Once in a while, we get to work on an Oracle Cloud Infrastructure implementation with a company that you can truly call “leading edge”.
MinseSense is a Canadian data analytics company working in the mining industry. It helps its clients improve their ore extraction and recovery processes using a state-of-the-art combination of sophisticated scientific equipment and IoT based technology. By installing various sensing and measurement devices all along the mining process, MineSense mineralogists, geologists, and geophysicists are able to analyze a wealth of data and identify changes in ore characteristics on a close-to-real-time basis. When the mining company gets the analysis results, it can stop digging in an unproductive area and focus on a better one.
This helps their operational efficiency, reduces waste, and saves them money.
IoT and Machine Learning
Admittedly, there is a cool factor to X-Ray devices attached to huge mining machinery analyzing tons of rock in realtime. But equally exciting is that it’s helping MineSense help its customers reduce their environmental footprint by saving on water and power. Wow.
The amount of data these information-gathering and analysis activities produce is mind boggling. Every time this young company’s innovative ideas catch on with a new mining company customer, that’s another torrent of data coming down the pipe that needs to be processed.
So we were excited when they turned to us for help in finding the right technological fit for their operations. As it turns out, the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure was the ideal environment for their game-changing business.
Phase One – An Infrastructure to Support Rapid Growth: OCI
MineSense receives huge amounts of raw data from its customers. It then stores, analyses, and packages it up to return it to them.
MineSense needed a technology solution that could help them handle these terabytes of information and most importantly be easily scalable.
The transition to a more robust setup that could handle their growing success was done in two phases.
For phase 1, we proposed Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), an environment that is reliable, scalable and can be trusted to deliver performance during peak usage time.
Empowering the Experts with Advanced Data Display and Dissemination
Why Oracle APEX?
- Low code development platform allowed Minesense to quickly get important data into the hands of the experts
- Their team could develop apps in days rather than weeks
- Fully integrated with Oracle Database
- Leveraged existing skill sets
In order to help display, analyze, and disseminate client data within its organization, MineSense selected Oracle APEX, Oracle’s rapid application development framework.
When we got involved in this project, MineSense had already been using APEX. Bringing in OCI and our own APEX application-building expertise ensured everything would fit together smoothly and continue to work well as things were scaled up.
Oracle APEX allowed MineSense to quickly provide the experts with the data they needed in real time. Its low code and rapid application development capabilities meant that they were quickly able to provide dashboards and sophisticated reporting capabilities to the analysts, engineers and experts that needed them.
Oracle APEX had several advantages in this situation:
- It is a mature Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool (Oracle calls it “Low Code for the Enterprise). It’s fully integrated with the Oracle Database and its many tools.
- Its “Low Code” capabilities enable you to quickly build proofs of concept (POC). This was critical for MineSense as they had limited budget/time for “experimentation”
- It allows you to develop basic applications that then can be augmented and scaled as required. As a result, new functionalities and improvements can easily be brought in as needed.
Phase two – Boosting Cloud Performance with Oracle’s Autonomous Database (ADB)
MineSense’s ever-increasing needs in terms of data processing, data storage, and performance led to phase two, where we recommended the Autonomous Database (ADB), notably because of its autoscaling feature.
Oracle entirely manages the Autonomous Database, allowing it to scale automatically. This way, if the system detects a sudden increase in workload, it automatically increases the number of CPUs assigned to the instance for a certain period of time. The additional resources are automatically withdrawn once the need is satisfied. Then, the configuration goes back to its pre-peak baseline. Oracle calls this feature Autoscaling.
In short, the Autonomous Database improves resource management and performance. It was exactly what MineSense needed, as new clients and more new data were coming in. Consequently, they no longer had to worry whether or not their infrastructure could handle their success and help support their clients.
Another benefit of moving to ADB was relieving a lot of the workload of existing DBAs and other developers. ADB freed them up to work on other, more strategic business requirements, such as building new applications with APEX.
- Improved Resource Management
- Improved Performance
- IT Resources freed up for more strategic work
Continuous Improvement through Oracle Cloud Services
Oracle Cloud Services on OCI
- Ability to leverage Oracle Functions-as-a-Service. Serverless architecture is highly available, scalable and secure
- Cloud Object Storage allows MineSense to offload large files
- Reduces database size and cost
Looking to take advantage of Oracle’s Cloud Services, MineSense asked us to examine the many options Oracle could provide and propose the ones that applied to its activities.
We first proposed Oracle Cloud Object Storage to store files, images, and other document types, rather than storing them as a BLOBs in a table. As a result, MineSense is now using this service to store their images. This improved the application’s performance and also reduced the size of the database. It also diminishes the cost of database storage.
Minesense had already developed a Python script running on a Virtual Machine to process the data received from the mines. We are currently helping integrate this process into Oracle Functions-as-a-Service. This serverless architecture ensures that processes are highly available, scalable, and secure without having to provision or manage any infrastructure.
MineSense could again take advantage of OCI’s performance to ease system management by relying on Oracle to manage the Function-as-a-Service.
Being on the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Autonomous Database enables the easy integration of such services. The goal is to make it all more stable and performant.
An Infrastructure to Support Ambitious Goals
MineSense’s goal is to be ever more efficient in its data processing, analysis, and reporting. This, in turn, helps its customers improve their ore extraction processes, making them more sustainable. On the scale that Minesense’s clients work, these tools can have a significant positive impact on the environment.
It is a privilege to continue to help and support MineSense with this Oracle Cloud implementation and with its ambitious goals.