Fueling Dynamic Growth with Serverless Cassandra Managed by DataStax

With approximately 90% of world trade transported by sea, Alpha Ori Technologies recognized a great opportunity to apply cutting-edge, real-time AI predictive analytics solutions to the maritime transportation industry. Discover how DataStax helps Alpha Ori double its business with the seamless, serverless scalability of Astra DB.

Alpha Ori Technologies




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Enables reliable and fast collection and analysis of 5,000 data points from each ship every 30 seconds

Unlocks $5M in fuel and maintenance cost savings and helps reduce emissions by 30,000 metric tons for 200 ships annually

Helps Alpha Ori double its business with seamless, serverless scalability of Astra DB

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With approximately 90% of world trade transported by sea, Alpha Ori Technologies recognized a great opportunity to apply cutting-edge, real-time information solutions to the maritime transportation industry. Its SMARTship software and cloud infrastructure leverage an Internet of Things (IoT) platform to collect and transmit more than 5,000 data points every 30 seconds from various navigation, cargo, and engine control systems onboard a vessel. The technology enables maritime operators to optimize operational efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions to meet sustainability imperatives while increasing business value and growth opportunities.

The Alpha Ori platform monitors and combines parameters such as ship speed, fuel consumption, machinery operating temperatures, pressures, pump RPMs, torque measurements on the shaft, refrigeration temperatures, wind speed and direction, and thousands of additional data points from the approximately 40 major equipment systems on a typical ship. For anywhere there is a lack of information, Alpha Ori can install additional sensors to capture it.

The Challenge

To provide intelligent analytics, alerts, and insights to vessel stakeholders both aboard and on shore, Alpha Ori built its platform with an open source Apache Cassandra® database. The wide-column store, NoSQL system seemed ideal for its distributed reliability and high throughput. Alpha Ori’s IT team, however, faced competing priorities during a period of growth for the company. So when it needed to make some adjustments to its database schema and wanted help with ongoing maintenance of its database environment, the company sought expert assistance.

Alpha Ori initially turned to DataStax for consulting and training to review its schema and make fixes, along with help to migrate its data from open source Cassandra to DataStax Enterprise, a database solution built on Cassandra with enterprise-grade security, monitoring, and support. “We had some stability issues and getting DataStax involved with modifying our schema and moving to DataStax Enterprise was essential to achieving high reliability and performance for storing and retrieving our fast-growing volumes of ship data,” says Praveen Viswanath, Co-Founder and Enterprise Architect, Alpha Ori Technologies.

Even then, however, Alpha Ori continued to experience some challenges managing the environment due to its growth. “We still had to maintain the clustering. When it came to creating a new cluster, ensuring the backups were running well, or adjusting the scale of the database at times when we needed to increase capacity, our team was stretched a bit thin,” says Viswanath.

The Solution

Foreseeing a continued high rate of business and data volume expansion, Alpha Ori was drawn to DataStax Astra DB, a fully managed, serverless database offering built on Cassandra that would reduce Alpha Ori’s operational overhead. A multi-cloud, multi-region Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS), Astra DB offers an elastic, pay-as-you-go consumption model that scales up infinitely as needed and down to zero automatically when the database is not in use.

“We have so many demo, staging, and production databases. Every time we set up a cluster, it required a couple of hours of effort from our team. In addition, the operational costs were quite significant, as Cassandra requires a reasonably sized machine to run,” Viswanath says. “Even if the use case was small, we had to size it quite large because there was a minimum requirement. We were attracted to Astra DB as a serverless solution that scales to demand.”

The Results

Astra DB relieves the Alpha Ori IT team from the complexities of database and infrastructure administration, reducing its total cost of ownership (TCO) while accelerating onboarding for new Alpha Ori customers.

“By going serverless with DataStax Astra DB, we reduced the operational costs for our Cassandra database platform by an order of ten. It’s a brilliant choice because it scales on demand when we need to onboard 300 ships to our systems in a single day,” says Viswanath. “With Astra DB, we get high read and write throughput for large volumes of data, allowing us to rapidly deliver analytics and alerts for predictive maintenance, fuel savings, enhanced asset utilization, and more.”

Alpha Ori values the support it has received from DataStax over the years. “Even at the crossroads we’ve come to, we’ve stayed with DataStax because they always found solutions for us. Even at the very first level of support, their staff has tremendous expertise,” Viswanath says. “We really appreciate the reasonable pricing and flexibility in terms of accommodating our schedule. The whole team has been phenomenal at helping get us to where we’re going.”

In the past year, the company has doubled the number of vessels using Alpha Ori solutions to save money on fuel, mitigating maintenance-related risks, and reducing carbon emissions. “For 200 ships on our SMARTship platform in 2021, we calculated $5M in cost savings and 30,000 metric tons of emissions saved on behalf of our customers,” says Viswanath.

With a managed Cassandra database environment, the Alpha Ori IT team can intensify its focus on developing and enhancing intuitive applications that increase resource optimization and add value for its expanding roster of maritime clients. “We see a bright future for DataStax and Astra DB. At some point we are planning to move all our solutions to Astra DB,” Viswanath says. “We’re aligned for our grand vision to transform marine logistics with big data in real-time.”