Diving into the world of coral reef conservation: how Reef Support trains AI with UbiOps

Reef Support is a startup focused on helping marine biologists research and improve the health of coral reefs using artificial intelligence. With a small team and a fast pace, they need an efficient tool to deploy and train their models. They find everything they need and more in the UbiOps platform. Let’s dive into their story and experiences with UbiOps.
  • Reef Support needed a platform to speed up the development of its Coral AI solution.
  • UbiOps is an easy-to-use platform that enables Reef Support to manage its startup without compromising speed and efficiency.
  • Reef Support deployed its first model to production within 5 days and is currently running 2 main models with 5/6 alternate versions.


Reef Support

Founded by Marcel Kempers, CEO, and Yohan Runhaar, CTO, their application Open Coral AI automatically analyses data gathered by marine conservation organizations. Marine biologists monitor and improve the health of coral reefs, mainly in marine protected areas. Although the specific procedures differ, they usually start with regular dives to take photos and measurements. 

Once above the surface, a lot of manual work awaits them, from lab work to creating reports. Yohan, co-founder and CTO of Reef Support explains: “Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a massive help in the daily activities of marine biologists. Creating the reports takes a lot of time and effort. Using our solution will give marine biologists more time to analyze and advise on the health and protection of coral reefs.”

Dashboard: Prototype design of the app dashboard.Dashboard: Prototype design of the app dashboard.


The right AI/ML deployment platform

Initially, the startup used one of the platforms of a cloud provider on a startup credit plan. “It was a valuable platform to train and test our prototype,” says Yohan. “And, we received a credit package for startups, which was very economically attractive. However, the platform was very complex.” It proved very time-consuming to understand how the platform worked, to make adjustments, and to plan training to enhance their models.

They bumped into several challenges with the previous tool. For instance, the platform was very complex and, therefore, took a lot of time to figure out how to use it. And you know what they say: time is money. 

Yohan explains: “The tool we used has so many options that you need a bigger team and much time to figure out the best way. But startups are small, and we want to develop our products quickly. That is why we started looking for an alternative Machine Learning Operations (MLOps) deploying tool. There was one catch: we wanted to keep using the credits we had already acquired, but we couldn’t use them just anywhere. And then we found UbiOps.”

Coral_segmentation: Prototype design of the model result. Coral_segmentation: Prototype design of the model result.

Cloud credits

One of the requirements of Reef Support was to bring their cloud credits. Luckily, integrating UbiOps with cloud providers is a simple process. Single-tenant or custom node pool installations are simple to set up. Companies can carry on using their own cloud credits and only consume them when a model is active – whether on a CPU or a GPU. 

They can also automatically scale up to use UbiOps’ multi-cloud compute resources to handle traffic spikes if a boost is needed. This can save businesses like Reef Support from getting locked into a single provider. Yohan explains: “Being able to bring our credits was very important to us.”

Ease of use 

When it comes to deploying and managing AI and ML applications, data scientists often need the support of engineers with specific expertise. Yohan says: “UbiOps exceeded our expectations. We are a small team with non-technical colleagues, and they also understand and work in UbiOps. The documentation was clear, and we needed minimal support from UbiOps to get started.”

Saving time

When starting to work with UbiOps, Reef Support faced another big challenge: they had a deadline to put their model online within three weeks. 

Yohan: “It was a big risk for us to switch platforms with this deadline, but I was certain we would make it with UbiOps. Now, I’m glad we took the risk. We had three weeks to implement the model, but our model was running within just five days. It was beyond expectations, and we were delighted.”

Version selection

Currently, they run multiple versions of a deployed model in UbiOps. Still in the proof-of-concept phase, this is especially useful for Reef Support because it simplifies experimentation. Yohan: “It’s so fast and effortless that our workdays look different now. We often use the version selection feature because different versions are running for different pilots. It opened many doors for us with potential customers because we can tailor to their needs with this feature.”

Next Steps with UbiOps

Reef Support is currently focused on finishing its proof of concept. It will then consolidate its findings into a model ready for more extensive use. Yohan summarizes: “I would recommend UbiOps for startups. We could use our existing credits, and the tool is so simple and efficient that we are much more advanced with our product timewise than anticipated. Speediness is very important for our startup, as is being able to manage our models with a minimum of employees. UbiOps helps tremendously with our daily activities and our mission to enhance the health of coral reefs.”

Are you a startup with an AI or ML solution and looking to shorten your go-to-market time? Contact us now to discuss your projects.

About Reef Support

Reef Support is a leading company in coral reef monitoring technology. With a global team and extended Blue Community of partners, volunteers, and citizen scientists, Reef Support supports healthy coral reefs through technology and training. 

Reef Support develops and maintains open-source marine research tools – Open Coral AI, Open Ocean Data, Algae/Plastic Tracker – for research institutions, reef managers, and other coastal operators to map and monitor their MPAs – from small restoration projects to large-scale coastal developments in biodiversity assessments.

Coral_lab: coral laboratory in Lombok, Indonesia. Joint initiative with IBF and TU Delft.


About UbiOps

UbiOps is an AI/ML deployment platform that simplifies the process of building and deploying intelligent solutions into live applications. It provides a user-friendly interface and eliminates the need for extensive infrastructure management, allowing organizations to focus on their core competencies.

Whether you are a start-up looking to launch an AI product, or a data science team at a large organization. UbiOps will be there for you as a reliable backbone for any AI or ML service.

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