Cropped image of cashier touching computer screen at restaurant counter

Microsoft Azure Opens Doors for Hospitality Companies

19 Dec 2016 by Jessica Hall

This article was originally written Aug. 24, 2016, and has been updated to bring our readers the most up-to-date technology information.

With hybrid architecture paving the way for innovation in all fields, there’s never been a better time for hospitality companies to modernize their technology solutions and offerings. Microsoft Azure is one platform that’s opening new opportunities for that advancement. This collection of integrated cloud services allows companies to improve efficiencies, capitalize on emerging trends and increase productivity.

One of the leading trends in the evolution of data centers is the implementation of a hybrid approach. Microsoft’s cloud services allow you to employ a hybrid cloud environment, so many companies are using technology like Azure as an extension of their existing infrastructure. While Azure can help hospitality businesses implement hybrid cloud architecture, you should also consider how data centers and related solutions are evolving and what you need to do to benefit from these advancements as well.

Now’s the time to close the gap.

“The technical hurdle that those in the hospitality industry face often relates to the volume and complexity of the data that resides within those organizations,” says David Mayer, vice president of product management for software at Insight.

Because it takes an impressive amount of technology to run a hospitality company, it could take a significant amount of work to get your system ready and capable of being deployed in the cloud. “From a data and application perspective, the volume and complexity of what [hospitality companies] have to deal with is actually pretty daunting when you look under the covers and see what it takes to do that,” Mayer says.

Customers’ expectations for cloud computing are also increasing. “We all live in this mobile and cloud-enabled world now,” says Mayer. With many start-ups in the hospitality industry — like Airbnb, Uber or EAT24 — already using born-in-cloud solutions, the bar has been raised for established companies in that space.

While Mayer says he’s seen countless examples of long-standing businesses using cloud technology to their advantage, he knows that most applications favored by hospitality organizations have been in use for years. “They just aren’t created to be cloud-ready,” he says of legacy applications. As a result, Mayer adds, the gap between what the user expects and what the organization can deliver is still wide.

A big change is occurring.

“There's a realization that the concept of hybrid cloud is probably the right way to do it,” says Mayer. He also believes that the trend of shifting to a hybrid environment will become increasingly common in late 2016 and that we’ll continue to observe increased adoption in 2017.

In fact, as depicted in the graph below, from 2017 to 2020 the hybrid cloud market is expected to achieve a constant annual growth rate of 22.5% worldwide.

A bar chart showing the size of the hybrid cloud market worldwide from 2014 to 2021.
This bar chart shows that (in billion US dollars) the size of the hybrid public and private cloud worldwide was $25.28 in 2014, $32.18 in 2015, and is predicted to reach, $33.28 in 2016, $40.8 in 2017, $49.9 in 2018, $61.2 in 2019, $74.9 in 220, $91.74 in 20121.
 

Since hospitality companies are expected to invest in newer hotel technology for a competitive edge, they are constantly on the lookout for innovative, affordable and versatile solutions. Unlike hardware, which can be expensive and bulky, hybrid cloud has the potential to cut 50% of operational costs and offers the flexibility managers need to monitor activities remotely and in real time. Before you migrate applications, however, be sure to evaluate the cost, capabilities, management overhead and time to market relevant to your industry.

“There’s a lot of work and planning associated with ensuring that you don’t break any of those connections,” Mayer says. He recommends assessing your environment on a workload-by-workload basis to determine if a hybrid approach is right for your organization.

It’s better, faster and cheaper.

With integrated solutions, services and templates, Azure allows developers and IT professionals to create and manage Internet of Things (IoT), mobile and web solutions through their existing skillsets by leveraging familiar technologies. This cloud-computing platform and infrastructure technology also empowers companies by allowing them to take advantage of a variety of databases, devices, frameworks, operating systems, programming languages and tools.

Currently, Azure is built on Microsoft’s software stack, but its flexibility is expanding. “Now you can run various different versions of Linux, including Red Hat, on Microsoft Azure, and they're starting to enable customers to host non-Microsoft-based applications within Azure,” explains Mayer.

With more data centers than any other provider, Azure ensures that you can easily and quickly scale your infrastructure. Some other benefits of cloud computing include backup software and Azure Disaster Recovery, allowing hospitality companies to rest assured their customers’ sensitive data is safe.

Mayer points out the costs of data storage and computing are shrinking, too. “As cloud vendors scale, they are capable of delivering their services at increasingly cheaper costs.” Because the cost is decreasing and capabilities are increasing for major players in the market, hospitality companies are likely to benefit by moving to cloud-based solutions like Azure.

As Microsoft’s largest Azure partner, Insight will help you determine if Azure is the best solution for your hospitality business. Talk to a specialist to learn more about how your company can leverage Microsoft solutions and open the doors to this cloud-computing platform and infrastructure.