved in maintaining and upgrading on-premises infrastructure. With everything in one place, the team of developers would be able to collaborate on the same code using their preferred tools and languages. What’s more, they could collaborate regardless of location, facilitating working with a global team.

The company started by migrating to Visual Studio Team Services so that it could improve its application development process and support team collaboration. Team Services provides cloud collaboration tools that work with existing integrated development environments or editors. They then chose Azure Active Directory to help manage the identity of employees and vendors. This meant that onboarding time could be reduced from many months to less than a week. 

Shell’s Journey to The Cloud

While the move to Azure was a logical one, it took a little time for the whole team to be on board. Change can be hard to embrace, especially for a team working in rapid development cycles. However, with Azure, everything was back online and working within just 24 hours. 

After the initial migration, they then moved all their development environments from on-premise to Azure to give their development team self-service capabilities such as PaaS services. Shell chose Azure as it would be able to accelerate the adoption of DevOps, improve productivity and reduce costs. Within a year, Shell managed to transform its technology environment. Shell gives a huge amount of credit to its collaboration with Microsoft. By working in the cloud and giving everyone, including Microsoft engineers, access to the same platform, problems are resolved much more quickly. 

The Benefits of Working with Azure

The move to the cloud, with Azure, has enabled Shell to embrace a more agile DevOps approach to development. The team of geophysics, software engineers and external vendors can work together on the same project from anywhere. Working in the cloud with Azure has helped the company to realise several benefits:

  • Shortened development cycles – instead of people having to wait months for new features, they are delivered in a few weeks.
  • Improved business alignment – improved collaboration with business stakeholders means that solutions have become more aligned with business requirements.
  • Continuous availability – geo-redundant Azure datacenters ensure 24/7 availability for global developers.
  • Cross-platform support – Shell uses a vast array of technology solutions, the cross-platform functionality of Visual Studio Team Services provides the broad support the company requires. 
  • Reduced IT costs – as soon as Shell decommissioned its on-premises installations, it saw an immediate cost benefit and ongoing Azure reduces the cost and complexity of IT management.

Moving development capabilities over to the cloud has resulted in faster deployments and improved agility on a global scale. Developers are able to focus on building next-generation technology now to meet the world’s energy demands instead of making them wait for months upon end. And the benefits aren’t just for the company; it means customers can use the likes of advanced reservoir modelling simulations, engineering solutions and innovative mobile apps and hit the ground running. 

How Could Azure Help Your Business?

If your business needs to deliver solutions quickly, your development team need to collaborate effectively, and your stakeholders need to access resources regardless of location, Azure may well have the answer. Shell has changed its entire technology environment, meaning its teams can now focus on building innovative solutions at speed and at scale. By concentrating on Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, your team will be able to build a more agile, fast-moving development environment than you ever could in an on-premises space. 

To summarise, here are the challenges, the solution and the benefits that Royal Dutch Shell experienced:

  • Challenges – Royal Dutch Shell operates in a highly competitive environment where there is increasing demand for dwindling oil supplies. It’s software development team work continually to deliver new features to its customers. However, to be able to innovate more quickly, it needed to collaborate across multiple locations with multiple technologies, and its on-premises environment was holding it back. 
  • Solution – Shell chose to migrate its development environments to Azure. This removed the cost and time of maintaining and upgrading their on-premises infrastructure and provided them with a unified development environment. Its team of developers could collaborate on the same code using their preferred tools, from anywhere across the globe. 
  • Benefits – By migrating to Azure with Azure Consulting, the team was able to vastly improve its application development process and collaborate across teams. Shell can now deliver faster deployments and improved agility on a global scale. Its developers focus on solving customer problems and delivering next-generation technology and know that they can do so in a matter of weeks rather than several months. 


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