Levi9 Smashes Giarte’s Outsourcing Performance Review Out Of The Park

Giarte is a leading research and consultancy agency, operating in the field of IT services and IT outsourcing. Its annual Outsourcing Performance (OP) is the most extensive benchmark study of IT managed services in the Netherlands.

We’re ecstatic to report that we’ve recently scored great results for the 9th year running in the 2020 Giarte Outsourcing Performance review.

As it turns out, customers rate us very highly when it comes to reliability, communication, skills, empathy, willingness, and openness. Not bad, huh?

This year’s theme was IT experience benchmark, and with our customer focus, it seemed like a match made in heaven!

Obviously, we’re thrilled with the news but we´re never one to rest on our laurels. That’s why we’ll continue to strive forward and keep improving in all areas. That’s just who we are!

Three Big Outcomes For Us

There were several key points about our performance that we were particularly proud of.

1) Trust We achieved very high marks on Reliability and 85% of customers would also recommend us.

The average Levi9 trust score is above our peer group of service providers. This score is curated from trust indicators such as reliability, communication, competence, empathy, willingness, and openness.

According to Debby Jansen, our Chief Customer Officer, “Trust is everything in this game. We treat trust as a currency. If it’s in short supply, then the team does poorly. If trust excels between our customers and us, we all have access to great talent, energy, and creativity. We’re able to innately understand our customers, their business, and build great relationships.”

2) Customer Focused Levi9 has taken third place in the Customer Focused category.

“Finishing third in a very competitive landscape is a big deal for us. We have daily collaborations with our customers, and by having a clear customer focus, we can now see it’s making a positive difference. Our goal for next year will be to reach the number one place!” says Debby.

3) Knowledgeable and Competencies We scored a whopping 83% in the Knowledgeable and Competencies section, an above-average score compared to our peer group.

Debby goes on to say, “We continuously invest in our people, offering them learning programmes and 360-degree mentorship opportunities where everyone can learn from everyone else. We also offer several online learning resources and certifications, as we believe learning never stops.”

How To Stay On Top When It Comes To Customers Debby, like all of us, is passionate about customer-centric culture.

“By looking at each score and focusing on the improvement areas from last year, we were able to increase our overall score, year-on-year. Giarte´s independent research and IT experience enables us to continuously improve ourselves,” she says.

“This year, 39 people responded from our customer list, which is a vast number and says a lot about our relationship with our customers. They are willing to participate and for that I am very grateful.”

One of the main reasons for participating in Giarte´s Outsourcing Performance report is to benchmark how we’re performing internally and externally, so that everyone understands the real story behind our business.

To The Future

Levi9’s healthy development over the past years has been a testament to all the hard work from all our levi niners. Because we’ve placed our customers at the heart of our strategy, we´re even more responsive to our customers’ needs.

Overall, this very positive result reflects Levi9´s confidence and customer-centric philosophy. We can take pride in how our customers express their appreciation – which is testament to all levi niners who work with passion every day to deliver the best possible result.

We would also like to thank all our customers who have placed great trust in us and all our levi niners over the years. That is a massive compliment to us all!

A Bit About Giarte

Since 2002, Giarte Research and OP have recorded customer organisations’ experiences of their IT service providers and currently works with around 42 service providers. They ask their customers all sorts of questions around collaboration, gain detailed insights and analysis on market position, and advise IT organisations on both the supply and demand side.


Walking The Talk With NetDialog: Open Communication Is Key To Success

Agility is a way of life for software and service providers like NetDialog – who work with some of the world’s biggest brands. To do this effectively, they rely on partners like Levi9 to help them keep pace. And does it work? Well, we’ve been working together for 15 years, so…

Custom applications are key to success for global enterprises, where there is no margin for error in today’s highly competitive markets. A major player in this fast moving and dynamic area is Utrecht-based NetDialog.

NetDialog provides a range of business solutions for an impressive list of 1,000 plus customers worldwide through major network service providers like AT&T and GTT.

Given the rapid pace of change and on-demand requests, NetDialog needs partners that are equally as flexible and quick to respond to often short-notice end user requirements: partners like Levi9 who can help end users gain full control over their applications and service delivery; allowing them to optimise and increase the efficiency of their ICT infrastructure.

Longstanding Collaboration

As a service provider, NetDialog offers a managed service to map the performance of the latest and most demanding networks, data centres, applications and chains.

To support the performance journey throughout the chain, NetDialog works in close cooperation with trusted partners.

That’s where Levi9 comes in. Essentially, we continue to support NetDialog as software architects – developing, building, and enhancing its products and solutions. The partnership between NetDialog and Levi9 stretches back to 2005 – and has largely involved the same teams working together: in particular, Tim Rühl, NetDialog’s VP of Engineering; and Dragan Gajic, our Delivery Director.

Levi9, primarily through the development team based in Novi Sad, Serbia, has helped build NetDialog’s flagship SaaS product: NetX – a platform that gives enterprises complete visibility and control of their applications across their WANs (Wide Area Networks) and private cloud environments.

Clear Communication

But, technical expertise aside for a moment, what is it that has kept the two teams working alongside each other for so long?

It wasn’t all plain sailing. When the financial crisis hit in 2009, work paused for nearly a year. However, when the worst was over, the two teams reconnected and picked up where they left off.

The key to this lasting relationship is open communication, shared expertise, and continuous learning.

Another key aspect to making sure that an agile, iterative approach takes precedence is the fact that the Levi9 team aren’t afraid to ask questions. If they need more information or if an aspect requires explanation, they simply ask for one.

This open relationship and interaction enables both partners to be agile and react quickly – to support product development and the rapid deployment of new integrations.

Regular reporting, communications, and face-to-face meetings – or now, in the post-COVID era, through online conferencing platforms such as Skype – keep NetDialog up to date on often complex and multi-layered projects.

Typically this includes development of WAN-specific deliverables such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), specific reports, actionable dashboards, and data visualization.

The Road Ahead

Post-pandemic, NetDialog plans to rollout other new products – and of course, sees Levi9 as playing a key role in the business’ future, as Tim Rühl explains:

“We have tonnes of ideas – time and resources permitting! The great thing about our relationship is that the Levi9 team can help with our business development strategies too. It’s hard to tell what will happen in 6 to 12 months, but it’s good to know Levi9 is by our side to help us respond to current changes.”

You can’t ask for a better endorsement than that.


Levi9 is pet friendly! Home office at its finest.

Levelling Up Logistics

When Levi9 was tasked with the challenge of building integrated solutions for a ‘smart port’ for a specialist technology customer, we quickly mobilised a multinational software development team and got things moving.

While a project like this would be complex even in ideal conditions, the fact it landed during the COVID-19 lockdown made it even more of a challenge…

Lifeblood For Commerce

Global supply chains have never been more important. Marine traffic remains the lifeblood of international commerce. Given the 24/7 demands, the infrastructure of a busy commercial port has to be, well, watertight.

Every single process – from the moment a ship docks to container pick up; as well as lorry loading and exit to the onward journey – needs to run like a well-oiled machine.

The never-ending challenge to improve efficiency and effectiveness drives the logistics sector – which is why the technology is being fast-tracked in the race to convert shipping hubs into smart ports.

So when we were contracted to help develop software solutions to transform one of the world’s largest, most advanced, and most environmentally friendly container terminals into a 100% automated smart port, the Levi9 team couldn’t turn the opportunity down – particularly given our long track record in the transport sector.

Involving An International Team

However, one major disruption that no-one could have foreseen was the COVID-19 lockdown.

This was to be a multi-country development – one that required a 60-strong expert group, composed of several Levi9 teams – from Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine, and Iasi, Romania – alongside customer teams based in the UK, so communication was essential throughout.

As a result of the lockdown, physical onboarding wasn’t possible – nor were onsite visits or knowledge sessions to get the team up and running. But as well as teams working remotely from the client, they also had to work remotely from their peers, which posed a new challenge for all.

But possibly the biggest challenge was absorbing the large volume of information needed to understand the customer’s business; which had to be imparted via video-conferencing – not easy given the scale and scope of the smart port and the need to have every function automated.

Results While Working Remotely

Despite all of this, our team carried on regardless; delivering parts of the software in sprints using Agile methodology. This approach actually helped a great deal given the additional challenges, as constant reviews and daily planning were required – helping us stay focused on the mission and ensure prioritisation – even with a project with so many variables and incremental additional requests.

Although our teams missed out on sharing their workspace, remote working also helped in maintaining focus – and in some areas increased productivity. It was important to keep teams together and to share information through online video sessions and scrums.

Our team was primarily concerned with coding the port gate operating systems – integrating this info and making it compatible across different systems. As a result, the range of development tools used was extensive and involved the use of other third-party systems to make the entire thing come together.

Groundbreaking Work

All in all, working under these conditions really helped to shift our mindset. And despite what were initially seen as ‘setbacks’, we remained super-focused and even hit the original deadlines – which were set before the pandemic hit.

This really has been excellent progress, undertaken in arduous conditions. However, it has set the bar for further exciting programmes for the development of solutions at this ‘smart port’ – and for potentially rolling out the tech across other transhipment centres worldwide.

And, for Levi9, well, we knew our teams were great – but it’s been a real confidence boost for them. Remote working under these conditions has been a challenge, but it’s one they’ve risen to.


Encouraging customers to embrace agile way

INTERVIEW WITH ANAMARIJA PETROVIC, DELIVERY DIRECTOR AT LEVI9

Levi9 favours agile way of working when partnering with customers. If they don’t have any experience with it, they can rely on expert support from Levi9. ‘Our customers sometimes tell us straight that they are lacking an experience of taking on a truly agile project,’ explains Anamarija Petrovic, Delivery Director at Levi9 Technology Services. ‘However, we will always encourage our customers to consider embracing agile culture, with our full support.’

‘Agile is very much our standard way of working as it optimally meets the ever-growing demand for rapid development of innovative solutions. At Levi9, we adopt a holistic approach that encourages communication and collaboration between the product management, development teams, and operations, making sure everyone is working together to deliver results to the business. It is essentially a technology value stream for transforming a business idea into a product. Over the years, we have learned that principles of continuous improvement, short feedback loops and practices of flow have enabled software development teams to implement quality assurance and shorter time-to-market into their daily routines thus keeping focus to accelerating business value delivery.’

‘Is it possible to adopt any alternative ways of working?

Yes, we always welcome discussion of the optimum approach to specific projects. However, we have a great deal of experience with agile, so we will always advice our customers to consider this approach. Fixed-price and fixed-scope projects are no longer as common as they were ten years ago and nowadays the time frames are much shorter. However, even with fixed contracts, we will always try to apply agile best practices since an iterative approach incorporating interim results also works well in these types of projects.’

Challenging traditional approach

‘If a customer approaches us with this kind of fixed-price/fixed-scope project, we will definitely ask some challenging questions. Why does the customer favour this method? Is it simply their standard way of working or will a classic approach help to manage risks? If they have no experience, then they can rely on us to provide expert support or to guide them through a transformation.

In such cases, we usually start by determining the business outcomes that the customer wishes to achieve, such as a shorter time-to-market or greater innovative capability.

These desired outcomes often prompt discussion of the need for greater flexibility. The initial discussions often provide sufficient information to decide what the best approach will be.’

‘Sometimes we also witness an organizational fear of change. In some cases, customer companies insist they are already using an agile way of working when this is clearly not the case. If our analysis of the customer’s needs and requirements shows that their preferred approach is not compatible with our culture, then we will be honest with them and explain that their approach simply won’t allow our development teams to unlock their full potential.’

Preparing to transform

‘Even though we try to estimate a project as much as possible, you can never rule out every single risk. Risks stemming from people, organisational structures within departments, resistance to change etc. can cause the project to take longer than was initially forecasted. During the preparatory phase, we examine the maturity of the customer’s agile capabilities. Based on this, we clearly explain to the customer what they can learn, and we determine what we will have to invest in organising workshops, events and sometimes also meeting other Levi9 customers who have adopted agile practices.’

‘Customer that does not have any or has minimal experience with such an approach can rely on our support in implementing and maturing agility.

We’ve been leading or supporting many customers in their transition to the agile software development. Implementing agile practices is not a goal on its own. It is never about adopting some specific practices or culture. While those things are important, if you don’t achieve business outcomes, it is not worth the investment. A journey towards greater business agility starts by identifying what outcomes are most important to the company’s success.

This knowledge helps us lay a foundation for making decisions about how to tailor our approach and guide our transformation to measurably show progress towards our critical business goals (an early ROI, innovation, delivering right product, quality, shorter time to market or any other).

We advise our customer on the changes that would help them to achieve their business goals. Ultimately, we advise them how to establish and grow an approach that maximizes productivity and predictability of product development. A culture that complements lean and agile software development practices with the main goal to ensure fast and reliable delivery of useful software.’

The transition to agile way

‘The benefits of bringing together business and software developers at the earliest possible opportunity are not always clear from the start. Incision – a worldwide education and workflow-support platform for surgical teams – wanted to develop a new product based on cloud technology using benefits of an accelerated development. During our presentation on product discovery, it became clear there was a need and strong intention to move towards agile approach to product development. Our explanation also prompted questions such as why do developers want to contact sales staff directly and why are they asking for user feedback? We have also had a number of customers who have built strong agile capabilities, for example, our collaboration with Essent, in which we have been learning from each other for more than four years. With their approach to clearly defined b2b product vision, design process and bringing business and IT together at an early stage, and our experience with predictable software delivery, DevOps principles and architectural transformation, we have been managing to achieve business objectives and bring value. And we continuously improve together.’

‘The transition to agile is never simple, but the benefits are substantial. Agile demands openness and a clear answer to the question of “why are we developing this functionality or this product?”.

A key aspect of agile is to challenge everyone’s perception and perspective of the why factor.’


Levi9 Awarded AWS Well-Architected Partner Status

Pop the champagne corks: Levi9 Technology Services, an official Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Technology Partner (APN) has now achieved the AWS Well-Architected Partner status.

Good for us, right? Good for you, our customers, too!

Here’s why.

Background Notes

The Amazon Partner Network (APN) is a global programme, focused on helping members build successful AWS-based solutions – by providing business, technical, marketing and go-to-market support.

However – this isn’t just the kind of endorsement they hand out to anyone that asks. No way. Achieving the AWS Well-Architected Partner status significantly differentiates Levi9.

What We Had To Do To achieve it, our team had to demonstrate specialised technical proficiency and proven customer success – especially in relation to ensuring customer workloads meet the five pillars of the Well-Architected Framework: operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimisation.

In fact, to achieve the advanced status, our team had to go through rigorous preparation that took up to two years to complete – focusing on a number of competencies such as technical DevOps, ops, data, and analytics.

Our team also scored highly in terms of secure architecture, scalability, and cost optimisation to the customer.

What This Means For You

Well, we worked hard to get this certification, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. To maintain it, we need to uphold the premium quality standard that the AWS users have come to expect from using Amazon products and services.

The knock-on effect is that our customers not only get best-in-class development and consultancy as standard – you can also take full advantage of a product supported and endorsed by AWS.

What We’re Offering You

Now we have this status, we’re not afraid to use it!

We’re now able to offer any customer a free preview of their current AWS platform to assess your technical setup, identify any issues that go against AWS best practice, and report on high risk areas – such as security and stability – with recommendations on how to fix it.

As we progress through 2020, we plan to add more AWS competencies to our services. We’re also planning a few customer-focused events to demonstrate AWS at work – so watch this space.

Cloud computing is one of the main strategic pillars within Levi9’s technology vision and market approaches. And AWS is a key element in our services, helping our customers to bring business technology to users with shorter time-to-market, less cost, and instant scalability.

We’re pretty excited. And now you should be too (right?)


Plugin & Scale Up: Working To Help EV Charging Businesses Scale

Who holds back the electric car? No-one per se. But in order to ensure they become more widely adopted, one of the main challenges is developing a network of charging stations.

Currently there are only 175,318 fast and normal charging points in Europe. The European Commission estimates that at least 2.8 million electric charging points will be needed across the EU by 2030 ahead, ACEA acknowledges that, beginning of the next decade.

The gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down. But our customer – Everon, the EV (electric vehicle) charging management platform – is working to propel the sector forward by expanding these numbers significantly.

However, in order to scale their offering, Everon needed to find a reliable, forward-thinking partner who understood their technology – which is exactly why they began working with Levi9.

Providing The Right Resources To Get The Job Done

Everon’s aim is to enable businesses to create their own dynamic charging network, by delivering EVBox charging posts. They’d been doing just great when they got in touch – they’d already rolled out their platform in over 100,000 charging points in more than 55 countries.

However, to meet growing demand, Everon needed to develop new functionality and flexible options within its core application. Basically, they needed a lot of new developers to help them develop the platform, web applications, and mobile apps.

In fact, 16 teams of developers were required: to tackle everything from both a front- and a back-end perspective – including technical debt and developments around data.

“Our charging point management platform is set up to be entirely scalable as a service, and Levi9 has helped us do that. For us, it’s a unique opportunity to grow in this relatively young and promising market,” says Joeri Kamp, COO, Everon.

“Levi9 has a reputation as a reliable partner, so you know they deliver, and you know you can count on satisfaction as a client. All those things played a role in the choice”.

Having A Shared Mission For Future Success

Another important consideration for Everon when choosing its development partners was a shared mission and purpose – as well as a compatible culture. This was certainly true for Everon when selecting Levi9. They were particularly impressed with the fact 40% of our employees are female.

With these shared values giving them additional confidence, Everon continues to push the boundaries of EV technology, develop new solutions, and ultimately scale in a way that’s consistent with their aims and ambitions.

As the world wakes up to new perspectives on work, transport, and mobility; the moment couldn’t be more opportune for the EV sector to innovate at scale.

The need for collaboration is greater than ever. Levi9 continues to work closely with Everon to ensure its technology not only meets, but exceeds, its scope for future growth.


Synergy is key: How a company culture drives success

Synergy is key: How a company culture drives success

Levi9 understands success derives directly from our close relationship to our partners and customers. Building a collaboration based on trust and the understanding of a customer’s vision, incentives and challenges is paramount in building impactful projects. Projects that will ultimately become part of the company’s DNA.

Years of experience showed us our success depends on our customer’s accomplishments and the efficiency of the IT solutions we implement. We can only grow in parallel to the companies we work with; their successes are also ours.

We started working with Tele2, a large European telecommunications company in 2012. From the very start, Levi9 was in charge of helping them operate an important change in their operations and allow them to thrive in a highly competitive industry. Aiming to reduce costs and to grow their developers workforce, Tele2 wanted to move away from hiring consultants and maintaining an in-house team. Levi9 expertise with the Scrum framework put us in a perfect position to help the telecom company operate a transition to an outsourced IT model.

With a sizeable team of remote specialists, Levi9 took on the company’s IT support from B2B to consumer side softwares. Our constant communication with their delivery director, to ensure objectives were met at every milestone of the project, stands as an example. It is that constructive feedback loop that allowed us to complete project to the highest standard and make our collaboration a success.

After 7 years of fruitful partnership with a team of more than 70 specialists, an acquisition with T-Mobile put an end to our work with Tele2. We believe a professional handover is part of the customer journey and keeping a close collaboration until the very end is paramount – we aim for an excellent customer experience all through our partnership.

Taking ownership of their projects and making their goals ours, we at Levi9 got to understand how vital our core values were; we owe the success of this venture and our ability to take on such a large-scale project to flawless communication and a true understanding of our customer’s needs.

Collaborating with their team has helped us blossom as much as we helped them. We will always look back fondly at the cooperative effort involving many different teams, bringing their drive and expertise to the table, but also on the laugh (and the drinks!) we shared.

Through working together seamlessly, with common objectives and a clear understanding of the challenges they were facing, we grew as a company and tackled ambitious projects we will always be proud of.


Kid working on levi9 computer

9 Ways To Handle Conference Calls

Albert Klingenberg, Account Manager, Levi9

Remote communication. Right now it’s even more fashionable than TikTok

But it never stops feeling a bit… well… weird. How so? Lots of reasons: frequent tech issues, no sound, out of sync video, unintentional interruptions – those kinds of things.

But let’s be honest – all of this is out of our control. Trouble is, the more people you add into a ‘mass call’ of sorts, the more likely things are to go wrong.

So why is it that we recently had a conference call with over 30 people and everything went according to plan? The call was a kickoff session with a big Dutch telecoms company. We’ve just landed them as a customer and are now one of their preferred suppliers (humblebrag…).

In short, given the high stakes, we couldn’t afford to mess this up. And we didn’t. We just put some ground rules in place: 9 ground rules, in fact.

And we’d like to share them with you right here.

Tips For Success

1) Have A Plan – Make sure everyone understands why you are meeting and what the goals and outcomes should be. Once the call is complete and follow-up actions have been agreed, confirm these by email as quickly as possible.

2) Be On Time – If the meeting is supposed to start at 9 am then make sure it does! Setting this is stone for all your meetings will ensure the meeting remains on schedule.

3) Assign Moderators – Make key members of your team the main conference call moderators. They’ll make sure your meeting stays on track.

4) Ban Tourists – Anyone who wants to be on the call is welcome. But what about those who don’t? Those who aren’t keen to engage, contribute ideas, or express vehement disapproval? As meeting chair you need to know who’s on the call and why. So make it your business to find out.

5) Listen Quietly – Tech tip! Make sure anyone who isn’t speaking is on mute. This will improve audio quality for everyone and make interaction clear and concise. Plus you won’t be subjected to dogs barking/weeping children.

6) Encourage Dialogue – The worst conference calls are those where one person talks endless about something. True understanding comes from interaction. So while it’s courtesy to keep quiet when someone’s chatting, no one should be afraid of raising their hand.

7) Question Time – As per above, you can’t have constant interruptions or questions during a 5 person+ call. You need to make it clear that attendees should signal to one of the moderators if they have a burning question. It might be that they hold off until the end or arrange a separate call to address a specific point.

8) Take Responsibility – Make sure either your moderators or team leads or whoever’s on the customer relationship frontline, are ready and willing to answer questions. They don’t need to have all of the answers, just the confidence to say they don’t know and that they’ll go away and find out the answers, as an action, before the next meeting.

9) Clarify Next Steps – Decisions were made, accords agreed, and next steps were confirmed… weren’t they? Sure they were – you know exactly what you’re doing!

Sounds simple, right? It is!

Put these ideas into practice and we’re certain you’ll see great results in your meetings, and this will benefit your teams and your customers respectively.

We believe when we come out of the COVID19 situation the culture of remote working is going to evolve further and emphasis on quality remote interactions will grow – so make sure you and your team have got your conference call processes aligned.


Arrange time for yourself, because otherwise you can’t keep it up

Our CEO, Pien Oosterman, was interviewed by Kristien Janssen – Kaldewaij from Odgers Berndtson about her leadership challenges during the pandemic.

What an IT Services CEO has learned about working from home during COVID-19.

In our fifth interview with a CEO at home, we talk to Pien Oosterman, CEO of IT Services Provider Levi9 Technology Services, about her leadership challenges during the pandemic.

What does your work situation look like during this pandemic?

I am in my husband’s loft. It is a terrible loft, to be honest. I started downstairs and after three days, I thought ‘I’m going to kill someone’. I was in the middle of a call and then my family would play the piano or make coffee. We really had such a fight after three days. Then my husband said “well, then sit in my room”, so here I am now.

What type of insights has this COVID-19 situation given you?

The eye-opener of the year is that remote working is much better than we could have ever expected. Both for business and education.

There was still quite a lot of criticism about it, as in ‘is this the way to do it’? But we actually see that many people are more productive. And we also see that half of them really miss the social element of work. All in all, the business keeps going very well.

What do you like and what do you find difficult about the disruption caused by this pandemic?

I travel a lot, so I spend about half the time in the countries where we have our people: Serbia, Romania and Ukraine. There I have a lot of meetings with groups of employees. It allows me to read between the lines and to understand what is going on on the floor. I miss that interaction.

So I have to say, I miss the contact with my colleagues.

What advice would you give other CEOs facing the COVID-19 leadership challenge?

The first week I had such long days with calls, that I had a headache at the end of the day.

I just couldn’t anymore, it was too much. Now, I clear my schedule from 12 to 1, which I never do, and take the time to eat. Or I’ll be hula hooping for an hour, but of course you can also just walk around the block. I try to join dinner at half-past six and stop working after that. I noticed that the burnout level increases very quickly because the intensity of calls is heavier.

A lot of my time is spent on communication and coordination.

I think thoroughly about what we send from our headquarters to our colleagues – what is the tone of voice and what do they need at what time. Do they need me or is it something else? When you look at how productive I am, you might wonder. Sometimes it costs me three days to produce one video or email. I find it very important to pay attention to finding the right tone of voice.

We have a fairly homogeneous group of people, all highly educated. In that sense, communication is easy, but what makes it difficult is the big cultural differences compared to The Netherlands.

These differences are ‘so-so’ compared to each-other, but compared to the Netherlands very different. Solidarity has a different meaning in those countries than it does for us.

We are quite individualistic. There, community is much more important.

I need to keep paying attention to that cultural difference because the risk of miscommunication is always there.


Everything You Always Wanted To Know About DevOps (But Were Afraid To Ask)

Codrin Baleanu, Solutions Architect, Levi9 

Everyone wants to increase business efficiency, right? But for that you need a decent DevOps team. But what is DevOps and how can it improve your business? How do you get started? Let’s dive in…

What is DevOps?

In simple terms, as a job, DevOps is the combination of a software developer and a traditional operations role. Why? Because to be successful in a cloud environment, you must understand both. The two go together, like bread and butter.

Having better cooperation between developers and operations streamlines complexities, giving you a full overview and control over deployments, costs, and resources from a single portal.

This enables faster turnaround and allows you to implement new ideas and products at a much lower cost and faster speed.

A Culture Of Efficiency

Implementing DevOps unleashes an entirely new way of getting feedback, which shapes the way you approach problems. Instead of waiting months for feedback, you see finished products and results in days or weeks.

A lot of this is possible because of the cloud. If your business is looking to stay relevant in the market, save money, and develop performance resilient products, a cloud-based solution is, in my experience, the ultimate choice.

It’s always nice to see companies adopting DevOps and the cloud to solve their problems. When I started with the AWS cloud, it was tough. But once I got the hang of it, I felt empowered to try and build more effectively. I now spend a lot of my time helping developers and customers understand the DevOps way of seeing things – through presentations, training, and workshops.

Putting It Into Practice

When we implement DevOps with you, getting a good understanding of your current data flows and system resources is critical from the start. To improve your current situation, we need to see what’s already built and understand how your current solution works together. If we’re building everything from scratch with you, that’s even better. First, we need to fully understand your business driver’s key metrics – where your business is at, and where you want to go. We then need to learn what a successful outcome looks like – for both your users and stakeholders – to ensure you reach your business goals.

Discovery and Beyond

Once we fully understand your data structure, business metrics, and goals, we deep-dive into the layers of your solution. We’ll ask you further questions to tailor and modify this foundational structure to present you with the tentative solution and discuss the pros and cons.

It’s a discovery phase, learning what you need to do and what we need to do to craft the solution to your business problems.

Shaping a highly effective DevOps solution takes time. Some projects of mine have lasted a few months, while others took several years. It’s all about creating a practical solution to fit the size of your company – to balance speed, complexity, and cost. A small company with smaller budgets operates very differently to larger ones.

Ultimately, software needs an objective. It needs to work in step with an organisation’s ambitions. Getting the balance right, and making sure everything fits together in the right way is where DevOps shines.