Customer Stories / Energy — Power & Utilities
ENGIE Boosts AWS Skills to Innovate and Support Its Cloud-First Strategy
ENGIE is training 500 employees per year, working with AWS Training and Certification to support its cloud-first approach, double its use of AWS services, and boost innovation.
In 2016, as global energy company ENGIE embarked on a cloud-first strategy to better shepherd its customers through the zero-carbon energy transition, training its IT staff worldwide became integral to success. The company sought to foster expertise in the use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) to accelerate its IT, data, and digital transformation.
To develop a structured training framework for its global teams, ENGIE worked with AWS Training and Certification, which helps businesses build and validate skills to get more out of the cloud. ENGIE’s training framework increased its employees’ cloud expertise, helping to double its cloud usage on a year-to-year basis from 2017 to 2021, decrease time to market, and drive innovation.
Opportunity | Recognizing Training as a Prerequisite for Innovation
ENGIE is global reference in low-carbon energy and services. The company’s services help customers to optimize their energy portfolios and achieve decarbonization targets. To drive efficiency using value-added services that facilitate its customers’ energy transition, ENGIE developed a cloud-first approach and a data strategy.
However, as a decentralized organization with over 4,000 IT professionals, ENGIE faced challenges in formulating a training strategy and tracking success. On top of the many languages spoken throughout the organization, ENGIE had to consider that cloud adoption was not the same across the organization; each entity used AWS solutions in different ways, with varying timelines, resulting in disparate training needs. ENGIE needed guidance in developing a wide, inclusive training model. “If we don’t have the proper skill set, we can’t act on the data in a timely manner,” says Frédéric Poncin, head of the Cloud Center of Excellence at ENGIE.
In 2016, ENGIE set up a digital factory called ENGIE Digital to build and operate the software solutions used by its business units to accelerate the transition to a carbon-neutral future. It began a progressive migration of applications to AWS, starting with its business-to-consumer portal in France and the main financial systems based on system analysis program development (SAP). As it adopted a rapidly increasing number of AWS services, the company realized that quality, cost-effective training would be a key to success. The company trained 20 employees in 2017, a number that grew as ENGIE decommissioned its on-premises data centers. By 2020, 300 IT employees had been trained on AWS services.
If we don’t have the proper skill set, we can’t accept the operational risks of performing IT administration activities in the cloud and won’t unlock opportunities to innovate. Getting people trained is essential. Getting them certified is an excellent approach to validating their skills."
Head of the Cloud Center of Excellence, ENGIE
Solution | Using Training to Boost Expertise, Innovation, and Cost Management
ENGIE doubled its use of AWS services every year from 2017 to 2021 and diversified its training. All employees who would be using AWS solutions first took Architecting on AWS, in which they learned to identify services and features to build resilient, secure, and highly available IT solutions on AWS. To fulfill ENGIE’s business needs, a large number of specialists would require an in-depth understanding of AWS solutions; ENGIE could also limit costs through training on multiple topics. “A challenge of cloud adoption is navigating the tremendous number of available services,” says Poncin. “We better manage that with structured training—you get the help you need when you need it.” ENGIE encouraged employees to take more advanced, diverse courses, such as Big Data on AWS to learn about cloud-based big data solutions and Security Engineering on AWS to learn how to use AWS security solutions efficiently in the AWS Cloud. Some employees also took The Machine Learning Pipeline on AWS to learn how to use the machine learning pipeline to solve a real business problem in a project-based learning environment and Running Containers on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) to learn container management and orchestration for Kubernetes.
“ENGIE is a worldwide company with diverse business needs, so the training had to reflect that,” says Poncin. Each year the company trains more than 500 collaborators, of whom more than 300 have earned an AWS Certification — industry-recognized credentials that validate their cloud expertise. The company is expanding the initiative by increasing entry-level training sessions to target technically less-savvy employees. “The future for us lies in more and constant investment in training and certification,” Poncin says. “If we don’t have the proper skill set, we can’t accept the operational risks of performing IT administration activities in the cloud and won’t unlock opportunities to innovate. Getting people trained is essential. Getting them certified is an excellent approach to validating their skills.”
Outcome | Evolving Training to Meet Staff and Business Needs
With the increased availability of engineers skilled in AWS, ENGIE can accelerate innovation and agility and deliver services to customers faster. For example, waiting days to get a virtual machine provisioned in a data center wasn’t suitable to support the development of digital solutions. Training the staff members in building the digital solutions empowered them, not only helping them to create virtual machines in one click but also dramatically expanding the set of off-the-shelf services they could tap into to build their solutions. Engineers got the tools they needed and adopted more advanced functionalities, such as machine learning for predictive maintenance.
The ENGIE networking team went through a similar transformation. Timely training guided it through its initial adoption phase, which connected data centers and AWS. Iterations helped the team transition to native AWS network services that were deployed using infrastructure-as-code patterns and software-defined network integration that make up the company backbone. “Every time someone is trained, that person can start innovating,” says Poncin. “They can help transform the old system into a brand-new cloud-native application.”
Employees trained to use AWS are better at identifying cost optimizations. “With a good understanding of the services, we can limit the corresponding costs,” says Poncin. “Training staff helps us achieve a common vocabulary between a central team that can pinpoint improvement opportunities and local teams accountable for the workloads that can deploy those optimizations.”
Early in 2022, ENGIE launched AWS Skills Guild, which offers a tailored experience to help organizations build cloud skills and an innovative learning culture. Through the AWS Skills Guild program working in collaboration with ENGIE’s Cloud Center of Excellence, the company aims to provide the time and resources for employees to develop their skills and encourages them to experiment and innovate with AWS services. Now, halfway into 2022, the company is training on average five collaborators every day and providing certification opportunities. The training plan is based on the AWS Learning Needs Analysis, a free self-assessment tool that identifies cloud skills gaps and provides a targeted, cost-effective training and certification plan. “Each time I get someone trained on AWS, 6 months later, they’re out there contributing ideas for the greater good, helping with the transformation of the IT landscape. I’ve seen this consistently,” says Poncin. “I want to continue to sponsor this in the coming years because it’s the fuel for growth.”
ENGIE is a global energy company with four global units and five regional hubs. It provides power to millions of customers and develops solutions to support companies’ zero-carbon transitions. ENGIE is committed to accelerate the transition to a carbon-neutral world.
AWS Services Used
Architecting on AWS
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AWS Learning Needs Analysis
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Big Data on AWS
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Security Engineering on AWS
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