Innovation in Five Days: Lessons Learned from taking “The Pulse of Mark III” from concept to IoT service at warp speed
Five days. From concept to public-facing (demo) service.
It’s rewarding when you see the direct speed-to-market benefits of leaning on a “culture of microservices” and a composable approach to building anything thesedays, even for a somewhat off-the-wall demo experiment like “The Pulse of Mark III.”
In a nutshell, “The Pulse” is a demo service built and composed (quickly!) with a collection of internally accumulated microservices to aggregate together IoT data from wearables of our team (Apple Watches via HealthKit) and show them in near real-time on a centralized dashboard (served via instances on-premise), in addition to saving all this data in a central “data lake” for upcoming deep analytics and insights (also stored securely on-premise). For the purposes of the public demo instance of The Pulse (hosted at http://pulse.markiiisys.com), we just decided to show real-time heartbeats and local temperature and humidity of a couple leaders from our team (thanks Chris and Stan!), although the framework we built out can really be used to link any personal device with the centralized service.
Although our innovation team is not a Fortune 500 brand or a major institution, the building blocks we use under the covers and philosophy is always relatable and scalable by design for such organizations (and always some of the same platforms, systems, and tools we recommend to enterprises and orgs we partner with!).
At a high-level, what did we use to put this together?
-Apple Watch, HealthKit, iOS devices
-Azure Stack + Azure
-Enterprise storage system (S3/NFS) in our lab for data lake
Like we always say, there’s 10,000 ways to build the same thing due to the power of the community, and this is just one example of a tech stack that would work.
What are some of the biggest learnings we had coming out of this?
- One of the keys to successful innovation is just to start – Not everything has to be perfect, but like any startup or innovation concept, the most important thing is to not engage in a “guess-a-thon” and a quest for perfection, but just to take your best shot and get going. What we’ve found is that where you end up with anything is never where you think in the beginning, but along the way, you’ll accumulate these building blocks that you can leverage in the future and shared learnings (“institutional knowledge” in corporate-speak) to be able to do things much, much faster.
- Microservices enable experimentation – By this, we mean a culture and an accumulated “collection” of microservices enable faster composability of new concepts, like “The Pulse.” Or to put it more simply, we reused a lot of the same stuff we had already leveraged for other concepts in the past. Because we had invested the extra time to make everything modular and building block-ish, we can reap the speed benefits now and in the future for other experiments and innovation.
- Everything is a building block – Even when you build out a concept, demo, or app, if you go into it with the design philosophy of “optionality,” what ends up happening is that even a Production-level service can then be used a whole as a building block or broken down to help you quickly experiment and build a future game-changing service. The same goes not only for how to build and create code, but also for the underlying platforms and infrastructure that enable this!