Categories
Case Studies

CHU Insurance FinOps

15% monthly cost saving within 90 days.

CHU Insurance saved and thrived from ARQ's unique FinOps approach.

Background

CHU is one of Australia’s largest and most awarded insurance underwriting agencies. CHU were recognised as back to back winners of the Underwriting Agency of the Year Award 2017 – 2018 and 2021, Insurance Business Australia Underwriting Agency of the Year 2021, Insurance Business Australia Brokers’ Pick award winner 2016 – 2021 as well as Excellence in Workplace Diversity and Inclusion in 2019. CHU started trading in Sydney in 1978 and created the very first strata plan insurance policy in Australia. They have now grown to become one of Australia’s largest strata insurance specialist, arranging insurance for more than 100,000 strata buildings.

The Challenge

CHU Insurance have been working closely with AWS as their preferred cloud vendor for years with a particular focus on continual modernisation of architecture and applications, delivering an industry leading product to market. The responsibility of managing costs and monitoring resource utilisation was shared across several team members and without a dedicated FinOps function or framework, costs continued to increase and project sprawl occurred.

The Solution

ARQ’s Cost Management as a Service solution provided CHU with a detailed cost assessment within days, the output of which identified immediate savings and provided Governance quickly through the implementation of an industry leading platform that enabled automated cost and usage monitoring.

 

The scope of the solution included:

  • A detailed AWS cost assessment including a current state analysis and wastage review
  • Savings Plan and Reserved Instance analysis and recommendations
  • Ongoing cost optimisation recommendations
  • Proactive anomaly detection
  • Automated governance including cost and usage monitoring

The Results

CHU realised a 15% monthly cost saving within 90 days of our engagement and eliminated all wastage, improving their governance posture and improving visibility into cloud consumption. CHU now have the confidence to continue to innovate and modernise with ongoing oversight from the ARQ team.

If you’d like to learn more about how ARQ can help optimise your cloud environment and improve your governance posture, contact us today at FinOps@Arq.group

Categories
Case Studies

Melbourne Water Unified Data Store Platform

Melbourne Water UDS Platform

Project Background

Melbourne Water manages and protects Melbourne’s major water resources, which in turn makes the city a fantastic place to live. They manage water supply catchments, supplying affordable and high-quality drinking and recycled water. In addition, they remove and treat most of Melbourne’s sewage and provide integrated drainage and flood management services.

ARQ Group has been working with Melbourne Water to build a digital strategy that leverages modern cloud technology to deliver reliable provisioning of essential water services for Victorians. Through leveraging our own experience and the global perspectives of AWS and Snowflake we have been able to add extended value to the strategic use of technology at Melbourne Water whilst simultaneously reducing risk through mutual investment in assured success. 

Challenge

With an expansion in IT, OT and IoT solutions across their business, Melbourne Water had an ever-increasing set of data which they weren’t able to easily access or draw accurate insights from. This was hindering the organisation from achieving their digital goals, especially the delivery of the Intelligent Network and efficient and holistic data sharing with customers.

To achieve their digital goals, Melbourne Water needed to move to a highly integrated and automated future state that is simple-to-use for their customers and employees. The first step of this journey required a solid foundation platform that enables data integration, data validation, data storage and management, data analytics and IOT device management.

Solution

ARQ Group worked with Melbourne Water through a six-week discovery process to design a scalable, state-of-the-art Date Lake and Analytics platform called UDS (Unified Data Store).

The foundation architecture housed on Melbourne Water’s AWS Cloud was delivered over the ensuing six months. The platform employs best-of-breed tools such as AWS Glue for data ingestion into the Snowflake cloud database platform, dbt Core for data transformation, and delivers data to consumers via Snowflake to range of SQL-compliant reporting, advanced analytics and AI/ML workbenches. The combination of Snowflake and AWS has allowed for the rapid realisation of a mature technology footprint that could otherwise take years to establish.  Encompassing real time governance, security controls, and adaptable measures of data quality and accuracy, the platform delivers a key business objective of building trust in data and transforming Melbourne Water to become a data driven enterprise. 

In subsequent phases ARQ will build out the platform to future-state, encompassing real time streaming, unstructured data consumption, and advanced analytics workspaces.

Benefits

The UDS platform ARQ has delivered for Melbourne Water has enabled them to begin their Intelligent Network Enablement journey without a monolithic investment in data, allowing them to focus on incremental improvements. The platform has helped Melbourne Water to overcome historic constraints in operational resilience, disaster recovery and business continuity of their technology assets and accelerate key outcomes such as critical water utility asset management and predictive machine maintenance. 

Furthermore, we’ve shortened Melbourne Water’s infrastructure provisioning cycle from months to hours, which hasresulted in accelerated experimentation and bias to action. Thus, enabling Melbourne Water to learn through hands-on experience rather than remaining constrained by protracted theoretical analysis and abstracted decision making.  This ability has further enabled Melbourne Water to take a business centric view of their technology direction and capabilities,rather than remaining vendor led and infrastructure focused in their roadmaps. 

In addition, we’ve simplified access to reliable and comprehensive data which has resulted in a significant uplift in staff efficiency and satisfaction as they undertake innovative use cases around real time water utility asset management, Digital Twins for the operation of critical infrastructure, as well as geospatial scenario modelling for the potential impact of natural disasters such as flood and drought events. 

As the data platform matures it will further enable inter-agency collaboration with Melbourne Water’s peers in both water utilities as well as essential services and emergency services for coordinated community health and pandemic response. 

About Melbourne Water

Melbourne Water is owned by the Victorian Government. They manage the major water, sewerage and drainage networks across Greater Melbourne, together with local water companies and councils. They care for 25,000km of rivers and creeks that sustain healthy communities and the environment – making the region a great place to live.

About ARQ

ARQ is an AWS Premier Partner that makes great things happen for our customers. We are humble and don’t talk about what we do, we would rather talk about what our customers have achieved or even better let them tell the world. But we want to make sure we are the best so we are also an active AWS Managed Services Provider, holder of both the AWS Mobile Competency and the AWS data and Analytics competency – AWS raise the bar and we rise to meet it each year.  Our capabilities and practice encompass everything in the cloud, advanced data, analytics, AI & ML and digital experiences across all channels. We are the true end to end partner, for companies of all sizes that need the best and value experience and expertise. We partner with half of the top 10 ASX and over 100 other Australian companies to help them get the best from their own cloud adoption journey.   

Categories
Case Studies

North East Water Digital Twin

North East Water Digital Twin

Background

North East Water is a water utility company that provides water and sewage services to an estimated population of 110,000 people in 39 towns in North-East Victoria across an area of 20,000 square kilometres. The service delivery area is bound by Corryong, Yarrawonga, Benalla and Dartmouth.

North East Water engaged ARQ Group to solve the challenges they had been facing with their water networks sewer pumps operational efficiency through a custom Digital Twin solution.

The Challenge

ARQ worked with North East Water to understand the key challenges they were facing with their sewer pumps operational efficiency.

Summary of the key challenges:

Agility Access

North East Water were looking to collaborate the existing asset management system to the cloud, to enable their front-line engineers to check the sewer pumps status from mobile devices and determine in advance where and when maintenance of individual pumps would be required.

 Security

As a utility organisation aligned with the public sector, safely storing and transferring sensitive data is a key priority for North East Water. North East Water wanted to have their new cloud-based system running upon the existing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) infrastructure so that the system integrity would be maintained and security compliant. 

Balance Workload

In the water utility industry, it can be challenging to proactively plan when to inspect pumps without any real time information on the pumps conditions. North East Water were facing this challenge and were only aware of issues with their sewer pumps after they had occurred. This resulted in the operation team being called out at all different hours to locate the problem and fix it at soon as possible. A team member from North East Water Wangaratta Operation stated “Sometimes I get called to check a pump, 10 minutes before my shift ends”. According to historic data the situation can sometimes be a lot worse with one of the sewer pumps breaking at 4am on Saturday.

Solution

ARQ Group designed and worked with North East Water to provide an AWS based hybrid Digital Twin platform which will improve their water networks operational efficiency.

The Digital Twin platform gets data from the existing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) data lake and brings the real-time data feed online in a safe and effective approach. The Digital Twin solution works closely with Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud platform, providing greater portability and accessibility by providing users access to the system anywhere, and on any device (below is an example of the Digital Twin platform design).

Digital Twin

The core AWS components utilised in North East Water’s hybrid Digital Twin solution were:

  • AWS IoT TwinMaker
  • AWS IoT Event
  • AWS IoT SiteWise
  • Grafana

Through integrating machine learning into the Digital Twin System design, North East Water has tested the accuracy for advanced warnings of sewer pump failures, which will help them eliminate approximately 16 out-of-business-hour pump inspections and repairs per pump per year. By deploying the machine learning service on-premises, front-line engineers will be able to access the up-to-date asset status insights and the next best action, which will help them find and fix issues before they happen.

North East Water Catchment

Benefits

Through the partnership with ARQ Group, North East Water is now able to transfer and analyse sensitive data safely and effectively with their cloud-based Digital Twin System. This has enabled them to locate pump issues underground before they happen and update the asset inspection planning approach from an experience-driven to data-driven approach. This data driven approach significantly improves North East Water’s operational and resource efficiency and will help North East Water to reduce operating costs over time. 

About ARQ

ARQ is an AWS Premier Partner that makes great things happen for our customers. We are humble and don’t talk about what we do; we would rather talk about what our customers have achieved (or even better let them tell the world). ARQ is an AWS Managed Services Provider, holder of both the AWS Mobile Competency and the AWS data and Analytics competency. AWS raise the bar and we rise to meet it each year. Our capabilities and practice encompass everything in the cloud, advanced data, analytics, AI & ML and digital experiences across all channels. We are the true end-to-end partner for companies of all sizes that need the best, and value experience and expertise. We partner with half of the top 20 ASX and over 100 other Australian companies to help them get the best from their own cloud adoption journey.   

Categories
Case Studies Emerging Tech Innovation IoT People & Purpose

How automating pricing with MS PowerApps saved a major telco client time and money

How automating pricing with MS PowerApps saved a major telco client time and money

Steve Avery

Steve Avery

Director
ARQ Group

Matthew Conquest

Matthew Conquest

Principal Consultant
ARQ Group

Swetha Veeranna

Swetha Veeranna

Senior Consultant
ARQ Group

Swati Kute

Swati Kute

Associate Consultant
ARQ Group

Evelyn Mieu

Evelyn Mieu

Associate Consultant
ARQ Group

How automating pricing with MS PowerApps saved a major telco client time and money

Project Background

In the telecommunication industry, price plays an important role in the consumer purchasing decision process. Therefore, it’s essential that telecommunication providers have access to efficient financial modelling tools to be able to swiftly price products and react to competitor pricing changes.

ARQ Group worked with a major telecommunication provider to solve the challenges they had been facing with automating their product pricing process for mobility solution sales through a custom Microsoft PowerApps solution.

The Challenge

ARQ worked with the major telecommunication provider to understand the key challenges they were facing with automating their product pricing process for mobility solution sales.

Summary of the key challenges:

Multiple manual data processes

The organisation was using a spreadsheet-based tool for financial modelling which required numerous manual platforms and spreadsheets to assess the commercial impacts of pricing changes and deals. Subsequently, this resulted in lack of visibility on the status of pricing changes and made it more difficult for employees to quickly price products.

Pricing automation

ARQ understood the clients need to automate the pricing process for mobility solution sales with a custom pricing application, reducing time, costs, and the possibility of errors. The automation was particularly important to the client as they had attempted this twice before with no success.

Solution

ARQ successfully delivered a custom pricing application for our client in only six months using Microsoft PowerApps, which enabled the telecommunication provider to complete all pricing changes and assessments for mobility solution sales in one platform.

This solution was delivered in two phases:

Phase 1 – Proof of concept

During this phase we collaboratively worked with the telecommunication provider to streamline their data processes and deliver a proof of concept for one of their four product portfolios using Microsoft PowerApps. The proof of concept was a great way to showcase the capabilities of Microsoft PowerApps and demonstrate how it could meet the pricing requirements of the telecommunication provider.

Phase 2- Delivery

The success of the proof of concept enabled us to proceed with the full delivery scope for the other products. The delivery plan was executed in fortnightly sprints to optimise efficiency and enable key stakeholder feedback. ARQ was able to successfully deliver the custom pricing application for all four-product portfolios in six months using Microsoft PowerApps.

Results

Through the partnership with ARQ Group, the major telecommunication provider has been able to automate their pricing process and improve the speed and efficiency to which they can make pricing changes for mobility solution sales. Additionally, they can now easily generate reports to swiftly identify the impacts of pricing changes.
 
Operationally this has enabled the organisation to increase their speed to market with pricing changes for mobility solution sales, save costs and maximise resource efficiency.

Team

  • Steve Avery (Director)
  • Matthew Conquest (Principal Consultant)
  • Swetha Veeranna (Senior Consultant)
  • Swati Kute (Associate Consultant)
  • Evelyn Mieu (Associate Consultant)

If you’d like to learn more about how ARQ can solve your business challenges with custom Microsoft PowerApps solutions, contact us today at  Enterprise.Sales@arq.group 

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Case Studies Data Machine Learning

Victoria Department of Health Report Automation

Report Automation provides certainty in uncertain times

Background

Victoria was greatly affected by COVID lockdowns and restrictions due to an outbreak of cases however the Government was receiving delayed information on case numbers which resulted in the inability to make real time decisions and keep the public up to date with an accurate  status of COVID in Victoria.

 

Delayed reporting and low awareness of risk were two key challenges that Department of Health engaged ARQ to help solve.

The Challenge

Victoria was greatly affected by COVID lockdowns and restrictions due to an outbreak of cases however the Government was receiving delayed information on case numbers which resulted in the inability to make real time decisions and keep the public up to date with an accurate  status of COVID in Victoria.

Delayed reporting and low awareness of risk were two key challenges that Department of Health engaged ARQ to help solve.

Summary of the challenge focus areas;

 

Report automation

ARQ understood the need to automate the reporting, reducing time, cost, and the possibility of errors. This automation is particularly important in delivering fast and reliable reports in critical situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Transmission Risk Analysis

ARQ incorporated the use of mathematical models to evaluate the transmission risk of COVID-19 across Victorian suburbs, an important tool in assisting authorities to make informed decisions. The department has developed an agent-based risk analysis model, which predicts a risk score for each postcode and LGA in Victoria for the upcoming week. However, due to the complexity of the COVID-19 transmission process, obtaining good performance from this model is challenging, which requires more sophisticated techniques, such as machine learning that ARQ was able to assist with.

Solution

 

Report automation

Most of the reporting tasks in the department were developed in the R programming language. ARQ employed advanced data tables and automatic data extraction and manipulation techniques in R to enhance the performance of the existing platforms and to eliminate several manual reporting tasks. Report automation was successfully implemented for the following reports:

 

  • Daily vaccination report, including the rate of first and second doses for different vaccine brands, age groups, postcodes, and local government areas (LGA)
  • Weekly vaccination report for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities considering the country of birth and preferred language
  • Vaccine effectiveness report which highlights possible correlations between vaccination rate and cases growth in LGAs of concern, i.e., LGAs with the largest number of accumulated cases

 

Transmission Risk Analysis

The agent-based transmission risk model involves dozens of parameters adjusting the effect of demographics, workplace, and community movement of each agent. ARQ proposed a machine learning-based validation schema for fine-tuning these parameters. This schema was designed to maximize the historical accuracy of the model while avoiding model overfitting. ARQ also provided an output analysis of the model to highlight postcodes where the actual and estimated number of cases show a noticeable difference. This analysis allows identifying important parameters for further fine-tuning and introducing new parameters to mitigate the deviation.

 

Results:

Apart from eliminating several manual reporting tasks, the data manipulation techniques implemented by ARQ have successfully reduced the reporting time, in some cases, by up to a quarter. This enhancement allows the department to generate reports faster with less labour involvement. The machine learning-based validation schema and the output analysis also resulted in an increase of over 10% in the accuracy of the transmission risk model, helping authorities to make more informed decisions in containing the spread of COVID-19 across Victoria and ultimately ensuring that the people of Victoria were well informed of the state of the pandemic in their area and decisions around safety were able to be made confidently.

 

About Victoria Department of Health

The Department of Health develops and delivers policies and programs and advises the Australian Government on health, aged care and sport. They work with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure better health for all Australians.

 

The Department of Health plays a critical role in the Victorian health system and is responsible for shaping it to meet the health needs of Victorians into the future. The department also leads the Victorian Government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Directions issued by the department have helped contain the spread of COVID-19 and keep Victorian safe. These efforts have led Victoria to be one of the most vaccinated and safest places in the world during the pandemic.

 

About ARQ

ARQ Group is a multi-award-winning digital tech services company with a client base spanning Government and enterprise organisations, with more than half of Australia’s top 20 ASX-listed companies. Local experts, with a 26-year heritage of technological innovation – and part of Singtel’s tech services and innovation subsidiary NCS – ARQ also delivers advisory, design and managed services of digital solutions, with many of these solutions used by Australians everyday.

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Case Studies

Impactathon

Impactathon: 145 Staff Dedicate a Day of Innovation for Change

I’ve done Hackathons in the days of Melbourne It, Outware – outside the business, in the days of the dotcom bubble when real cash was on the table and when a certain company flew 500 people from around the world to Cannes. Never have I seen such engagement or enjoyment from such a large group of people. You and your team did an outstanding job! Thank you for driving an amazing day of invention, connection and fun.

– Steve McCormick
Chief Customer Architect
ARQ Group

Impactathon was next level!! It’s gone amazingly well.

– Tristan Sternson
CEO
ARQ Group

Well done today!! It was a really well run event and great to see unfold in real-time. Great experience and everyone I spoke to loved it!”

– Cameron Boog
Partner QLD
ARQ Group

Project Background

Impactathon is an ARQ pro bono event held annually to give back to our local community. Organised to help those in need of a solution to a real world problem by extending the depth of ARQ resources across a team of 145+ technology-savvy experts – who combined – provide a formidable think tank for ideation and implementation of innovative solutions.

The Challenge

  • How to drive internal company interest and encourage Impactathon registrations?
  • How do we make people feel like they are part of something worthy of a cause? 
  • The committee needed to be creative in the approach so interest was gained by all ARQ employees. 

COVID Lockdowns

  • How to unite 145 people across 3 states to deliver creative ideas for challenge statements in a COVID19 lockdown?
  • How do you maintain the engagement and interest of 145 people for an entire day when they are not in the same physical room?

Partner Organisations

  • Impactathon was not yet an event, and the committee had to convince NFP organisation to trust us with their problem statement. 

Judging

  • Who were going to be the judges? They needed to be external to ARQ so there was a level playing field. 
  • How to make it an efficient so the judges can judge 20 presentation on the day?
  • What would be the judging criteria in each presentation?

Solution

Technology

The tech stack used for Impactathon:

  • Miro boards: Planning
  • Power apps: Registrations, FAQ’s, on the day for teams and problem statements and then voting
  • Gathertown: The perfect virtual office environment that brought it all together.
  • MS Teams: On the day communications and back up meeting space, Q&A sessions with coaches
  • Slack: Communication in the lead up to the day

Teamwork and Communication

The behind the scenes committee worked tirelessly through the weeks leading up to Impactathon:

  • Creation of incentives for the registration of participants 
  • Plans made to move from a physical event to a virtual event
  • Use of other team members for design
  • Search for judges
  • Creation of judging criteria
  • Impact, desirability, feasibility, viability 
  • Creation of teams to ensure there was an even split of capabilities 
  • Ensuring each team had what they needed to be successful on the day

Benefits

  • 145 participants
  • 20 teams
  • 3 impact areas
  • 8 external judges
  • 4 grand finalists
  • 100% online

Participants 

The Impactathon committee was able to engage the whole ARQ organisation. Throughout the 8 week lead time there was consistent communication, regular updates and visual displays, which not only kept the interest, but built upon it. The final result was having over a third of the organisation participate. 

 

The 145 participants were not aware that there was a prize at the end. They signed up to be part of the day. They signed up to make an impact!

 

By pivoting and having a purely online event it allowed ARQ to have team members from different states and different capabilities that would have not been possible when in person.

 

Committee

Consistent, regular and open communication between all members of the Impactathon committee was vital to the success of the day. All members were open with ideas and happy to be involved in all tasks. 

On the day was no different. They approached it with a divide and conquer attitude. Allocating set tasks to each person ensured that all areas, problems and participants were covered should any issues arise. 

 

Judges

Having external judges allowed for the feeling of a real Hackathon. A real event that everyone took seriously. ARQ were where to make a difference.

The committee provided continuous communication with the judges, keeping them keen along the entire journey. 

 

Technology

The whole process from ideation to application development to event day was a smooth process. The Impactathon App was a key part as it covered details from registration to team allocation to FAQ’s on the day and then finally the voting.

About ARQ

ARQ is an AWS Premier Partner that makes great things happen for our customers. We are humble and don’t talk about what we do; we would rather talk about what our customers have achieved (or even better let them tell the world). ARQ is an AWS Managed Services Provider, holder of both the AWS Mobile Competency and the AWS data and Analytics competency. AWS raise the bar and we rise to meet it each year. Our capabilities and practice encompass everything in the cloud, advanced data, analytics, AI & ML and digital experiences across all channels. We are the true end-to-end partner for companies of all sizes that need the best, and value experience and expertise. We partner with half of the top 20 ASX and over 100 other Australian companies to help them get the best from their own cloud adoption journey.   

Categories
Case Studies

Here’s How We Cut ACECQA’s Cloud Costs with Cloud Optimisations​

Here's How We Cut ACECQA's Cloud Costs with Cloud Optimisations

Project Background

The Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority monitors and promotes the consistent application of the Education and Care Services National Law across all states and territories and supports the children’s education and care sector to improve quality outcomes for children.

The Challenge

Cost Optimisation

Managing costs is a common challenge across many organisations. Reducing IT spend allows cost savings to be directed towards new projects, enhancements, or services.

Security

As an organisation aligned with the education sector, information stored and communicated may contain sensitive data. For this reason, ACECQA is challenged to ensure appropriate controls are in place across the entire IT landscape. In partnership with Arq the intention is to become completely IRAP compliant in the near future.

Agility

ACECQA found that while their current cloud platform was reliable, improvements and optimisations could offer new outcomes because:

  •  The IT landscape is always changing
  •  Ability to host new applications/services
  •  Modernising platform components to leverage new cloud services
  •  Potential new legislative requirements around security/IRAP compliance

Solution

Arq’s successful RFT submission provides a Managed AWS Infrastructure solution (IaaS). 

The solution is a hosting platform for ACECQA’s National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS) – an online tool for educators and providers:

The platform consists of three environments:

  1. Test (UAT)
  2. Development
  3. Production 

Development and production are segregated at VPC level (each environment has its own VPC). 

Core service components in the platform are:

  •  SharePoint
  •  Dynamics CRM
  •  SQL
  •  Active Directory / Domain Controller
  •  Dedicated SMTP outbound service (Prod only)
  •  Zap

Since initial onboarding, the platform has been maintained with a focus on cost optimisation, security – and more recently – continuous value delivery (CVD).


Cost Optimisations

Monthly operational review meetings allowed Arq to continually assess resource utilisation. Potential saving opportunities were identified and flagged for implementation. At the time of writing, this included:

  • Scheduled uptime for non-production environments
  • Reserved instances for fixed workloads
  • Regular rightsizing activities
  • Regular cutover to newer available services (e.g. m4 -> m5 classes, ebs gp2 -> gp3)

Security

To meet the evolving security requirements of ACECQA and the education sector in general, Arq implemented enhanced security services to ensure platform integrity is continually improved. This was achieved through the installation of proactive endpoint monitoring agents, a platform-wide Web Application Firewall (WAF), and continually scanning and remediating vulnerability findings coupled with an annual comprehensive penetration test.


Continuous Value Delivery (CVD)

The latest iteration of our Managed Service Agreement had an inclusion for CVD, enabling Arq’s support team the ability to develop a backlog of platform improvement tasks in partnership with ACECQA and implement these changes by drawing down on support hours rather than distinct fixed price engagements.

Results

Through the partnership with the ARQ Group, ACECQA has peace of mind their sensitive information is secure and compliant with the right controls in place and allowing them to identify and remediate vulnerabilities before they result in security breaches. 
 
Operationally, ACECQA are now able to move faster and optimise through continuous improvement and cost savings.

About ACECQA

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is an independent national authority assisting governments in administering the National Quality Framework (NQF) for children’s education and care.

About ARQ

ARQ is an AWS Premier Partner that makes great things happen for our customers. We are humble and don’t talk about what we do; we would rather talk about what our customers have achieved (or even better let them tell the world). ARQ is an AWS Managed Services Provider, holder of both the AWS Mobile Competency and the AWS data and Analytics competency. AWS raise the bar and we rise to meet it each year. Our capabilities and practice encompass everything in the cloud, advanced data, analytics, AI & ML and digital experiences across all channels. We are the true end-to-end partner for companies of all sizes that need the best, and value experience and expertise. We partner with half of the top 20 ASX and over 100 other Australian companies to help them get the best from their own cloud adoption journey.   

Categories
Case Studies

Beyond Blue

Managing a Surge in Traffic from the Prime Minister's Live Broadcast

Create a secure, scalable and highly-robust solution for an imminent, unprecedented level of website traffic from the Prime Minister’s live national broadcast.

(Oh… and you have a week to do it.)

We wanted a service that would be able to handle extremely high levels of traffic. The fact that we turned this around so fast, in just over a week, showed an incredibly high level of resilience and ability to handle the traffic which, at the time, was largely an unknown quantity.  

I had confidence that the solution the team and the architects put in place was going to meet those demands which was comforting in such uncertain times.  

Whilst we had to turn the solution around quickly, if we had to do it again, with the same amount of information available now, we wouldn’t change anything.    

Overall, it was a good and enjoyable experience working with Arq Group on a common goal and still having a bit of fun along the way.

Luke Caleo
IT Solutions Delivery Manager  
Beyond Blue 

Project Background

Commissioned by the Australian Federal Government in 2020, Beyond Blue provides people in Australia with a dedicated Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service. As unprecedented times require unprecedented action, Australia’s Prime Minister announces on live national broadcast the new initiative and launch date – one week to rollout across the nation.

To seize the moment and capture the surge in traffic from the Prime Minister’s announcement, Beyond Blue needs an uplift in digital content. With the national announcement comes the expectation of national user traffic, triggering a surge, and the potential of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The timing also coincides with national security guidance on the increased presence of DDoS attacks upon government websites.

Beyond Blue turned to ARQ Group to ensure their website assets were ASIO standard secure and their services maintained continued uptime. Imperative was the need for online stability to support Australians during the influx of traffic.

The Challenge

ARQ needed to deliver a solution strengthening Beyond Blue’s current capabilities to accommodate the imminent surge in new website traffic.

Enter AWS, who ARQ engages for Infrastructure Event Management and work closely to re-evaluate the architecture of the site.

The Task: design a robust solution that would manage the new traffic volume while maintaining the seamless user-experience (UX) Beyond Blue are reputed to consistently deliver.

Time is ticking, and with less than a week on our side, agility was crucial. In a strategic move, a microsite is built to receive all incoming traffic from the Prime Minister’s officially announced web address.

The Idea: decouple the static microsite from the main site. It’s simple by design, acting as a dedicated platform for Beyond Blue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service. Tactically, should the microsite suffer from a DDoS attack, Beyond Blue would maintain operational continuity.

The Outcome: designed, produced and deployed within a week – on time and on budget. The Federal Government’s announcement of the new microsite created the anticipated surge in traffic.

Beyond Blue’s website never missed a beat (or subject to DDoS attacks). Beyond Blue is satisfied knowing their infrastructure is stable, reliable and built robust for scalable growth now and tomorrow.

From project beginning Beyond Blue witnessed a 40% increase in user traffic compared to the same time last year. The coronavirus pandemic has increased feelings of distress or anxiety, as typical responses in times of uncertainty.

The impact of the Beyond Blue microsite for visitors saw over 800,000 users seek practical advice, information and digital tools to help manage mental health and wellbeing.

Solution

ARQ Group designed the solution using the AWS Well Architected framework capitalising on ARQ’s experience in managing some of Australia’s largest websites.  

The solution leverages several components of AWS including: Route 53, AWS WAF, CloudFront, EC2, RDS, S3 and Elasticsearch, and has been tested to ensure the site scales at speed when needed – is highly available – and secure. 

AWS services used:  

– AWS S3   

Static content residing in a S3 bucket was used as origin for CloudFront services for the website. The S3 bucket was encrypted and versioned to allow roll back functionality and an additional bucket deployed for access log data collection.  

– AWS CloudFront  

Amazon CloudFront is a global content delivery network (CDN) service that accelerates delivery of web services.  

– AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF)  

AWS WAF is a Web Application Firewall that helps to protect web applications from common web exploits. It is integrated with CloudFront.    

– CI/CD Pipeline Deployments  

Octopus deploy was used to allow for appropriate build workflow for automated deployment into the S3 bucket.    

– AWS Shield Standard  

AWS Shield Standard was used to provide quick detection and inline attack mitigation for DDOs related attacks at Layer 3 and 4. 

Benefits

  • Robustness: Beyond Blue’s website passed industry standard heavy load testing.
  • Scalability: Scalable at speed, in an instant; future-proofing Beyond Blue’s online capabilities.
  • Security: ASIO standard security able to withstand DDoS attacks and decoupled to ensure operational continuity.

About Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to reduce the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide in Australia.

About ARQ

ARQ is an AWS Premier Partner that makes great things happen for our customers. We are humble and don’t talk about what we do; we would rather talk about what our customers have achieved (or even better let them tell the world). ARQ is an AWS Managed Services Provider, holder of both the AWS Mobile Competency and the AWS data and Analytics competency. AWS raise the bar and we rise to meet it each year. Our capabilities and practice encompass everything in the cloud, advanced data, analytics, AI & ML and digital experiences across all channels. We are the true end-to-end partner for companies of all sizes that need the best, and value experience and expertise. We partner with half of the top 20 ASX and over 100 other Australian companies to help them get the best from their own cloud adoption journey.   

Categories
Case Studies

How a business first, tech-enabled approach allowed align.me to meet global demand faster than ever before

How a business first, tech-enabled approach allowed align.me to meet global demand faster than ever before

With increasing global demand for their online marketing planning tool, align.me turned to ARQ’s custom designed, tech powered solutions to take them from slow to go.

 

A sales and marketing agency offering outsourced B2B marketing, training, and planning, align.me has been helping businesses around the world to align their sales and marketing and build actionable go-to-market plans for over 20 years.

To help build the plans that shaped these clients’ sales and marketing strategy and activities, align.me Founder and CEO Hugh Macfarlane led development of an online planning software called Funnel Plan

The tool helps planners – either align.me or accredited Funnel Coaches – lead their exec team through the planning stages and allowing everyone to contribute. With over 4000 plans now built and over 70 Funnel Coaches accredited, Funnel Plan has become central to many businesses’ successful sales and marketing operations globally.

Initially hosted on Azure, Funnel Plan's performance was struggling to meet demand. Hugh highlighted three main challenges:

With more updates to the software in the pipeline and a growing global userbase, Hugh decided Amazon Web Services (AWS) would be a better fit and more powerful hosting platform for Funnel Plan’s needs. He knew he needed more than a ‘lift and shift’; if they were going to migrate to a new hosting provider, they needed a highly skilled partner to help them do it.

Finding a partner who could tick all the boxes

It was a business-critical project, and one align.me wanted to do right the first time. More than being able to carry out a migration, align.me was looking for a provider who would also understand:

  • the unique needs and usability of Funnel Plan and what align.me was trying to achieve
  • the design and architecture of a scalable solution (zero users to 100 active users and back down to zero again in a 10-minute window)
  • enterprise applications and customer experience
  • systems management
  • application modernisation

“We wanted a cleverly-engineered solution that wasn’t too expensive but was highly available, secure, and could scale radically when we needed it to.” 

– Hugh Macfarlane, CEO & Founder, align.me 

Project Background

align.me had first been introduced to ARQ when working with AWS and ARQ on ARQ’s own sales and marketing planning. This meant that ARQ already understood align.me’s business and had experienced the scaling, security and availability issues of Funnel Plan firsthand.

It also meant align.me knew that ARQ ticked a lot of their boxes. Not only did they have strong experience in applications and architecture, but their ‘business first, tech-enabled’ approach was exactly what align.me was looking for.

“ARQ focused on really getting to know our needs, and we were seeking a change before designing a solution.” Hugh Macfarlane

Add to this their superior understanding of providing great online experiences, and Hugh knew ARQ was well suited to their needs.

Solution

The migration process

The migration occurred over three phases, which allowed ARQ and align.me to test the process rigorously before going live.

Phase 1:

Before even contemplating a solution, the ARQ team undertook an incredibly detailed needs analysis. Even though they already had a basic understanding of align.me’s business, they wanted to better understand the key issues, why align.me was facing them, and what that meant to the business.

Phase 2:

After the needs analysis, ARQ moved onto strategizing to find the correct architecture. There was a lot of planning, followed by rounds of reviews and tweaks to improve their work and ensure the architecture fit perfectly. This process took around three weeks.

Phase 3:

When it came time for implementation, ARQ started with a full migration of the staging platform so it could be used live and tested. Then they migrated the application server using a snapshot (or copy) of the database and tested that. Once all tests were completed successfully, the final live migration was done over the weekend.

“The actual migration only took three days. There was lots of preparation, then an extremely rapid execution” – Hugh Macfarlane

The improvement was immediate

Reduced load time and improved plan-creation speed

Since migrating to AWS, align.me has experienced a nine-fold reduction in page load time for Funnel Plan’s high-volume pages. The two main outputs of Funnel Plan (a one-page marketing plan and a plan PowerPoint presentation) are now also operating ten times faster than previously.

Increased capacity

12 months ago, align.me was running about one planning workshop a month. In 2020, they increased this to approximately six workshops a month – some of them running simultaneously in different parts of the world. Since their migration to AWS, super-fast response times have been reported by all their participants – including a recent workshop with 25 people, all using Funnel Plan at the same time.

Ease of online delivery

Like many other businesses, align.me had to switch to a predominantly online delivery of the planning workshops in 2020. The new rapid scale and high availability – not to mention the security improvements – mean that they can continue to support their global clients in a virtual setting.

It just works

Hugh and align.me now have the peace of mind that the servers will automatically work, and support the software wherever and whenever it is being used. They don’t have to double-check anything, or be concerned that access will be compromised in the middle of a workshop – it all just works.

“Since migration, we’ve seen nothing. And that’s exactly what we should see” Hugh Macfarlane

 

What’s next for align.me and ARQ?

Overall, Hugh and align.me were incredibly impressed with the migration outcome, which came just at the right time for the business. And they had no doubts about their choice of partner.

“The ARQ team executed what was promised, and there was a lot of collaboration and flexibility that made them very easy to work with.” Hugh Macfarlane

So impressed with the calibre of the team, align.me plans to continue to work alongside ARQ for future improvements. Now that they’re faster, more scalable, more available and more secure, align.me plans to improve the user experience within the application, as well as carry out application modernization with ARQ’s help.

During this time, they plan to have ARQ take over systems management, so the align.me team can focus on building the application, rather than running the systems in the background.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our work with ARQ, and their contribution to our ongoing improvements.” Hugh Macfarlane

Looking for a technology partner that can take you to bigger, better and faster heights? Let’s talk.

About align.me

align.me is a small agency by global standards (around 20), but we’ve got a big spirit – and even bigger skills. From our base in Australia, we’ve helped businesses all around the world achieve great sales and marketing, from start to finish.

Whether you want to align your teams, build a great go-to-market plan, get some help with your execution, achieve business growth, or upskill yourself and your team, we can help.

About ARQ

ARQ is an AWS Premier Partner that makes great things happen for our customers. We are humble and don’t talk about what we do, we would rather talk about what our customers have achieved or even better let them tell the world. But we want to make sure we are the best so we are also an active AWS Managed Services Provider, holder of both the AWS Mobile Competency and the AWS data and Analytics competency – AWS raise the bar and we rise to meet it each year.  Our capabilities and practice encompass everything in the cloud, advanced data, analytics, AI & ML and digital experiences across all channels. We are the true end to end partner, for companies of all sizes that need the best and value experience and expertise. We partner with half of the top 20 ASX and over 100 other Australian companies to help them get the best from their own cloud adoption journey.   

Categories
Case Studies

Alert SA App – SAFECOM

Alert SA - Bushfire App

Managed by the South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM), Alert SA displays bushfire alerts, warnings, updates, Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans

10 K
App Installs (iOS & Android)
1 M
Push Notifications Sent
0
Weeks to build app
Dom Lane SA Fire Commissioner

“We are very pleased with Alert SA’s reliability and performance, particularly over the incredibly difficult 2019/20 bushfire season.

“We will look to further enhance the Alert SA App in the future to include other emergency hazard information, such as floods and storm warnings.”

– Dominic Lane AFSM

Chief Executive SAFECOM

Project Background

With the upcoming 2019/20 bushfire season fast approaching, the South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM) were interested in developing a public facing bushfire warning system, including a mobile application called Alert SA.

Following the success of the Arq build NSW Rural Fire Service mobile app, Fires Near Me – Dominic Lane AFSM, Chief Executive SAFECOM engaged Arq to develop the Alert SA App using Fires Near Me as the base. Arq hosted a two-day workshop to define the App scope along with the cloud infrastructure required to handle the heavy loads experienced with emergency communications platform.

A multi-disciplinary squad of Arq innovation consultants, user centric designers, mobile developers and an AWS-certified cloud solutions architects designed the Alert SA app. Modelled heavily on the successes and learnings of NSW RFS Fires Near Me app that Arq had previously built, Alert SA was designed with security, reliability and scalability as primary outcomes. To add further challenge, to meet deadlines of the upcoming fire season months of 2019-2020 – Arq was tasked to deliver the new app and infrastructure in a record breaking 8 weeks, live on the apple and android app stores – to which Arq was successful with delivery on time, live in both app stores.

Solution

Alert SA is an emergency services smart phone application that provides timely, relevant bushfire information to communities across the state.

Based on the hugely successful Fires Near Me app in New South Wales, Alert SA publishes data from the South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) and displays bushfire alerts, warnings and updates as well as Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Ban information.

Users are also able to create multiple Watch Zones, specifying areas across the state which are of interest to them.

The Alert SA app has undergone extensive user acceptance testing to ensure it is reliable and able to withstand large volumes of users during peak periods. This was demonstrated during the devastating bushfires in South Australia’s Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island.

Along with its award-winning mobile app experience developing emergency communication platform (NSWRFS Fires Near Me app), Arq brought it additional capability in the cloud space, delivering a full suite of consumer experiences across both Android, iOS and web for Alert SA, including Cloud managed services, severless middleware and customer support.

Personalisation and usability were vital design drivers – the right information delivered in the right way at the right time to the general public, especially when it came to sending out alerts of approaching bushfires, which users could easily setup by creating ‘Watch Zones’ at any location on the map.

Alert SA was designed and developed as a highly performant, available and scalable, regional fault tolerant AWS cloud native solution to be able to quickly deliver push notification messages to impacted devices by a fire incident.

AWS Services Leveraged

A number of key AWS services were utilised in the delivery on this native cloud application, including AWS Lambda, AWS Cognito Authentication Service, AWS DynamoDB, AWS Kinesis, AWS Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) and AWS Aurora PostgreSQL.

Key system features:  

  • Being regional fault tolerant – apart from being available across multiple AZs, the system is operating in two regions.  
  • Using fully managed infrastructure – always live with minimal operational maintenance and support   
  • Built with highly scalable serverless resources – utilising scalable serverless resources such as Lambda functions, SQS, DynamoDB, Kinesis, Cognito and S3.   
  • Connected microservice oriented system modules – deliver system messages using event streams   
  • Managed Infrastructure as code – hassle free deployment with no stack drifts 

Built to scale

Arq performed a major scalability test using AWS lambda, during load testing in a single region with no indicated instability. This is the new standard for performance for emergency communication platforms of this scale and Arq are proud to be leading the way in designing application that scale when it matters most.    

Benefits

Live in both iOS and Android app stores in a record breaking 8 weeks.

200k app installs, with 1108 bushfire incidents live on the app during the 6 month bushfire season of 2019/20, now known as the worst bushfire seasons to have ever hit Australia.

3.3M push notifications sent to the residents of South Australia alerting them of approaching bushfires.

SAFECOM’s new app Alert SA now have a reliable current generation native cloud application, built on newly leveraged serverless middleware providing limitless scalability at a moment’s notice, critical for any emergency management infrastructure.

The South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM) Chief Executive Dom Lane said the project team will continue to build the Alert SA app.

“We are very pleased with Alert SA’s reliability and performance, particularly over the incredibly difficult 2019/20 bushfire season.

“We will look to further enhance the Alert SA App in the future to include other emergency hazard information, such as floods and storm warnings.” Mr Lane said.

About SAFECOM

The South Australian Emergency Services Sector (ESS), comprising of SAFECOM, the CFS, MFS and SES, protects South Australian lives, property and environment. SAFECOM supports the vision of “we are safe in our homes, community and at work”.

The ESS plays an essential role in the safety of all South Australians. The ESS has a responsibility to deliver benefits and cost efficiency to those it serves and returns an increasing value on their trusted investment.

SAFECOM provides corporate and operational support services that are integral in allowing the ESS agencies to provide the frontline services that directly support and protect the community of South Australia.

 

Visit SAFECOM website.

About ARQ

Arq is an AWS Premier Partner that makes great things happen for our customers. We are humble and don’t talk about what we do, we would rather talk about what our customers have achieved or even better let them tell the world. But we want to make sure we are the best so we are also an active AWS Managed Services Provider, holder of both the AWS Mobile Competency and the AWS data and Analytics competency – AWS raise the bar and we rise to meet it each year.  Our capabilities and practice encompass everything in the cloud, advanced data, analytics, AI & ML and digital experiences across all channels. We are the true end to end partner, for companies of all sizes that need the best and value experience and expertise. We partner with half of the top 10 ASX and over 100 other Australian companies to help them get the best from their own cloud adoption journey.