CASE STUDY

Big Ass Fans

IoT Infrastructure Management on AWS

Big Ass Fans 1

Transforming Commercial Ventilation with IoT on AWS

Headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, Big Ass Fans is a leading manufacturer of high volume, low speed fans and controls for industrial, agricultural, commercial, and residential use. With more than 500 employees around the globe, the company is best known for their iconic design and innovative solutions. After debuting the world’s first smart fan, the Haiku, in 2014, Big Ass Fans continues to innovate products and services using cutting edge technology, inspiring design, and effortless conservation. 

Industry

Manufacturing 

Challenge

Develop an IoT infrastructure management solution for a fan-control application, improving efficiency, application update deployment process, stability, security, and cost management.

Services & Tech

AWS Cloud, AWS IoT, DevOps

The Problem

Big Ass Fans was using SenseMe™ technology to deliver automated, personal comfort to their line of residential fans. These applications made heavy use of AWS services such as AWS Elastic Beanstalk, which ran applications that handled all web socket connections from each IoT device and handled integration with services such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and smart thermostats such as Nest and EcoBee. The applications were load-balanced by ALBs with an Amazon ElastiCache and Amazon RDS database.

The IoT components of these services required a cloud infrastructure that had previously been supported through an outsourced provider, while the internal team handled application development and management. Over time, the external provider was no longer able to keep up with the necessary services to scan the network for patches, monitor specific instances, and ensure sufficient levels of security without a great deal of human involvement or expensive third-party solutions. They needed to leverage modern capabilities, such as AWS Elastic Beanstalk, to automatically scale their compute capacity in advance of traffic changes and apply modern backup practices to support the smooth implementation of new features, functionality, and expanding capabilities.

In order to enable their internal teams with the necessary support, Big Ass Fans started looking for an experienced AWS Partner who could take ownership of their applications, enhance operations and maximize efficiency with 24/7 expert support. Through a referral from AWS, Big Ass Fans was connected to Onica who offered the depth and breadth of expertise to meet their needs. 

The Solution

Onica’s engagement with Big Ass Fans started with an AWS Well Architected Review (WAR), a common starting point where Onica reviews whether the customer’s architecture and design upholds AWS best practices and identifies gaps and opportunities for delivering the best customer experience. The review found that, overall, Big Ass Fans’ applications were built upon a resilient architecture that was able to support their needs. This WAR, in combination with our other solutions like an automatic AWS Lambda based Amazon CloudWatch monitoring solution, allowed for design and process enhancements while meeting all monitoring requirements outlined by the customer. Through this discovery, Onica outlined a large number of application enhancements, including right-sizing, enhanced security, and cost management.

The implementation of these solutions began under time constraints as ownership of the application transitioned from the original developer to Onica. Big Ass Fans was well-educated around the AWS cloud and ecosystem and was open to implementing suggestions proposed by Onica for optimizing operations and costs as part of Onica’s Managed Cloud Operations service. Through a DevOps model, Onica was able to incrementally support this large undertaking while supporting new requirements as additional opportunities emerged and new priorities developed.

Big Ass Fans 2
Big Ass Fans 3

Big Ass Fans found that working with Onica was like having an extension of their own team. Onica’s experts worked closely with a central connection from their company, communicating effectively to stay on track, and on schedule, responsive day and night, weekends and off-hours, when any assistance was needed.

"I would definitely recommend Onica to any organization. They are a great technical resource, providing the technical support and expertise needed to manage our technology and infrastructure while allowing us to focus on delivering added value to our customers. They are also a great partner when trying to grow a business, as they remove the necessity to staff for every role, keeping internal costs low."
Bill Kidwell
Cloud Systems Architect at Big Ass Fans

The Outcome

Partnering in success

The project was completed within the requisite time frame, along with some additional features Onica developed and implemented into the application. Onica was also able to provide several enhancements to Big Ass Fans’ applications running on AWS to improve the operation of the IoT infrastructure. Combined with the comprehensive monitoring developed by Onica, deployments were smooth with no failures or concerns experienced. Embodying a customer-centric approach, Onica was able to deliver an IoT application and cloud configuration solution that was reliable, secure, and cost-effective while offering a robust user experience. 

“Onica’s DevOps experts were able to quickly work through our training exercise. They communicated well, asked questions when it was necessary, and offered solutions,” said Bill Kidwell, Cloud Systems Architect at Big Ass Fans. “ Their team continues to impress us with their knowledge and persistence to a deep commitment to customer service.”

A development Big Ass Fans has made after starting their partnership with Onica has been the institution of a regular, monthly release schedule, which allowed them to address smaller updates without having to wait for scheduled major releases. This enabled them to release applications and updates quicker, thus improving the quality in line with customer expectations.

Big Ass Fans’ level of trust in their infrastructure and confidence in their systems has grown since working with Onica. Some of the technology benefits they have seen include enhanced system performance and uptime as well as insight into infrastructure needs, enhanced employee efficiency due to a smoother release process, increased manageability — having taken manual processes and automated them — and increased platform reliability due to Onica’s responsiveness and management oversight.  

Why Us

Why Onica

Onica is one of the largest and fastest-growing Amazon Web Services (AWS) Premier Consulting Partners in the world, helping companies enable, operate, and innovate in the cloud. From migration strategy to operational excellence and immersive transformation, Onica is a full spectrum AWS integrator. Learn more at www.onica.com.  

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