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The Role of Europe Cloud and Google’s Vertex AI in Scaling Romanian Deep Tech Businesses

Smart Touch Technologies Vertex AI Case Study
Image credit: Octavian Radu, Co-Founder and CEO of Smart Touch Technologies (on the left) and Jordan Mladenov, Managing Director at Europe Cloud (on the right)
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Smart Touch Technologies is a Romanian deep tech company that is building an intelligent document processing platform to transform how organisations exchange data. Since its launch in 2020, the business has already gathered a solid customer base and successfully closed a seed funding round at the end of 2022.

From the very beginning, the Smart Touch Technologies team knew that an important asset for their application was the ability to scale with the load. This requirement led them to develop an application with a cloud-native architecture. To ease the effort of the DevOps engineers, their engineering team chose a managed Kubernetes Engine in the cloud to deploy various software services. Having this approach allowed the team to focus on delivering value to their customers and to offload much of the infrastructure work to the cloud services.

As Smart Touch Technologies delved deeper into the realm of artificial intelligence, they sought to seamlessly integrate Google’s newly released Vertex AI platform. This service promised to streamline their custom machine learning model management, although its early-stage documentation back in mid-2021 posed challenges. 

“Managing multiple machine learning models’ lifecycles is challenging from a technical point of view, and integrating these operations into Vertex AI didn’t go very smoothly. At that point, our Dublin-based Account Manager from Google recommended Europe Cloud, as they had a very good technical support team,” Octavian Radu, Co-Founder and CEO of Smart Touch Technologies, commented for The Recursive.

How it all started

Europe Cloud, helped Smart Touch Technology enroll in the Google for Start-ups Program and guided them through the full enrollment process. “Being in this program allowed us to experiment, develop, and tune new machine learning models, where training costs are normally very high,” Radu says.

The actual start of the project with Smart Touch Technologies commenced with a thorough analysis of their existing infrastructure and anticipated scalability requirements. Fortunately, Smart Touch Technologies had already embraced a cloud-native architecture from the outset, anticipating the need for scalability. 

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“The primary challenge laid in ensuring seamless integration with new services such as Google’s Vertex AI for managing custom machine learning models. To address this challenge, we conducted extensive consultations with Smart Touch Technologies to understand their specific needs and devised a comprehensive plan for seamless integration,” explains Jordan Mladenov, Managing Director of Europe Cloud.

The process

The decision to utilize specific cloud services stemmed from Smart Touch Technologies’ need for advanced scalability and managed infrastructure. Given the pioneering nature of the project, it was imperative to leverage cutting-edge technologies that could accommodate such requirements. 

Google’s Vertex AI stood out due to its capabilities in managing multiple machine learning models, despite its recent release. The robust support offered by Europe Cloud’s technical team further solidified the choice, ensuring that Smart Touch Technologies could navigate through any challenges effectively.

One of the more complex challenges Smart Touch Technologies was facing was related to a specific type of images that were printed by an old (even ancient) dot matrix printer. The OCR engine was not able to recognize the letters from the small dots, and this impacted one of their biggest customers. 

The technical support engineers from Europe Cloud understood how critical it was for us to find a quick solution for this specific issue and worked very closely with the Google engineers that developed the OCR engine to expedite things. The Europe Cloud support team’s diligent work in this particular case helped us find a suitable workaround for the problem and keep our customer happy,” Radu affirms.

Effective coordination and communication with Smart Touch Technologies were paramount to project success. Regular consultations and transparent communication channels were maintained to ensure alignment on project objectives and milestones. “Through close collaboration with Google engineers facilitated by Europe Cloud, we identified effective workarounds, ensuring prompt resolution and minimizing disruptions to the project timeline,” Mladenov elaborates.

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Impact and results

“The managed infrastructure allows us to deliver fast new functionalities and/or new proof-of-concept applications. It allowed us to experiment easily and moved our focus to delivering value for businesses and customers. Not having the effort to manage our infrastructure, our customers were able to see that we were listening and reacting to their needs faster,” Radu states. 

From Europe Cloud’s side, the success of the project was gauged through both technical performance metrics and client satisfaction. Key performance indicators included the seamless integration of cloud services, optimization of machine learning models, and timely resolution of technical challenges. Additionally, client feedback and satisfaction surveys were instrumental in assessing project success. 

Ultimately, the project’s success was evident in the enhanced efficiency and performance observed in Smart Touch Technologies’ operations, coupled with positive feedback from their clients, reinforcing the value delivered by the collaboration between Smart Touch Technologies and Europe Cloud.

Europe Cloud not only supported Smart Touch Technologies with their cloud success but invited the founders to the Google Cloud Day 2023 conference in Bucharest and presented the companies to various potential customers from the Google Cloud ecosystem.

What’s next

“We all saw that in the past years, cloud providers have done an excellent job of providing on-demand scalable computing resources. Now, when AI applications are becoming more GPU-accelerator demanding, a business like ours can only grow if the cloud providers will adjust their services accordingly. Besides a constant change in GPU pricing that has a direct impact on the business operation margin, there is also a lack of visibility and debuggability in the case of multi-GPU machine learning models in the cloud. 

We are aware that AI technologies are evolving very quickly, and we know that business growth must adapt fast to the new landscape. In order to support business growth in the cloud, cloud providers must do the same,” Radu says looking at the future. 

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According to Europe Cloud, this is just the beginning of Smart Touch Technologies’ growth in the cloud. “The products and our expertise, combined with their dedication and ambition, will result in more out-of-the-box solutions,” Mladenov concludes.

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Europe Cloud, a Google Cloud Partner of the Year for 2023, helps businesses get the most out of their cloud infrastracture.