The cheapest energy thanks to the V-test®. Hosted by Combell!
Our energy bills have been rising for months on end. This makes it more important for every household to be able to clearly compare all possible energy deals, and to find the best supplier for your needs. The V-test® developed for VREG by software developer FrontForce is ideal for this. And there is even more good news for you, as this V-test® always works flawlessly – thanks to Combell's hosting 😉.
The creators of FrontForce are quite rightly proud of the V-test®, which they developed for the Flemish Regulator for the Electricity and Gas Market (VREG). We got to chat with Sylvie Westyn and Han Weyn from FrontForce about the V-test® and their collaboration with Combell.
Optimal data protection
How does the V-test® work?
Han Weyn: "Users can use the V-test® to find out which energy deal is best for them. To do so, you simply have to enter your address and your usage (among other things), and you will be presented with a complete list of gas and electricity suppliers and their tariffs."
"In addition, there are two parts of the system that are 'hidden' from ordinary users. One of them can be used by suppliers to enter their tariffs at any time and to simulate whether these tariffs are displayed correctly in the V-test®, as well as to configure their new products. Since all tariffs and products are entered by the suppliers themselves, this is a great advantage for VREG collaborators, who no longer have to do this themselves!
Then there is the section of the tool that only VREG collaborators can use: they obviously need to be able to check the figures provided by the suppliers, and manage the platform.
Of course, this all has to run smoothly, which is why good hosting is essential for the V-test®."
How did you find out about Combell?
Sylvie Westyn: "We already work with Combell, so we know all about the good service you provide. In addition, there was also the fact that the VREG is a public agency, meaning that cybersecurity is perhaps even more important than for a private company. When we were looking for a hosting provider, we had to choose between Azure and Combell, but one of the determining factors was the DDoS protection that Combell includes in its services.
Other hosting companies charge a lot more for this. Combine that with all the services you offer, and the choice is easy."
One of the determining factors was the DDoS protection that Combell includes in its services. Other hosting companies charge a lot more for this. That makes a huge difference!
Sylvie Westyn, FrontForce
"Optimal security is also essential when it comes to data protection: in the V-test®, users provide personal information, which must be properly protected. With Combell, we know we have nothing to worry about, because the company fully complies with the GDPR, guarantees privacy protection and provides hosting on servers located in Belgium!"
"We have already worked with Combell in the past, so we know we can count on you. This is why we had full confidence in you and your services – and we still do!"
Kanaal Z visited both FrontForce and VREG to take a closer look at the V-test® – and at the collaboration with Combell. Watch the video below (and read more below).
60,000 users per day without any problems
Were there other challenges besides security when developing the V-test®?
Han Weyn: "Besides privacy, scalability is also a very important aspect of the hosting solution used for the V-test®. When tariffs increase, deals have to be renewed or the V-test® receives media coverage, we notice that the number of people using the V-test® increases as well."
"The day the new V-test® went online, 60,000 people used the application. And now, about 10,000 users are using it every day. That is why it is so important that the tool is available at all times, with scalable hosting."
"We had already extensively used Combell's load testing beforehand. So, we were already sure that our application could easily handle traffic peaks."
"We can also count on Combell to deliver the best performance. The V-test® was built with a scalable Kubernetes solution. The knowledge you have about Kubernetes helped us a lot. Whenever we were stuck on anything during the development of the tool, we knew we could always expect a quick answer from you. And we really appreciate that: getting answers from people who know their stuff."
In case of problems, we immediately get a reply from people who know how to deal with them. This is something we really value, because not every hosting company is like that.
Han Weyn, Lead Senior Architect at FrontForce
"With other providers, you often have to go through the whole 'support process': creating tickets, logging calls, speaking to a helpdesk agent who kicks in open doors, and then finally hoping to find someone with the right knowledge. With you, we can talk to the right person straight away."
Developing a tool such as the V-test® surely takes a lot of time and effort. How did you go about developing it?
Sylvie: "An earlier version of the V-test® had already been developed, but we have built our own V-test® completely from scratch. Our primary goal was to match the level of convenience and functionality offered by the previous tool, but we wanted to make it more user-friendly and easier to use. After that, building blocks and modules can be added at any time. Which is now happening on a regular basis."
Han: "One of the most important things, of course, was the question 'what do users need in our test?'. That is why we conducted very extensive user tests at different stages of development."
"Our team developed the V-test® right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, so the people of the VREG and FrontForce V-test® project team actually only saw each other during the shooting of the Kanaal Z report mentioned above. Nevertheless, we were able to deliver the tool on schedule and within budget, meaning that the digital cooperation went very smoothly despite the whole coronavirus situation!"
Will you continue to improve the V-test®?
Han: "Absolutely. In the first phase of the V-test®, we developed a 'basic' test, which had the same capability as the previous version, but we still have quite a few improvements up our sleeve."
"One of the first features we want to add is a useful decision aid tool. This will really help users find a deal that really suits their needs."
"Extensive tests are also performed to make sure that the new features work as they should. This is done very efficiently via Combell's test environments. On the one hand, we use one environment to thoroughly test the tool ourselves, and on the other hand, suppliers can use another environment to try out the tool."
"Those suppliers also regularly have to enter their prices and information into the tool, which is why it is important that they too can see how things are going to look in the V-test®."
And, uh... Have you been using the V-test® yourselves?
(in unison): "Of course, we have already made good use of it! But if you currently have a fixed energy deal, we think you should hold on to it for a while. (laughs)"
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