Overview

Plotlogic operates at the cutting edge of mining strategy and operation, helping mine owners identify the quality of and quantify the materials in their sites at all stages of the mining process.

As a startup with a speed-to-market ethos and client delivery focus, their rapid growth challenged them to align their data requirements with their technology capabilities.  This was the ideal point for Plotlogic to partner with Mantalus to plan their technology strategy as a cloud-native organisation and set in place the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud data infrastructure that would enable them to manage growth efficiently and cost-effectively.

Using Mantalus’ discovery methodology, including an end-to-end architectural review of their existing AWS environment, Mantalus provided a detailed solution that would enhance their security posture, including auditing and logging controls, and improve their development pipeline automation, all while reducing operational costs.

Network Scalability

Leveraging AWS backbone network to enable future growth

Automation

Improved development pipeline and automation.

Costs

Significantly reduced operating costs.

Background

Plotlogic is a global mining technology company operating primarily in Australia. It assists mining operators by helping them understand the material properties and quality of unprocessed ore at the working face in real-time through the field deployment of advanced imaging equipment. Plotlogic allows mine operators to use this rich vein of information to make highly informed decisions, improve ore recovery, and increase company-wide environmental and social governance performance.

For centuries, mines have removed raw materials, often from deep underground, to be processed. As mining strategies have developed, it has become imperative to target higher-grade ore and more cost-effective extraction processes to maintain a return on investment in the face of ever-increasing operating costs.

Founded by Andrew Job in 2018 while completing his PhD at the University of Queensland, Plotlogic​’s first commercial product was OreSense®, which overlays LiDAR and hyperspectral imaging technology onto advanced machine learning algorithms to deliver highly accurate ore characterisation.

In addition, Plotlogic offers a suite of solutions covering a broad range of ore extraction and processing methodologies, such as pit scanning, over-conveyor monitoring, and material analysis to accurately identify mineralogy ore grade, waste, and detrimental materials.

Challenge

Plotlogic’s stellar growth as a business, using imaging technology on ore faces to quantify yield expectations, uses vast amounts of data to produce and analyse highly detailed images and scans. The nature of the imaging created for their clients has produced significant challenges around data storage and transfer, which was the ideal opportunity for Mantalus to bring in their AWS cloud data infrastructure experience to develop solutions for Plotlogic to address their growing pains.

As a startup with an engineering focus, Plotlogic focused on speed to market and delivery for its clients. However, its need to scale and pivot as it experienced phenomenal growth had not always allowed it to align this growth and its data requirements with its IT capabilities.

As Plotlogic faced the dual challenges of operational demands and customer growth, its initial technical requirements became impractical. Consequently, its data storage and transfer expenses escalated exponentially. High-resolution RAW images are uploaded from field devices at the mine site into AWS cloud storage for advanced processing by a fleet of container-hosted EC2 servers provisioned for peak load. This legacy manual deployment model was often put under strain at times of high activity and left under-utilised at others.

Mantalus undertook a discovery and end-to-end architectural review of the existing AWS environments and provided a detailed design to uplift security posture, tighten auditing and logging controls, improve the development process and adoption of automation, and highlight options to reduce existing operational costs.

Solution

Mantalus’ AWS solution focused on the deployment of a multi-account AWS Landing Zone to mature the Plotlogic footprint for:

  • Account Security
  • Monitoring and operational visibility
  • Auditing controls

Network Scalability is achieved by utilising the AWS backbone network and revising its existing network to shift to a hub-and-spoke Transit Gateway-based solution.

Mantalus then set about uplifting Plotlogic’s internal deployment process to implement IAC and automated web front-end and image processing infrastructure scaling.

The Mantalus AWS network solution allowed office and field locations across Australia and New Zealand, North and South America to bolt on to or access the Landing Zone rather than via a VPN solution.

Mantalus also resolved network architectural challenges encountered with application timeouts processing stored data. Our solution optimised Plotlogic’s data retrieval process for a far more solid and uninterrupted data flow.  We also implemented an automated archival process to reduce the ongoing storage costs for legacy data significantly.

Mantalus recommended CI/CD tooling

Mantalus recommended CI/CD tooling using a combination of CodeCommit, CodeBuild and CodePipeline.

These AWS-managed services ensure the entire SDLC (Software Development LifeCycle) infrastructure is hosted locally within Plotlogic’s AWS tenancy.

  1. CodePipeline supports the association with third-party providers like Github, Bitbucket etc. Therefore, a rule is associated with the PlotLogic CodeCommit repository that intercepts every push event and triggers the pipeline.
  2. CodePipeline checks the code and stores it in the pipeline artefact bucket. The next stage, i.e. CodeBuild, is triggered. CodeBuild runs YAML linting on the cloudformation template and packages the artefacts.
  3. There are manual approval stages for SIT, UAT and Production environment deployments. Approved Users get an SNS notification to approve the UAT/Production environment deployment.
  4. If approval is granted, CodePipeline will deploy the infrastructure to the respective AWS account, and the approved users are notified via SNS topic.

Innovation

The existing Plotlogic image processing service ran on containers hosted on AWS EC2 instances, and were scaled manually via scripted startup.  Generally, these processing runs comprised a peak load of over 100 EC2 instances running 24×7.

Based on the core findings in Mantalus’ review, a fresh architecture was developed to address several key challenges.

AWS RabbitMQ service was implemented to provide a queuing service for image processing jobs that could also be referenced as a scaling trigger. Auto scale-up and scale-down was then achieved providing both ongoing cost savings and additional resilience through healthchecks and automated rebuilds if a processing server failed in some way.

Container images were updated to a more streamlined application architecture to reduce spinup times, and reviewed for Critical Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs), then tested for capability to run on AWS Fargate, which has cost, scalability and technical advantages.

Technical capability and training was provided to Plotlogic technical staff to enable Infrastructure and application deployments to be able to be implemented as code via CI/CD pipelines.

Key Solution Elements

Mantalus’ custom AWS infrastructure solution

Landing Zone

A Mantalus AWS Landing Zone (MLZ) was implemented  to resolve multiple business challenges related to provisioning all environments in a single account. These application accounts allow greater control and stage-gated developer access to implement software updates, Network, Audit, and security accounts.

Class Leading Architecture

Mantalus designed a futureproof network construct utilising AWS’s backbone network capability to provide easy plug-in capability for additional global and regional offices.

Automating Deployment

By utilising existing code repositories coupled with AWS native deployment tooling Mantalus was able to quickly upskill Plotlogic technical staff to deeper adoption of automation, both through Infrastructure as code for base EC2 and serverless functions, and improving application deployments. This optimised  Plotlogic’s SDLC (software Development Lifecycle) time to delivery.

Cost Savings

The prime focus of our engagement was to improve Plotlogic development capability whilst achieving cost savings.These savings efficiencies allowed Plotlogic to redeploy resources and invest in other technology areas.

Outcomes

The Mantalus Plotlogic engagement was a multi-phase project designed to increase the technical maturity of Plotlogic’s consumption of AWS services.  It also aimed to provide an uplift of internal technical and development teams’ capabilities, through the adoption of Infrastructure as Code (IAC) and automated pipelines.  New capabilities were introduced to internal Plotlogic teams, such as the ability to automate the deployment of their image processing services, improving delivery times in their development lifecycle and reducing costs associated with overprovisioning.

Through a refined architecture, Mantalus was able to assist Plotlogic in achieving significant business improvement outcomes. These included uncovering ongoing cost savings, increasing the processing speed of their platforms, and improving their capability to deploy services and environments as required. All of this was achieved by shifting them away from the ‘peak load’ style of adoption commonly seen in traditional data centres.

Why Mantalus

Mantalus’ capability is built on being the tip of the spear to solve difficult and unique problems with AWS technology. Our strength is based on having consultants with an array of industry experience, who have themselves faced a litany of complex, business critical, technology roadblocks; and found creative and class-leading ways to solve them.

We’re great at developing AWS centric architectures, where none have existed before. Think platforms or middleware that have never been attempted on AWS by anyone; or even completely AWS native solutions, removing the need for expensive 3rd party solutions.

So, where can we be useful and important to you? Anywhere there’s pain.

When you’re scratching your heads with a tricky use case that doesn’t fit neatly into a known solution or reference architecture…. think Mantalus. We’re the cure!

AWS has a fantastic array of services – and if you partner with Mantalus we can use them to help you solve just about anything.

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