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Case Studies

1. Introduction: Zonar Helps Fleets of all Sizes Stay Connected

Founded in 2001, Zonar has pioneered smart fleet management solutions throughout vocational, pupil, mass transit and commercial trucking industries. Zonar helps fleets of all sizes maximize the use of their assets with solutions dedicated to improving compliance, efficiency, maintenance, ridership visibility, safety and tracking. Cloud-based services with open API's drive Zonar's smart fleet solutions by making it easy for fleet owners and managers to stay connected to their fleets and drivers and operators to dispatch.

2. Problem: The Need for Improved Scaling, Automation and Delivery Configuration

When Zonar’s infrastructure could no longer handle variable loads and increased volume, they strategically decided not to increase their large data center footprint. Instead, the company’s engineering team evaluated the performance improvements and efficiencies a containerized infrastructure would bring. Zonar knew what Kubernetes offered with regard to scaling and delivery configuration, but Zonar lacked hands-on experience operating and maintaining the container orchestration system and building Kubernetes-based applications and services.

To address these knowledge and practice gaps, Zonar partnered with Fairwinds, known for providing reliable, scalable, expertly managed, and secure cloud-native infrastructure leveraging containers and Kubernetes.

3. Solution: Cloud-Native Architecture on top of Google Kubernetes Engine

From the outset, Zonar was receptive to the move to microservices and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Google’s managed, production-ready environment for deploying containerized applications. During the year-long implementation and adoption period, their large team readily underwent a huge transformation in their thinking and knowledge base.

Fairwinds partnered with Zonar to implement a brand-new architecture that allowed new and migrated applications and services to receive data from the existing infrastructure. This new architecture enabled Zonar to migrate legacy applications and services when it made sense for the business while also implementing all-new applications and services to run on Kubernetes.

For 12 months, Fairwinds helped Zonar migrate several key applications over to Kubernetes while successfully training the entire engineering team to write and run cloud-native applications and services. A substantial part of the training involved modernizing development approaches. Fairwinds worked closely with the team to help them adopt services and practices that have greatly accelerated software delivery. During the training period, Fairwinds collaborated with Zonar to select and use the appropriate CI/CD pipelines (GitLab), modern monitoring and logging approaches (Datadog), and Kubernetes-specific package management (Helm).

Today, Zonar is running 130 applications and services in production. Now that teams are building cloud-native applications, they have adopted a model where Fairwinds is primarily running the infrastructure. Shifting operational responsibility from a central IT organization to the application and service teams is allowing for much faster issue resolution and improvement. Kubernetes has automated deployment, scaling, and failure remediation, and all changes to codebases are automatically integrated and validated. The speed at which changes can be made has gone from weeks to minutes.

4. Outcome: Faster Delivery and Substantial Cost Savings

Fairwinds initially provided Zonar with formal documentation and training sessions to enable their large engineering organization to deploy to Kubernetes. Fairwinds has since transitioned to providing day-to-day Kubernetes cluster support, including troubleshooting, upgrades, and advisory services. Their deep Kubernetes operational experience continues to allow Zonar to focus on application development.

In addition, Fairwinds is helping Zonar globalize their product line. As part of that effort, they will need to replicate the architecture and infrastructure that Fairwinds helped build and operate to new international cloud regions. Together, they are are preparing to accommodate European Union (EU) data storage rules related to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), an EU data protection and privacy regulation.

The infrastructure work that Fairwinds has done for Zonar has improved their ability to run applications on Kubernetes and accelerated the rate at which they can take product concepts to market. Zonar’s new infrastructure is not only serving their day-to-day needs but also reliably and cost effectively allowing their team to focus on core competencies and deliver faster – all without the bottlenecks and overhead associated with acquiring more data center space and building up deep operational competency in Kubernetes.

5. What Zonar is Saying

“Fairwinds has saved us time and money by providing expert cloud services guidance, consulting, and implementation. Every step of the way, they’ve trained our team and increased our knowledge base, allowing us to focus on building services instead of maintaining infrastructure. Their support has been invaluable. More than anything else, they have enabled a degree of automation that has shifted the culture of our engineering organization to one where teams can operate and own their entire service stack.”

Arun Jacob, Senior Vice President, Software, Zonar Systems

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