The Benefits of Cloud Modernization for Critical Energy Infrastructure
With extreme weather impacting most parts of the world throughout the year, protection is vital to keeping essential services running. Failure is not an option when so many citizens and businesses depend on consistent energy access. So when a company is providing that protection, success relies on being one of the best in the business. Based in Calgary, Canada, MOBILTEX was founded in 1985 and currently has about 50 employees. It is a small business with a big responsibility—monitoring and preventing electrolytic corrosion of pipelines used in the transportation of substances like gas, oil, and water. At Amazon Web Services, we worked with them to help speed up innovation through modern, cloud-based software. I talked with CEO Marc Bracken about how his company’s cloud journey is helping lead the market and their plans for international expansion for this Industrial IoT business.
Solving business challenges in the cloud
Q: Marc, could you describe what is unique about the MOBILTEX business model?
A: We monitor about 160,000 miles (over 257,000 kilometers) of pipeline. This includes critical energy infrastructure, such as gas, oil, as well as municipal utilities, including water infrastructure, and piers. If you think of anything that can rust, we will monitor the protection systems for that. Our goal is to maximize the asset life for our customers and keep their critical infrastructure protection running. The unique thing about us is we’re vertically integrated. We make our own circuit boards. We design all our own hardware. We write all our own software code. We are a one stop shop for our customers, which means that we have end-to-end responsibility.
Q: Like many small and medium businesses (SMBs), you had to deal with aging, on-premises hardware and outdated software. Can you talk about the challenges you faced?
A: Our backend software was quite dated. It was originally designed and implemented in around 2007. As our business grew, we needed to have a stable and reliable backend system for our customers. With the world moving towards machine learning and data analytics, we needed a platform that would allow us to apply those principles for our customers, because traditionally in Internet of Things, a lot of the data has stayed in a database with nothing done to it. We needed to provide additional value to our customer’s data by becoming more predictive of what’s happening with their critical infrastructure and helping them monetize that data to cement our position in the market as a leader.
Using the cloud for real-time analytics and meaningful insights
Q: Building real-time analytics in-house is often beyond the budget and expertise of many SMBs. Can you describe how AWS gave you access to the required technology and expertise?
A: The first engagement with AWS was very positive. You can imagine for a company of our size, moving your entire software platform from an existing one is daunting at best. We started with baby steps. We first moved our existing platform onto the AWS system, which provided us with more reliability, more backups, and more resilience to our infrastructure for our customers.
What we’ve managed to build on AWS is an updated and modernized version of what we had before. Our software allows our customers to see all their assets in virtual real time, understand how their systems are operating in terms of both regulatory and compliance infrastructure, and make sure their systems have proper corrosion protection. We now have a modern architecture built on microservices that will allow our customers to easily get access to and do different things with their data.
Adding value and attracting new talent to close the skills gap
Q: How has modernizing your software platform on AWS enabled you to innovate faster and add value for customers?
A: The internal benefit of moving to AWS is really interesting in terms of our ability to innovate a lot faster and to roll out those changes to our customers faster. The data analytics that we’re implementing in AWS for our customers will allow us to prioritize alarms, to pick out trends in the data that will really provide additional value, and provide a return on investment for the hardware that our customers already have in the field.
Q: Has your cloud journey helped you attract new talent?
A: From a corporate point of view, we are able to attract younger talent who are excited about what we’re doing and that we are at the leading edge of technology—not on a very old, legacy data platform like we have been for the last few years.
Q: Looking toward the future, how has moving to the cloud impacted your larger business goals?
A: Moving forward with our AWS backend system is really changing how we’re strategically planning for the business and what we’re thinking of doing in terms of both our hardware and software development. It allows us a whole other avenue to grow and strategize in terms of data analytics. This in turn makes us think about acquisitions in other verticals that would be complementary to what we’re already doing. This has been a very, very critical decision on the part of management that will provide benefits for years to come for the business.
MOBILTEX found that modernizing software through the cloud enabled them to stay competitive and accelerate growth. AWS has been pioneering solutions for manufacturers and service providers that can improve efficiency and enable better visibility into the data that matters. For many SMBs, the cloud offers an effective way to leverage new technologies and solutions to become more efficient, grow faster, and better serve customers. Learn more about how we can help SMBs modernize their IT across various industries.
Disclaimer: The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.