Sentinel supports electronic monitoring with Oracle Cloud for Government
The leading provider of offender management solutions migrates its IoT-enabled systems to OCI to support business growth.
“When we moved to Oracle Cloud and the Exadata Database Service, we were able to grow capacity based on customer growth and peak demand needs.”
As a provider of electronic monitoring services of people on parole, probation, house arrest, or other restrictions, Sentinel’s business is a complex operation with demanding IT requirements. Founded in 1993, the company offers various offender management systems such as electronic ankle monitors and remote alcohol testing devices to government and community corrections agencies across the United States.
Through its Sentinel offender management platform, the company also provides program monitoring and advanced analytics. The system lets corrections agencies and parole officers digitally monitor offender compliance using GPS tracking data, management reports, and customized dashboards. In effect, Sentinel operates a 24/7 Internet of Things (IoT) platform that supports thousands of IoT devices checking participant locations via the monitoring devices once every minute.
During the pandemic, Sentinel saw rapid growth as supervising authorities looked for alternatives to incarceration to protect people in prisons and jails from the spread of COVID-19. Many agencies turned to electronic monitoring, using the technology to allow nonviolent inmates to carry out their sentences in home confinement. Electronic monitoring and home confinement have proven to be an appropriate response to the pandemic. The US Federal Bureau of Prisons has reported that less than 0.2% of the 11,000 people it released during this time committed new crimes while on home confinement.
“At the height of the pandemic, with new traffic coming in and new customers we had to onboard, we needed to get to the cloud before we surpassed the capacity we had at our data center,” says Yoganand Rajala, CTO of Sentinel. “So, it was high pressure, and we were fortunate enough to move in time.”
Increased market demand created an urgent need to refresh hardware at Sentinel’s data center or migrate to the cloud, because Sentinel had limited time before it would surpass the capacity of hardware at its existing on-premises data center. As Sentinel moved to the cloud, the company knew it would need to do so in a way that met strict requirements to support its US state and local government customers.
Sentinel chose Oracle Cloud for Government to better serve its government customers.
Why Sentinel Offender Services chose Oracle
After reviewing cloud providers, Sentinel decided to migrate from its on-premises data center to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and Oracle Exadata Database Service. Sentinel was an Oracle Database customer for over 15 years and recognized the benefits of running Oracle Database on OCI, such as a simplified upgrade path, optimized performance, enhanced security, and Oracle’s native support for a Real Application Cluster configuration.
Oracle also offered Sentinel flexibility in spending, as Oracle’s cloud CPU licensing model meant the company would no longer need to pre-buy licenses based on peak needs. Sentinel also selected Oracle Management Cloud for infrastructure and application monitoring.
Lastly, Sentinel migrated to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for Government rather than an OCI public cloud region to better serve the many state and local government agencies that were requesting FedRAMP compliance. OCI offered a secure and compliant cloud for US government contractors with FedRAMP authorized services. OCI would allow Sentinel to meet cloud security requirements and deliver a modern application at the same low consumption price offered in Oracle’s public cloud.
Oracle Exadata Database Service helped Sentinel cut the cost to store and process vast time-series data sent from electronic monitoring and other IoT devices.
With OCI, Sentinel gained the stability of a fault-tolerant, highly available, and secure architecture that supports its custom applications. Sentinel migrated workloads from an on-premises data center to OCI and Oracle Exadata Database Service and uses Oracle’s cloud CPU licensing model to increase capacity as needed.
In addition to supporting growth, Sentinel can dynamically scale and increase CPUs on demand. This allows the company to manage unexpected surges in network traffic without incurring high hardware costs. For instance, if a cellular network goes down for a period, Sentinel’s systems will experience a burst of data coming from monitoring devices when the network signal is restored and the data is forwarded. It is critical for Sentinel to provide reliable performance to its customers because the impact of an electronic monitor not delivering data could result in a released inmate being returned to prison.
Dynamic scaling also simplified database maintenance for Sentinel. For instance, when Oracle issues patches or updates, Sentinel can continue processing data at the same rate without impacting customers by increasing capacity on some nodes while the others are patched. To ensure the continuous availability of its offender management system, Sentinel’s architecture runs at two Oracle Cloud regions in active and passive mode and is built to scale linearly. Sentinel also benefited from OCI by eliminating the need to invest in hardware refreshes. The company was able to create a disaster recovery environment and save 2X on the cost of hardware.
Today, OCI is used for all Sentinel’s customer-facing systems, including the Sentinel FocalPoint platform and mobile applications for configuring and monitoring participants and devices. Using OCI, Sentinel improved overall portal response time, with dashboard page loads two to three seconds faster.
Sentinel migrated its IoT middleware platform for processing time-series data, internal applications, internal and external APIs, and its Oracle Database to Oracle Exadata Database Service on OCI. The migration was completed in four months, encompassing Sentinel’s entire IT environment including production, quality assurance, and disaster recovery.
OCI supports Sentinel’s portfolio of IoT technology, enabling Sentinel to reduce costs related to hardware, maintenance, and database services. The company also cut down on costs to store and process the vast amount of time-series data sent from electronic monitoring and other IoT devices.
“We're benefiting from IoT innovations in the electronic monitoring space,” says Rajala. “It really helps us to provide solutions to our customer in a cost-effective way, and at a scale that wasn't possible before.”
Sentinel partnered with BIAS Consulting, now part of Deloitte, for the migration.
About the customer
Sentinel Offender Services is a leading provider of end-to-end solutions in the electronic monitoring space. Its portfolio includes technology products and monitoring equipment, services for program enrollment and monitoring, and 24/7 support.