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Altana Technologies: Building efficient, resilient, and compliant supply chains

A shared source of truth on the global supply chain with ArangoGraph as the foundation

The Scenario: Identifying relationships between billions of data points

Altana Technologies is a venture-backed startup pioneering a shared source of truth on the global supply chain. Founded in 2018, Altana empowers companies such as Maersk, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, BMW, Merck, and Boston Scientific to accelerate and automate compliant trade, illuminate and collaborate across multi-tier supplier relationships, and build safe, sustainable, and resilient supply chain networks.

In order to build the shared source of truth for the global supply chain, Altana needed to identify relationships between billions of data points, including customs data, trade policy data, enterprise data, logistics data, compliance and risk data, financial data, and the supply chain data from 400 million companies connected by billions of shipments. As Altana CTO Ian Cadieu describes, “The complexity here is pretty enormous. We needed to think through how to connect every shipment that’s transiting the world with the relevant companies, logistics providers, and locations – and ultimately figure out how that all flows through to build a network model of how physical goods transmit and transform through the world.”

The Requirements: Scaling a knowledge graph up to 20TB in size

Knowledge graph support: Altana needed the capability to model all the diverse entities in the supply chain, the linkages between them and different sources, and be able to navigate and traverse the graph in a consistent manner. Ian knew a knowledge graph approach was the best way to solve this.
Scalability: Ian estimated that the graph they were looking to build, Altana Atlas, could grow up to 20 TB in size over the course of a year. Making this even more challenging is the fact that every Altana customer required its own dedicated copy of Atlas to protect customer privacy.
Performance: Altana needed a way query with very low latency, even at scale. This included the ability to join terabytes of data across multiple graph hops to perform complex multi-tier analyses.
Integration with ML pipeline: Altana’s machine learning pipeline requires data to flow from Databricks into a graph database, using an Apache Spark connector.
High availability: Given the mission-critical nature of supply chains, Altana needed to ensure that its customers’ supply chain data is continuously available via multiple replicas.
Compatibility with AWS, Azure, and VMware: Altana needed its solution to run on multiple cloud providers, including AWS and Azure, as well as self-managed infrastructure provided by VMware. This would allow Altana to run its service close to its customers’ other supply chain applications, reducing expensive data egress charges resulting from sending data from one cloud provider to another.
Cloud-based: Altana needed a managed database so it could focus on innovation rather than rote database maintenance tasks.
Security: Due to the sensitive nature of its customers’ data, Altana needed encryption at rest and in transit to meet data rights and privacy regulations and standards.
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Why ArangoDB: Combining geospatial, graph, and free-text search

After hearing about ArangoDB, Altana began to experiment with ArangoGraph Insights Platform, ArangoDB’s cloud-based graph data and analytics platform. Ian was immediately drawn to its support for not only knowledge graph, but its ability to connect geospatial, graph, and free-text search together in one coherent platform. As Ian explains, “We found we could construct pretty complex graph queries to say, ‘how many other items have gone between these two geographies, with companies that are owned by these types of entities, with these types of descriptions in their goods’, and in a very quick, rapid response, feed that back into our models.”

“We found ArangoGraph to be the best solution for combining geospatial, graph, and free-text search all into one coherent platform that enables us to empower the overall capability set that is Altana.”

- Ian Cadieu, Altana

ArangoGraph met Altana’s need for high performance at scale, thanks to features such as SmartGraphs, SatelliteCollections, and SmartJoins that optimize graph queries by intelligently distributing data over multiple servers.

Altana also found ArangoGraph compatible with its infrastructure requirements. ArangoDB Datasource for Apache Spark allows batch reading and writing Spark DataFrame data from and to ArangoDB. ArangoGraph also runs on all major cloud providers, including AWS and Azure.

As a cloud platform, ArangoGraph provided Altana the high availability it needed with no effort for its operations team, including multi-availability zone clusters, managed zero-downtime upgrades, backups, one-click disaster recovery, and monitoring and alerting.

Lastly, ArangoDB’s query language, AQL, also proved useful to Altana.

The Implementation: A global platform to build trusted networks

Using ArangoGraph as the foundation, Altana built the Altana Atlas, a federated platform powered by an AI model that connects and learns from the world’s public and non-public data to provide a dynamic, intelligent model of the supply chain while ensuring the sovereignty, security, and privacy of the underlying data. It allows:

  • Enterprises to build trusted multi-tier supply chain networks to power planning, procurement, risk management, ESG, and compliance systems from a living map of the supply chain;
  • Governments to ‘see’ across borders and secure their supply chains by connecting the dots between the global commercial network and threats to national interests and corporate compliance;
  • Logistics providers and customs authorities to revolutionize the cross-border movement of goods by digitalizing and automating cross-border compliance.
This platform is built on the following data architecture:
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The Results

By running the Altana Altas on ArangoGraph, Altana can provide the following benefits to its customers:

Insights: Altana customers better forecast supply, reduce fraud and risk, speed shipments through customs, and ensure ethical sourcing.

Resilience: Altana customers are able to find chokepoints in their supply chains.

Interoperability: Integrated with Altana’s existing data infrastructure that uses Elastic, Databricks, Apache Spark, AWS, Azure, and VMware.

“ArangoDB is really eager to help, advise, consult, and fix things. They've been great partners in building out our underlying platform, as well as advising and managing things to help us accelerate our business.”

- Ian Cadieu, Altana

For more details, you can watch Ian’s presentation from ArangoDB Summit 2022: