Deploying AI-Powered Imaging for a Startup that Develops Sensor Technology
Orbem is a deep tech startup that develops AI-powered sensor technology to transform food systems for a more sustainable and animal-friendly future.
Its first product, the Genus, aims to revolutionize the poultry industry. It combines accelerated MRI with deep learning to determine the sex and fertility of an egg at an early stage of development. This can prevent the waste of millions of infertile eggs and the unnecessary killing of just-hatched male chicks, while saving companies money.
Orbem is building on years of scientific research in AI and imaging technology. The team first came together at the Technical University of Munich, and the company is now based near Munich, Germany.
One of the most promising startups in Europe
Although Orbem was only founded in 2019, the company has already been recognized for technological innovation and a huge potential for global impact. It received the European Commission Seal of Excellence and has been named as one of the most promising European startups by the European Data Incubator and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
Orbem was also one of 10 semi-finalists for the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE and was identified as the #1 deep tech startup worldwide in Food and Agriculture by Hello Tomorrow.
Building a reliable hybrid infrastructure
Orbem wanted to develop a fully functional hybrid infrastructure that integrates cloud-based software and on-premises devices. When Netguru partnered with Orbem, this was only a concept.
The engineers of both companies started by writing the cloud infrastructure using Terraform, which offers a smooth create/copy/modify infrastructure deployment process within only a few clicks.
Moreover, Orbem needed portable application packages, so we incorporated Helm (a package manager for Kubernetes) and Ansible (an automation & configuration tool for VMs) into the technology stack.
To connect the cloud infrastructure to the on-premises imaging devices and set up CICD pipelines to manage it, the DevOps team went with a lightweight Kubernetes approach running on Proxmox VE. This solution keeps costs down while being highly reliable. The result is a plug-and-play on-prem system that leverages state-of-the-art technologies with a focus on scalability and operability.
In addition to Kubernetes, the following solutions are deployed:
- Elasticsearch: To gather all logs from environments;
- Prometheus: To gather metrics, monitor, and alert in case there is anything wrong with the services;
- Traefik as a modern cloud loadbalancing service;
- Other tools to automate DNS management, publish verbose info to Slack about cluster status and monitor security of the variables & containers.
Laying the groundwork for future innovations
Beyond product development and operations, the collaboration with Netguru gave Orbem a boost to their existing developing processes. While the start-up already had best practices for software development in place, the tools it was using were lagging behind. For example, the code was still tested in an overly complex way, using a combination of Cloud Build & Bitbucket pipelines.
During the collaboration, Orbem migrated to Gitlab CI and incorporated SonarCloud quality gates, which let the unit and integration tests run smoothly on Orbem’s powerful on-prem servers. These changes allowed developers more time to focus on creating high-end software products.
Now the company is able to market the Genus while efficiently developing new deep tech solutions to increase sustainability in the food industry and beyond.