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Digital Deep Dive: Backend Development @ the Digital Hub

As technology continues to advance, the Backend Development team is making a significant contribution to Oerlikon’s digital transformation by ensuring security and efficiency of our digital programs. In our second edition of ‘’Digital Deep Dive'' we take a closer look at the world of Backend Development. In our interview with Akram Rekik, Team Lead Backend Development, he explains why Backend Development is building the foundation of web applications and why it is a crucial part in the digital transformation journey.

Digital Deep Dive: Backend Development @ the Digital Hub

Let’s continue with our next expert: Akram Rekik, Team Lead Backend Development, who has been a Digital Hub member since 2020.

In our first edition we learned more about Frontend Development. Can you please explain how Backend Development differs from that?

Akram: Frontend and Backend Development differ in their primary focus. We are like two sides of the same coin. While Frontend Development aims to provide a seamless user experience through visually appealing interfaces, Backend Development focuses on the non-visible aspects of web applications. By building the foundation and infrastructure we support the Frontend Development team and ensure the secure and efficient operation of the system.

And how does your team contribute to our digital transformation?

Our team plays a vital role in driving digital transformation by providing essential data support, securing data storage and ensuring fast and scalable delivery for all digital projects.

Our main focus are the digital sales platforms “myBalzers”, “essentials’’ and "OerliEye”. While customers simply click a few buttons to place orders online, our Backend Developers work behind the scenes to develop so called “Representational State Transfer (REST) APIs”, meaning that we generate guidelines for creating web services. Therefore, we are integrated in SAP to process order status updates and to create invoices to ensure efficient operations.

How are these projects distributed in your team?

Right now, we have three Backend Developers in our team. Usually, all three of us are involved in the same projects, as we try to make sure that we distribute the tasks well within the projects and that we can support and represent each other.

Are there any specific technologies or tools that your team is using to support digital transformation?

We definitely need to stay up to date. In the Digital Hub, we value continuous learning and knowledge sharing to strive for new software and technologies.

Our team uses popular and reliable technologies, such as Node.js, which is based on Google's V8 JavaScript engine and allows us to use JavaScript code outside of a web browser. In addition, we use Syntax (ES6+) in the JavaScript programming language to write more efficient codes. We also use SQL and NoSQL databases to meet various data storage requirements, including unstructured data.

Aside from working closely with the Frontend Developers, how does your team collaborate with other teams and functions?

We encourage close collaboration between all entities as data is a fundamental part of all digital initiatives. Of course, we also work closely with the in-house development team as we have many cross-collaborations.

A great example is “OerliEye”. As Backend Developers, we are responsible for collecting the data and storing it in a robust database. While the Data Scientists analyze this data to gain valuable insights and create reports. The task for our Frontend Developers is to create an intuitive web interface to present these reports. Overall, the Cloud Architects take care of hosting the entire initiative.

That sounds like a great collaboration, nevertheless, are there any challenges your team is facing?

In the area of Backend Development, it may happen that we need to find quick and effective solutions when an error message appears. Some time ago we had a small download issue for invoice data on our sales platform “myBalzers”. However, we quickly found a solution and changed the existing code. This adaptation process is called refactoring. By reducing the number of database queries our team was able to improve the overall performance and efficiency significantly.

On what projects will your team focus on in the future?

In the future, we would like to create a reusable backend system that is suitable for multiple applications and interfaces, ensuring efficiency and consistency across the board. Additionally, we are working on an IT project that aims to capture, analyze, and optimize the machine lifecycle production in coating centers. To ensure successful project implementation, we work closely with our in-house development team.

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