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Front-end, back-end development

A penny for your thoughts? 3 million Euros for ours.


I first considered writing this article in Romanian, but there are so many wonderful expressions in English that we can’t just translate and still capture their true meaning.

The question in the title is definitely not about somebody getting rich. Although, with the right amount of thoughts you share for a penny, you might actually get somewhere. The penny in the title is the symbol of human curiosity and shared thoughts are the engine of growth. “Chance favors the connected mind” says one of my favorite authors, Steven Johnson.

It is this curiosity that has pushed humanity forward, on so many occasions. But while people pay a penny to satisfy their curiosity, they are willing to pay a lot more when trying to build what they had in mind, in the right way. This is where we come in.

Pentalog’s adventure in the field of Embedded Engineering started at the end of 2007 and we’ve worked both for pioneers in the semiconductor industry, as well as for small but bold start-ups/grow-ups that wanted to introduce disruptive innovations on the market.

The most recent episode of this adventure started in July 2013 and it involves Android development, debug and integration for one major name in the industry that is trying to leverage the advantages that the open source ecosystem of Google has created (AOSP).

The “geek inside” was immediately captivated by the approach that this company has for bringing up platforms from scratch: for each development area – Telephony, NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth, Audio Framework – they split and re-combine the capabilities into Use Cases, then integrate these use cases 1 by 1, developing the necessary code to make each test in the test battery pass. It is a classical example of switching from V-cycle-like practices to more Agile practices such as “Behavior Driven Development” and “Test Driven Development”. Say you want to integrate the “3G HSDPA Transfer Use Case”. You would have to:

  • Write (rewrite) the relevant tests, in both lab and real network conditions to verify the functionality. Such tests would be: transfer in normal conditions, transfer in poor signal conditions, cell change during transfer, signal drop during transfer etc.
  • Execute the tests and record the behavior;
  • Debug and understand the behavior;
  • Write the code – which can be a new component, a full feature or just a 1-line patch, in order for each test to pass;
  • Resolve the test, refactor the code;
  • Re-run the cycle;

From mere increase of the production capacity of our customer’s teams while reducing costs, to the change of attitude needed in order to make it on this very competitive market of wireless semiconductors, we were able to build on our existing experience and start driving the change:

  • For Pentalog, because we are truly becoming a vertical integrator, covering all aspects of IT from hardware design and prototyping, through Hardware Description Language, Assembly, Embedded C, kernel, middleware components and services, to User Space Applications, large scale Back-End solutions for data processing, web apps and even cloud solutions;
  • For our customer, because working with a team of motivated and skilled engineers coming from Sibiu, Romania, into the very eye of the storm, their R&D center, proved as exciting for them as it was for us. After the initial 9 months spent on customer site, we were able to deliver our “baby”: an Outsourcing Delivery Center in Sibiu, where more than 30 engineers are now working for the heart of your future tablet or smartphone.

This is at the same time a vote of confidence for the skills of the Romanian engineers and an investment into the future of Android development in Romania: I’m a strong believer that mobile apps alone are not enough to certify the skills of a developer/engineer. The proof is in the value of the business itself: with 1.2 million Euros already invested by our customer in Pentalog’s ability to bring-up wireless platforms and develop new features and plans to invest 1.8 million Euros during the second year, we are competing with top names in the industry that are present in Romania.

I will not say it has been a joyride all the way through, but I will say this: I strongly believed this is possible in Romania.

A big “Thank you!” to my colleagues, who deliver the technical answers on a day-to-day basis and who inspire other with their confidence that IT CAN BE DONE. Also, I would like to highlight the work of our colleagues in the IT, Administrative & Financial departments who take care to setup things so nicely for our engineers, so that they can concentrate and enjoy their work.

If you want to join the party, feel free to take a look at the job openings on http://jobs.pentalog.ro

For more information on how we do it, you can contact us https://www.pentalog.com/industry/software-engineering.htm or download the Whitepapers on http://portal.pentalog.fr

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