Pipeline to success: How Microsoft Azure elevated VAPAR from a promising Australian startup to a global player in asset management

The Azure Advantage

VAPAR's strategic move to Azure in 2019 represented a deeper alignment with the needs of its customers, most of whom are familiar with Microsoft's cloud platform.

“For example, when we show our customers’ IT departments ours [technology] “The architecture diagram allows them to immediately know what the components are and that we have everything set up securely,” says Michelle Aguilar, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of VAPAR.

Azure has also enabled VAPAR to scale its platform in ways that were not previously possible.

“We've moved to a more elastic architecture with Azure Functions, which means we can now handle surges in demand without batting an eyelid,” says Aguilar. This scalability ensures that VAPAR can process large amounts of video data quickly.

VAPAR has also used Azure to upload and update its AI models and improve its OCR (optical character recognition) capabilities.

“The OCR improvements were a big step forward,” says Aguilar. “They have allowed us to extract more accurate data from the videos so our customers can make more informed decisions.”

The startup has even integrated a Microsoft-powered dashboard to track its carbon emissions from video processing. This innovation has attracted the attention of new investors interested in VAPAR's environmental, social and governance performance.

According to Aguilar, Azure's global infrastructure ensures VAPAR is well positioned to expand into new markets. This also allows the company to split its architecture across different regions to comply with data sovereignty laws.

“We want to speed up (video) processing for certain customers so they can have their own architecture when needed,” she says. “There are many opportunities to improve the delivery of our current offering.”

Open up new areas

North America represents another frontier for VAPAR. With an extensive network of sewer and stormwater pipelines and high inspection frequency, the opportunities are immense, but not without challenges.

“One of the biggest challenges in North America is the fragmentation of the market,” says Siqueira. “There are more than 30,000 utilities and systems in the US, so it’s a fundamentally different market than Australia or the UK, but it needs our solution.”

VAPAR has begun testing projects for utilities in the US, allowing the company to gather market intelligence ahead of its official launch in the region. The startup also wants to leverage its partnership with strategic investor Autodesk to accelerate its growth.

“We have a very complementary product to its water asset management software suite – so this is a real opportunity for us to optimize our entry into the market through Autodesk’s channels,” says Siqueira.

A key milestone in VAPAR's journey to North America will be the establishment of a transactable offering on the Azure Marketplace, which is expected to occur in mid-2024. This move is expected to streamline customer onboarding and leverage Azure's wide reach to accelerate the company's market penetration.

With Microsoft's cloud technology at the core of its solution, VAPAR will redefine water resources management worldwide and mark an exciting chapter in its journey from local innovation to international success.

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