iAwards Finalists 2023

The voting process for the iAwards Round 1 for 2023 has now been completed and we are delighted to advise that the judging panel has selected us as a finalist for two of our entries.
BCS announced as iAwards Finalists for 2023

The voting process for the iAwards Round 1 for 2023 has now been completed and we are delighted to advise that the judging panel has selected us as a finalist for three of our entries.

We look forward to the Ceremony on 28 June for the AIIA – SA & NT iAwards Ceremonies with Keynote Speaker Dr. Eva Balan-Vnuk and to celebrate innovation in the tech sector. 

Our entries included:

Leveraging Containers on AWS:
Category,  Government.

What is the opportunity that this solution enables and for whom?

Businesses running critical applications have the opportunity to improve their user experience with faster response times and less outages while reducing ongoing costs, including for monitoring and management of the environment.

How is this solution different from other tools in the market?

We are used to deploying applications to Windows or Linux servers with monitoring, management, and patching taking place at the server level. High availability calls for multiple servers with a load balancer in front and backup/recovery planning for disaster recovery scenarios. Servers require effort to plan and provision with all the required dependencies and spare CPU or memory capacity is often wasted. There are some great tools used by system administrators to automatically install packages and configure servers, but these can be complex, and the focus is still on server management.

Docker containers make it possible to encapsulate all the application dependencies into an image and avoid conflicts with other requirements of co-hosted applications which would normally need to be considered when a single server is used to host multiple applications. Problem solving and testing is made much simpler as the same container used in Production can be used by team members including developers on their personal computers. The application dependencies can be updated with confidence knowing there will be no impact on other applications.

While Docker containers can reduce the effort required to prepare a suitable server, the challenge is ensuring there is enough capacity to run the required containers without wasting costly resources and additional management effort. AWS Fargate provides a serverless solution that ensures the correct number of application containers are always running and connected to the load balancer, increasing, or decreasing based on demand and automatically restarting in the case of any issues.

There is no longer a need to plan for and provision, monitor, patch or upgrade any servers.

Rolling deployments become possible with no outage and no planning for the additional temporary capacity.

The application support team can spend more time focusing on monitoring the health and performance of the application.

What is the technology that powers this solution?

Docker containers on Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) using AWS Fargate as a Serverless Compute Engine and Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) for shared, highly available persistent storage.

Web tier managed by AWS Certificate Manager (ACM), Amazon CloudFront Content Delivery Network (CDN), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and Amazon Application Load Balancer (ALB).

Terragrunt and Terraform for deployment automation.

How is this solution making (or will make) an impact?

  • Reduced costs with improved performance and availability. Servers don’t need to be over provisioned, based on estimated peak usage requirements. Application support teams can be much more responsive with better insight into the application.
  • Improved security as there is no need for users to access servers directly.
  • Businesses don’t need to spend time managing servers or negotiating support contracts – no patching, no upgrades, no backups, no change management, no DNS or IP address allocation.

Infoserver using containers and PostgreSQL, specifically on AWS

Category,  Business Industry Solution


What is the opportunity that this solution enables and for whom?

Since 2004, we have been providing managed services for business-critical Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) environments to gas and electricity generators and retailers. Our submission for the iAwards is around our innovative solution for AEMO, specifically how we leverage Infoserver using containers and PostgreSQL on AWS.

Our solution enables the creation of a low cost, highly available and fully redundant AEMO InfoServer environment for any participant in the Australian energy market.

How is this solution different from other tools in the market?

Traditional AEMO InfoServer environments involve deployment of the third party AEMO pdrBatcher and pdrLoader applications on two servers/VMs (for application redundancy), pointing to a primary commercial OLTP database (Oracle or SQL Server) with replication to a secondary OLTP database (for database redundancy). The VMs tend to be resourced for peak loads and CPU is often greatly underutilised as a result.
This solution has an architecture that streamlines and minimises resource usage and leverages off highly available AWS services to provide the same robustness more efficiently with less manual intervention, as well as allowing for quicker upgrades, maintenance activities and recovery.

What is the technology that powers this solution?

The solution primarily uses AWS cloud services. The main difference between a traditional InfoServer architecture and this solution includes:
– Stateless pdrBatcher/pdrLoader application implementation within Docker containers, configured to have a single instance always running on AWS Fargate.
– Application, configuration, data files and management scripts stored on Amazon Elastic File System (EFS), which is a highly available managed service with inbuilt scaling as required.
– Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL is used as the data store, which is a fully managed database in the cloud that is fast, reliable, scalable and cost effective. Because the service is based on the popular open-source PostgreSQL database engine, there are no licensing costs per an Oracle or SQL Server implementation. Amazon Aurora provides high availability by storing 6 copies of the data in a database cluster across multiple Availability Zones in a cluster configuration. When a problem occurs on the writer (primary) database instance, it automatically fails over and promotes one of the reader instances as a writer before rebuilding a new reader.

How is this solution making (or will make) an impact?

AEMO traders operate around the clock, with bids every 5 minutes, so the supporting application and data environments have very stringent requirements around availability and downtime, which this solution addresses by using services with in-built high availability, scalability and redundancy.

By having single instances of every component configured in a redundant manner, along with the use of an open source database, every aspect of running costs and environmental impacts are reduced. There are no spare components, additional processing power or capacity being allocated just in case they are needed, and manual efforts are mostly reduced to application upgrades and data updates when required.

 

BlueDiamond: A world without service outages

Category,  Technology Platform


What is the opportunity that this solution enables and for whom?

This software enables the integration of third-party monitoring tools, expanding our capabilities for a growing scope of customer environments via a single, consistent interface.


So far, we have integrated alerts from Zabbix (for network and infrastructure monitoring), AWS CloudWatch and Azure Monitor (for AWS and Azure cloud environments), with Oracle Cloud alerts being incorporated soon.


For our clients, this means they receive peace of mind that their mission critical environments are being carefully managed eliminating risk of service outages and more.

How is this solution different from other tools in the market?

Bluediamond³ uses a smaller footprint than other monitoring tools in the market, by running a centrally located Agent that makes remote connections to various components in the client’s network, with no further software needing to be installed. The Agent comes at no extra cost to managed services customers, with similar platforms often requiring a subscription fee.
This solution provides integration with existing third-party monitoring services to collect metrics that can be analysed by the alert trigger processing of bluediamond³ that notifies BCS staff of any problems.

What is the technology that powers this solution?

Java, Angular and AWS cloud are the three technologies that power bluediamond³.
The Agent is written in Java, bundled with its own Java Runtime Environment to ensure smooth rollout and limited impact to existing configurations. Java is platform independent, with support for both Windows and Unix systems. With a robust set of libraries, the Agent is able to remotely communicate with a host of components to gather metrics through scripts, APIs and HTTP requests. Metrics are pushed to a secure AWS S3 bucket for processing by the bluediamond³ API.

How is this solution making (or will make) an impact?

This solution will provide greater monitoring capabilities for customers with infrastructure outside of on-premise servers, databases and applications. Real time metrics pulled from AWS, Azure and Zabbix (and in the future Oracle Cloud) will allow BCS to effectively identify problems both existing and likely to occur in the future, and stop them from having an impact on the business.

 

Learn More.

Blue Crystal Solutions is growing and are looking for an experienced Technical Consultant to join our Adelaide office. We are after a candidate who is willing to work as part of a team to deliver exceptional outcomes for our business and our customers.

In an era where data breaches and security threats loom, the significance of robust database security cannot be overstated. Blue Crystal Solutions, a pioneer in database management and security, has once again demonstrated its unparalleled expertise and commitment to safeguarding digital assets.

We are looking for a motivated and creative individual to join our small marketing team on a part-time basis (up to .6 FTE/ 3 days a week) for a 12 month fixed term contract. The ideal candidate will be a marketing student nearing graduation or a recent marketing graduate, eager to apply their skills and knowledge in a real-world setting. As a Marketing Assistant, you will support the development and execution of marketing campaigns, enhancing brand awareness, and driving engagement across various channels.

Blue Crystal Solutions: your trusted & innovative IT partner.

Australian owned and operated since 2004, we provide information technology services locally, nationally and beyond.

We are a specialised supplier of Cloud, Application, Database & Infrastructure, Operating System Management, Modernisation and Transformation services. With security at the forefront of everything we do, we can also work with your cyber teams to significantly improve your security posture whilst ensuring all your services with us are fortified by our integrated outage protection and 24×7 monitoring tool, BlueDiamond

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