Stay healthy at Axway: The Hackathon project 

Staying healthy is something we don’t take lightly. Here at Axway, we work hard to address problems with our solutions. For Axway’s internal hackathon, we used a combination of new and traditional Axway products: our file transfer products for traditional file uploads and our API Builder tool to create a container, deployed on a service mesh for our main API. The interactions with the backend API were done with our Integration Builder product (iPaaS).

The problem we were trying to solve was how to keep all our Axway employees active and motivated to exercise and keep a fresh and creative mindset during the lockdown. With new employees joining Axway, we wanted to get to know them in a more relaxed, fun way, so we used the hackathon as an excuse.

We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel; we wanted to have some fun, learn about the new employees and use some new Axway tools which drive innovation.

Technology implementation plan

Lessons learned

We learned a lot of lessons during this project. For starters, we were able to save time and effort on some integrations because we have done them in other innovation projects before.

The biggest lesson learned is that if you never try things another way (experimenting/innovation), it will be difficult and complex to make a solution as we did.

Because we did Google sheets, email and File management solutions before, it was easy to look at how we did it the last time, adjust the code and make the new solution. Because of our previous mock projects, we had a simple Jenkins job, which deployed our backend API in minutes. This was a huge booster for getting new things quickly out there.

Working remote

Working remotely isn’t always easy. For this project, we used Teams, caught up over Zoom, had a Trello board (see below) to make sure that we were only working on the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Because we used cloud solutions, the access to the work which was halfway done, or done, was by default available for the rest of the team. Some of us have been working from home for years because we are the only employee in that state. So, we are comfortable getting things done without too much help.

For our idea, we created a platform that stimulates employees to be more active by gathering all exercises and pictures and videos of employees around the world and using that information to motivate people to do more fitness!

In a time where we all need to work from home, it’s more important than ever to be stimulated to keep moving, stay creative and make sure you have time away from the phone and PC, to keep you more effective.

Hybrid Fitness Platform pitch

Hybrid architecture using cloud and on-premise components

The logic of the integration builder is using the Axway Cloud, while we protect the fitness data of our employees. Therefore, the back-end API is running in our Australian “on-premise” Kubernetes cluster. The File Transfer cluster is also running on-premise in Sydney to store the larger files used in our platform and for those people who prefer to upload their activity with a simple file upload interface.

Hybrid Fitness Platform

The input (which is shown on the left) to the HFP (hybrid fitness platform) is either an API or a file that is uploaded via the Ad-hoc client from ST.

We also intended to create a connector for the Strava API, so that activities uploaded to the Strava group would be uploaded automatically. This was a stretch goal, and, in the end, we didn’t have time to complete this work.

The platform outputs are on the right side of the diagram. Once a new activity is uploaded, it triggers a flow from the integration builder, which will post the new activity on Twitter. We have created a sample account. At any time, the social media teams can re-tweet activities onto the corporate accounts if needed.

A Google sheet captures all activities in one place:

  • An email confirmation tells the employee that the activity was successfully submitted to the platform. (We also tried to have the option of uploading the activity by email but didn’t have success to complete this.)
  • They also receive Slack message with the picture of the activity, like the tweet

The backend API is an API builder project which is exposed to the Australian K8s cluster and advertised in the catalog (so it can be used as a connector in Integration Builder).

The integration builder will do a post and the new activity will be added via the backend API in the backend database. We choose to run this database and API on-premise, so all data is stored locally.

Here are the logs of the API builder project, as it takes new requests:

Please note the Activity/count method, which can be used to live stream the total number of new activities per day, per country.

The importance of this is when we do competitions, the system can handle competitions between teams or locations. It can count the steps of APAC for instance.

If at any time, we will get our hands on step counter with an API, all employees can upload the number of steps to the backend API and we can have a live stream of the total of steps for a total group that could be displayed in a simple dashboard.

We also wanted to have the API be able to count the number of Likes for an activity (we didn’t make this API, but it is relatively easy). The backend API has already a field that shows the number of likes. It would trigger employees to come up with crazy stupid activities of which we had a lot of fun trying some of our own! (OK, we got carried away.)

We wanted this hackathon project to be more than just a coding exercise; we wanted to spend some time outdoors to create some sample content. Read all about the EUvsVirus Hackathon project.

Database of files

Having a database of files from activities was an important part of the platform and an initial idea. We wanted to create a place where employees could go to for inspiration. Maybe a video of someone who is doing bench presses.

The other idea is that we wanted to have a collection of routes for cycling and walking or running. The idea was that we often have to visit other Axway offices in other countries. During the day, we have our meetings, but in our own spare time, these routes would make it easy to see the cities just like the locals, because they have been walked by like-minded people.

On top of this, we wanted to create special routes in the shape of Axway. You would go to Sydney and see the CBD while you walked in the shape of Axway. The platform should allow you to download the GPX file, which could be loaded in existing apps or bike computers to give you guidance on where to go.

Here are some examples:

A bike ride through our capital:

We planned this ride through Sydney.

With the Integration builder flow we used for submitting new activities, we used the connectors: Twitter, Outlook, Slack, googlesheetsv4 and our own microservice backend connector. This was set up in such a way, that other companies can download the template and connect it to their own Twitter/Google docs/Outlook and run their own backend API.

The concept of templates in the iPaaS solutions is well known and should be helpful with people who want to experiment in deploying a fitness platform for their own company.

Watch our first demo of submitting the activity by API.

 

 

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