Agrotech – A new revolution is coming to Europe´s farmlands and crop zones..

Where is the opportunity?

There are large areas of land dedicated to the same crop which means an increased risk to pests and greater efforts in the fight against them. There are many plantations of corn, vines, fruit trees or simply cereals where the soils support a tremendous demand in giving the appropriate results to the farmers and growers. In the case of Spain, southern areas such as Almería produce tons of vegetables, fruits, plants of all kinds with significant water pressure since they are places where there is little rain.

Adding to that. we are facing significant rural depopulation in countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and further east Europe like Romania, Bulgaria, etc. Older people are left alone in rural settings. Moreover, young people are less and less present in those small villages and medium-sized towns surrounded by a lot of farmland.

We need an urgent answer and it is “Control” and “Automation”. We need efficiency even though we have a small staff to take care of undesirable insects, floods, droughts and fertilizers.

Why public cloud with IoT native tools and Edge computing brings the solution..

On one hand, IoT brings efficiency to the growers and farmers so they know the best moment in the season for sowing, irrigating or harvesting.

On the other hand, provide a forecast to them and a series of historical data to be able to improve their answer in the future.

Finally, you don’t need too much people to take control on vast cereal extensions for example. Even more you can program some tasks to be done automatically following a pattern of conditions.

What Offers the public cloud providers …

This picture (based on Microsoft Azure approach) shows what could be a IoT solution for Agrotech.

  1. Sensors provide data and with the help of Edge nodes which are responsible of data processing, routing and computing operation, reduce latency and provides a first repository for the data to be transmitted to the cloud. Sensor works with lots of several data formats mostly not structured but also some based on tables and well structured.
  2. IoT Hub is in charge of ingest data from the Sensors. It can process data streaming in real-time with security and reliability. It is a managed cloud solution which support bidirectional communication between devices to the cloud or the cloud to the devices. That means that while you receive data from devices, you can also send commands and policies back to those devices, for example, to update properties or invoke device management actions. It can also authenticate access between the IoT device and the IoT hub. It can scale to millions of simultaneously connected devices and millions of events per second and be aligned with your policies in terms of security, monitoring or disaster recovery to another region
  3. CosmosDB it is a globally distributed, multi-model database that can replicate datasets between regions based on customer needs. You can tailor the reads&writes of the data in several partitions at a planet scale even if you want. . This multi-model architecture allows the database engineers to leverage the inherent capabilities of each model such as MongoDB for semi-structured data (JSON files or AVRO can be perfect here), Cassandra for wide columns (for example to store data for products with several properties) or Gremlin for graph databases (for example for data for social network or games).. Hence, it can be deployed using several API models for developers. In our scenario can be use as a way to analyze large operational datasets while minimizing the impact on the performance of mission-critical transactional workloads Besides this powereful database solution, we can use Azure Synapse which is key in the transformation of the data. It is a new Azure component where you are able to ingest, prepare, manage, and serve all the data for immediate BI and machine learning needs more easily. It use Azure Data Warehouse to store historical series of data. Uses Massive Parallel Processing (MPP) to run queries across petabytes of data quickly integrating Spark engine to work with predictive analytical workloads. Azure Synapse Analytics uses the Extract, Loads, and Transform (ELT) approach. Once we have used ML, streaming or batch processing of the data ingested before it´s time to report our information according to the growers or farmers needs.
  4. Presentation Layer. You can visualize the data for example with Power BI integrated with Azure Synapse.

To summarize, IoT market is increasing rapidly. It is expected about 25 billion connected objects worldwide in 2025 following information. There is a major opportunity to transform our society and enhance our agricultural sector.

See you then in the next post…

What happens when the cloud adoption is more than that? you have a cloud strategy based on your IT profile?

We all think that there are 3 possible stages on your journey to the cloud

Those companies, digital starters, looking for advisory to start moving some workloads to the public cloud from their on premise or private cloud infrastructure. Those companies, called digital expanders, with some experience already on the public cloud and satisfied with the outcome of a first cloud adoption on those projects. Finally, those digital leaders, maybe native or not on the public cloud, but with important investment on OPEX and very focus on the business motivations and the outcomes to be cloud first in almost all they do.

But what happens if we change our perception?..if we think there is a conservative IT profile, a moderate IT profile or even an aggressive one in terms on how to leverage cloud native technologies ?

On one hand, another factor to be evaluated it’s not just how to prepare the cloud adoption with methodologies like CAF. But also to understand that not all the companies need a Data Analytics platform or an IoT solution. At least, during the coming years..

On the other hand, how can you reflect those cloud flavours and the cloud native technologies on the real world?..well we can start with this full picture that came to my head sometime ago..

Depending on your IT profile you will be working on some of these cloud flavours

This picture (based on Microsoft Azure approach) try to represent that there are several technologies that we can group by cloud strategy and associate with an IT profile.

My cloud vision based on technologies and cloud strategies

A conservative IT Profile – Would be a company mostly base in traditional infrastructure with storage, backup or archiving as most important priorities as well as some VMs or LOB applications. A sector like banks and finance institutions are well represented here. Actors like hardware providers are still supporting on their on prem and private cloud platforms. Also, they have a big investment on leader hypervisors, complex computing technologies, and use some scalability with containers and autoscale sets but limited for their own resources. User Experience and usability on their APPs is not a strong point and automation on processes with RPA, or use modern Devops platforms is also not very extended on those companies. They have lots of legacy applications and monolithic databases, old data warehouse and traditional ERPs.

Conservative IT Profile

A moderate IT Profile – Would be a company which is more focus on providing an APP or an ecommerce platform with almost no downtime and escalation based on seasonal products. Maybe even they are migrating some specific workloads to bring innovation, to work on a global way with other subsidiaries or to leverage the potential of some disruptive solution like bots to improve the User Experience for their customers. The hardware almost disappear in this kind of companies. They have a hybrid model solution and are starting to embrace the disruption on new cloud native solutions like are cognitive services, machine learning or data analytics. -They are even integrating SaaS technologies like Docusign, use the marketplace to replace some thirty party products that before were present on the previous on premise data center, they had. An example of this profile can be retail companies offering a new online shopping experience, etc.

moderate IT Profile

An aggressive IT Profile – Be cloud first. All they want is working on the public cloud when possible as they learned a lot on the benefits and the outcomes when they CAF and the progressive migration of workloads are well-architected and well defined. They have a tremendous knowledge on leveraging disruptive technologies, save cost, provide the right governance and security and achieve their goals. These companies are very dynamic, use agile methodologies, have clear priorities on accelerate the daily processes, the business and improve the employees and customers experiences. Innovation is their mantra. Here you will see startups like fintech, healthtech,etc. You will see the enterprise vertical on renewable energy companies, insurance or in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. They use data analytics and Big Data massively, ML, PaaS and Serverless and modern devops platforms. They reduce investment on hardware and licenses as well as integrate SaaS, block chains and other technologies in the daily user experience. Also, they provide APPs and remote work to their users.

Aggressive IT profile

To summarize, this post just try to show that there, outside, adopting the cloud, each company, each public institution have their own hat and they can tailor the technologies to their needs. Finally, not all the companies of each vertical or business are fit with these descriptions but without stereotyping, it is a way of defining types of companies that will soon or later make use of the benefits of the public cloud.

See you then in the next post…