Behind the scenes at Invenda with Petar, Software Engineer and Architect
We have asked Petar Jerinic, Invenda’s outstanding software engineer and architect specializing in cloud enterprise solutions, to reveal to our readers some of the challenges he is facing climbing the ladders of technological development. Our team is tackling different matters each day and aiming to become a global operating ecosystem for automated retail. When talking about some of the most significant technological challenges in IoT today, there is an inevitable expansion of disruptive technological solutions that will bring closer products and services to its end-user.
Within this short but inspiring conversation, Petar discusses the challenges of working on the new, high-tech solutions of the Invenda products and how it is to lead a team of passionate software enthusiasts.
How come vending, and what inspired you to work on this product?
For me, the inspiration lies in the opportunity to work on the product that will make step changes to an ‘old’ industry and bring new technologies to the vending world. And, of course, it has a great potential for innovations such as advertising on vending machines and pretty unique features such as product recommendations since this industry was mostly untapped until recently.
How and why did you pick Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft IoT Hub for the Invenda backend and cloud?
It was a decision that we did not take lightly, and we’ve put a lot of thought into it. In the end, it was a unanimous team decision. Azure offers a vast number of services, reliability, limitless scalability, and most importantly, security standards. And finally, Azure offers native integration with Microsoft/.NET platforms, with which all the team was very experienced. As for the IoT Hub, we needed a central message hub for two-way communication between the IoT devices and the cloud with built-in device management and provisioning. It offered everything we needed for our use case.
As Microsoft continues to support and partner with us, it has been a great decision, both on technology and development.
What were some of the challenges with the vending machine being connected to the cloud 24/7?
There were multiple challenges, both for the cloud and devices, in this case, the vending machines. From the cloud perspective, it ensured all back-end services have high availability because of the constant flow of data and resilience due to the high amount of data coming from devices. From the device side, we wanted to sync all available data to the cloud while at the same time limiting bandwidth per day and device. There were different techniques like compression and pre-processing, which helped us achieve both. Another thing that also helped us in the processing of the data is the implementation of Lambda architecture.
How would you describe the path to success to someone else who would be creating an IoT product?
Lots of ups and downs, but very fulfilling.
At times it all might seem overwhelming and impossible to get over a bump, but with enough patience, breaking down challenges into smaller ones, willingness to go great lengths, and with a great team around you, I would say anything is achievable. At the same time, it is pretty amazing to work with people who understand IoT and have extensive experience in IoT- based products.
Since the technologies you are working with are fairly cutting edge, what are some challenges in building a great team?
When talking about cutting-edge technologies, one of the main challenges would be finding the right people. When I say right people, I mean people who both have the experience and share that same vision, passion, and curiosity to explore all these technologies have to offer. One of our main focuses when maintaining a high level of knowledge within the team is finding the people who will fit our culture and challenge themselves to logical thinking combined with knowledge of the main principles of programming to apply to real-time situations. Besides that, training and onboarding processes are inevitable to share knowledge and ramp up new team members in our state-of-the-art technology.
For you, what is the greatest success in the field of cloud enterprise solutions?
That would definitely be working on the Invenda platform, going through its multiple iterations, and solving technical challenges that can support all our current devices. At the same time, we allow our customers to change prices remotely, advertise, change product images, demographics detection and more on the machines. They can also see all data and reports on what is happening with their machine through our Content Management System. For me, these are the most significant successes so far, but I believe this is just the beginning.
The most memorable moment at Invenda?
Many memorable moments pop up, but one of the favourites would be the presentation of our first pilot machine in France. It was in 2018, and we worked patiently with a lot of sleepless nights but with such fantastic energy and atmosphere within the team. When that first consumer went up to the machine and immediately bought a product, we knew we had built an intuitive solution.