A year ago, in a suburban hospital in a major Asian city, Dr Sam Tan performed a delicate surgical procedure on an aged heart patient who had suffered a heart attack. All his vital signs – blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, state of anaesthesia, and others – were being monitored by a team of specialists in the OT (operating theatre).
Suddenly, everything went blank. A power outage had hit the hospital at a crucial time when its diesel generators were under maintenance. “We had to go in blind and pray that the patient wouldn’t die on the table,” Dr Tan (name changed on request) reminisced. “There was no way we could have continued with the surgery without power; all the sensitive monitoring equipment needed uninterrupted electricity.”
If there was consternation at the hospital, there was chaos at the utility company tasked to supply electricity to the city. Apart from calls from furious customers jamming the phone lines, the outage would have a cascading effect with the top brass being roasted on social media – with the added complication that the blackout would have cost human lives. The utility giant had to fix the root problem: lack of real-time data.
Data must be available to key company personnel in real-time that can be actioned upon before it causes damage. That was not an easy fix. The utility giant is among the Asia-Pacific region’s largest utility companies; it supplies electricity to more than 5 million consumers, including domestic, industrial and commercial users.
As its legacy business grew, so did complications from legacy ICT infrastructure and solutions. These included data sitting in silos, incompatible systems and solutions, high cost of storing data on-premise, duplicate and incomplete fields in vital records, and an inability to scale despite allocating higher annual capital expenditure (CAPEX).
“We needed a revolutionary solution, not an evolutionary one,” the CIO surmised. “Our teams required data to be available anywhere, anytime, on any device, with analytics of what’s not functioning well, where, and what action needs to be taken right away. We were ready to work with any company that would do all of the above for us as a service.”
After going through a dozen presentations by various vendors, the utility giant settled on the GCP (Google Cloud Platform), MySQL database on cloud, Google BigQuery for analytics, and UI (Unified Analytics) dashboards for real-time actionable management. Who would implement this? Google’s prime solution partner, Cloud Kinetics (CK).
“CK is the top-tier MSP (managed services provider) on the GCP and an enterprise integration partner on VMware, NetApp, Dhruva, Cohesity, ServiceNow,” said Ted A, CK’s Chief Revenue Officer. “CK has operations in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Europe, and the US to help companies migrate to a hybrid cloud.”
One key differentiator? Managing the data explosion in the cloud, especially in booming digital markets like India. In Q2 2021, India’s external storage market grew 14.8% year-over-year, with gross sales of US$73.7 million, according to IDC estimates.
“Enterprises are forced to change their existing IT architectures to be adaptive and efficient while securing their workloads,” Dileep Nadimpalli, Senior Research Manager of Enterprise Infrastructure at IDC India, said in a press release. “Additionally, workloads are getting distributed to the edge, which is complicating things for organisations. Enterprises are looking for an infrastructure platform which offers complete end-to-end data services along with built-in security features.”
The utility company changed its existing IT architectures and embraced the “cloud-native” mantra by moving its workloads, ETL (extract, transform, load) functions, and data analytics to the cloud. It also changed its CAPEX model to an OPEX or pay-per-use model, streamlined its batch and real-time analytics, automated its data delivery and boosted cybersecurity.
‘The transformation was almost magical,” the CIO noted. “Our teams can now get power outage incidents on their phones and laptops as and when outages happen, with exact coordinates of where the outage occurred, how many users it impacts, and which team is the closest to rush them to the site. We’re now able to schedule maintenance periods in advance and let our users know about it. All of this has doubled our ROE (return on efficiency), boosted morale in the company and will reflect on mind and market share.”
It has also had a ripple effect on customers. Surgeons like Dr Sam Tan will no longer be hit by sudden outages and blackouts, putting lives at risk. “We were lucky on that crucial day a year ago; the heart patient survived,” Dr Tan said. “While we can push our luck with surgical procedures, we don’t want luck to play any part in power supply outages.”
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