Business challenge

DroneDeploy helps organizations turn aerial data into insights that help their businesses run better. How could the firm ensure that it could continue to scale and meet rising demand for its services?

Transformation

DroneDeploy integrated IBM Compose for MongoDB and IBM Compose for Redis database services into its architecture—enabling the company to process vast amounts of core data rapidly.

Results

Helps

process millions of 3D images each week, turning data into actionable insights

Enables

daily production of thousands of maps, allowing clients to troubleshoot problems

Supports

mapping of over 10 million acres of land across 160 countries globally

Business challenge story

Driving smarter business with drone technology

We’re all familiar with drones being used as military tools and consumer toys—and now businesses are getting on board, using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to make deliveries, map out hard-to-navigate areas, help with building restoration works and take inventory of crops.

Drone technology is powerful stuff, and companies like DroneDeploy aim to bring that power to everyone—its goal is to make the sky more accessible and productive for all.

DroneDeploy's innovative approach uses commercial drones that anyone can buy and software which programs them to the task. The software teaches the drones how to automatically scan areas and return with a payload of photos.

However, this payload is of little use without intelligent software to extract useful insights. The next step is for the images to be uploaded into the cloud where DroneDeploy stitches them together into maps and 3D models using its Map Engine. Users can then explore the completed maps and models using analytical tools provided by DroneDeploy—from both desktop and mobile devices—helping them to obtain useful insights.

It's the software that makes the difference, as Nick Pilkington, CTO at DroneDeploy explains: "We're taking the existing drone hardware and combining it with a very powerful piece of software to make that drone into a useful tool—something that's repeatable, something that's reliable, something that's safe and something that provides a huge amount of value.”

DroneDeploy’s platform processes huge volumes of data, and to make sure it can keep up with this torrent of information the company needs a rock-solid infrastructure backbone. That includes access to cutting-edge databases that can easily scale to meet increasing demand.

We're taking the existing drone hardware and combining it with a very powerful piece of software to make that drone into a useful tool.

—Nick Pilkington,CTO,DroneDeploy

Transformation story

Powering insights with agile databases

To turn photo payloads into actionable insights, DroneDeploy has developed a solution called Map Engine, which is supported by IBM Compose databases. As a small company that didn't want to invest in self-hosting, the Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) model offered by IBM Compose was a perfect fit for DroneDeploy’s needs.

The company’s early experience with IBM Compose MongoDB helped it shape an architecture where documents were handled and then quickly moved to lower-cost storage. This allowed the company to optimize resource use while processing large streams of data quickly and reliably.

Over time the company expanded its database technology use, introducing IBM Compose for Redis.

Nick Pilkington explains: “Redis came into the picture as our jobs and coordination requirements grew. These required a rapid database and Redis' in-memory processing offered a great route to performance for our applications. It offers queues, lists and sets that can be used to represent the jobs, settings and resources available and they are all tightly managed.”

Integrating Redis also allowed the company to lift the load on Compose for MongoDB's more persistent model and boost its application performance, while processing millions of images every week.

Nick Pilkington continues: "We're starting to use IBM Compose for Redis more heavily because we have thousands of jobs being orchestrated all around the world. We've got a bunch of different job queues that manage these depending on the sort of user, allowed concurrency and the type of processing job and all of that is coming through Compose for Redis."
 

Results story

Sky’s the limit

Supported by IBM technology, DroneDeploy is producing thousands of aerial maps each day for its clients. In all, DroneDeploy has mapped over 10 million acres of land in 160 countries and on all seven continents.

The MongoDB and Redis combination has proven to be a compelling solution for DroneDeploy’s massive data processing needs. With this configuration, the company can take advantage of powerful in-memory technology offered by Redis to deliver a performance boost for complex queries, while offloading other operations to more appropriate or cost effective databases as needed. This enables DroneDeploy to deliver consistently excellent performance for its critical Map Engine platform without sending costs soaring—helping its business run productively and cost-effectively.

Importantly, choosing a managed cloud service like IBM Compose has given DroneDeploy the ability to concentrate on running its business, instead of running databases. That concentration has enabled DroneDeploy to offer a product which can help millions of people understand and manage their world.

One area where DroneDeploy is helping people work smarter is in agriculture, enabling farmers to make better decisions about managing their crops. For example, farmers can harness DroneDeploy’s technology to analyze near-infrared scans of their fields to help spot signs of crop stress or disease. They can then go to the affected locations marked out on the map, and see the "ground truth" by inspecting the plants themselves.

Nick Pilkington remarks: "DroneDeploy isn't going to tell the farmer today if it's a lack of nitrogen or if it's pests that are affecting plants’ health. However, if you're a farmer that's managing 2,000 acres of 11-foot corn, it’s incredibly helpful to get a map every morning that pinpoints where you need to be concentrating your efforts."

And unlike satellite imagery, which can often be rendered unusable when there is cloud cover, drones are unaffected by clouds as they fly lower than satellites. What’s more, drone imagery comes in at a higher resolution. "You can zoom in and see the individual plants which is pretty cool," says Nick Pilkington.

DroneDeploy’s software platform is opening up new opportunities for companies across a range of industries, helping them solve critical business problems and run more efficiently. And with the backing of managed services like IBM Compose, DroneDeploy has the strong foundation it needs to continue driving game-changing innovation for its clients and keep its business growing to new heights of success.
 

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About DroneDeploy

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones, and is making the power of aerial data accessible and productive for everyone. Trusted by leading brands globally, DroneDeploy is transforming the way businesses leverage drones and aerial data across industries, including agriculture, construction, mining, inspection and surveying. Simple by design, DroneDeploy enables professional-grade imagery and analysis, 3D modeling and more from any drone on any device.

Solution components

  • Compose

Take the next step

IBM Compose is a cloud-hosted platform for building enterprise applications on open source database technologies. Offering a choice of the best in open-source software databases, ready to go into production within minutes to support web and mobile apps, Compose combines practically unlimited auto-scaling with practically zero administration. For more information or to try Compose, visit: ibm.com/cloud/compose

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