- Achieved a seamless move to Postgres with zero disruptions to business continuity
- Significantly reduced licensing costs
- Improved user response times and speed to access data
- EDB Postgres Advanced Server (EPAS)
- Environmental Consultancy, Industrial Automation
Metasphere is a global organization that specializes in remote telemetry solutions. Major utilities, government agencies, and system integrators use Metasphere's solutions to proactively monitor and maintain their infrastructure, enabling them to pre-emptively identify and rectify issues before they cause damage, and also to react to emergencies more quickly.
Formed in 2006 from the telemetry division of Logica Plc (now CGI), Metasphere provides solutions for the collection, processing, visualization, and reporting of data and information for customers around the world. In recent years, the company has sought to expand globally, establishing Metasphere Australia Pty Ltd in 2014 to support their growing customer base in Australasia, and eyeing expansion into the North American market with the investment in the business by Canadian-based XPV Water Partners in 2018.
With global expansion on its mind and growing demand for a cloud-based platform from prospects and customers, Metasphere faced a rising need to re-evaluate its technology foundation in order to accelerate its expansion plans. The company’s telemetry platform Canvas relied on Oracle to process the volume, frequency, and complexity of Metasphere’s telemetry devices. However, Oracle’s accompanying price tag and on-premises bias was inhibiting the company’s growth into emerging markets.
Remote telemetry solutions combat environmental threats
In recent years, demand for remote telemetry solutions in the Water, Wastewater, Environment, and Gas markets has risen exponentially with increasingly wild weather patterns and growing regulatory enforcement around environmental controls. Metasphere’s portfolio of remote telemetry devices and its underlying Canvas platform for collecting and analyzing telemetry data has proven invaluable for customers seeking proactive insight into potential problem areas, as well as an early warning system to address issues before they become more damaging.
“Without telemetry, utilities don’t have visibility, so they’re very reactionary,” explains Chris Fryatt, Director of Product Management at Metasphere.
“By monitoring water pressure within their infrastructure, customers can build a profile across the network and identify anomalies that provide an early warning sign to potential trouble.”
A typical customer can have thousands to tens of thousands of telemetry devices sending data back to the Canvas platform at various points in the day. Depending on the nature of the device and its use cases, such devices could be pinging home anywhere between every 5 minutes to less than once a day.
“A typical utility clears tens of thousands of blockages - for example from wet wipes or fatbergs - every year. Our telemetry solutions help customers detect unexpected rising levels or drops in level that can be early indicators of a blockage forming. That in turn enables utilities to prevent the blockages, leading not only to a much cleaner environment, but also massive cost savings from clearing the blockage, the clean up that results from it, and the potential infrastructural damage if a pipe collapses.”
Metasphere turned to PostgreSQL when the company needed to reduce costs while embracing the cloud infrastructure critical for its future growth. With EDB Postgres Advanced Server, Metasphere now has a cost-effective, cloud-friendly foundation without sacrificing the scalability and performance its data-intensive application requires.
Clearing an Oracle-sized barrier to expansion
Much of Metasphere’s initial business was driven by large utilities. However, as the company began to target smaller utilities, emerging markets, and regulators, it began to face unprecedented pushback on its Oracle-based offering. International expansion also uncovered another challenge - the desire of Metasphere’s customers to keep data in-country.
“Oracle’s core-based licensing meant that customers of every size needed to purchase multiple database licenses just to run one instance. It dramatically increased the cost of our solution,” recalled Fryatt. “In-country data requirements meant that we couldn’t offer a hosted solution to some international clients unless we moved to Amazon Web Service (AWS).”
Given that market feedback, the team at Metasphere scoped the need for a new database foundation, one that could:
- Operate seamlessly in AWS, which would enable the team to confine customer data to a relevant region
- Reduce overall licensing costs to bring down the total cost of ownership for Metasphere’s offering
- Support a “land and expand” model that enabled new customers to get started with a small number of devices and then quickly and effortlessly scale as they added more and more devices
With the help of EDB, Metasphere successfully migrated both hosted and on-premises environments from Oracle to PostgreSQL without customer disruption. As a result, they expanded the market opportunity for their next-generation Canvas platform with the ability to offer both a lower-priced on-premises solution built on PostgreSQL as well as a cloud-hosted offering for regulators and smaller organizations. Additionally, they experienced improvements in both user response times and speed to access data within their platform. Finally, this migration allowed Metasphere to dramatically reduce licensing costs for both them and their clients.
A painless migration...
After an initial evaluation of different database offerings, the team quickly identified PostgreSQL as the most suitable database that could meet its key requirements. Given its open source nature, PostgreSQL offered greater feature agility with lower support costs - even when Metasphere took into account the costs of an enterprise-supported version of PostgreSQL such as the final selection of EDB Postgres Advanced Server.
The migration from Oracle to EDB Postgres Advanced Server was relatively simple, particularly with the help of EDB’s Migration Toolkit. However, the utility industry is cautious and risk-averse by nature, so Metasphere elected to run both databases in parallel for six months to reassure customers that the migration would run smoothly, and that there would be no data retention gaps between the two platforms.
“In the end, we were able to migrate all our hosted customers to Postgres without them even knowing, while our on-premises customers were reassured by our six-month transition,” said Fryatt. “We’ve since completed all of our migrations and saved our customers from out-of-control licensing fees.”
...And a foundation for growth
Even more exciting for Fryatt and his team, however, is the opportunity ahead of them. The Environment Agency, the government environment regulator in England and Wales, is pushing hard on water utilities to prevent waste water spills from damaging the natural environment. As a result, not only are utilities looking for more sophisticated telemetry solutions, so too are the agencies enforcing regulations.
The industry’s current telemetry infrastructure can’t handle the 10x coverage increase that Metasphere expects the industry to need, but the on-demand scalability of AWS makes it easy for Metasphere to scale in the right time frame to support those emerging needs. Metasphere has also taken advantage of EDB’s robust back-up and recovery tools and EDB Enterprise Manager to monitor system health and optimize database performance.
“Since migrating to Postgres, we’ve not only achieved our goals, we’ve exceeded them,” finishes Fryatt.
As the company looks toward the future, they don’t see growth slowing any time soon. Regulators continue to drive a more proactive engagement model that will require more and more monitoring devices, and Metasphere will be there to support it with EDB Postgres Advanced Server backing them up further.