Experts in new Microsoft technology

RH Marine’s complex TFS migration is smooth sailing for Xpirit

RH Marine is a leading system integrator and innovator of electrical and automation systems in the maritime industry. The company’s headquarters and main operations are located in The Netherlands, with additional sites in the US (Fort Lauderdale) and Spain (Barcelona). RH Marine has to maintain a huge number of different versions of its software because nearly every ship is unique and requires a tailor-made solution. The variety of the software, combined with demands imposed by applicable maritime regulations, calls for meticulous testing and version management. To benefit from the most recent functionalities and to automate its software testing as much as possible, RH Marine migrated its Team Foundation Server (TFS) from the 2015 to the 2018 version. In order to ensure a smooth migration path, RH Marine involved Xpirit.

Each ship is unique and imposes specific automation requirements

RH Marine’s customer base includes the Royal Dutch Navy, a large number of commercial shipping companies, as well as the high-end market for private yachts. Chris Werkmeester, Software Engineer and Developer at RH Marine, describes the market’s challenges. “The variety in the maritime market is practically unlimited. Ships are like living beings. Each ship is unique and imposes specific automation and integration requirements. Take the high-end market of yachts: a sheer race for the most advanced, state-of-the art technology, combined with the most striking appearance and the fastest performance. Moreover, maritime legislation and regulations demand certified solutions, which require meticulous testing of each version and upgrade of our solutions. In short, a challenging environment with a high level of complexity.”

The variety in the maritime market is practically unlimited. Ships are like living beings. Each ship is unique and imposes specific automation and integration requirements.

Chris Werkmeester, Software Engineer and Developer at RH Marine

Efficient version management and automated testing mandatory

Chris continues: “The effort involved in version management and testing is huge, which is why we work with best-of-breed software: Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS). Migration to the 2018 version was imperative because of its new features and its extensive automated testing facilities. In our case we still have to perform some manual testing due to specific features, but the majority of tests can be automated and this will save a huge amount of human effort. What’s more, the tests can be repeated for each new version, thus creating a consistent set-up.”

Migration of TFS combined with new server environment: smooth sailing for Xpirit

In addition to the software migration, RH Marine had to extend and upgrade its own server facilities by deploying new hardware. In order to ensure a successful migration, Xpirit was called upon. Chris explains: “We knew about Xpirit’s extensive migration experience, including the combination of TFS and hardware migration. And because we wanted a fast, no-risk migration, we were happy to invest in a secure and smooth passage instead of entering a risky voyage by ourselves. What’s more, when you work with Xpirit, you don’t just get their consultant, you get
the expertise of their entire team, including direct contact with Microsoft.”

Successful migration: less time than expected and zero errors

The migration was a complete success, thanks to the advice and guidance of Manuel Riezebosch from Xpirit.
Chris: “Manuel made clear how our software had to be prepared, and which precautions had to be taken by our product teams to curtail any risky elements. And it worked, even better than planned! The migration proceeded faster than expected, and on the Monday morning after the migration, everyone could start his work immediately, without any hiccups. Manuel came to our office on the day after the migration just in case there were any errors, but there was nothing to fix. Nothing had gone wrong, so he was able to spend his time providing extra support.”

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