The company, which owns a fleet of 433 helicopters, provides services to a variety of sectors, such as offshore oil rig platforms and search and rescue operations.
Bristow uses cloud tools from firms including Workday for HR and ServiceNow for service desk and business service management. Its Geographical Information System, used to track the company's helicopters, is also hosted in the cloud.
Adil Ahmed, director of information architecture and knowledge systems at Bristow, told V3 at ServiceNow's Knowledge 15 event that cloud-based systems are ideal for its requirements by bringing agility and flexibility to its operations.
"We're not a huge development shop. We don't do a lot of coding necessarily, and our strategy has generally been to configure before customising and coding," he said.
"So wherever possible we try to get off-the-shelf software and configure it to meet our needs. I think going to the cloud for those sorts of scenarios makes a lot of sense.
"It frees up the development teams to focus on the business process they are trying to develop, and it frees up time for infrastructure activities, such as planning for load balancing, high availability and disaster recovery. A lot of those things come pre-packaged with the high-grade service providers."
More than shifting infrastructure
Ahmed explained that cloud services also help the firm's mobility strategy. Mobile apps, such as Workday's, allow staff to work remotely as company data can be pulled from the cloud to a mobile device regardless of location.
Furthermore, Ahmed said that the cloud provides a better way to analyse data collected from the electronics in its helicopters.
"The capacity to analyse that data is probably more elastic in the cloud because you're pumping large amounts of data into your storage and you also have to have the capacity to analyse it rapidly," he added.
"I think building that on-premise is probably not as attractive as using the cloud, because you can't scale up or down as needed."
Interestingly, while many companies adopt the cloud to save money on costly IT infrastructure, Ahmed said he is not convinced by the cost savings when compared with on-premise systems.
"To be frank, I think it's not completely clear how you can fully compare the costs of operating in the cloud versus on-premise. If you just look at the numbers that are marketed publically it seems like it is less expensive, but there are other costs," he said.
Ahmed added that cloud maintenance, licensing agreements and other hidden costs can actually make cloud services less attractive in monetary terms.
"You've got to really understand the value you are getting out of it because, even if it is a little bit more expensive to go to a cloud in some scenarios, there are some intangible or even tangible benefits to making that move when it's appropriate," he added.
Harley-Davidson was another company at Knowledge 15 that highlighted a switch to the cloud, but with a goal of modernising the 100-year-old company, while physics research lab Cern is also using cloud to improve its IT management.
One other area that V3 questioned Ahmed about was if and how the company could take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) to generate more data from its helicopters for analysis by placing sensors on key machine parts.
"While we're not actively building this IoT technology, it is certainly on the roadmap, and I think the business driver behind that is safety," he said.
"As an airline we have to fly safe, that's our number one core value in the industry. So if that data can help us fly safer, that's a win for us."
The use of IoT platforms to monitor machinery and delivery information that could prevent accidents or breakages before they occur is seen as a major use case for the technology, with Intel revealing it uses IoT technology in this way at its labs.
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