Uniper accelerates digital innovation in its trading business with Dash Enterprise
- Uniper’s business users are equipped to develop trading decision-support tools and advanced analytics data apps in a collaborative Python Databricks notebook environment.
- Analysts and traders have greater agency to respond to market changes when app deployment times are reduced from weeks to minutes.
- Dash Enterprise facilitates the development of decision-support tools that comply with Uniper’s production deployment requirements, Kubernetes standards, and the industry’s security regulations.
Uniper, one of the largest European traders of natural gas and electricity, prioritizes the digitalization of its trading activities to strengthen its position in the algorithmic trading space as global energy markets evolve. Part of this digitalization includes a unique mission to scale advanced analytics, automation, and other technologies within the Uniper trading organization and maximize the value from its data and technology investments. By integrating Dash Enterprise with its modern, cloud-based technology stack, Uniper has accelerated the velocity with which it is accomplishing that mission.
"Time-to-market is crucial in our ever-changing market environment. With help of Dash Enterprise, we were able to accelerate deployment of new apps from weeks to minutes without compromising on governance aspects and security."
Volodymyr Sorokoumov - Digital Trading - Lead Platform Design & Operations, Uniper
Radical market changes in commodity trading and competitor behavior require Uniper to accelerate the development of market-leading digital and algorithmic trading tools to adapt to the markets and stay ahead of the competition.
Cross-functional teams established within Uniper’s digital trading organization manage these tools' design, development, and operation. In addition, analysts and traders must be empowered to develop their own decision-support tools and leverage data assets and modern technology in a secure, yet collaborative, environment.
Achieving this “democratization” of analytics demands a solution that can support Uniper’s modern, cloud-based landscape and preferred workflows while reducing time-to-delivery, based on requirements that include:
- Accommodating varied Python workflows: Analysts and traders were beginning to build more data apps with Plotly’s Dash Open Source Python framework to share models and analytics, while also collaborating using Azure Databricks notebooks for up-front data exploration.
- Centralizing app management: Uniper’s data analytics operations are standardized on Azure AKS (Kubernetes), which supports containerized application deployment. However, each Dash app was being deployed independently with dedicated resources, leading to redundancies. Without centralized management and monitoring tailored for the Dash applications, Uniper’s digital trading organization lacked an overview and oversight mechanism.
- Reducing multi-week deployment lead times: Deploying each Dash app independently also involved up to four-week lead times, reducing the agency of the trading team to respond to market changes.
- Maintaining security compliance: The energy trading industry is highly regulated and presents stringent security, authentication, and authorization requirements — all complex developments that are undesirable to repeat on an individual app basis.
Plotly’s Dash Enterprise is a centralized, fully-featured platform for developing, deploying, and managing Python Dash apps in an enterprise environment. It integrates with the existing internal and external technologies of Uniper’s systems with features that include:
- User autonomy: Once Uniper’s Dash Enterprise installation was configured, analysts and traders could deploy their own apps via an automated CI/CD pipeline without lead times associated with infrastructure provisioning and configuration.
- Cloud-native Kubernetes architecture: Each app is deployed to its own container, conforming to Uniper standards. Further, Dash Enterprise provides platform observability at the cluster down to the individual app level, granting greater power for administrators to track and control resource usage.
- Enterprise features: Dash Enterprise integrates with Uniper’s existing CI/CD pipelines and single sign-on for user authentication.
- Databricks-Dash: Dash Enterprise’s licensed databricks-dash library enables Uniper’s analysts and traders to create their own interactive dashboards within Databricks notebooks, further aided by Dash Enterprise licensed libraries like Dash Design Kit for low-code app styling.
Uniper data application architecture
Empowerment of business users: Uniper analysts and traders are now able to develop data apps on their own for broad usage, and can incrementally collaborate with peers without leaving the Databricks Python notebook environment, resulting in a growing user base and an increasing number of data apps.
9-minute deployment: When a new app is ready for wider adoption, it can be deployed in minutes, completely circumventing infrastructure provisioning and configuration (previously a lead time of up to four weeks). Most notably, Dash Enterprise is compatible with Uniper’s standard app deployment process for production releases through automated CI/CD pipelines, without involving manual deployment operations by the team.
Security: Through deployment within Uniper’s corporate network and integration with Uniper’s Azure Active Directory, Dash Enterprise ensures that data apps remain protected from unauthorized access while enabling easy access to all relevant internal and external data assets.: Dash Enterprise integrates well into Uniper’s landscape, enabling the team to monitor and manage all data apps from one single place. They can keep incremental efforts for onboarding and running new products low and scale further with the existing DevOps team.
Düsseldorf-based Uniper is an international energy company with activities in more than 40 countries. With around 7,000 employees, it makes an important contribution to security of supply in Europe. Uniper’s core businesses are power generation in Europe, global energy trading, and a broad gas portfolio. Uniper procures gas – including liquefied natural gas (LNG) – and other energy sources on global markets. The company owns and operates gas storage facilities with a capacity of more than 7 billion cubic meters. Uniper plans for its 22.5 GW of installed power-generating capacity in Europe to be carbon-neutral by 2035.
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