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Making Smart Buildings Run Like Clockwork with Resilient Cloud Technologies

Building Automation Company
  • Challenge

    Give customers reliable access to real-time smart building data while accelerating development and reducing cloud costs.
  • Solution

    Boost resilience by improving application observability, de-risking development pipelines, and optimizing cloud architecture.
  • Outcome

    Lift application availability to 99.96%, slash development downtime, and unlock $2.4 million cloud savings in just 9 months.
Customer Story Customer Story Customer Story

Challenge

Today, residential, public and commercial buildings make a significant contribution to every city’s carbon footprint. Heating, cooling and lighting these spaces uses enormous amounts of energy, not to mention powering everything from elevators and security systems to home appliances and personal devices.

As we attempt to build a more sustainable future, smart buildings represent a huge opportunity to save energy and reduce environmental impact. And one Hitachi Vantara client—a world-leader in building automation systems—is right at the center of this effort.

By harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) to capture data from thermostats, air quality monitors and other devices, the company can provide its customers with insight into how their buildings are performing, and even use AI to optimize energy efficiency automatically.

However, smart buildings are only smart when they’re working as intended. The company noticed that many of its customers were reporting that they couldn’t reliably access the live dashboards for their buildings. In fact, these reports comprised 50% of all issues reported to the company’s helpdesk—suggesting a serious problem with application resilience.

At the same time, the company also had reliability problems in other areas. One of its key DevOps tools suffered repeated outages, which meant software developers and testers were unable to work productively and couldn’t fix bugs or release new features for clients. Finally, a lack of visibility and accountability around the use of cloud resources meant that costs were spiraling out of control.

Customer Testimonial

The HARC team has transformed the resilience of the company’s cloud environment—significantly improving customer service, boosting developer productivity, and cutting infrastructure costs.


Solution

The company engaged Hitachi Vantara to help solve its resiliency problems and make more effective use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud technologies. With Hitachi Application Reliability Center (HARC), the company now has access to a dedicated team of cloud experts who can provide advisory, consulting and implementation services.

The HARC team began by addressing the reliability issues that were preventing customers from viewing their smart building dashboards. By implementing more comprehensive centralized logging, monitoring and observability tools including Amazon CloudWatch and DataDog, the company can now perform distributed tracing across its microservices architecture. This helps to understand the flow of requests, identify bottlenecks, and pinpoint performance issues. Meanwhile, new anomaly detection and alerting capabilities help the IT team respond faster and be more proactive when issues arise.

Next, the team reviewed the company’s DevOps environment, conducting a comprehensive risk assessment and providing recommendations for improvements. The result was a project to implement greater redundancy and improve backups, develop disaster recovery and business continuity plans, increase monitoring, and introduce load and performance testing. These measures have helped drive a dramatic improvement in the reliability of the company’s DevOps pipeline.

The HARC team also helped the company review its cloud strategy to improve utilization, visibility and accountability, and gain tighter control of expenditure. The project led to several technical changes, such as introducing new cloud cost management tools, switching some apps over to a serverless architecture with AWS Lambda, and taking advantage of lower-cost resources such as Amazon Reserved Instances. It also involved governance and cultural changes, such as educating engineering teams about cost awareness and introducing policies around cost allocation and chargebacks.

Outcome

The first three projects led by the HARC team have transformed the resilience of the company’s cloud environment. The team has significantly improved customer service, boosted developer productivity, and cut infrastructure costs.

By enhancing the monitoring of customer-facing systems, the company now has full observability of 95% of the technology stack and has reduced false positives by more than 80% . This has helped lift system availability to 99.96%, which is substantially higher than the company’s service level agreements. As a result, the number of helpdesk issues relating to smart building dashboards has dropped dramatically, and customer satisfaction has increased.

By building a more robust DevOps toolchain, the company has reduced the number of production issues it experiences each month by a factor of 30. By keeping downtime to a minimum, the company ensures that its 150 developers and testers always have access to the tools they need. This saves hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity every year and helps teams push new features and bugfixes out to customers faster.

Finally, by changing the culture around cloud cost management, the HARC team has helped the customer save a total of $2.4 million over a nine-month period—with 30% savings from shifting to serverless computing, 20% from better resource utilization, and up to a further 20% from improving education and accountability.

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Availability of smart building analytics

Centralized monitoring, alerting and observability ensure customers always have access to real-time data.

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Reduction in production incidents

Resilient DevOps systems prevent downtime and help developers and testers work productively.

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Savings through cloud cost optimization

Tracking resource utilization and educating engineers enables better budgeting and cost control.

about

Building Automation Company

This Hitachi Vantara client is a global leader in the smart buildings space, providing innovative HVAC, security and building automation solutions for commercial, residential and public spaces. Through its investments in Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, the company helps its clients harness real-time data to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon footprint, and create a more sustainable built environment for the future.
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