What Maersk’s Adoption of Microsoft Azure Means for the Future of Commercial Shipping Data

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Cloud computing is quickly becoming an indispensable part of nearly every industry — it makes it easier for companies to work globally while keeping everything at their digital fingertips. It seems like there’s a new business in the news every week making the transition to cloud computing. Recently, it was Maersk, the largest shipping company in the world.

Its new agreement to use Microsoft’s Azure as its preferred cloud service has sent ripples throughout the shipping and cloud computing industries. What does this mean for the shipping industry, and how could cloud computing change the entire industry in the future?

Maersk’s Preferred Cloud

Cloud services are constantly competing to land big-name clients to foster confidence in their brand. Companies like Amazon Web Service (or AWS) are currently leading the pack, hosting companies like Netflix and Airbnb, while Microsoft claims that 50% of the current Fortune 500 companies utilize Azure.

One of the subsections of Maersk has actually worked with AWS before, but on the whole, Microsoft Azure seems to be the best choice for this company. Microsoft has a proven track record when it comes to pioneering new and stable technology, so this move into cloud computing is the only logical step for the tech giant.

Now that Maersk has adopted a cloud program like Azure, what does that mean for the company’s commercial shipping data?

Big Data and Commercial Shipping

Ships like the ones that Maersk and other shipping giants use collect massive amounts of data during every single crossing. One ship can generate more than 2 gigabytes of data every single day, thanks to the thousands of sensors hooked up to every ship. In a month, the 400 ships that the company owns can generate more than 30 terabytes of data every month.

On its own, that data is just a collection of 1’s and 0’s — difficult or impossible to make sense of for the average observer. That’s where big data and cloud computing can potentially change the future of commercial shipping.

Big data is a popular industry buzzword that refers to utilizing predictive algorithms to process the huge amounts of data collected by companies like Maersk. This data, once processed, can be used to:

  • Predict industry trends
  • Predict changes in shipping needs
  • Predict the impact of changing weather patterns on shipping lanes

This predictive programming is able to predict the future, or what could happen in the future, by analyzing past data and finding trends and patterns that might not be visible at cursory inspection by a human user.

These predictions could help improve shipping efficiency, reduce or eliminate losses, and help big companies make the most out of their fleets. This would be impossible to accomplish without the storage and processing power provided by cloud computing systems.

Food Shipment and Cloud Computing

Big shipping companies aren’t the only ones benefiting from the implementation of cloud computing and big data — advances in technology are changing the way food is shipped as well. Traditionally, fresh food was frozen using enormous blast freezers, but historically that has been a slow way to freeze food items, and many of them lose their fresh-caught or fresh-picked flavor. New advances in freezing technology, when paired with cloud computing, allow food to be frozen up to 15 times faster than traditional methods.

Part of this is changes in the freezer technology itself, but a good part of it could be attributed to the implementation of cloud computing. In cases like these, companies can study data collected from their freezing facilities as well as reviews and complaints submitted by consumers about the quality and freshness of the food to make changes to the freezing process. This uses past data to improve future output, and that is the essence of cloud computing.

Cloud computing may enable us to see faster or more improved shipping methods, or it might just enable big companies such as Maersk to improve their own bottom lines. Either way, cloud computing is the wave of the future for big shipping companies, and we can only wait to see what they do with this newfound technological power.

About the Author

Kayla Matthews is a technology writer and blogger covering big data topics for websites like Productivity Bytes, CloudTweaks, SandHill and VMblog.


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