Application Converts Aerial Scout Data Into Actionable Insights To Improve Farm Yields, Using Zadara’s Elastic, High-Performance Enterprise Storage As a Service (STaaS) for Cost-Effective, High QoS Repository
Zadara Storage has announced that its customer Farm Intelligence2 of Mankato, MN, has deployed a pioneering analytics service for improving crop yield usingAerial Scout data sent to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud and stored in Zadara’s Virtual Private Storage Array (VPSA) enterprise STorage as a Service (STaaS) platform. With data sent from onboard sensors into AWS today, and growing by 10 TB per week to an anticipated total of 1 Petabyte (1,000 TB) by year’s end – Farm Intelligence2 is using Zadara as the centerpiece of a new software platform and analytics storage architecture with the elasticity, enterprise-grade features and high QoS that lets the company stay focused on helping farmers find opportunities to increase their yield, instead of the minutiae of managing a storage architecture.
“There is literally no other storage platform that could have handled our needs except Zadara,” said Steve Kickert, CTO at Farm Intelligence2, whose WingScan software monitors hundreds of thousands of acres of crops annually to help farmers scout their fields and preserve yields. “Our core competency is in deep analytics and science about farming, and our value-add is in delivering to the farmer highly visual, near real-time information they can use to make sound, scientifically-based decisions quickly. It would have taken at least three full-time employees to manage and deploy the storage that we neatly hand off to Zadara and obtain ‘as a service.’ With Zadara we stay focused on what we do best and have an affordable, painless way to scale out our storage - without having to devote capital, wait months for storage systems and software to be deployed, or hire and train staff to run it for us.”
Founded in 2011, Farm Intelligence2 presently facilitates the use of Aerial Scouts to monitor mainly corn and soybean crop acreage across 12 Midwestern states, and is rapidly expanding its national and global reach. Custom designed aerial sensors on the Scouts take data on potential crop stressors, including moisture, minerals, weeds, pests, gaps, and height variability. Data is transmitted to the company’s servers where its WingScan proprietary algorithm processes both visual and nonvisual imagery. Within 24 hours WingScan sends alerts to the farmer along with graphical displays about conditions that farmers should monitor and adjust – for example, increasing water or nitrogen.
With a 50X growth in customers in just one year, Farm Intelligence2 was forced to reconsider its computing infrastructure and particularly its on-premise storage area network (SAN). Scaling the on-premise SAN by 50X presented a substantial increase in costs, which the company ruled out as too CapEx-intensive and time-consuming to purchase, install and deploy. A cloud-based approach was a natural move and last year the company explored the use of AWS to support the debut of a new software version with added features, and an aggressive go-to-market plan.
Since Zadara Storage is the only enterprise-grade cloud storage service at AWS that, among its advanced features, supports NFS and multiple server attachment, Farm Intelligence2’s application was a natural fit. After a successful trial of Zadara’s VPSA service in January 2014, Farm Intelligence2 used Zadara’s free 100 TB migration offer to expedite the switchover, then deployed its storage in the AWS US East region within less than a week.
Zadara’s Virtual Private Storage Array is colocated adjacent to the AWS compute resources, so that Farm Intelligence2’s processing algorithms running on AWS EC2 can readily connect to what is now 40 TB of capacity on Zadara Storage via AWS Direct Connect high-speed fiber lines. Drives are private and not shared with anyone else, so Farm Intelligence2 can obtain single-tenant performance at multitenant prices and avoid the “noisy neighbor” problem (which occurs in competing services when other customers degrade storage performance). Expansion to more drives, or switching from disks to SSDs, is as simple as clicking a button on Farm Intelligence2’s dedicated online management interface. At any time Farm Intelligence2 can also eliminate drives, adjust controller performance, and fine tune other storage needs on the fly – allowing agility and control in a flexible, pay-as-you-go model.
“Without the agility to meet business demands, organizations can experience dampened growth when the right infrastructure can help them soar,” said Nelson Nahum, CEO of Zadara Storage. “Zadara’s VPSA Storage as a Service is the perfect, elastic and high-QoS answer for a data-intensive analytics service like Farm Intelligence2. We’re proud to be part of a smarter, highly performant cloud-based infrastructure that allows the company to support its impressive growth.”
Zadara Storage will showcase the VPSA service underlying Farm Intelligence2 application and other innovative deployments of its enterprise Storage as a Service offering at the AWS Summit San Francisco, next Wednesday March 26 at the Moscone Center, South Hall, from 11 am to 7 pm PT.