Trust1Team is part of a diverse group of companies whose activities range from running indoor skiing centers to managing public lighting infrastructure. For existing group companies and new acquisitions alike, Trust1Team provides integration, technology development and prototyping services.
Michallis Pashidis, Founder and CEO of Trust1Team, says: “In addition to serving external clients, we are recognized within the group as experts in solving business challenges through technology. As we tackle new challenges, we always need to keep developing the capabilities of our own competence center.”
Given its expertise in prototyping and in cutting-edge IoT solutions, Trust1Team often works on projects with fast-moving start-ups whose focus is on minimum viable products (MVPs). Turning these MVPs into mature solutions that will attract paying customers requires much deeper thinking around non-functional aspects such as scalability, security, reliability and ongoing ease of management.
“We wanted to increase the speed at which we can develop systems that are robust, scalable and manageable,” says Pashidis. “When you introduce non-functional aspects to a project, that usually creates a steep learning curve for the developers. So we asked ourselves: how can we help developers maintain speed and avoid creating future operational complexity?”
Trust1Team was working on a project to build a diagnostics system that would support sustainable energy initiatives in industry, because energy costs and carbon footprint are growing concerns for companies that operate multiple factories or office buildings. Working with an external partner in industry, Trust1Team aimed to develop a system that would gather data on energy usage, create insight by enabling that data to be visualized, and enable cross-site and cross-function benchmarking.
“Sustainability and efficiency are important elements in Industry 4.0, and we saw an opportunity to build a tool for large organizations to better understand and control their energy usage,” says Pashidis. “Part of the target market is companies that sublet office space to multiple parties and need to determine how to divide the costs. To support the complex calculations this involves, we needed a framework that would allow us to conduct fast model development, with control of persistent entities.”
To enable the rapid development of robust applications with rigorous non-functional requirements, Trust1Team works with Kalix, Lightbend’s platform-as-a-service offering for building and deploying cloud-native applications and APIs.
“We were already very familiar with Akka, having used the technology for more than a decade across 40 or so projects,” says Pashidis. “Those projects are still successfully running, including a major platform that handles 10-15 million invoices a year. Based on the stability of these projects, we were keen to try out Kalix.”
Kalix is designed to help organizations solve engineering challenges much faster and more easily, without the need to spend time on boilerplate code and operations. Requiring essentially zero maintenance, the platform scales seamlessly and delivers effortless availability – meaning that developers can focus on functional aspects rather than worrying about operations.
Developers at Trust1Team worked through the six-module architecture track within the Lightbend Academy, which helped them understand the foundational concepts behind Kalix and optimize their approach to new projects.
“We didn’t know exactly what to expect from Kalix; our successful proof-of-concept exercise showed that it could give us the balance we wanted between development speed and ongoing maintainability,” says Pashidis. “Kalix is now managing the data model for our energy-usage application, as well as handling the calculations for cost attributions.”
Trust1Team is also using Kalix on two new projects. The first is a collaboration with a wearable company in Belgium and France to build wearable devices for elderly people. Trust1Team redesigned an existing piece of hardware as the basis for prototype devices, and built the software around a data model managed by Kalix.
“The devices communicate geolocation data, accelerometer data and health metrics such as heart rate to a central ingestion point,” says Pashidis. “We then transform and distribute the data to different partners in the ecosystem, providing 24/7 information and alerts – for example, if a family member with dementia has a fall or leaves a specified area.”
The second new project involving Kalix is the complete overhaul of systems supporting point-of-sales terminals, on-site vending machines, and online booking portals for a group of indoor ski centers. “We spent two years transforming this complex environment with Akka to make it faster and more robust,” says Pashidis. “Building on that success, we are extending the solution with Kalix to increase the manageability.”
Trust1Team is seeing significant benefits in using Kalix to redefine and accelerate CRUD (create, read, update, delete) functionality and related services. “Most of our software projects have 60 to 80% CRUD functionality, which Kalix allows us to speed up,” says Pashidis. “We can also abstract away all the complexity around implicits of object definitions in Akka, which is mostly associated with persistent entities. These are the key technical factors where Kalix is helping us accelerate development.”
He adds: “For a sprint in which a team of three people previously were able to finalize one microservice, with Kalix the same team could now finalize three microservices in the same time.”
“We’re only just beyond the PoC stage, but we are confident that Kalix will increase developer productivity and deliver 3X acceleration in the real world,” says Pashidis. “Kalix will help us bring more complex and demanding systems to market faster, without sacrificing quality or building up technical debt.”