Cloud and Agile conquer waterfall legacy
Developing a high-performance, state-of-the art Cloud-based system to upgrade gas storage and related trading platform.
TAQA’s challenging environment
TAQA Gas Storage Bergermeer in The Netherlands operates Europe’s largest open-access gas storage facility, and provides Northwestern European gas retailers with a huge volume of storage capacity. In order to meet its clients’ requirements, TAQA guarantees security of supply, regardless of seasonal and short-term fluctuations in the demand for gas.
So far, TAQA has been facilitating its trading platform with a number of legacy systems, supplemented with spreadsheets. Most of the solutions were developed in-house, and closely met the requirements of traders and dispatchers. However, TAQA’s challenging environment with rapid fluctuations in supply and demand and strict deadlines requires a stable yet flexible and scalable, always-online system that meets the needs of its users and stakeholders.
Xpirit’s no-nonsense attitude
A pitch among four software suppliers resulted in Xpirit’s selection. TAQA’s team member Lilian van der Schrier describes why: “The guys from Xpirit were honest and direct, they understood our requirements and they proposed a solution that appeared to match our requirements. Moreover, Xpirit’s small project team and transparent, non-hierarchical organization with a no-nonsense attitude appealed to us.”
Transparent approach convinces TAQA’s management
Lilian continues: “Our initial challenge was to convince our senior management of the benefits of the Agile, Scrum-based project approach that entails a certain degree of uncertainty. Being used to meticulous prior planning, as is customary in the case of large oil and gas plants, they were used to traditional waterfall-based, long-term project planning. However, Xpirit’s transparent approach as well as a couple of pilot modules convinced them. They also saw the benefits of the short sprints with direct communication and regular alignment with stakeholders, but are looking forward to seeing actual practice-based results.”
Green light for Azure-based solution
TAQA‘s management also hesitated against an off-premise Cloud-based solution because of its habitual belief in on-premise, in-house systems. However, Xpirit received the green light for a state-of-the art, Microsoft-based Cloud system, not in the least because of the idea that you only pay for what you actually use and an architecture that offers flexibility in the hosting location, be it cloud or on-premises. The solution includes Docker containers with Kubernetes, Azure Platform services, .NET Core and React, plus Visual Studio 2017 and Visual Studio 2017 Team Services for scrum backlog workflow with build and release management for continuous integration and deployment.
On schedule, with value for money
In addition to Xpirit’s valuable technology knowhow, their project approach, including Continuous Integration and Deployment, is certainly proving its value. Lilian: “Although the project is still only half-way, with a scheduled completion date in October 2018, we are already experiencing positive results with less time required from TAQA’s own developers than expected. In short, these guys know their stuff, they do what they promise, and they deliver value for money.”