Ankeri Moves to Astra DB for Global Supply Chain Ship Data
Ankeri is a cloud-based platform that enables ship owners and charterers to manage and share data from their ships and collaborate for improved performance. The company’s approach involves unifying commercial and technical ship data from thousands of vessels and disparate technology platforms, allowing teams on both the shipowner and the chartering side to effortlessly view and share validated information. Ankeri aims to improve data-driven decision-making across the shipping sector, helping both ship owners and operators deliver better results in the circular economy.
Improve cost flexibility in the startup phase and reduce management time by using Astra Serverless
Support data gathering and normalization from thousands of ships in real-time
Provide a real-time, single source for telemetry data from ships combining hundreds of parameters from multiple platforms
Ankeri is a company that provides services, software, and data for the global commercial shipping sector. Formed in 2016, Ankeri provides data to cargo ship owners and operators across the world. As a third-party organization, Ankeri’s data on vessels and their performance provides trusted information for those who own the ships as well as those that charter them for specific periods.
Ankeri’s leadership team recognized a gap in the market around real-time data for the shipping sector. While cargo ships and their management applications can provide data for analysis, the data itself is tied to those specific systems, which makes it harder to compare different vessels or use data for deciding on future projects. Ankeri’s founders CEO Kristinn Aspelund and CTO Leifur Kristjansson saw a new approach to the industry was needed.
"The global shipping sector is very interesting. More than 50,000 vessels operating worldwide serve more or less as the artery system for global trade. On one hand, you have shipowners who have the capital investment in the vessels, and on the other, you have operators that will hire those vessels to carry cargo. Selecting the right vessel to charter and deploy on a trade is a critical task for any chartering team to get right. There are multiple factors involved, from the physical constraints at each terminal called, the vessel's capacity and loading properties and its charter rate, but the vessel's fuel type and fuel efficiency are also critical," said Aspelund.
"The operators are responsible for the fuel costs to make those journeys, and that cost can represent around 50 percent of their operating expenses. Typically, operators would choose the cheapest vessel that was available, but they would not know how efficient that vessel would be. Our approach is to gather this data and provide more insight for operators and ship owners alike," continued Aspelund.
To build this service, Ankeri would need to take data from thousands of vessels in real-time. The data would have to be collected from different sources, normalized, and then made available to customers in a way that would be simple to understand and digest. The new service, called the Data Connections Hub, would provide secure and easy access to this data for customers. As part of this, the Ankeri team led by Vice President of Engineering Nanna Einarsdóttir had to choose a data platform that would manage the scale of data that would be collected over time, as well as supporting the cloud-native approach that the company wanted to take.
"We knew we would have a lot of data to collect over time—we modeled our requirements based on having data from 10,000 ships, all providing updates every 15 minutes. Each of these updates is around a few hundred bytes, but we would have to capture them all over time. In two years, we might need to store 500 gigabytes of data, growing to over a terabyte in five years. From a performance aspect, we expected to have around 4 million database reads per hour and writes at around 2.4 million," said Einarsdóttir.
In order to find the right solution, Einarsdóttir looked at available databases and services on the market. She decided to look into NoSQL platforms for the new implementation. "We have run similar applications for maritime companies in the past, so we were familiar with relational databases and how they work. I could see potential problems with managing the scale of data over time, so we decided to look at NoSQL options like Elasticsearch, DynamoDB, and MongoDB. We decided that Apache Cassandra was the best choice for scalability over time, while Cassandra Query Language (CQL) was familiar to use from SQL," explained Einarsdóttir.
Einarsdóttir approached DataStax for support on implementing Apache Cassandra and was impressed at how the team responded around the potential design, as well as how the service could be implemented for Ankeri. "We got great initial feedback from the DataStax team when we got in touch, which gave us a sense of trust. Secondly, the launch of Astra serverless meant that we could run this as a service and not have to worry about having to implement our own clusters or carrying out management tasks. As we are a small team, this made our choice to work with DataStax a really easy one," said Einarsdóttir.
DataStax Astra DB provides serverless Database as a Service, built on Apache Cassandra with automated management and scaling based on application demands.
Alongside Astra DB, Ankeri is making use of Storage Attached Indexing to simplify how it manages data over time. Storage Attached Indexing, or SAI, lets users index multiple columns on the same table without scaling issues. It helps optimize storage and simplifies search without affecting performance. "We planned to have a lot of columns within our database implementation in order to capture all the data that each ship provides, but this could impact performance whenever search operations would be carried out. The DataStax team took us through SAI, how it could provide a simpler index for us to use, and how it could reduce storage volumes required too," explained Einarsdóttir. "Alongside being able to run on Astra Serverless, SAI makes it a lot easier to operate."
At Ankeri, we are in a unique position to deliver information on ship performance based on gathering data from multiple vessels and their applications in real-time. Astra serverless provides that simple, scalable platform for us to build on, supporting real-time data from thousands of ships, and providing trusted data to both ship owners and operators for them to understand their performance. With fuel costs making up more than 50 percent of operational expenses for ship operators, making better decisions can massively improve their profitability and increase energy efficiency.
CEO at Ankeri
Ankeri implemented their Data Connections Hub on serverless Astra to collect data from hundreds of ships, before scaling up to thousands of vessels. Ankeri’s application functions run on AWS Lambda; a function polls for required data from ships and provides events that manage pulling data into the database.
Each ship's application provides a set of data every fifteen minutes, and the Data Connections Hub collates, normalizes, and stores this information. Rather than only being able to compare ships running the same applications, Ankeri enables operators to see across multiple types of vessels running various application suites. This makes it easier for Ankeri's customers to make decisions about vessels to hire and how to manage operations over time.
"The global shipping industry has been consolidating for the past few decades, but it's still quite a distributed market. Shipping is also the most environmentally friendly means of transportation, but there's still a push for becoming even more energy efficient. There's a digital transformation needed in the industry, where more and more decisions are based on a scientific approach using data rather than gut feelings. The data we provide will be at the heart of this process," explained Aspelund. "With this information, we can help companies make better decisions around which vessels are the most fuel-efficient for a particular route or project, rather than having incomplete data and making the wrong decision."
With DataStax Astra DB, Ankeri now has a cloud-based, robust, scalable, secure and cost-efficient infrastructure in place to support the company’s growth. It can provide the trusted third party source of data for the global shipping industry for years to come.
For more information on how Ankeri is using Apache Cassandra and Astra DB to deliver analytics at scale, watch this video.
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