Historically a desktop product business with on-premises software for the water industry, Innovyze wanted to address the real-time operational needs of utilities by extending the capabilities of their product offerings through a cloud-based platform.Solutions Cloud Native Development, Internet of Things & Edge, SaaS Optimization Platforms Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Over the past 35 years, Innovyze has been one of the preeminent hydraulic and hydrological modeling software companies in the world. It empowers water professionals and municipalities around the world to create, manage and maintain water services. The ultimate goal of Innovyze is to help its customers optimize water management to maintain safe, resilient and affordable water services across the full water lifecycle.
“We have very advanced computational algorithms for modeling water flow,” said Rick Gruenhagen, CTO at Innovyze. “Our simulations use external data, such as weather data, and we also provide solutions for asset management, asset performance, and risk modeling to help utilities with capital planning. We take many factors into account, such as the material of the asset, whether it’s a pipe or a tank, whether it’s buried in soil, the weather patterns affecting it, etc. These are all factored into our models.”
“Onica had the DevOps expertise and scale we needed to support our aggressive schedule. They understand the technology and were really engaged and interested in the problems we were trying to solve.”
The obstacles they faced
While Innovyze was already the global leader in its space, it wanted to drive much-needed digital transformation in the water industry using the power of the cloud.
“Most utilities today rely on tribal knowledge and historical data to run day-to-day operations for their plants and water networks. We wanted to develop a system that could enhance operational intelligence using real-time data. [But] we needed a scalable platform to process and analyze that data,” explains Gruenhagen.
Innovyze knew that a move to the cloud would expand its existing product set into the operational side of utilities. Innovyze also wanted to ensure its customers could leverage the cloud to enhance their business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities for emergency scenarios — a concern that grew considerably during several historic weather-related water crises and the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
"The positive outcomes of the project — driven by a common goal — speaks volumes to the type of organization they are, and to the mindset of the individuals contributing to their success. They are the definition of an excellent partner.”
How we helped
Gruenhagen had previous experience working with Onica (a Rackspace Technology company) and knew they’d be the perfect partner for Innovyze’s journey.
“Onica had the DevOps expertise and scale we needed to support our aggressive schedule,” said Gruenhagen. “They understand the technology and were really engaged and interested in the problems we were trying to solve.”
One of the most powerful offerings Innovyze provides their customers is bespoke site modeling. By factoring in data points such as geographical location, historical and current weather patterns, type of water (fresh, sewage), plant size and equipment type, Innovyze can create a tailored setup for every plant.
However, the data used for those models, as well as the models themselves, are typically locked on-site. It can be difficult to test the accuracy of models as they’re developed, and this can make it difficult to improve modeling done in the future. It was clear that a move to the cloud would enable Innovyze to unlock the capabilities of a SaaS delivery model while providing customers with broader access to data and results in real time.
“By moving simulation features of our modeling into the cloud, we can leverage that horsepower for really complex models, performing multiple parallel simulations for different scenarios like weather changes, flood predictions, and the like,” said Gruenhagen. “The ability to use real-time data to develop Dynamic Digital Twins that are more accurate in representing conditions today and predicting conditions in the future is huge.”
For most utility companies, modeling is built on data that is months or even years old. The quickest way to incorporate real-time data was to improve the data-ingestion pipeline, and Innovyze knew the IoT capabilities found in AWS would be key.
“We definitely had an aggressive timeline,” Gruenhagen said. “And I think AWS, in particular, helped us to accelerate that with its proven industrial IoT architecture.”
“One of the things I really like about the Onica team is they are well-matched to the skill level and rigor of our internal teams, which was lacking in other external consultants.”
What we achieved together
“Onica collaborated with our team to build an asset registry in AWS that enables IoT analytics using real-time data,” recalled Gruenhagen. “The solution also addressed pulling the on-premises modeling data into the AWS environment as well.”
The asset registry was part of the cloud native IoT platform and SaaS infrastructure that Onica built. By leveraging AWS Managed Services, Onica worked alongside the Innovyze team to build a scalable, automated and secure multi-tenant SaaS platform.
The new platform, built with serverless and microservices technologies, enabled Innovyze’s customers to transfer their asset network information to the cloud and leverage geospatial mapping functions for their site modeling, which was previously available only with additional third-party software in their on-premises solution.
Data transfer for each asset in the network is now facilitated by a cross-platform edge solution, powered by Amazon Greengrass and Docker images, which allows Innovyze customers to install the software in their existing IT environment. This portability enables Innovyze to seamlessly onboard customers with varying technology infrastructures, lowering the barrier to entry for smaller municipalities.
In addition, given that a single customer’s asset network could range anywhere from 20K to 1 million assets, Onica worked with Innovyze to implement a high scale data ingestion pipeline between the edge solution and the cloud. AWS services such as Amazon Kinesis Firehose, Amazon S3, Amazon Greengrass, AWS IoT Core, and AWS Lambda were critical to the scalability and performance of the platform, allowing Innovyze customers to manage their edge devices and control data flow to the cloud effectively.
According to Matt Puccio, Practice Manager Cloud Native Development at Onica, working hand-in-hand with equally skilled engineers definitely helped accelerate the process.
“Innovyze actually participated in our engagements and that was a win-win for both parties,” recalls Puccio. “For Onica, the burden of knowledge transfer at specific stages of the project was relieved by having some of their engineers be a part of our team. That really allowed the technical knowledge to be shared, not just on an informational basis, but with a truly detailed understanding since they were part of actual work that was being implemented. We were able to deliver side-by-side.”
With everything in place, Innovyze was finally able to bring the water industry’s first Dynamic Digital Twin to life via Info360.com. This platform supports real-world water lifecycle management using the power of the cloud and is accessible to every water utility, without the need to invest in expensive IT infrastructure, maintain complex software, or hire hordes of digital consultants to use it.
Info360.com provides the framework and shared services for Innovyze applications to help water utilities of any size visualize and manage assets and operations today, while predicting and preparing for future needs. As a result, utilities can deliver the highest possible service at the lowest possible cost.
By leveraging AWS, the SaaS implementation of Info360.com offers several advantages to utilities in the areas of easy on-boarding, infinite scalability and rigorous security “out of the box.”
In the end, success was achieved through careful consideration and planning for Innovyze’s needs.
“Onica spent a lot of time with us up front, just understanding what we were trying to do,” recalls Gruenhagen. “They were really engaged and interested in the problems we were solving. They deeply understand the technology, and if there was ever a question on different approaches, they did the research to identify and present the best solution to us.”
From a collaboration perspective, it was a frictionless partnership. “We felt like we were a part of their team,” said Puccio. “I was participating in team-wide architecture reviews and milestone releases. The positive outcomes of the project — driven by a common goal — speaks volumes to the type of organization they are, and to the mindset of the individuals contributing to their success. They are the definition of an excellent partner.”
With an aggressive timeline prompted by a world-wide pandemic, Onica was able to build an asset registry that Innovyze could leverage for IoT analytics using real-time data, allowing its customers to clean and manage water responsibly the world over.
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