This is a sample case study that may be used on the Professional Cloud Architect
exam. It describes a fictitious business and solution concept to
provide additional context to exam questions.
TerramEarth Case Study
TerramEarth manufactures heavy equipment for the mining and agricultural
industries: About 80% of their business is from mining and 20% from agriculture.
They currently have over 500 dealers and service centers in 100 countries. Their
mission is to build products that make their customers more productive.
TerramEarth formed in 1946, when several small, family owned companies combined
to retool after World War II. The company cares about their employees and
customers and considers them to be extended members of their family.
TerramEarth is proud of their ability to innovate on their core products and find
new markets as their customers’ needs change. For the past 20 years, trends in the
industry have been largely toward increasing productivity by using larger vehicles
with a human operator.
There are 20 million TerramEarth vehicles in operation that collect 120 fields of
data per second. Data is stored locally on the vehicle and can be accessed for
analysis when a vehicle is serviced. The data is downloaded via a maintenance port.
This same port can be used to adjust operational parameters, allowing the vehicles
to be upgraded in the field with new computing modules.
Approximately 200,000 vehicles are connected to a cellular network, allowing
TerramEarth to collect data directly. At a rate of 120 fields of data per second,
with 22 hours of operation per day, TerramEarth collects a total of about 9 TB/day
from these connected vehicles.
Existing Technical Environment
TerramEarth’s existing architecture is composed of Linux-based systems that reside
in a data center. These systems gzip CSV files from the field and upload via FTP,
transform and aggregate them, and place the data in their data warehouse.
Because this process takes time, aggregated reports are based on data that is 3 weeks old.
With this data, TerramEarth has been able to preemptively stock replacement
parts and reduce unplanned downtime of their vehicles by 60%. However,
because the data is stale, some customers are without their vehicles for
up to 4 weeks while they wait for replacement parts.
- Decrease unplanned vehicle downtime to less than 1 week, without increasing the cost of carrying surplus inventory.
- Support the dealer network with more data on how their customers use their equipment to better position new products and services.
- Have the ability to partner with different companies—especially with seed and fertilizer suppliers in the fast-growing agricultural business—to create compelling joint offerings for their customers.
We have been successful in capitalizing on the trend toward larger vehicles to
increase the productivity of our customers. Technological change is occurring rapidly,
and TerramEarth has taken advantage of connected devices technology to provide our
customers with better services, such as our intelligent farming equipment. With this
technology, we have been able to increase farmers’ yields by 25%, by using past trends
to adjust how our vehicles operate. These advances have led to the rapid growth of our
agricultural product line, which we expect will generate 50% of our revenues by 2020.
Our competitive advantage has always been in the manufacturing process, with our ability
to build better vehicles for lower cost than our competitors. However, new products with
different approaches are constantly being developed, and I’m concerned that we lack the
skills to undergo the next wave of transformations in our industry. Unfortunately, our
CEO doesn’t take technology obsolescence seriously, and he considers the many new companies
in our industry to be niche players. My goals are to build our skills while addressing immediate
market needs through incremental innovations.
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