Canada Tech

VSHN Canada Hackday: A Tale of Tech Triumphs and Tasty Treats

24. Mar 2023

The VSHN Canada Hackday turned into an epic two-day adventure, where excitement and productivity went hand in hand. Mätthu, Bigli, and Jay, our stellar team members, joined forces to level up VSHN as a company and expand their skill sets. In this blog post, we’re ecstatic to share the highlights and unforgettable moments from our very own Hackday event.

🏆 Notable Achievements

1️⃣ Revamping Backoffice Tools for VSHN Canada

Mätthu dove deep into several pressing matters, including:

  • Time tracking software that feels like a relic from the 2000s. With the Odoo 16 Project underway, we explored its impressive features and found a sleek solution for HR tasks like time and holiday tracking and expenses management. Now we just need to integrate it as a service for VSHN Canada.
  • Aligning the working environments of VSHN Switzerland and Canada. Although not identical, we documented the similarities and differences in our handbook to provide a seamless experience.
  • Tidying up our document storage in Vancouver. Previously scattered across Google Cloud and Nextcloud, a cleanup session finally brought order to the chaos.

📖 Documentation available in the Handbook.

2️⃣ Mastering SKS GitLab Runners

Bigli and Jay teamed up to craft fully managed SKS GitLab runners using Project Syn, aiming to automate GitLab CI processes and eliminate manual installation and updates. This collaboration also served as an invaluable learning experience for Jay, who delved into Project Syn’s architecture and VSHN’s inner workings. Hackday milestones included:

  • Synthesizing the GitLab-runner cluster
  • Updating the cluster to the latest supported version
  • Scheduling cluster maintenance during maintenance windows
  • Developing a component for the GitLab-runner
  • Implementing proper monitoring, time permitting

📖 Documentation available on our wiki.

🍻 Festive Fun

On Hackday’s opening day, we treated ourselves to a team outing at “Batch,” our go-to local haunt nestled in Vancouver’s scenic harbor. Over unique beers and animated chatter, we toasted to our first-ever Canadian Hackday.

🎉 Wrapping Up

VSHN Canada’s Hackday was an exhilarating mix of productivity, learning, and amusement. Our team banded together to confront challenges, develop professionally, and forge lasting memories. We can hardly wait for future Hackday events and the continued growth of VSHN Canada and VSHN.

Jay Sim

Jay Sim is a DevOps engineer in VSHN Canada.

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Canada Internal

Hello Jay!

7. Mar 2023

Greetings team VSHN! As a DevOps Engineer, I’m thrilled to be part of this incredible team. Allow me to share a little bit about what motivates me!

My life so far has been a cultural potpourri! I’ve lived a pretty diverse life so far, with roots in South Korea, high school memories in New Zealand, and now settled in Canada. This journey has taught me the value of learning from different cultures and people from all walks of life, and I’m excited to bring this mindset to my work at VSHN.

When I’m not knee-deep in code, I’m an avid snowboarder, and fitness enthusiast. There’s nothing like the rush of adrenaline that comes from a good workout or a day on the slopes. And as a newly minted snowboarder, I’m always on the lookout for tips and tricks from the pros 😃

On the professional side of things, I’m passionate about network and security. I love diving into the latest trends and technologies in these fields, and I’m always up for a challenge when it comes to finding innovative solutions to complex problems. Python is also a favorite tool of mine, and I’m always looking for new ways to use it to automate and streamline my work.

When I’m not in work mode or getting my sweat on, I love to immerse myself in the wonders of nature and explore new places. Whether it’s taking in the breathtaking views on a scenic drive with my favorite tunes or getting lost in a captivating documentary or an adrenaline-pumping thriller, I’m always up for an adventure that stimulates my senses and ignites my curiosity. So if you’re looking for a DevOps Engineer who’s just as passionate about exploring the great outdoors as they are about optimizing IT operations, look no further than yours truly!

But above all else, I’m a people person. I value the relationships I form both personally and professionally, and I’m excited to get to know each and every one of you at VSHN. Let’s bring our collective talents together to make amazing things happen and have some fun while we’re at it!

Markus Speth

Markus is VSHN's CEO and one of the General Managers.

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Vancouver, a new Adventure

12. Jul 2022

It’s time for VSHN to expand internationally. Between this and next month, three VSHNeers will board a plane to Vancouver, BC, Canada, with the idea of transforming the way we work.

Faithful readers of this blog will surely remember that between October and November 2019, Daniel Hauswirth, Manuel Hutter, and I spent a few weeks in Vancouver as a “trial run.” During that time, we learned to live and love the city, scouting office locations, fulfilling our daily duties from nine timezones away, and also (of course!) enjoying a fantastic site on Earth with breathtaking scenery. We compiled our experiences and memories in a video on our YouTube channel, and the evidence we collected overwhelmingly supported our hypothesis; as the Mandalorian would say, “This is the way.”

Sadly, the global pandemic temporarily broke our plans to move to Canada for a few years. But in the meantime, we kept working towards this goal, and we officially registered a business in British Columbia last year.

But now, the time has come for the next step.

VSHN has a double goal: to provide the best 24/7 support to our customers and a healthy and enjoyable work experience for our VSHNeers. Opening an office in Vancouver reinforces this commitment. By “following the sun,” we can increase the quality of our monitoring and maintenance services while at the same time ensuring nobody has to be awake at two in the morning to do that.

Our explicit goal is to reduce the need for nighttime work for Swiss VSHNeers, to handle maintenance, solve incidents, and provide support during regular business hours. This approach will naturally yield better customer support; having an office in such a location allows us to spread maintenance tasks across multiple days. And it means we can provide support and handle incidents with fresh minds daily.

Tobias Nehrlich and I will take off next week, on July 14th. We have lots to do until then, like coordinating payroll and accounting, organizing work with our teams, and last but not least, sorting out our private lives (personal belongings, homes, etc.)

As soon as we arrive, there will be more to do; first of all, surviving the jet lag! And then organize our coworking space, complying with the “administrivia” required for operating in Canada, getting ready for maintenance tasks in coordination with our colleagues in Switzerland… and even looking for VSHNeers in Vancouver!

Yes, we’re going to be hiring, so if you are a DevOps engineer in British Columbia interested in working with a company with the best culture you can imagine, get in touch with us! We’d love to hear from you soon.


Matthias is co-founder of VSHN AG, member of the executive board, and partner

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Canada General

VSHN goes to Canada

6. Jan 2020

VSHN goes to Canada – our findings

In the last months of 2019, Daniel, Manuel, and I were working in Vancouver. You can find more about the reasons behind choosing Canada in our blog post VSHN goes to Vancouver.
But now, enjoy the recap video about our findings and to give you a glimpse into life in Canada.
Enjoy and let us know what you think. 😃


Matthias is co-founder of VSHN AG, member of the executive board, and partner

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Canada Internal

VSHN goes to Vancouver – Part 1

5. Nov 2019

Currently Daniel, Manuel, and I are working from Vancouver. Therefore I want to tell you a bit about why we are here and then give you a glimpse into life in Canada.

A little bit of background

VSHN grew a lot since we started five years ago. We went from one customer with one server to over 350 customers and 1300 servers in 16 countries. With the growing number of customers also their requirements and the number of managed systems grew. And with all of that the amount of work we have to do during the night in Switzerland. More systems mean more maintenance work. More customers mean more migrations and changes (that have to be rolled out during the night to minimize the impact to regular services). Bigger, international partners means having developers from all around the world working on platforms managed by us. And these developers have support requests around the clock.
This presents us with a problem. We at VSHN love to help our customers and provide quick solutions to their problems. But one thing no one from us is keen on, is getting up at 3 o’clock at night or working through the whole night to upgrade systems. Not only is working at night not so much fun, also these people are missing the next morning to do their normal work.
We were looking for the obvious solution: find people that work when we are sleeping in Zurich.

Where should the new office be?

With that, the idea to open up a new office in another part of the world came up. I started talking to some of our customers and partners who already have offices in other countries or are working as a remote team. I talked to Comerge about their experiences in Kuala Lumpur, Sherpany about handling teams that are distributed, about being a fully distributed company and many more.

I learned a lot of things during these discussions about what is important to setup a company abroad. Our main take-aways were:

  • It has to be in a timezone approximately 8 hours away from Zurich
  • It has to be in a location with a decent IT scene
  • We want the same philosophy in the new office as we have in Zurich
  • We want our engineers go to the new office for 1-3 months at the time to train the local engineers, but also to have senior engineers on staff during the night
  • A VSHNeer from Zurich has to lead the new office initially

Other considerations

After a lot of discussion and planning we came up with a list of interesting places. There were cities like San Francisco, Austin, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Perth, Sydney and many more. During that process some more important limitations were discovered:

  • It should not have too much latency towards our servers in Switzerland
  • We would prefer as a first location, somewhere were the culture and language is not too far away from what we know
  • Regarding coordination and maintenance it would be better to start with a location in a timezone which is about 8 hours behind (west of) Zurich as there are more support requests and maintenance during that time
  • Some countries are not interesting for political or legal reasons (e.g. data protection, Example: USA, China)

Vancouver as starting point

After considering all these points – and some personal choices involved as well – we decided to do a proof of concept for two months in Vancouver.

On Saturday, October 5 2019, Manuel Hutter, Daniel Hauswirth and me, Matthias Indermuehle set out on an adventure to Vancouver!

The first weekend we spent exploring the city, after that the work started. But that is a story for the next blog.


Matthias is co-founder of VSHN AG, member of the executive board, and partner

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