Security Firm G4S Moves to the Cloud with Windows Azure

Leading international security solutions group G4S is focused on protecting rock stars and sports stars as well as delivering cash and bullion worldwide.  The company has developed a system called eViper in order to plan the most efficient routes and track the movement of cash and valuables worldwide. G4S transports more than £300 billion in cash each year so eViper is a mission critical system for G4S; quite simply if it fails then cash stops moving.  G4S has just completed its move to the cloud by moving eViper to Windows Azure.

G4S wanted to move away from its dependency on legacy code base, which had become difficult to manage, and infrastructure supplied by outsourced managed service providers, which had poor availability. G4S knew it needed to create an application that would ensure high availability, scalability, cost effectiveness and security. To secure these features G4S realised it had to migrate to a modern platform and turned to Microsoft for help.

Microsoft worked with G4S on a solution based on Windows Azure, which allows the eViper application to be hosted in different data centres at different times. This means that, if an issue impacts the primary data centre, the application will quickly failover to the secondary data centre, ensuring maximum reliability and uptime.

Richard Wallace, Technology Director at G4S explains: “Security is at the core of everything that we do. We believe Windows Azure is the safest environment we could use to host the eViper system – we conducted a 170-control point assessment and found that Windows Azure was more secure than our existing infrastructure partners. I often get told that I do not know where the data is held. The reality is that I know exactly where the data is held and I know that the data cannot be accessed by anyone other than G4S. By working on a Microsoft cloud we are saving money and also have the ability to scale up operations around the world without a huge capital outlay on data centre infrastructure.”

In addition to reducing running costs by two thirds, G4S also sees benefits from moving to Windows Azure in the areas of scalability and agility. Running eViper on Windows Azure enables G4S to deploy into a new country without needing to establish a data centre there. But the most important reason G4S looked to Microsoft for a cloud platform was security. The company chose Windows Azure largely due to Microsoft’s commitment to – and experience in -  providing some of the most reliable, private and secure cloud services in the industry. 

Michael Newberry, Windows Azure product manager at Microsoft UK, sums it up this way: “G4S asked Microsoft for a reliable platform able to handle one of its most important systems and keep its data secure and private. Windows Azure was a natural fit – a trusted cloud platform that can manage complex, sensitive data and systems.  Our heritage in providing products and services built on a foundation of security and privacy was a primary factor in G4S’s decision. This, coupled with our comprehensive offering of secure and reliable cloud offerings has meant we have been able to help G4S drive its business forward by enabling it to move to the cloud on its own terms and at its own pace.”