DevOps Consulting / Customer Story

Speed, flexibility, and the beauty of simplicity: How NS International embraced modern Cloud technology

Crossing an international border by train from or to the Netherlands, you are joining NS International (NSI), the business unit of the Dutch railways responsible for international travel. NSI serves more than 3,300 European destinations with different transport options: Thalys, ICE International, Eurostar and TGV high-speed trains, as well as the Intercity trains to Brussels and Berlin.

NSI strives to offer her clients speed and convenience when booking tickets, traveling to and from the station, staying at the station and on the train. The dedicated IT team of NSI supports Marketing, Commerce, Finance and Operations with many interfaces to different organizations and systems in different countries.

Why

Speed up the delivery process of newly developed features

What

Moving to a Modern, Scalable Automated Cloud Platform on AWS

How

Cloud Architecture and Coaching on the DevOps Way of Working

Enabling the future of train travel

NSI has high ambitions when it comes to the future of international train travel in Europe. Aiming for doubling the number of train travelers until 2030, it is obvious that IT has to upgrade as well to support this ambition. Sustainability, Partnering, shifting towards a Digital First strategy, and Innovation are key.

Customer journey mapping showed two main aspects to enhance the client experience:

  • Speed up the delivery process of newly developed features
  • Facilitate experimental Marketing and growth hacking practices

To sustain and grow NSI’s agility, it was decided to move to the AWS Cloud, since it was a good fit with the technology stack and enabled greater autonomy.

"We love to work on the future of train travel in Europe by innovating continuously and delivering new value to our customers, the travelers. It takes a lot of stamina to pursue innovation power during day-to-day business. Xebia’s Consultants helped us to enhance this innovation power by constantly challenging the status quo and therefore lifting the overall result."

Pascal Reijnders, Head of IT at NS International

Cloud and the beauty of simplicity

The initial platform was built within weeks as an MVP. This way, the value of moving to the Cloud could be demonstrated quickly, and the feasibility was assessed early on.

Delivering the first version of the platform quickly is not the same as a quick fix. When redesigning the platform to the next level, we took the time to think through the set-up very thoroughly. Every iteration, the design of the platform reached a higher level of abstraction, separating the application landscape from the infrastructure layer.

The platform is designed to leverage AWS’ offerings for serverless computing where possible. 

A lot of effort was put into making the systems robust to the failure of components and outside dependencies. Provisioning and deployment have been fully automated, so the processes are dependable and repeatable. Thus, operational cost is now very low, while availability is high.

It is self-healing, meaning that in case an instance breaks down it automatically spins up another capacity without the end user even noticing.

Results

Velocity & happiness

Time to market went down from days to minutes.

Fast customer feedback can be taken into account when building the next iteration of the feature, contributing to the work satisfaction within the software teams

Ownership

From a team perspective, the new setup enables the teams to take a lot of responsibility for their products.

Giving not only the responsibility but also insight, capacity, and means to adapt, the platform fosters product ownership for the teams.

High security standards

As booking train tickets online involves a financial transaction, it has been a major requirement that swiftness and flexibility may not come at the cost of security.

From the beginning, the new Cloud platform of NSI is set up to meet all standards of PCI compliance, the international industry standard of the payment card industry.

DevOps Consulting

Do you want to achieve more speed, flexibility, and simplicity with more effective and efficient IT? DevOps helps create a high-performance IT capability that accelerates your business.

Xebia DevOps focuses on two areas: organization and technology. We help you speed up your software release cycle and enhance autonomy within your teams. Following a proven method. Brought into practice by experienced Consultants.