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Inaccess: Empowering utilities with information technology supported by Google Cloud

About Inaccess

For 20 years, Inaccess has been developing an advanced digital infrastructure management platform that enables utilities to monitor and control their operations through a web application. Now the company supports solar and wind power providers, storage and microgrid operations, and telecoms providers with its mature solution, called Unity.

Industries: Utilities
Location: United Kingdom

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Inaccess uses Google Cloud to support the scalability needs of its digital management platform and help utility providers comply with regulations while keeping mission-critical assets safe.

Google Cloud results

  • Enables compliance with international, local, and organizational security regulations through extensive network configurability
  • Frees up internal resources to focus on adding value to services, rather than managing infrastructure
  • Supports customers with high performance and low latency times

Scales compute resources in hours, instead of months

The next few years will be a pivotal time for renewable energy, according to a report by the International Energy Agency, which found that global supplies of renewable electricity could double by 2024. At the forefront of this momentum is Inaccess, a company that helps utilities reliably monitor, control, and optimize their performance so they can stay ahead of the curve.

Inaccess has developed an advanced digital infrastructure management platform called Unity, which is now used across 35 countries worldwide. “When we started developing Unity, the ‘Internet of Things,’ or IoT, wasn’t a well known term,” says Thomas Arvantis, Head of Product Development and IT Operations at Inaccess. “Now, connectivity is leading the way, and Unity is helping an industry that has traditionally been dominated by operational technology, to harness more value from information technology.”

“Our focus has always been on keeping our solution up-to-date with the latest technological innovations in the market so that our customers can gain more value from it. Today, that means partnering with Google Cloud.”

Thomas Arvantis, Head of Product Development and IT Operations, Inaccess

Inaccess customers see Unity as a single-page web application that displays their performance at a glance, and enables them to control their assets locally and remotely. To make this possible, and keep Unity available for customers at all times, Inaccess deploys and configures its software stack in customers’ assets on the field and sends the resulting data to be aggregated and processed securely on the cloud.

But it wasn’t always this simple. In 2000, when Unity was born in Greece, where Inaccess’ R&D team is based, its infrastructure relied on local data centers instead. As the business expanded and the solution became more sophisticated, Inaccess turned to Google Cloud to help support its growing infrastructure needs.

“Our focus has always been on keeping our solution up-to-date with the latest technological innovations in the market so that our customers can gain more value from it. Today, that means partnering with Google Cloud,” says Thomas.

Enabling agility and growth

Back in 2000, Inaccess procured and managed its own servers in data centers, but in 2017 it became a challenge to scale as quickly as needed and support growth. That’s when Inaccess made the strategic decision to migrate to the cloud, hoping to scale faster and without having to expand its data center management team to handle the expansion. However, after six months into a partnership with its initial cloud provider, the data-transfering demands of Inaccess reached the limits of the allocated budget. That’s when Inaccess turned to Google Cloud for an alternative solution, completing its migration in 2018.

“We chose Google Cloud for two main reasons: one, because it’s transparent. It’s active in the open-source community, shares how it builds its software, and remains open about how the software is being used. Google Cloud documentation is extensive and easy to grasp, so as a developer I understand exactly what it is that I’m buying,” says Thomas. “Another reason is that Google Cloud is the core of many solutions that we use, and in my eyes, using its inventions with another cloud provider just doesn’t feel the same. Only Google Cloud knows how to unlock the full capabilities of its own products,” he adds.

“Scaling used to be a costly operation that was very demanding on our resources. With Compute Engine, it just takes a few clicks in the console and it’s done in a few hours instead of months.”

Thomas Arvantis, Head of Product Development and IT Operations, Inaccess

To power Unity, Inaccess uses the open-source NoSQL database management system Apache Cassandra. It also leverages the high-performing network infrastructure of Compute Engine to support its data-transfering demands and need for scalability. And as a software stack comprising several microservices, Unity is also adopting Google Kubernetes Engine to orchestrate its containers.

“As we scale, our daily incoming volume of data increases, so we have to scale up our Cassandra clusters,” says Thomas. “Doing that in our previous infrastructure was a logistical nightmare that took a month at best.” Thomas explains that the process used to mean ordering more servers, allocating people to go to the data center and plug the servers up, and once the new servers were on the network, reconfiguring the cluster to manage its reliability level. “With Google Cloud, this whole process is quickly taken care of for us, with nodes that can be up and running in an instant in the Google Cloud environment,” he continues. “Scaling used to be a costly operation that was very demanding on our resources. With Compute Engine, it just takes a few clicks in the console and it’s done in a few hours instead of months,” says Thomas.

“Happily, all our security concerns are supported by the extensive configurability of the Google Cloud network. We can add very specific regional, local, and organizational security layers to our service, and it’s all secure by design, which makes life easier for us and our customers.”

Thomas Arvantis, Head of Product Development and IT Operations, Inaccess

Supporting globally with local security needs

With scalability concerns out of the way, Inaccess is focusing on another crucial aspect of its business as it expands to support customers around the world: helping utility providers remain compliant with local regulations while keeping their assets, many of which are mission-critical, secure.

“Google Cloud supports us in catering to companies that need to comply with local storage regulations, which means they can’t move their data out of their country of operation,” Thomas explains. “Because Google Cloud has very good coverage geographically, that’s not a problem for us. We can be near customers almost anywhere in the world and, in a matter of days, host instances in their countries to support them with their requirements,” he says.

As well as adopting the local security regulations of wherever its customers are based, Inaccess is also certified in ISO 27001, the international standard of information risk management, and customizes its product roadmap and network field design to match customers’ internal security policies too. “Happily, all our security concerns are supported by the extensive configurability of the Google Cloud network. We can add very specific regional, local, and organizational security layers to our service, and it’s all secure by design, which makes life easier for us and our customers,” Thomas explains.

Continually bringing more IT value to the utilities industry

When Inaccess first decided to partner with Google Cloud to support its platform Unity, it simply wanted to reap the benefits of a cloud-first policy: becoming easily scalable to increase its portfolio, gaining flexibility and more configurability, and becoming more agile by freeing itself from infrastructure management.

“Migrating to Google Cloud has been a valuable journey for us,” Thomas says. ”Using its reliable infrastructure services, we’ve been able to reclaim our time from managing infrastructure to focus on developing new offerings for our customers. This means they can now enjoy a better level of development and quality in our software, with added higher performance and better latency times due to the power of Google Cloud infrastructure.”

Now that it has achieved this, Inaccess is ready to leverage more Google Cloud products and services on top of the infrastructure, so that it can keep helping its customers.

“The next milestone for us?” asks Thomas. “To really harness Google Cloud infrastructure solutions, and explore its software as a service offering as well. Machine learning and AI expertise, which Google Cloud is pioneering, will help us to continue maximizing our customer value in the future.”

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

Contact us

About Inaccess

For 20 years, Inaccess has been developing an advanced digital infrastructure management platform that enables utilities to monitor and control their operations through a web application. Now the company supports solar and wind power providers, storage and microgrid operations, and telecoms providers with its mature solution, called Unity.

Industries: Utilities
Location: United Kingdom