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Concert Properties Achieves Near-Real-Time Data Integration and Reporting on AWS

2019

Founded in 1989, Concert Properties specializes in developing rental apartments, condominium homes, and retirement communities; acquiring and developing commercial, industrial, and infrastructure properties; and managing properties. With operations across Canada and the backing of more than 200,000 Canadians—represented by the union and management pension plans who own Concert—the company is committed to building strong, sustainable communities across Canada.

Concert is implementing strategic initiatives in sustainability, operations, and customer experience for which integrated, high-quality, real-time data is crucial. However, as a result of diversification and growth, Concert’s small information systems and technology (IST) team found itself with disparate, disconnected data sources and two increasingly pressing data-related needs.

The most immediate need was to achieve near-real-time integration among the company’s many data sources to simplify custom reporting, analytics, and data-quality management. The longer-term need was to establish the ability to scale resources to match the projected ongoing growth of data volumes and modeling needs related to smart buildings, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, and digital replicas of buildings (digital twins). In addition, the company wanted to have the flexibility to integrate future solutions based on increasingly real-time technologies such as process automation, natural-language processing, and machine learning.

Concert satisfied these needs by using the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) to build a data-hub solution. The open, flexible AWS solution is based on a microservices architecture that is simple to operate and empowers business teams to take ownership of data and collaborate with the IST team.

“Concert’s success shows that on AWS even small IT teams can create custom data platforms to connect disparate data sources, deliver custom reporting, and integrate real-time data services,” says Mark Cosyn, vice president of information systems and technology for Concert. “AWS gives you all the components. You just have to learn how to use them.”

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CustomerReferences_QuoteMark

Concert’s success shows that on AWS, even small IT teams can create custom data platforms to connect disparate data sources, deliver custom reporting, and integrate real-time data services.”

Mark Cosyn
Vice President, Information Systems and Technology, Concert Properties Ltd. 

Off-the-Shelf Technologies Fall Short

Before selecting AWS, Concert’s search for a better data solution began with the evaluation of off-the-shelf solutions for an enterprise data hub and an enterprise service bus. The company quickly hit two major roadblocks with these approaches: high implementation costs for creating custom data models and licensing fees that increased with use. “When we saw how much customization would be required for these off-the-shelf technologies, we decided the best plan would be to build our own solution instead,” says Cosyn.

Because of Concert’s existing Microsoft environment, the company first planned to host its custom data hub on Azure. It also decided to evaluate AWS. “We developed a proof of concept to assess the viability of creating and scaling a custom solution on AWS,” says Cosyn. “We quickly saw that AWS offered the technical functionality, performance, and scalability we needed.”

Reduced Costs and Faster Performance on AWS

A high level of engagement and support from AWS helped Cosyn’s team—including critical members such as Christophe Descamps, the company’s enterprise solution architect, and Saleh Ghasemi, a data analytics architect—to learn, build, and deploy on AWS quickly and comfortably.

AWS worked side by side with Concert team members during the process of determining the best architectural fit. “When we started with AWS, we discussed our goals and what we wanted to achieve, as well as the future data, integration, and emerging technology strategy planned for Concert,” says Ghasemi. “AWS explained its Cloud Adoption Framework and helped us design the journey that Concert ultimately took.”

The custom data hub Concert built on AWS includes services such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), which serves as the main data storage layer, and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), which provides the data-processing layer for the company’s operational reporting. It also takes advantage of Amazon Redshift, which enables data warehousing for analytics functions and replaced Concert’s single-server online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes. Concert relies on AWS Lambda serverless functions to run custom queries.

“Running on AWS has enabled us to accelerate our development solutions in a way that improves performance and is well architected, secure, and—in many cases—automated,” says Descamps. “Compared to running on Azure, our AWS data hub is about 90 percent more cost-effective and six times faster at updating data stores.”

With a data hub on AWS, Concert’s relationship to what was once an unwieldy assortment of data has been transformed. “Real-time integration and data quality management are essential for Concert,” says Cosyn. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to provide critical financial reporting, and we wouldn’t be able to maintain needed quality controls as Concert grows and the volume of data increases. With a data solution on AWS, we’ve taken something that was a challenge and turned it into a strength.”

Custom Data Hub Enables Collaboration with Business Teams

Not only is the new solution easier for the IST department to use, it also supports even tighter collaboration between IST and business teams. “Our AWS data solution enables business stakeholders to better research and define their problems, implement their own data hub solutions, and assume ownership of the quality of their data,” says Cosyn. “This kind of cultural change is essential to eradicating the data silos that used to complicate planning for growth and ultimately would have prevented effective adoption of the real-time technology solutions that are key to our long-term strategy.”

Cosyn says that by enabling the company to move its data out of silos and make it usable by technical and business teams both inside and outside the company, the new solution has helped Concert lay a strong foundation for the future. “AWS remains engaged with us in adding capabilities to our data hub, which will ultimately help us better serve our customers, manage our real estate products and operations, and deliver value to our stakeholders. This AWS solution is about far more than day-to-day operations. It’s an investment in our future.”

To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/s3.


About Concert Properties

Operating throughout Canada, Concert specializes in developing rental apartments, condominium homes, and retirement communities; acquiring and developing commercial, industrial, and infrastructure properties; and managing properties.

Benefits of AWS

  • Custom cloud platform is about 90% more cost-effective than Azure
  • Updates 6 times faster for near-real-time data processing
  • Connects disparate data sources for improved financial reporting
  • Open platform is ready for future technology changes
  • Improves staff ownership and engagement

AWS Services Used

Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS)

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while automating time-consuming administration tasks such as hardware provisioning, database setup, patching and backups.

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Amazon Redshift

Redshift powers mission critical analytical workloads for Fortune 500 companies, startups, and everything in between.

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AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume - there is no charge when your code is not running.

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