Smart solutions for smart cities: Cloud provider with startup mindset wanted


Website:
www.smight.com/
Industry:
Software as a Service
About

As an independent business unit of EnBW, the Karlsruhe start-up SMIGHT realizes digital solutions for the Smart City and addresses topics such as Public WLAN, traffic management and Smart Grid applications. The company is developing extremely dynamically; continuous innovation and the closely timed launch of new services are part of everyday business.

We need this expertise in order to be able to better assess capacities for new IoT services and to strategically develop our infrastructure. Even in the test phase, we were impressed not only by the technology itself, but also by gridscale’s customer understanding and hands-on mentality. We are glad that fast, expert assistance is more important than bureaucratic procedures in case of need.

Ralf Rapude, responsible IT project manager

As an independent business unit of EnBW, the Karlsruhe start-up SMIGHT realizes digital solutions for the Smart City and addresses topics such as Public WLAN, traffic management and Smart Grid applications. The company is developing extremely dynamically; continuous innovation and the closely timed launch of new services are part of everyday business.

The company was looking for a powerful, flexible cloud infrastructure for the SMIGHT IQ IoT platform. Above all: an IT provider with a high level of service and a great understanding of the special features of a rapidly growing, technology-driven start-up. Since 2019, the data flow between all participants in the SMIGHT IoT ecosystem as well as the operation of all central SMIGHT IQ components from business logic and configuration databases are mapped via gridscale. Thanks to the intuitive user interfaces, all IT infrastructure resources can be controlled particularly easily and new IoT services can be launched virtually in real time. The gridscale architecture based on open standards offers the SMIGHT team any degree of freedom in the further development of its technology and in the design of corresponding cloud strategies.

STARTING SITUATION & OBJECTIVES

SMIGHT was founded in 2014 as a corporate start-up and now operates as an independent business unit of EnBW AG. With 34 employees, SMIGHT implements hardware and software-based IoT services for the Smart City. A particular speciality are RetroFit solutions for retrofitting existing urban infrastructures, such as street lamps or local network stations, which are equipped with intelligent sensor technology.

More flexibility and customer proximity instead of over-complex product variety

The central core of all smart solutions is the SMIGHT IQ IoT platform developed in-house, initially operated by one of the well-known hyper scalers. The initial problem: over-complexity in handling the cloud infrastructure and a lack of tailoring to the actual service and support needs of a scaling startup. “As a small company without specific cloud know-how, we not only want a stable, high-performance operating environment, but also close support and more provider flexibility in the implementation of our individual projects,” says Ralf Rapude, responsible IT project manager at SMIGHT, summarizing the subsequent search for a more suitable cloud partner.

REALIZATION

Against the background of the exponential development leaps in the fields of IoT and smart value-added services, there is great dynamism in technologies and deployment scenarios for traffic management systems, public WLAN and other smart city applications. Companies in this sector have to adapt quickly to this, so that the SMIGHT business model and thus the requirements for the respective cloud infrastructure only develop over time and are constantly changing. “Our cloud partner must also be able to keep up with this dynamic and individuality,” adds Ralf Rapude. “The global providers are too large, anonymous and complicated for this. The very small providers, on the other hand, do not have the necessary range of services and experience.”

Easy handling and Open Source technologies

gridscale was able to successfully assert itself in the selection process as a long-established cloud specialist with a medium-sized company character. The platform’s ease of use and open architecture were just as important criteria as the German location and strict conformity with the DSGVO and German data protection laws. “Even though in most cases we are not dealing with personal data in the strictest sense, data security is our top priority. It goes without saying that the strict compliance requirements of our parent company and our municipal customers are also binding for us,” says Ralf Rapude.

Architecture, migration and operation of the SMIGHT IQ infrastructure

After carrying out upstream evaluation and test procedures in 2018, the SMIGHT IQ server landscape was migrated to the gridscale infrastructure in 2019 and initially operated in temporary parallel with the previous cloud platform. As a modern, cloud-native application, SMIGHT IQ is based on a docker container architecture and has since been provided via a multi-level system environment in the high-security data center of gridscale. Particularly advantageous is the easy allocation of resources via the intuitive, web-based panel interfaces as well as the fast and arbitrary server scaling during operation.

SMIGHT has transferred the actual business logic of the application, the configuration databases for the connected IoT devices as well as the staging process from development, test and production system to the gridscale infrastructure. The incoming data is stored with the database service MongoDB Atlas via an appropriate interface. Among the most important parameters for the design of the IT infrastructure are the numerous field devices and sensors, which are often networked via mobile radio. As a result, SMIGHT – unlike fiber optic or copper cable – must assume a certain instability in transmission and a not always trouble-free data transfer. In addition, the data volumes are very large because the field devices perform regular measurements or transmit data permanently when in use. Since this data is real-time data, the target systems and the gridscale cloud infrastructure must therefore react elastically to the transmission and scale accordingly fast.

CONCLUSIONS

With more than 300 customers in the municipal environment, SMIGHT has established itself as one of the leading IoT ecosystems for the digitally networked city of the future. Currently, the data pool comprises around 455 million data records from over 1,500 installed devices. Every month, between 20 and 25 million data records are added. The flexibility and customer proximity desired by SMIGHT is particularly evident in the service and support, as young companies in particular, which are rapidly developing their product portfolio, are dependent on close cooperation with the cloud provider.

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