NRG Systems, Inc., a subsidiary of ESCO Technologies Inc. (NYSE: ESE), has been a global provider of high-quality products and solutions for the renewable energy industry since the early 1980s. NRG Systems is specifically focused on wind and solar resource assessment and monitoring solutions. They aim to create a world powered by more sustainable resources, and their clients range from aerospace markets to electric utilities.
“Developing NRG Cloud with the Optimus team was a really positive experience. From the outset, we had ambitious goals from a development timeline point of view. Optimus was up for the challenge and their team was very quick to understand our requirements, translate them into wireframes for us to review, and work with our internal developers to launch the web application within a matter of months. I would highly recommend Optimus as a development partner for cloud applications of this nature.”
Leon Hailstones, VP of Marketing, NRG Systems
For the first release of the NRG Cloud platform, NRG Systems wanted to develop a solution for remote monitoring and control of their SymphoniePRO data loggers. NRG Systems has a desktop application called SymphoniePRO Desktop that allows its users to view and process data coming in from instruments and sensors. The data managed by the SymphoniePRO desktop application is typically used for wind and solar projects in the project planning and operations stages. NRG Systems wanted to launch a cloud version of SymphoniePRO to simplify data management for its customers. This was a complex project due to the following factors:
- The cloud application had to offer the same basic functionality as the SymphoniePRO desktop at launch.
- The NRG Systems team wanted this to be a solution that could be easily built on to support other NRG products in the future.
- The NRG Systems team wanted site data to be accessible to customers via API. (It was important to help customers automate their data management workflows).
- There was a time crunch to release their new cloud product. (We had about 7 months to get it all done).
- Multiple stakeholders had to be aligned with the development of the new product.
- The back-end and front-end development work needed to be synchronized to achieve the roll-out objective.
- The new cloud product needed to meet NRG’s stringent security standards.
To deliver on an ambitious product development schedule, the NRG team sought Optimus’s cloud expertise in order to accomplish their product goals.
Optimus, in collaboration with the NRG team, delivered a fully functional, efficient, and secure product ahead of the planned launch date.
The Optimus team was able to meet and exceed all of NRG’s needs because of their technical expertise, innovative solutions, collaborative approach, and agile methodology.
At the start of the project, Optimus also conducted workshops to gather detailed requirements to ensure the development plan aligned with all stakeholders. Though these workshops were a significant investment in time, they prevented unnecessary iterations and ended up saving a lot of time in the long run.
Optimus mobilized its team of highly skilled technical professionals to develop the:
- user stories
- UI/UX design
- application and Azure architecture
- front-end development
- back-end development
- Azure infrastructure
- DevOps setup.
The Optimus team also suggested and implemented innovative solutions during the project. One key innovation was to mitigate the dependency on API development by creating dummy API calls that could be substituted while development was still in progress.
Security was of the utmost importance because this was the first time having the application on the web. Optimus leveraged its security expertise and conducted penetration testing of the product before signing off on UAT.
Probably the single biggest factor in the success of the project was Optimus’s truly agile way of working. There were daily check-ins between the NRG and Optimus teams to ensure alignment between the back-end and the front-end. In addition, weekly review meetings of the project included demonstrations of the product’s current state. Sprint planning was completed every two weeks, which included rearranging the user stories to account for the development progress at that time.
Screenshots of the new NRG Cloud App:
Optimus helped NRG Systems to develop NRG Cloud, in a short time frame while meeting NRG’s expectations of quality, functional scope, and security.
Some of the benefits to NRG Systems and its customers are:
- Development speed: Rolling out newly developed features happens in real-time – NRG customers no longer need to download the latest software the way they had to for the desktop app. The NRG team can quickly add new features and keep evolving their cloud product as they get requests.
- Cross-Platform Access for Customers: NRG Cloud is available on all web browsers and most operating systems compared to their desktop application which was limited to Windows.
- Simplified Data Management for Customers: In the past, NRG’s customers often developed complex workflows for storing and sharing wind and solar data. NRG Cloud stores data for active sites in a central location and sharing access to this data is achieved simply by adding new users to a site.
- Automation for Customers: Many of these workflows used to be very manual. NRG Cloud is designed to receive data from sites at a user-defined interval. Once the data is uploaded, several automated checks can trigger alerts to notify the site owner/operator of potential issues.
- Ease of Access to Data: NRG Cloud has several data management tools baked in that allow users to do bulk downloads of data for a site or to pull data via our customer-facing APIs into any existing workflows.
- Simplified Remote Configuration: In the past, customers often needed static (and costly) IP addresses to access devices in the field. NRG Cloud has introduced remote configuration and control of NRG wind and solar met stations without the need for a static IP address for the site. This creates both cost-efficiency and easier remote access.
Optimus’s Azure Cloud expertise, collaborative approach, and agile methodology simplified the process and removed unnecessary steps. With their new cloud-based MVP, NRG Systems can grow this solution, leveraging the benefits of the cloud while solving initial challenges and pain points.
Project technologies and tools used on this project include:
- Angular – Typescript based open source web application framework
- AuthO – Authentication and Authorization platform
- HighCharts – Charting library
- Google Map – Web mapping platform
- Restful API
- Azure API Management
- Azure App Service
- Azure DevOps
Note: The above list does not include technologies used by back-end projects managed by the NRG team.