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GroupNexus: Realizing the future of parking with a fully serverless ecosystem

About GroupNexus

GroupNexus manages car parks across the UK and Spain. It offers an end-to-end service, from technology that monitors and analyzes parking data, to setting the standard for the provision of management services.

Industries: Technology
Location: United Kingdom, Spain

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About Devoteam

Google Cloud Premier Partner Devoteam is a consulting firm focused on digital strategy, tech platforms, and cybersecurity.

GroupNexus builds a serverless, IoT-enabled platform to innovate parking management services, relying on Google Cloud-managed solutions to bring value to clients in a seamless, secure, compliant way.

Google Cloud results

  • Improves uptime to nearly 99.99%, supporting 1,200 parking sites and the drivers who rely on them
  • Decreases response times to under two seconds, providing a seamless experience for users of the NexusPlatform
  • Frees developers to focus on coding and creating new and better features for clients, instead of managing infrastructure
  • Automatically maintains security and keeps compliance up to date with a secure-by-design architecture, reducing operational costs
  • Real-time, event-driven, IoT-enabled, self-learning capabilities generate industry-leading products and services

Infrastructure as code shows ROI in just 10 days

Did you know that cars in England are driven for an average of just one hour every day, a figure that has barely changed in a quarter of a century? Considering the proportion of time cars spend parked, and the amount of space needed to accommodate 31.7 million cars in Britain, there is ample opportunity for the parking industry to contribute to urban planning developments and to the wellbeing of drivers throughout the country. That’s where GroupNexus comes in.

Formed in 2018 through the merger of parking management companies Ranger Services, Highview Parking, and CP Plus, GroupNexus manages more than 1,200 parking sites across the UK and Spain. Its clients are large landowners and asset managers, including FTSE 100 companies across the healthcare, retail, education, utilities, and transport sectors. Its mission is to help landowners better understand and respond to their customers’ needs through three core service areas: parking management, which includes enforcement and security technology solutions; on-site facilities management; and insights derived from ANPR camera feeds to help clients understand how their facilities are being used.

“With a serverless infrastructure powered by Google Cloud, we can focus on building and running future-enabled applications and services without having to provision, scale, and maintain servers. Everything is scalable, highly available, compliant, and fully managed, so we can focus on realizing the future of parking and pioneering our industry worldwide.”

Arvind Kumar, CTO, GroupNexus

Bringing together talent, technologies, and expertise from three different companies in 2018 meant that GroupNexus needed to manage and monitor siloed data centers, more than 100 applications partially migrated to a cloud provider, assets hosted in a data center in North London, and a range of third parties (including clients and partners) that needed to connect to them in a secure manner to access insights and services. Additionally, GroupNexus had to secure and manage thousands of edge devices, such as cameras and payment kiosks installed across its clients’ parking lots, and the resulting data streaming from those sites across the UK and Spain.

To tackle the challenge of managing and securing its digital assets, complying with regulations, and making use of the company’s existing applications and data lake to bring more value to internal teams and clients, GroupNexus brought Arvind Kumar on board as its CTO and CDO to spearhead the mission of reimagining the company’s approach to technology. “My vision was to unify everything onto a serverless ecosystem that could support us in turning parking management into an exciting and innovative range of services,” says Kumar. “Parking is an integral part of a customers’ travel journey, and we’re committed to helping our clients understand and respond to their needs through Intelligence, Insights, and Incentives, the three core pillars of our platform.”

In August 2019, GroupNexus started looking for an alternative partner that aligned with its innovative vision, offered flexible pay-as-you-go rates, and freed up its internal team of developers and engineers from managing the new infrastructure. So GroupNexus turned to Google Cloud.

“With a serverless infrastructure powered by Google Cloud, we can focus on building and running future-enabled applications and services without having to provision, scale, and maintain servers. Everything is scalable, highly available, compliant, and fully managed, so we can focus on realizing the future of parking and pioneering our industry worldwide,” says Kumar.

Choosing the most innovative route

Using the documentation available on Google Cloud and user forums, GroupNexus upskilled internally to kick off its serverless project, creating a minimum viable product by the end of 2019. This gave the company an opportunity to experiment with a fully managed production environment that leveraged solutions, such as Firebase for building applications and Filestore for simple and rapid prototyping with a powerful query engine and a serverless document database.

Encouraged by the positive feedback received from team members on how developer-friendly the fully managed solutions were, Kumar committed to a full migration to Google Cloud by early 2020. “It became clear to us that Google Cloud would be our ticket out from the cost and hassle of setting up and managing infrastructure, and the headache of integrations with multiple third parties,” he says.

To get buy-in from the board and internal teams across GroupNexus, Kumar and his team started by implementing Google Workspace to support real-time collaboration while demonstrating the value of serverless tools, including Google Drive for storing and sharing files in the cloud, and Google Docs and Google Sheets for creating and sharing documents and spreadsheets without requiring multiple dedicated software and Google Chat and Meet to seamlessly embrace remote working. Google Workspace was up and running for 400 people within 10 days, just in time to set GroupNexus up for success when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to collaborate remotely.

“Google Cloud Functions lets us treat all services as building blocks, connecting and extending them with code and rapidly moving from concept to development. Because everything is integrated seamlessly, we can provide end-to-end visibility and enable employees and clients to access what they need in a controlled, compliant way.”

Arvind Kumar, CTO, GroupNexus

In the fast lane towards intelligence and compliance

By 2021, confident with Google Cloud, GroupNexus reached out to Google Cloud Premier Partner Devoteam G Cloud to embark on the next stage of its DevOps plan: establishing an infrastructure as code on which GroupNexus could build an advanced platform to develop and deliver its entire range of parking management services. “Working with GroupNexus was really rewarding due to their ambition for automation and infrastructure as code. It allowed us to utilize our IaC skills and build something scalable, serverless and future-proof using Google Cloud technologies,” says Emil Engfors, Google Cloud Architect and Devoteam Infrastructure as Code Lead.

Starting with GroupNexus’ Intelligence module, which Kumar calls the brainpower of the company’s offerings, GroupNexus focused on operationalizing the complex ecosystem of parking management and parking services using Cloud Functions and Google Cloud Run to take server management away from engineers and developers. The pay-as-you-go function as a service (FaaS) solution automatically scales based on the load and features integrated monitoring, logging, and debugging capabilities. Using it alongside Google Cloud Firestore, Firebase, and API Gateway, GroupNexus creates, secures, and monitors APIs for Google Cloud serverless back ends.

Within 10 days of having gone live with the new platform for clients and employees in October 2021, GroupNexus had already noticed significant changes: “Our new production environment was suddenly so much more robust, secure, and easier to use,” says Kumar. “Cloud Functions lets us treat all services as building blocks, connecting and extending them with code and rapidly moving from concept to development. Because everything is integrated seamlessly, we can provide end-to-end visibility and enable employees and clients to access what they need in a controlled, compliant way.”

As a result, Kumar reports an uptime improvement from 99% to nearly 99.99%, while response times have decreased from several seconds to under two seconds. Operational costs have also decreased, thanks to self-managed services that no longer require a team of 15 people dedicated to managing infrastructure and ensuring that security and compliance are kept up to date. All of that is now addressed in an automated way, in the Google Cloud secure-by-design architecture.

“Not having to worry about upgrades to the infrastructure means we can focus on our business, clients, and team members to help everyone grow and excel at what they are seeking to do,” says Kumar.

Scaling up and down quickly and seamlessly, anywhere in the world

And that’s not all for GroupNexus: The Insights module of its platform, powered by its data pipeline, now leverages Pub/Sub to ingest events for streaming into BigQuery, which is GroupNexus’ new serverless data warehouse. Cloud Load Balancing and Memorystore automate complex tasks, such as enabling high availability, failover, patching, and monitoring, so that the GroupNexus team can spend even more time coding. With Cloud Storage and event-driven pipelines working in real time, different stakeholders can access the insights in the GroupNexus platform.

“We can now offer a completely self-service capability through our platform’s B2B channel, where clients are engaged and free to manage their own sites, offer incentives to their own customers, and pay for new data sources to create new revenue streams, all in one place,” Kumar explains.

Drivers can now access a plethora of digital services within their car-parking journey. “Typically, companies see car parking as a destination. We see car parking as an event filled with opportunities: customers will soon be able to use the GroupNexus app to enable location services to see how many car spaces are available at their destination, what their tariffs are, amenities in their vicinity, and more. The idea is to enable the user to be fully informed about their options throughout their entire journey,” explains Kumar. “We can now scale to 15 million API events or more per day to support an event-driven architecture that helps users in real time and makes journey management seamless for them.”

And, because its new platform is entirely serverless, GroupNexus can scale it up and down infinitely across zones and regions. “We’re taking advantage of the fast turnaround and go-to-market times this enables,” says Kumar. “For example, it will take us only one week to deploy the entire new platform in Spain in quarter one of 2022, and that’s considering it will be fully localized and translated into four languages using the Google Cloud Translation API. We’re looking at the other regions next,” he shares.

Driving towards the future of parking

Over the course of four months, GroupNexus now plans to migrate more than 1,000 sites under its management to its new platform. On the road map for 2022 is also the development of the Incentives module of the NexusPlatform, which is built around the idea that the more you use the platform, the more value you get from it.

To bring relevant incentives to life for its clients and end-users, GroupNexus will be implementing IoT Core, a fully managed service to easily connect, manage, and ingest data from globally dispersed devices, and Cloud Spanner, a fully managed database, to handle the large influx of data expected from edge devices, such as cameras, kiosks and payment terminals. With these solutions in place, as well as Apigee API Management Platform to design, secure, analyze, and scale APIs with visibility and control, GroupNexus aims to drive real-time capabilities around contextualization, personalization, and individualization for users to manage all events in their end-to-end journey in whatever way works best for them.

“With the momentum from our new platform, we’re constantly innovating and releasing new capabilities, features, and upgrades, which is a testament to the agility enabled by our serverless infrastructure. It’s exciting to build the future of parking with Google Cloud, and to support our clients in mapping out their futures too.”

Arvind Kumar, CTO, GroupNexus

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About GroupNexus

GroupNexus manages car parks across the UK and Spain. It offers an end-to-end service, from technology that monitors and analyzes parking data, to setting the standard for the provision of management services.

Industries: Technology
Location: United Kingdom, Spain

About Devoteam

Google Cloud Premier Partner Devoteam is a consulting firm focused on digital strategy, tech platforms, and cybersecurity.