DevOps Is Not New

DevOps Is Not New

The Internet is full of information about DevOps, but there is no unified way to approach it right. Every case is different and every company has different needs. Let's take a closer look.

SHARED OWNERSHIP

By "DevOps" we mean a culture of multidisciplinary systems engineering whose task is to unify software development with its operation. And that was the main motivation for the creation of DevOps. It is intended to provide faster and cheaper software delivery with adequate quality. The diversity of the team and the integration of all members contribute to better collaboration and faster delivery of software to its users. Of course, this is not possible without an "Agile mindset", which we can support, for example, by using the Scrum framework.

You've surely noticed that DevOps includes the use of various software tools to orchestrate infrastructure, for collaboration, to automate various processes, or for deployment of software itself. We must not forget the cloud and various cloud tools, containerization, code versioning or application monitoring. DevOps is not just a group of tools, but a philosophy that connects people and creates a thinking structure that promotes "shared ownership".

DevOps IS ALL ABOUT COMMUNICATION

DevOps creates a continuous communication channel from the initial idea, through development, testing, to deployment in production. Such a chain provides sufficient space for feedback loops, which ultimately translates into a higher quality product.

Key success factors include ample space for collaboration, expertise within the team, and responsibility for the entire software delivery process. Automation is as crucial as possible, of course, if it makes sense and brings benefits. It is also important to focus on customer needs, continuous improvement, and space to learn from failures and mistakes.

It is said that DevOps is just "Agility on steroids" and agility is about people. It is a natural extension of agile software development. DevOps pushes the idea of a multidisciplinary team further. For example, by operation, and thus provides additional possibilities for obtaining feedback at each step of the product development.

THE SUCCESS OF DevOps DEPENS ON THE WHOLE TEAM, NOT JUST THE SKILLS OF ONE PERSON

Today, many organizations are trying to establish a DevOps culture. Success depends on the whole team, not just the skills of one person. All involved people are responsible for the delivery of quality software and its subsequent operation and maintenance.

DevOps is not new, because Patrik Debois came up with this idea already in 2009. However, it is constantly evolving and today there are various other variants and extensions, such as DevSecOps and NoOps or GitOps.

If you are interested in this topic, we recommend that you first get a general overview of DevOps and think about what you would like to achieve within your organization. You can then start recruiting new employees and achieving the set goals. We keep our fingers crossed!

What’s a better living? Smart or Intelligent?

What’s a better living? Smart or Intelligent?

If you've been following the articles on our site closely, you'll have noticed a mini series on Smart Home and, how to get started. No doubt you're also seeing this trend in the everyday world around us. The term Smart Home is being used more and more often. You'll find it when shopping for a variety of home products, whether it's door locks, video doorbells, or thermostats, refrigerators or washing machines.

DOES SMART AUTOMATICALLY EQUAL INTELLIGENT?

Do you know that feeling? You buy a robotic vacuum to compliment your smart bulb that you can control from your smart TV. Suddenly you feel like you're living in a smart home. While at first glance it may seem that SmartHome and IntelligentHome are synonymous, that's not quite the case. That's why, in this first part of a series of articles, we're going to look at the concept of a smart home and the difference between SmartHome and IntelligentHome. We'll start by explaining the idea of IntelligentHome and then compare the different levels of approach to installation using a real-life example. Finally, we will summarize a few benefits of smart buildings and especially smart homes.

To better understand these two concepts, it's easiest to imagine that SmartHome is a home that simplifies your living through a variety of apps, sensors, and pre-set scenarios. For example, "If I'm in the living room, turn on the light. When the washing machine runs out, send me a notification." However, these actions must be pre-set by the owner or a programmer.

On the contrary, IntelligentHome strives to learn and improve over time. The house recognizes that whenever the owner leaves, it turns off all appliances and lights. In the future, the house will do this on its own and just inform the owner of this action. Therefore, the essential difference from SmartHome is that IntelligentHome has artificial intelligence and the ability to learn.

SMARTHOME vs. INTELIGENT
  • SmartHome/SmartHouse – It is mostly about remote control and surveillance. It is important to emphasise that in this type of household, the user is largely in control of the house's activities. Using the app, he or she can directly control the devices or set up simple automation scenarios. For example, "If there is movement in the kitchen, turn on the light, or if the washing machine is washing, send me a notification to the voice assistant.“
  • InteligentHome/InteligentHouse – An IntelligentHome performs all the functions of a SmartHome, but some or all of the control is carried out by artificial intelligence, which performs autonomous actions based on monitoring the behaviour of the home's occupants. The IntelligentHome can respond dynamically to changes and continuously learns and improves over time

IntelligentHome is controlled by artificial intelligence (AI). However, this does not mean that AI is not also present in SmartHome. However, its role here is more of a supporting role than a controlling one. This is the case, for example, with voice assistants such as Siri or Alexa. These assistants, of course, make it much easier for us to enter commands or control smart devices in our home.

Whether we dream of a SmartHome or are tempted to have artificial intelligence in the house, it is advisable to contact an integrator who can help, advise and guide us in both cases. An integrator is the person or company that is responsible for the implementation of all the devices that are to be controlled or monitored. His role is already important in the project phase, when he works closely with the investor and the various professions in order to coordinate all the processes. At the same time, the integrator ensures the recovery, configuration, programming and testing of the entire construction.

POZNÁŠ VÝHODY INTELLIGENTHOME?

All these possibilities are very interesting and can get people really excited, but what benefits can we expect from such an IntelligentHome? There are of course several benefits, although the main theme is sustainability, efficiency and not least the comfort of living.

  • Recognising your habits, such as coming and going from home, the smart home can effectively and efficiently use it to autonomously create scenarios for controlling lighting, heating or cooling, thus not only increasing the comfort of living, but more importantly reducing costs and the carbon footprint.
  • It can analyse residents' reactions to weather changes, such as closing windows, putting things away from the patio or parking the car in the garage, and predict these actions and make them autonomous in the future based on weather forecasts, including putting things away using humanoid robots and parking the car. Only a few cars currently have this capability, but we are building a house, so to speak, for life, so it should be ready for the arrival of new technologies.
  • Using geolocation and meteorological data in combination with a light sensor, it can evaluate the optimum blackout position and angle of the blinds to achieve the highest possible heating or cooling efficiency.

Of course, there are many more benefits presented by the IntelligentHome concept, and it is up to the creativity of the owner and integrator to decide what solutions they decide to implement to make these benefits tangible. Last but not least, the investor's own budget also plays an important role ?

We are already preparing the next part of this series of articles about integration and the role of the integrator. We hope this concept has intrigued you and got you thinking about what your smart home could one day look like.

Tomáš Feterik & Tomáš Lörinc, authors

akaBot – komplexné RPA riešenie

akaBot - A comprehensive RPA Solution

We have already written about the increasingly popular IT trend RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and its main benefits on our website. This service is the youngest in our portfolio, but the fastest growing. We also talked about it with our RPA developer Andrej.

By using RPA technology, we can offer an effective solution to speed up and simplify the often repetitive processes performed by employees in a larger or smaller company.

Applying the most well-known RPA tools such as BluePrism, UiPath and Service Trace to work processes ensures increased productivity, improved processing of transactions, minimization of errors and reduction of costs.

Our company, FPT Software, comes to market with its own RPA solution called akaBot. The akaBot tool is functionally similar to UiPath in many ways, but the price for a license is more affordable, which is one of the main criteria for customer decision-making when implementing robotic process automation in a company.

Our colleague, Vít Krajíček, who has been working with the tool for a long time, introduced it to us in more detail.

The akaBot platform consists of three parts: Studio, Agent and Center. AkaBot Studio is used by the developer to create the RPA programs. For ease of use and clarity, Drag and Drop control works in this section.

Fig.1 akaBot Studio

In the upper left panel there is a list of all pre-prepared commands / activities, from which the developer can gradually compile the entire program. Activities can be stored in sequences or a flowchart, which is designed to create more complex programs.

Offered are activities to automate work with computer files and almost all Windows programs, activities for Microsoft Excel and Word, activities to automate the sending of emails, work with SAP as well as to automate work in Internet browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer).

In the absence of a specific activity, the developer can easily program it in VB.Net directly in akaBot.

Fig.2 Toolbox panel

In the lower left panel there are all created sequences and flowcharts, which increases the clarity of the interface.

Fig.3 Panel with created sequences and flowcharts

The top panel logically contains buttons for saving, starting, stopping, debugging and publishing the program to the akaBot Center or akaBot Agent, as well as buttons for other support activities.

Fig.4 Top panel of the akabot Studio

At the bottom of screen there is an Output panel with information about the status of ongoing activities. Possible errors, lists of variables, arguments and imported libraries are recorded.

Fig.5 Output panel

The panel on the right summarizes the properties of the currently used activities with the option to change the settings.

Fig.6 Activity properties panel

The second part of the platform is the akaBot Agent, which is used by the client to run RPA processes. The akaBot Agent can operate standalone or connected to the akaBot Center along with other akaBot Agents on other PCs.

The layout of the akaBot Agent interface is simple and very clear. The home page lists all published programs created in the akaBot Studio or downloaded from the akaBot Center. Another part is the Settings section for successful connection of the akaBot Agent to the akaBot Center.

Fig.7 akaBot Agent

akaBot Center is a command and control center that is used to organize akaBot Agents, programs, creating schedules, manually or automatically start processes, save login data, etc.

Fig.8 akaBot Center

The akaBot tool is currently used in our company to provide services for customers in Bratislava and Dubai, but its potential and high competitiveness predetermine its application in several projects.

How to Watch People Without Invading Privacy

How to Watch People Without Invading Privacy

When looking at this blur, few people come up with something specific. However, we at FPT Slovakia see there 2 people entering the room and their body temperature is lower than 37 degrees Celsius. However, due to the low resolution of 8x8 pixels, we cannot identify these people or determine their gender or skin color. Those who can do that, may send us their CVs and we guarantee them a job.

IT ALL STARTED WITH A PANDEMIC

But let's look at how it all started. About a year ago, when many of us were just beginning to invest in flour and soap type commodities, we at FPT began thinking about how to enable people to return to work quickly, to their natural work environment. From this idea, an internal project was created with the aim of developing and implementing a system for automated temperature measurement. At the time, temperature measurement was thought to be a relatively effective way to identify people infected with COVID-19. After several prototypes, we worked out the final solution, which is based on a special sensor, the so-called Thermopile Array sensor.

SENSOR SENSITIVE TO HEAT RADIATED BY HUMANS

This sensor is sensitive to heat radiated by humans. It therefore works on a similar principle as the motion sensors used in lights, with the difference that there is only one sensor in the light and there are 64 of them in the 8x8 matrix in the sensor we use. Because we capture heat and not the image, identification of persons is excluded. On the other hand, the measured temperature reading is highly skewed, resulting in a human temperature of only 22 degrees instead of the expected 37. The causes of this phenomenon are several. Absorption of radiant heat by the environment, the clothing itself, the season, as well as the fact that human skin may have a different temperature compared to body temperature. For this reason, we have implemented calibration algorithms into the device, the task of which is to calculate losses and compensate them so that we get to the actual body temperature. In addition to the environment temperature, we also use the measurement of the distance from the person for this calculation. We sample and analyze these parameters together with the radiated heat in real time 100 times per second. We display the resulting temperature only when the measurement deviation represents a negligible value, which is on average 2-3 seconds. The uniqueness of our solution therefore lies in the fact that we can create an image similar to a thermal camera, but without the use of a camera and thus without capturing a face or other objects.

ALGORITHMS USED ALSO BY NASA

At about the same time when we have intensely dealt with the project of automated temperature measurement, we were approached by a customer with a request to monitor the occupancy of meeting rooms. Of course, this problem can be solved relatively easily with motion sensors. At that time, however, it occurred to us that if we could measure a person's temperature, we should be able to detect a person or more people using the same sensor.

We started working on a modification of the original project and after a series of tests and prototypes we managed to create a unique sensor that can not only detect several people, but also classify and monitor them at a viewing angle of 60 degrees, which is approximately 2x2 meters when mounted on the ceiling. The algorithm operates in real time at a rate of approximately 10 frames per second, with each frame first being isolated from ambient noise. Subsequently, it uses bicubic interpolation to calculate additional points and thus increase the resolution from 8x8 pixels to 640x640 pixels. At this stage, it is possible to apply an algorithm to the image, the task of which is to find the "blurs" in the image. Similar algorithms are used by NASA to search for new space objects in the sky. After a series of further recalculations, we are able to calculate the centroid, ie the imaginary center of a person, classify it using a unique ID and start tracking his movement in the coordinate system. Thanks to the virtual line in the middle of the monitored area, we can clearly determine whether the person enters or leaves the room.

WITHOUT PRIVACY INVADING

It should be emphasized that this sensor can also be used in other areas than just monitoring the occupancy of the room or counting people. It can be used wherever for safety or other reasons it is not possible to put on a camera and the use of a classic motion sensor is insufficient.

An added value during a pandemic is the fact that this sensor can also measure the temperature of a person entering the room. In this way, it performs several tasks: monitoring the efficiency of the use of the room, determining the number of people in real time and complying with anti-pandemic measures - the maximum number of people for the room and at the same time measuring the temperature at entry. And all this without the need for service.

We are currently testing and constantly improving this system for monitoring meeting rooms in combination with the reservation system of shared desks in the internal conditions of FPT Slovakia.

 

 

How is IT Involved in the Green Transformation?

How is IT Involved in the Green Transformation?

Renewable energy sources - renewables, are increasingly used in business, industry and the personal sector. The aim is to reduce emissions, especially carbon dioxide, and to protect the environment. Today, wind turbines can no longer be found only in the Netherlands, but also in other European countries.

Realistic scenarios to promote sustainable development and energy security in Europe include the use of renewable energy sources. More and more energy companies are switching from standard energy sources to the use of renewable energy sources, in many countries they already form a relatively significant part of primary energy sources,”  said Dodan Vojtko, Head of Delivery Center Fpt Slovakia.

We also see this change in the projects we are working on at Fpt Slovakia. Our energy client will shut down nuclear power plants in a few years and replace them with renewable energy sources. Coal-fired power plants are also being phased out. Renewable resources are also used privately - the best example is solar panels in family and apartment houses. The green future has its doors open...

RENEWABLES AND IT

We have been dealing with the topic of renewables at Fpt Slovakia for about 3 years, and with the energy as such such since our establishment. We participate in the life cycle of renewable power plants from the construction itself to the visualization of results.

Projects in the field of renewables are increasing in direct proportion. The whole process of building wind farms must be digitized for better manageability. From location identification to all quality checks. Then our work in application development for operation management of these power plants begins,” explained Tibor Gujdán, team leader of Multiplatform and Cloud Solutions.

Our customer has wind power plant locations around the world. From Košice, we develop applications for data collection and processing, which, thanks to machine learning, predict possible power outages and also deal with turbine management. Monitoring is automated and prevents possible failures or wear of turbines. Thanks to the applications, the client has a secure operation of the wind power plant and a visualized overview of the necessary maintenance, where applications that we make are used again. Power plant employees use them directly on the maintenance site on tablets with iOS and Android operating systems.

IT AS A TRIGGER FOR GREEN TRANSFORMATION  

The amount of energy productivity data from both onshore and offshore sites is distributed to a common network. To do this, we need strong environments, which are most often on the Azure cloud, which provides good scalability and responds effectively to data volumes and processing. The technologies in this project are expanding and the customer is interested in modern technologies with a high performance range. In addition to cloud applications, we also develop solutions that are installed directly on the devices,” explained Tibor Gujdán.

On the project we work with technologies for mobile devices (React Native, Ionic Framework), web solutions (React.JS, Angular), we develop backend in Java, Python, .Net Core. and we use Oracle, MSSQL, PostGreSQL for databases.

"We are specialists in IT and energy sector, we have been moving in the topic practically since the founding of the company. Thanks to that we have a lot of experience and a great team. Our mission is green transformation. We believe that IT is one of the triggers of the transition to the efficient use of green energy," said Dodan Vojtko, Head of Delivery Center Fpt Slovakia.

JOIN US

More than 40 people are currently working on renewables solutions. However, seeing its rapid growth. you can find an opportunity in it too.

The advantage of working in our team is that we design and develop solutions in the latest technologies. We will innovate and upgrade older systems, it can be motivating to bring new ideas and improve systems that must be really scalable for the Big Data area,” concluded Tibor Gujdán.

How to start with Smart Home #2 – Smart lighting

How to start with Smart Home #2 – Smart lighting

In the first part of the series How to live smart #1 you learned what the notion smart home means and how we as a society got o this phenomenon 

Do you want to find out what benefits can smart home bring to your everyday life? Then you’re on the right address. This article represents the beginning of a guide/handbook, how to enter the world of smart home. Naturally, it is only one of many perspectives on this topic and that’s why I recommend everyone to spend a bit of time to research what the market offers. I think, that the concept of intelligent lighting is known even to a total lay person Since we’re talking about my personal experience, in this article I will focus on smart bulbs themselves and how I began to transform my home with them to a smart one.  

#how to get a smart bulb 

The most common and currently accessible brand of intelligient bulbs is the well-know Philips Hue. The brand is exactly not only smart bulbs, but a whole system of smart lighting. It functions on a quite simple principle. In your starter package, you will find the bulbs, a remote control and also a very important piece - the Hue Bridge. It is truly a „bridge“, which connects to your Wi-Fi router and allows the bulb to operate. The reason it’s so important is the fact, that communication between bulbs and e.g. your smartphone doesn’t happen via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but via a communication protocol called ZigBee. To explain, your smartphone connects to the bridge via Wi-Fi which then controls the bulbs via ZigBee. It has a long range, but low speed, which means it’s ideal to operate networks for devices like bulbs, power outlets, light sensors, windows sensors etc.

In order to get started, you do not really need anything else besides the bulbs, the bridge and your smartphone. After connecting your bridge and its initial configuration, you only need to download the Philips Hue app and change the old bulbs for new, smart ones. Then we just follow the guide – which takes us through a firmware update, introduces the user interface of the Hue app and finally lets us pair a remote control with a specific bulb. 

#what makes a bulb smart? 

So what then makes this system, i.e. lighting smart? There are many answers, however based on my experience, I would group them into the following categories, which I’ll explain: 

Lighting with a Hue bulb is no longer analogue (i.e. on vs. off state)
The intelligent bulb can achieve quite a lot – change its temperature, intensity and in some cases even color. The Switch itself for each lighting fixture remains in the „on“ state. 

We can control the lighting from anywhere
Exactly as you’re reading – it does not matter where you are. Through Philips‘ cloud, you can control your lighting, all you need is an internet connection. This may come useful for example in cases when you forget to turn off the light after leaving your home. 

Teach your lighting „habits“ or make it dependant on other actions od iného javu
What’s worth noting in this category is the function of the so-called sunrise and sundown. You can adjust the lighting in order to gradually turn-on/off the light at a particular time (e.g. 6AM) and therefore simulate the sun’s behaviour. Definitely helpful for people who simply can’t get out of bed during winter. 

How would you image using smart lighting? Let us know in the comments below. 

In the next part of our smart home series of articles, we’ll look into the world of personal assistants such as Alexa, Google Home or Siri. 

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