Thanks to their popular e-bikes, VanMoof is rapidly gaining market share. In fact, the bicycle manufacturer has now outgrown the Dutch market. This rapid development also presents a challenge: how do you ensure that growth is not hampered by outdated IT?
VanMoof was founded in 2009 by Taco and Ties Carlier, two Dutch brothers with a vision of what a perfect city bike should be. The concept proved to be a success with its minimalist design and many integrated features, such as integration with an app and protection against theft. About 200,000 people in the world now ride a VanMoof bicycle. VanMoof Brand Stores can be found in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle and Tokyo. By the end of 2021, the brand is expected to expand to service hubs in 50 cities worldwide, serving customers there as well. In a recent investment round, VanMoof raised $128 million to expand production.
One of the people enabling VanMoof’s rapid growth is Arie Scheurwater, Engineering Manager at VanMoof. He is responsible for the developers and testers at the digital department of the e-bike manufacturer. This department is involved in many things, such as the VanMoof.com website, the e-commerce platform, the My VanMoof customer environment and the ERP application. Most of which runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
VanMoof’s ERP application has recently been migrated to AWS. Until recently, it ran in a more traditional data center environment. The growth rate of VanMoof meant that the stability and scalability of this application became more important than ever. A migration to the cloud would bring a lot of improvement in both areas.
VanMoof realised that this delicate operation would require support from an external party, Scheurwater explains: “VanMoof was looking for a partner that could help with the services surrounding the application, such as how to properly manage network traffic and the load on the systems on a worldwide scale. We also wanted to set up cost management properly.”
After a selection process, VanMoof opted for the AWS specialists from HeleCloud. This company was chosen because, according to VanMoof, HeleCloud works in an agile manner and offers a wide range of services – from architecture to implementation. HeleCloud’s knowledge of cost management also appealed to VanMoof.
Robin Scholten, General Manager Benelux at HeleCloud: “Until recently, we were the best kept secret in this market. Our strength is that we are an AWS pure player. HeleCloud has recently become a subsidiary of the Swiss SoftwareONE. HeleCloud retains its own identity and approach, but now has better access to the market through SoftwareONE.” HeleCloud has a relatively large number of fast-growing companies such as VanMoof as customers.
Robin Scholten: “They are looking for agile service providers with short lines of communication. Our approach is that we work locally with our customers, while performing the work from our Operations Center in Sofia, Bulgaria.”
VanMoof handled the migration of the ERP system, the beating heart of the company, very carefully. Angelo de Bruin, responsible for sales of AWS services in the Benelux at HeleCloud: “We started to map out the existing application. Based on that, we designed an AWS environment and made an estimate of the monthly costs.”
VanMoof uses the open-source ERP package Odoo, which functions well on AWS after adjustments. The environment that Odoo needs, the underlying infrastructure, is code-based and is controlled by code. This offers great advantages, for example, adjustments can be made very easily. There was no need to reinvent the wheel, as they used best practices and reference architecture of AWS.
Switch over a weekend
However, that did not just wrap it. Arie Scheurwater: “During the preparation we continued to perform the upgrades of Odoo, both in the old environment and in the AWS environment. We took time for the preparations. In the end, we migrated over a weekend.”
VanMoof manages the functionality of the application itself. HeleCloud manages the environment in which the application runs and takes care of security and connectivity with the outside world. VanMoof also expects proactive advice from HeleCloud.
Arie Scheurwater gives a couple of examples: “We regularly receive advise on how we can best regulate the workload of the systems, so they can work faster. In the field of cost management, HeleCloud advises us on the services and the right scales. We are constantly moving many workloads – applications – to the cloud. Growth is paramount at VanMoof, but cost awareness is not unimportant.”
Don’t let it slow down
The migration to the cloud environment has provided VanMoof with the necessary benefits. The stability and scalability of the application have been greatly improved. AWS guarantees both. For example, a new server is automatically started in the event of a failure causing a server to fail. This significantly reduces downtime.
“It is not an option for us to be held back by concerns about stability and scalability of IT systems,” says Scheurwater, “There is such a strong demand for our products and services that we want to have excellent availability and scalability. This applies to all regions worldwide where we have brand stores and all cities to which we want to expand. VanMoof can now fully focus on growth.”
Looking ahead is in the DNA of the e-bike manufacturer. Scheurwater: “We want to further innovate the technologies we use in the AWS cloud and open source, so we can scale even more flexibly and in a more targeted way. Due to our growth, we are also constantly receiving wishes from the business, which we can now address better.”
“My philosophy is that you have to keep working on your applications, both technically and functionally, if you want to remain future-proof with all the growth. By opting for an AWS environment, we do not have to invent all the techniques ourselves. That gives us a lot of speed and agility.”
Growth comes first
VanMoof receives proactive advice from HeleCloud on how things can be improved. Arie Scheurwater gives a few examples: “We regularly receive advice on how we can best regulate the workload of the systems, so that they work faster. In the field of cost management, HeleCloud helps us by advising on the services we use and the right dimensions. We are constantly bringing many workloads – applications – to the cloud. Growth is paramount at VanMoof, but cost awareness is not unimportant.”
VanMoof and HeleCloud discuss current affairs and the developments on a weekly basis. They also have discussions on a tactical and strategic level.
“AWS also advises us very regularly,” adds Arie Scheurwater, “We review that advice together with the people at HeleCloud, to see how we can benefit from it.”
Robin Scholten: “HeleCloud helps customers to quickly scale up their services and products and improve themselves. That also fits with VanMoof, as a digitally native company, which has many in-house competencies in the digital field.”