Greater Insight in the Forecast for Met Éireann
For many people, questions about the weather will affect something of relatively little consequence. Shall I bring an umbrella or wear a raincoat today? Getting the wrong answer rarely rises above the level of an inconvenience. But if you work in agriculture or aviation or shipping, questions about the weather may impact entire crops, planes full of people, and more. Timely access to accurate, current weather information is critical.
That explains why Met Éireann, the Republic of Ireland’s National Meteorological Service, felt so strongly about the need to plan and execute a frictionless update of the database lying at the heart of its weather forecasting infrastructure. Disruption of service would be unacceptable, so Met Éireann executives knew that they needed to find a professional services organization with the experience and the expertise to orchestrate such an upgrade without incident.
Naturally, they turned to Actian Professional Services.
Met Éireann had long relied on Actian Ingres to drive its observation storage and retrieval infrastructure—which holds more than 70 years’ worth of weather and atmospheric observations—as well as the systems responsible for production of its meteorological and climatological products for other national meteorological services, external customers, and internal users. It had been running the database on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but the 10.2 release of Actian Ingres was about to be retired from active service support. To stay on top of security updates and to take advantage of new features, Met Éireann wanted to upgrade to the 11.1 release of its database platform, which Actian had rebranded as Actian X.
Actian X combines in a single platform the industry-leading Actian Ingres transactional database and the Actian Vector analytic database, complete with world-class integration and robust monitoring tools. Actian X exploits powerful vector processing technology that allows it to process hundreds of data elements in a single CPU instruction, which dramatically improves the runtime of queries. The Vector database engine seamlessly enables Met Éireann to store Ingres row data in columnar tables where it can be analyzed as arrays of data.
To orchestrate this upgrade in a risk-free and timely manner, Met Éireann turned to Actian Professional Services, which provided expert consultants to work alongside Met Éireann’s staff during all the phases of the project.
In preparation for the upgrade, the team from Actian Professional Services thoroughly reviewed the configuration of Met Éireann’s Ingres implementation and discussed the various options. They then worked closely with Met Éireann IT personnel to develop a comprehensive plan built around proven procedures and best practices. Actian provided toolkits to record production workloads that were used in a test environment in which Actian and Met Éireann could simulate the upgrade and identify any issues before the actual implementation took place. By ensuring valid load and syntax results in testing, Met Éireann could be confident that the upgrade would proceed smoothly and that the stability and performance of the database would be enhanced upon completion.
The team from Actian Professional Services also provided Met Éireann’s staff with instructions on how best to take advantage of the new features of Actian X 11.1, which would enable the Met Éireann team to take greatest advantage of the power of the upgraded system.
With support from Actian Professional Services, Met Éireann was able to upgrade its core database to Actian X 11.1 on time, within budget, and without incident or interruption. The update plans were shared in advance with key service consumers, so no one was surprised when the upgrade began. If anything, they were delightfully surprised when they tried to connect with Met Éireann at the end of the period when the upgrade was to take place and found that the service was back online and performing at a higher level than ever before.
While the Professional Services Team from Actian delivered key benefits during the upgrade, the Actian X database itself has delivered significant benefits of its own. Critical applications run faster and more efficiently, and the database can scale more effectively as Met Éireann’s needs evolve. Updated licensing and support subscription offerings from Actian have helped Met Éireann lower its operating costs while simultaneously ensuring that it continues to gain access to the latest bug fixes, product updates, and performance improvements.
“As a national meteorological service, Met Éireann is a 24/7, 365 day-per-year operation,” says Conor Lally, a Meteorologist in the Observations Division at Met Éireann. “Our users and customers depend on us to provide accurate and timely weather and climatological information. Disruption to services is not an option. Actian Professional Services provided us with the specialized expertise necessary to deliver an effective solution for upgrading our database and improving performance without compromising service to our customers.”