Atlassian apps ready for Data Center
Using Confluence Data Center or Jira Data Center? Great! The most popular apps developed by TNG are now available for you.
Atlassian discontinued all server products last year. Because of this, the data center products will become even more important in the future. We are following this trend and have revised some of our apps for use on data center products. Maybe you can find something of interest for you?
- Multivote & Enterprise Survey: Conduct surveys inside Confluence
- Page Gardener: Keep your Confluence pages up-to-date
- Table Enhancer: Enhance your Confluence table by adding row numbers, sorting and showing a complete line
Modern identity and access management: Configuration as code for Keycloak with Terraform @TNG
Consider a company that grows steadily in employee numbers and the amount of web services it uses. Additionally, consider the time spent (wasted) logging in to many of those web services separately each and every day – for each employee. The advantages of a company-wide identity and access management (IAM) including a single sign-on solution (SSO) become quite apparent. Keycloak uses open standards to authenticate users of a company's internal applications, and also supports external services, such as Slack or Zoom. Unfortunately, it lags behind on what has become the standard for maintaining IT systems: Configuration as Code (CaC). That's where the Terraform Keycloak Provider comes into play. Here at TNG, we have adopted and contributed to this quite mature open source project.
tl;dr: We contribute to and use a Keycloak provider for Terraform to manage our authentication server. Quick and reliable iterations on this very critical infrastructure component are now possible using our usual software development methods and high standards.
We compared several candidates with respect to the required additional development effort and our stability goals. The Kubernetes Keycloak Operator is a relatively young project and thus not battle-proven enough for our purposes. Another way to abstract the Keycloak API is the Keycloak Ansible provider. However, here we had non-optimal experiences from previous projects, including a challenging state of the tool's documentation. The third candidate we looked at and finally chose to use, was the Terraform Keycloak Provider. Importantly, it supports LDAP user federations as well as an adequate number of Keycloak's role mappers and it enables automated provisioning alongside manual configuration.
At some stages we had to patch the provider. The maintainer, Michael Parker, reacted quickly and we collaborated on our pull requests. By now we gathered quite some experience extending and maintaining Keycloak via Terraform. To us, it seems as straightforward as manual configuration in the UI. Terraform modules hold our client configuration and allow us to tune and test different parameters quickly. Any misconfiguration can be quickly fixed by rolling forward or rolling back to a working version. Furthermore, we mitigate missing features in the provider by completing the configuration manually. This hybrid approach also allows lightweight experiments by falling back to the UI.
After transforming our Keycloak configuration into code, the migration of our Keycloak instances to Kubernetes was a non-event. As it should be.
What do think? Feel free to reach out in case you have questions or need some support!
Surveys and polls directly in Confluence
It's finally here! Our completely renewed and extended survey and voting app for Confluence, "Multivote & Enterprise Survey", is now available. Still included is our Multivote Macro (whose previous version was the most popular polling app for Confluence), alongside a new Survey macro for complex and dynamic surveys, where later questions can be configured to display or not depending on earlier answers. We at TNG use these types of surveys for tasks such as organising company retreats, where, for example, we display selections of Saturday's retreat activities only to those that indicated participation on Saturday. Other use cases include employee surveys and feedback-gathering on company-wide issues. Please visit us at Atlassian Marketplace, where for a limited time we offer 50% discount on the new version of the app.
Security&Safety Things AppChallenge
The year 2020: a year of change, but also of new beginnings and innovations. Many things have changed already, and many more will likely change in the future. For us at TNG, the time spent in seclusion has been a valuable opportunity to reflect, but also to create something new!
The Security and Safety Things App Challenge 2020 provided the perfect setting to demonstrate our computer vision skills under time pressure. In just three months we managed to create two innovative apps – all the way from idea to development to availability in the marketplace. Not only that but both apps were actually awarded first prize in their categories: Visual Feedback won in the Retail and Commerce category and Dynamic Privacy Mask in the Smart Cities category!
This year we not only wave goodbye to handshakes, but also to unsanitary feedback buttons! As retail store managers told us, customer feedback given via physical, in-store feedback buttons has indeed decreased dramatically. We remedied this with our app Visual Feedback! Visual Feedback enables customers to give feedback with a simple hand gesture, e.g. a thumbs up or thumbs down (demo video). To make the process even more playful and engaging, emojis that correspond to the given feedback are then displayed in place of the customer's head. Giving feedback with Visual Feedback is not only contactless, but also fun!
Our second app is a bit more serious. Many of us feel uncomfortable when high-resolution security cameras record personal data. Of course this cannot be completely avoided (after all, cameras are there to record people!) but that does not mean that credit cards or PIN pads have to be filmed at the grocery store or that the screen of your laptop needs to be captured in the waiting area at the airport. In fact, GDPR even demands that the collection of personal data be limited to what is necessary ("data minimization"). With Dynamic Privacy Mask, the recording of personal data can now be minimized even further. Using a Neutral Network, our app masks object classes such as people, laptops, and keyboards (demo video) – and soon also PIN pads, credit cards, and mobile phones. Through our app we hope to raise the standard of data protection and privacy in the long term. After all, GDPR also states that operators of security cameras must adhere to the technological state of the art when it comes to protecting personal data (and, in particular, everyone's right to informational self-determination).
Want to learn more about our apps? Drop us a line at iot-apps(at)tngtech.com for more information and let us know what you think!
Hey oven, open up!
Talking to your household appliances sounds like Science Fiction, right? Well not anymore! Just as Ali Baba once did to open the door to his enchanted treasure trove, the owners of a new oven can now call out "Open Sesame" to open it. A simple "Hey Alexa, open the oven“ would also suffice.
This fairytale come true won our customer 1st Place for "Excellence in Business to Consumer“ at this year's German Innovation Awards. The voice support was developed jointly by TNG and our customer. Now when you have your hands full, using a voice-assistant like Amazon Alexa, you can simply ask the oven to open the door for you.
We are delighted to be a part of the innovations of the future.
TNG demonstration App featured in S&ST Product Demo
Our demonstration app Person Anonymizer featured in a live online product demo for the S&ST platform. Cameras running the OS developed by Security and Safety Things can execute machine learning algorithms on-device rather than in the cloud. Such cameras can perform a wide range of complex detection tasks without having to send any video data over the wire.
The App showcases how people caught on CCTV cameras can be detected and masked in real time, protecting their privacy whenever surveillance of individuals is not the camera's intended use case. The video is available on YouTube.
Page Gardener App helps keeping Confluence content up to date
Often on company wikis, information is written once and then quickly forgotten about. This information is then neither updated nor archived, even though it may be out of date. An app designed by TNG, our Page Gardener Companion for Confluence, helps address this issue.
Users and administrators can define responsible persons who will be reminded at regular intervals to maintain and update the contents of particular sites and spaces within Atlassian Confluence. This automation helps keep your pages up to date, avoids misunderstandings that cost time and money, and allows you to focus on the content, not the process.
Have we piqued your interest? Then check out the Atlassian Marketplace and try the app for 30 days completely free.
TNG goes virtual
Sometimes, we have to make a virtue of necessity. In view of the spreading SARS-CoV-2 virus TNG started an experiment last Friday, a “Virtual Techday.” This consisted of virtual workshops, presentations and even a virtual “Weekly half-hour,” an informative in-house event hosted by the TNG partners. The Weekly Half-hour had previously been streamed, in addition to the actual presentation. However this was the first time as a purely virtual video conference. Up to 230 colleagues attended simultaneously, applauded via emoticons, and posted comments in the chat.
The feedback on the virtual Techday experiment was extremely positive. However, we are all looking forward to meeting again in person.
Remedy for Performance Issues
The colleagues will talk about this topic at the Virtual Big Techday on May 8th, 2020.
Black Friday: every year this top-selling day poses a unique challenge to our rapidly growing customer in the online retail industry. The webshop must operate reliably under an unprecedented load. Despite a hardware upgrade, in 2019 there were already short service disruptions observed at peak times prior to Black Friday. Trouble was clearly imminent.
We identified and resolved multiple performance bottlenecks. The configuration of the application was then optimised in an iterative fashion. This was done using a JMeter test plan with request distribution modelled on customer behaviour. Executing it from the cloud directly against the production servers enabled us to test different load scenarios. At the same time, technical and organisational measures were taken to ensure that customer shopping remained undisturbed. Elastic Stack, Prometheus & Grafana served as the main tools to identify and analyse backend metrics.
Ultimately the improvements yielded the desired result. The throughput doubled, but the system withstood this crucial phase without any issues. The new monitoring processes allows future performance problems to be detected, understood, and rapidly solved.