Alpega: customer-facing analytics with Google BigQuery on GCP

About Alpega

Alpega Group is a leading global logistics software company that offers end to end solutions that cover all transport needs, including Transport Management Services (TMS) and Freight Exchanges. The company's TMS software solutions, inet and Transwide, connect companies to a broad network of logistics providers and digitize their complex supply chain management. A user community of 200,000+ is electronically connected every day to successfully manage critical transport processes.

Industries: Technology
Location: Belgium

With fast, customer-facing analytics and real-time data processing on Google Cloud Platform, Alpega Group future-proofs its transportation management system.

Google Cloud Platform Results

  • Cuts query processing times by up to a 90% with Google BigQuery
  • Reduces maintenance with a NoOps solution
  • Simplifies cloud data handling thanks to a fully programmable API

Offering a range of six innovative SaaS solutions, Alpega Group has established itself as one of the leading experts in transportation management software solutions and services. With a strong European focus, the company covers services from platforms for shippers for freight exchange and transport management, bringing carriers and their partners together to find new efficiencies in transportation management. Its market-leading Transwide transportation management system, or TMS, enables amongst others carrier companies to track and optimise freight movements by calculating performance according to a range of KPIs. Alpega Group looked to future-proof Transwide with fast, customer-facing analytics with Google BigQuery and real-time data processing on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

One year of detailed data is visualised in <10 seconds instead of one minute

“Our old data warehouse model was too slow handling queries to make our planned upgrade possible and our infrastructure team were already loaded with other projects, says Ivo Jansen, IT Director, Alpega Group. “We made a cost comparison with other external hosting solutions and found Google Cloud Platform the best fit to purpose. Time to market was the key factor and Google had an integrated set of services ready that our Data team could implement with a minimum of extra work.”

Faster queries without remodeling

New customer expectations created by big data and cloud processing are stimulating competition between information management services in almost every industry. The transport sector is no exception, as companies search for new ways to improve efficiency in deliveries and freight.

“Google BigQuery was the decisive factor when we made our choice. Most people in our team have a BI background and are familiar and skilled with SQL. Google BigQuery offers big data processing capabilities through a clean programmable API. On top of that, it had a very good connector with Tableau.”

Aart Verbeke, Lead Architect, Data Analytics, Alpega Group

Alpega Group looked to expand its Transwide TMS into a scalable, future-proof, customer-facing offering incorporating near real-time analytics. Transwide calculates KPIs for customers based on a year of order data, but a slow data warehouse model meant some queries took over a minute to process, making real-time analytics impossible. With initial cost estimates of over €250,000 for data remodeling alone, the company decided to take a fresh approach.

By creating a new data platform on GCP, Alpega Group connected the analytic power of Google BigQuery with data visualisation through Tableau on Google Compute Engine.

As a NoOps solution with a simple setup process, Google BigQuery reduced pressure on the company’s five-person tech team and allowed them to stay agile during the rollout. Including integration with the company’s single sign-on, implementation was completed in less than six months thanks to expert help from Google partner Datatonic and support from the nearshore partner EPAM. Soon multiple automation tasks on Google Compute Engine VMs were consolidated with Kubernetes. Now Alpega Group is free to develop real-time services with Google Pub/Sub.

“Google BigQuery was the decisive factor when we made our choice. It’s a unique service among cloud providers. Look into big data systems such as Hadoop or Spark Stack and there's a lot of complexity,” says Aart Verbeke, Lead Architect, Data Analytics, Alpega Group. “Google BigQuery has all of that complexity while offering a familiar SQL interface. Most people in our team have a BI background and are familiar and skilled with SQL. Google BigQuery offers big data processing capabilities through a clean programmable API. On top of that, it had a very good connector with Tableau.”

“Google Cloud Platform offers a very rich set of capabilities and we pay for them on a demand basis. That was a real eye opener for us. In a conventional environment we would need to install, set up, deploy and host every individual building block. Here we simply connect to a surface and use it as required.”

Aart Verbeke, Lead Architect, Data Analytics, Alpega Group

Developing new solutions through the GCP environment

Now one year of detailed data is visualised on Transwide in less than ten seconds instead of one minute. Minimal maintenance means the Alpega Group tech team is free to work on software development and data capabilities rather than ops, honing real-time analytics on Google Pub/Sub and exploring additional services such as Google Stackdriver. Soon the team plans to implement GCP solutions for its other five services, while expanding the revamped Transwide across its customer base.

“Google Cloud Platform offers a very rich set of capabilities and we pay for them on a demand basis,” says Aart. “That was a real eye opener for us. In a conventional environment we would need to install, set up, deploy and host every individual building block. Here we simply connect to a surface and use it as required.”

About Alpega

Alpega Group is a leading global logistics software company that offers end to end solutions that cover all transport needs, including Transport Management Services (TMS) and Freight Exchanges. The company's TMS software solutions, inet and Transwide, connect companies to a broad network of logistics providers and digitize their complex supply chain management. A user community of 200,000+ is electronically connected every day to successfully manage critical transport processes.

Industries: Technology
Location: Belgium
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