PVsell and Snapfrozen: Increasing flexibility and performance

About Snapfrozen

Snapfrozen provides web hosting and custom development services, specialising in the energy sector. The business has about 400 clients and 800 hosting accounts.

Industries: Technology
Location: Australia

About PVsell

PVsell offers a workflow system for solar businesses and investors.

With Google Cloud Platform, Snapfrozen can provide a cost-effective, agile, and reliable infrastructure solution to customers such as PVsell.

GOOGLE CLOUD RESULTS

  • Reduced hosting costs initially by 60%
  • Halved software release cycle times
  • Recorded near-zero downtime since moving to Google Cloud Platform

Ability to test multiple branches of code simultaneously

The future is bright for solar businesses worldwide with the industry forecast to grow sharply in coming decades. As a provider of a workflow system for solar companies and investors that spans proposal development, customer acquisition, sales, and finance, PVsell is well positioned to take advantage of this predicted power surge.

To access the infrastructure and custom development services needed to realise its growth objectives, PVsell has engaged another energy sector specialist, technology consultancy Snapfrozen.

“Snapfrozen provides web hosting and custom development services to this sector,” Donovan Craig, Owner and Founder of Snapfrozen says. “To date, we have about 400 customers and 800 hosting accounts.”

Warwick Johnston, Owner and Founder of PVsell parent company SunWiz, says PVsell emerged to service a market niche created by the growing complexity of quoting on solar projects as the industry matured. “When the market was nearly entirely about solar panels, quoting was a comparatively simple exercise,” Johnston says. “However, the emergence of batteries and legislative requirements governing end-user documentation created a need for software that could manage the process.”

“Our research found Google Cloud Platform and other Google Cloud technologies were superior in terms of cost and performance. In addition, from a user interface and usage perspective, Google Cloud Platform seemed a lot more elegant than the alternative.”

Donovan Craig, Owner and Founder, Snapfrozen

PVsell has steadily gained an increased number of regular users, making infrastructure speed and stability increasingly important.

PVsell initially operated on dedicated servers in a Snapfrozen hosted environment. However, senior executives at PVsell and Snapfrozen realised this environment could not provide the cost-effective scalability and performance required to sustain growth.

“We considered Google Cloud Platform and another cloud service,” Craig says. “Our research found Google Cloud Platform and other Google Cloud technologies were superior in terms of cost and performance. In addition, from a user interface and usage perspective, Google Cloud Platform seemed a lot more elegant than the alternative. Finally, Google Cloud Platform methodologies and flow were more aligned to my experience as a Linux administrator in a hosting environment.”

In October 2016, Craig presented Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as a preferred option to the PVsell board. “I was able to communicate an immediate 60% saving on the company’s hosting bill as part of the business case,” he says. “Combined with the performance and range of features in Google Cloud Platform, the decision proved to be a no-brainer.”

Snapfrozen then started migrating the PVsell environment to GCP, including its business applications and a suite of custom microservices. “We eventually plan to move all of PVsell’s old applications into serverless containers,” Craig says. “We’ve already migrated PVsell’s database to Google Cloud SQL and we are looking to migrate more services to reduce ongoing maintenance costs. We’ll then look at any savings we can make for PVsell by moving all custom-developed components into Google Cloud Platform.”

The Google Cloud architecture also includes Google Stackdriver to provide monitoring, logging, and diagnostics, as well as Google Maps API and Google Places API. Google Places verifies addresses to keep the database clean and helps ensure the business is using accurate locations, while Google Maps acts as the basis of its solar panel drawing and mapping system.

Other Google Cloud APIs are used to create applications that connect to Google BigQuery to verify calculation results and simulate thousands of solar systems quickly and accurately.

A 60% cost saving

PVsell has immediately achieved the 60% cost savings flagged in the Snapfrozen business case. Furthermore, Snapfrozen has been able to quickly create virtual machine instances for a range of development activities for PVsell as well as other clients.

“Google Cloud Platform allows us to easily replicate instances, snapshot them, and shut them down when we are done,” Craig says. “We can now test multiple branches of code simultaneously whereas previously, to control costs, we had to use our code repository system to switch back and forth.”

According to Craig, the release cycles for PVsell software have now halved, enabling the business to operate with greater agility and release new features and functions to customers more quickly. “Furthermore, Google Cloud Platform has enabled us to move PVsell into points of presence close to customers, particularly with the Google Cloud Platform Region in Sydney now available,” he says. “This reduces latency and helps ensure fast response times for the PVsell workflow system.”

“It is great to be part of the Google development environment. This environment has unlocked our imaginations with new possibilities of creating features within our software.”

Warwick Johnston, Owner and Founder, Sunwiz

Opening new opportunities

Snapfrozen is achieving a range of benefits with G Suite but Craig believes the consultancy has barely scratched the surface of the possibilities. “We’ve achieved far greater collaboration within the business through applications such as Google Docs and Google Sheets,” Craig says. “In addition, we’re now certified in cloud architecture and G Suite, giving us a springboard to realise the full potential of the products. “There’s so much there we’re still learning and coming to grips with.”

As Snapfrozen continues to develop on GCP, Craig is targeting the consumer market. “With Google Cloud Platform, we’d like to provide consumer-facing systems that communicate the benefits of renewable energy directly to customers and that will feed new business to our installers,” he says. “We want to simplify our systems so the customer can visualise and understand the benefits of going solar themselves. We’d also like to enter the energy consumption monitoring and awareness space by enabling consumers to see what their bills will look like and who is the cheapest provider.”

Craig adds: “We regard Google Cloud Platform and G Suite as integral to the continued growth and success of Snapfrozen and PVsell. We look forward to expanding into new geographies and markets thanks to Google technologies.”

“It is great to be part of the Google development environment,” Johnston adds. “This environment has unlocked our imaginations with new possibilities of creating features within our software.”

About Snapfrozen

Snapfrozen provides web hosting and custom development services, specialising in the energy sector. The business has about 400 clients and 800 hosting accounts.

Industries: Technology
Location: Australia

About PVsell

PVsell offers a workflow system for solar businesses and investors.

Google Cloud Platform logo

12 Months FREE TRIAL

Try Kubernetes Engine, BigQuery, and other Cloud Platform products with $300 in free credit and 12 months.

TRY IT FREE
Google Cloud Platform logo

12 Months FREE TRIAL

Try Kubernetes Engine, BigQuery, and other Cloud Platform products with $300 in free credit and 12 months.

TRY IT FREE