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Longbow's Rebus Optimizes the Supply Chain with MongoDB and Google Cloud

INDUSTRIES

Industrial Manufacturing
Travel-Transportation-Logistics
e-commerce and Retail

PRODUCT

MongoDB Atlas

USE CASES

Analytics
Single View

CUSTOMER SINCE

2019
INTRODUCTION

Longbow Advantage: using data to enhance supply chain visibility
and efficiency

Longbow Advantage delivers substantial business results by enabling clients to optimize their supply chains. Its flagship warehouse visibility platform, Rebus combines real-time performance reporting with end-to-end warehouse visibility and intelligent labor management. Longbow Advantage CEO Alex Wakefield and Founder and Chief Innovator Gerry Brady spoke with us about how Rebus helps customers meet the challenges of today’s fast-moving markets.

THE CHALLENGE

Companies want real-time visibility — but are trying to get there with spreadsheets

Longbow Advantage clients have millions of shipments moving through multiple warehouses every day, and this generates massive quantities of data throughout the day that must be analyzed for real-time visibility and reporting. Longbow Advantage’s Rebus platform currently manages 10 terabytes (TB) of uncompressed data every week, and the company expects that to double over the next year. Longbow needed a database solution that could process quantities of that scale and deliver real-time visibility into the warehouse.

“Companies of all sizes have greatly improved their distribution processes, but still lack real-time visibility into their warehouse operations,” explained Wakefield. “Visibility has existed in the transportation part of the supply chain for a long time. It’s typically much easier to accomplish, because the data sets are much smaller as compared to the multitude of transactions that take place in the warehouse. Warehouse operations teams need the same level of detail to mitigate the risks associated with a lack of real-time visibility into operations and labor. ”

Longbow needed to enable real-time warehouse visibility and reporting at the heart of Rebus, and it knew it could not rely on monolithic, time-consuming spreadsheets to do so. It became clear that the document database model was a good match and would allow Rebus to gather, store, and build visibility into disparate data in near real-time. Longbow then needed to find the right document database partner.

“When we first came up with the idea for Rebus, we gathered a group of employees to brainstorm the best way to build it, and one of our employees suggested we use MongoDB as the underlying datastore,” said Wakefield. “We were comfortable with the MongoDB ecosystem, the technology, and the selection of tools.”

“When we first came up with the idea for Rebus, we gathered a group of employees to brainstorm the best way to build it, and one of our employees suggested we use MongoDB as the underlying datastore. We were comfortable with the MongoDB ecosystem, the technology, and the selection of tools.”

Alex Wakefield, CEO, Longbow Advantage

“Our team has extensive database experience, but felt the time put into the day-to-day management of the database could be put to better use. We knew we needed to keep our focus on building the product, not managing our databases. Backups were becoming a very serious concern. The backup scripts we were running were community-built, unsupported, and needed to be modified for our use case,” said Brady. “We spent a lot of time verifying backups, re-running failed backups, and modifying our backup scripts. We knew the expectation from our customers would be nearly zero data loss and we had no point-in-time recovery. MongoDB Atlas allowed us to solve these issues almost instantly.”

“Our application is SOC II Type 2 compliant,” added Brady. This compliance focuses largely on security, processing, and storing data for customers. "If we’re going to go down the DBaaS road, it had to be with a provider that was also SOC II Type 2 compliant. MongoDB Atlas met this requirement for us."

“We knew the expectation from our customers would be nearly zero data loss and we had no point-in-time recovery. MongoDB Atlas allowed us to solve these issues almost instantly.”

Gerry Brady, Founder and Chief Innovator, Longbow Advantage

THE SOLUTION

Rebus, built on MongoDB and running on Google Cloud

“In the early stages of building Rebus, we made the decision to leverage Google Cloud (GC) for IaaS. We chose GC because of its ease of use, performance, and price. When deciding to move our MongoDB clusters from self-managed GC VMs to a DBaaS platform, MongoDB Atlas was a natural fit because of the ability to deploy clusters on GC infrastructure,” said Brady. “Performance, and overall understanding of the underlying cloud infrastructure, were our main reasons for deploying our MongoDB Atlas clusters on Google Cloud.”

“Performance, and overall understanding of the underlying cloud infrastructure, were our main reasons for deploying our MongoDB Atlas clusters on Google Cloud.”

Gerry Brady, Founder and Chief Innovator, Longbow Advantage

MongoDB Atlas sits at the heart of Rebus, shown in Figure 1, enabling it to harness the power of smart data and offer real-time visibility into warehouse operations. That means ingesting data in many formats from a wide range of systems, storing it for efficient access, and presenting it as needed to users — at scale. Now, customers, including KraftHeinz, Mars, Alcon Labs, Subaru, and others enjoy access to critical information that enables visibility and smarter decision making across the warehouse like never before.

Figure 1: Rebus by Longbow Advantage provides insights across multiple platforms.

“With Rebus and MongoDB, manufacturers, retailers and distributors can view and manage critical business processes, such as order fulfillment, yard operations, and labor performance, and see the effects (including cost) across different business lines, like e-commerce, traditional retail, direct to consumer, and more to ensure that they are being productive and meeting the appropriate deadlines,” says Wakefield. “Without this information, a company may short, or cut, critical orders, negatively impact customer satisfaction, miss out on revenue opportunities, and in some cases, incur significant financial penalties.”
“With Rebus and MongoDB, manufacturers, retailers and distributors can segment different business lines like e-commerce, traditional retail, direct to consumer, and more to ensure that they are being productive and meeting the appropriate deadlines.”

Alex Wakefield, CEO, Longbow Advantage

Google Cloud offers other unique advantages, said Brady. “Google, as one of the main developers of Kubernetes, is well ahead of its competitors when it comes to managing, deploying, and scaling containers with Kubernetes. Google’s experience and technology offerings in the big data space set it apart from its competitors.” From an operational perspective, he added, “The flexibility of Google’s Cloud Platform allows us to act quickly and with agility. Whether it’s performance issues, scaling, availability, and more, leveraging Google Cloud allows us to deploy solutions and upgrades more quickly and effectively than we could when we were managing our data on-premise.”
“Google, as one the main developers of Kubernetes, is well ahead of its competitors when it comes to managing, deploying, and scaling containers with Kubernetes. Google Cloud’s experience and technology offerings in the big data space set it apart from its competitors.”

Alex Wakefield, CEO, Longbow Advantage

THE RESULTS

“Fantastic” real-time performance delivering significant business benefits

MongoDB has provided a robust, scalable, high-performing database platform for Longbow, enabling its customers to provision and deploy new servers at the touch of a button and see exactly what is happening across their entire supply chain. “Our customers are able to automate what is traditionally a manual and time-intensive reporting process in the warehouse and collect near real-time data in a common platform, regardless of the software running their supply chain, that can be used across the organization,” comments Wakefield. “All of this leads to much faster decision making thanks to unprecedented warehouse visibility and a coordinated communication effort.”

Several snapshots illustrate the substantial business advantages Longbow Advantage is delivering for customers:

  • As the global pandemic began to proliferate in 2020, one client in the logistics space turned to Longbow Advantage to connect all data across its warehouse management system. This enabled it to quickly get personal protective equipment (PPE) to the National Health Service (NHS) to distribute to frontline health workers across the UK.
  • A major global pharmaceutical distributor is using real-time information to reduce labor cost by 9%, improve cost to serve by 21%, and realize more than $1 million in annual savings, with an ongoing ROI of 13X.
  • One of Longbow Advantage’s manufacturer customers had data trapped in silos across its supply chain, some of it in a homegrown legacy system, and it needed a unified single view of all of its data. Longbow Advantage used Rebus to set up 20 warehouses, implementing real-time visibility for all yards and warehouses.
  • Another Longbow Advantage client is now able to run an algorithm in Rebus and get results back in 20 seconds that used to time out after 10 minutes in the corporate solution.
  • One Longbow Advantage customer benefits from the expertise of its top data executive who owned the Tableau project at a previous company. It took Longbow Advantage only 3-4 weeks to implement, in Rebus, what had been projected as taking a full year in Tableau.

Longbow Advantage is now also building predictive performance and recommended warehouse views into Rebus to drive deeper, more proactive insights into the business. This will drive initiatives including those around labor planning.

Wakefield said none of this would have been possible without MongoDB. “MongoDB Atlas has been fantastic for us. The real-time performance panel allows us to see what is going on in our cluster as it’s happening. Even though many of our developers have worked with relational databases their entire careers, the way we can get data out of MongoDB is unparalleled by anything we’ve ever seen — and that is even more remarkable when we consider MongoDB’s smaller, more efficient footprint on our system,” said Wakefield. “The speed of Atlas has been really helpful and outperforms every other option we assessed. We know we can support thousands of concurrent users with top performance on huge data sets so we will be able to grow with MongoDB Atlas for years to come.”

“MongoDB Atlas has been fantastic for us. Even though many of our developers have worked with relational databases their entire careers, the way we can get data out of MongoDB is unparalleled by anything we’ve ever seen.”

Alex Wakefield, CEO, Longbow Advantage

“The agility that MongoDB Atlas provides is quite unique. In a matter of minutes, we can create a high availability database cluster, restore a 10TB snapshot into it, assign network access, provision user access, enable a backup policy, enable point in time recovery, the list goes on. We have actually tested this in our disaster recovery exercises and in certain circumstances we can recover a point-in-time backup of our 10+TB database and connect our application to it in under an hour,” said Brady.
“The agility that MongoDB Atlas provides is quite unique. We have tested this in our disaster recovery exercises and in certain circumstances we can recover a point-in-time backup of our 10+TB database and connect our application to it in under an hour.”

Gerry Brady, Founder and Chief Innovator, Longbow Advantage

Wakefield said Longbow Advantage values its close relationship with MongoDB. “The relationship MongoDB builds with its customers is, in my experience, unique. They really do a great job keeping the relationship close, listening to customer feedback, working with customers on their upcoming projects, and just making sure that we’re getting the most out of the service. I have never worked with a service provider that puts as much effort into the customer relationship as MongoDB.”

“The relationship MongoDB builds with its customers is, in my experience, unique. I have never worked with a service provider that puts as much effort into the customer relationship as MongoDB.”

Alex Wakefield, CEO, Longbow Advantage

“You are working not only with a service provider (MongoDB) but also directly with the MongoDB Atlas developers under one roof. When support issues arise, you have direct access not only to support engineers but the product developers as well,” added Wakefield.

Brady also cited GC’s flexibility and uptime. “When underlying infrastructure requires maintenance, our compute VM instances are live-migrated to other hardware without causing downtime. The same scenario with other cloud providers requires that the compute instances be rebooted.” Wakefield said Google Cloud provides added value in terms of performance-to-cost and billing in per-second increments. “For similar performance, Google Cloud costs are lower than its competitors.”

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