How Team Augmentation Helped Equinix Close Multi-Million Dollar Deals with a Custom-Built Sales Enablement Solution

Outsourcing your project can mean losing control. Here's how team augmentation helps get you the extra (and expert) pair of hands you need while keeping you in the driver's seat.

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran


In 2021, we met up with Matt Wolfe to discuss how staff augmentation (we call it “team augmentation”) could help his client, Equinix. 

Matt is from Secretly Nice, a product design studio that’s responsible for the design and development of Equinix’s internal sales enablement tool. Secretly Nice and Equinix had been working together using the team augmentation model for a few years. But they needed support.

When Matt contacted NaNLABS, he was looking for a dedicated team of programmers to stabilize Equinix’s platform, handle the software maintenance, and develop new features. Here’s the story of how Equinix turned a sales enablement tool into a crucial business opportunity by augmenting its team with experts from Secretly Nice and NaNLABS.

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Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you

Meet the client, a widely used digital infrastructure business

Equinix helps enterprises access infrastructure services, build networks, and track their global servers and data centers. With the largest footprint of data centers and thousands of partner networks, it rightly calls itself  “the world’s digital infrastructure company”.

But Equinix isn’t the only character in this story. Have you ever heard an anecdote that begins something like “My friend’s cousin’s in-laws…”? Well, this is one of those stories. 

We first heard of Equinix after the company hired Matt Wolfe, Partner at Secretly Nice, to work on a design revamp of the sales enablement platform. Matt and his team developed a prototype with the help of freelance programmers and software engineers. They came up with a useful sales tool that solved an internal business need. 

After a while, it became clear that Equinix wanted to expand its user base and futureproof the tool for scalability. That’s when NaNLABS came in as Matt’s custom software development partner. 

Enter NaNLABS, team augmentation experts

Matt chose to hire NaNLABS to support his team with Agile software development because we paid close attention to the project right from the start. He said, “from the first conversation we had, NaNLABS was really thorough about looking at what the requirements were, who they had available, and how they could effectively support the project.”

We knew we had the tech talent to meet Matt’s skill specifications, so it was just a case of showing him that team augmentation with us isn’t like outsourcing your project to an external agency. Instead, we become part of your team, keeping you involved in decisions, and working hard to offer solutions and improvements as we go. “NaNLABS did a great job at communicating their work style and their approach,” said Matt.

The brief: Stabilize the platform and maintain the databases

At first, the brief was pretty clear, we needed to:

  • Continue to provide a great UX by resolving bugs

  • Go from working prototype to fully-fledged product

  • Keep the platform updated to improve the tool’s value

Stabilizing the tool for scale

Equinix needed us to stabilize the tool to support its internal sales team as their user base grew. Together with Matt, we encouraged Equinix to migrate the platform to a different database system that used more standard tech (more on this later!).

Improving on legacy code foundations 

To make the migration process successful, we needed to improve, harden, and refactor the codebase. Refactoring meant we could build upon the strong foundations laid by the legacy code, while simplifying it and making it even cleaner. 

Pro tip: When you have tidy code, it’s easier to maintain the application and minimize the risk of getting the same bugs over and over again–or at least make the debugging process faster. 

Keeping the platform updated for high-performance

Equinix’s platform merges information from multiple databases and makes it easier for the sales team to access that data and insights—improving team productivity. In this case, ensuring the platform was up to date meant

  • doing regular maintenance tasks 

  • developing new features as requested

  • and updating the mentioned databases

The challenge: Get a sales platform that’s not crashing

The platform was often crashing and leaving the sales team unable to access it. The main challenge was finding out where the bugs were coming from and:

Simplifying the technology to make it more accessible for future developers 

Originally, Equinix's software was built on top of uncommon technologies—Neo4J and Java. The combination of tools was making the app complex to access, scale, and modify. We needed to determine a new tech stack to migrate the sales platform that would support the new requirements but was also easy for any developer to maintain. 

Changing platforms with low downtime

The platform was packed with legacy code and built on Neo4J, a system that manages graph databases. It can be extremely powerful but wasn’t the right fit in this case. 

“A big part of the tool was built on that platform at the beginning,” says Matt. “As the product matured, it became clear that it was holding the product back and we needed to move off it.” We put our heads together and decided that the best option was to move from Neo4J to MongoDB. The challenge here was (and still is) making a successful migration with minimal downtime.

Maintaining databases

Since this tool is enterprise-level software, it manages large amounts of data. Giving easy access to that data is what makes the platform so useful. But that means we need to make sure the data you see on the front-end is always up to date and making the right correlations. Doing that on top of the migration and debugging is always challenging.  

Planning scope of work

NaNLABS developers are Agile geeks. We live, breathe, and dream Agile methodologies. And since we follow these Agile principles, we’re used to all of them in our IT projects.

With Equinix, we started planning work in sprints but quickly realized that, due to the nature of this project, it was hard to accurately plan the scope. So, we had to change the methodology mid–project to Kanban, which is more suited to task prioritization.

The solution: Migrating to MongoDB 

Equinix gave NaNLABS and Secretly Nice almost full autonomy of the platform, and we’ve taken it seriously to live up to the challenge. To close the gaps in the sales tool, we migrated the platform to MongoDB and came up with these additional solutions:

Platform stabilization

The first thing that we did was to debug the platform. We ran a root cause analysis to determine what was causing the most critical bugs—and fixed them.

“We assigned two front-end and two backend full-time developers with a specific skill set along with a project manager,” explains Laura Estrada Ocampo, Project Manager at NaNLABS. Together with input from Secretly Nice and Equinix, this team took on the responsibility of stabilizing the app and handling all other aspects of the project.

Feature development 

One of the latest features we launched was allowing sales managers to create “template projects.” It involved re-architecting how projects worked in the platform so users could save them as templates for someone else to use. 

Migrating from Neo4J to MongoDB

The sales enablement tool is critical for Equinix’s sales team, so we couldn’t limit their access while the migration to MongoDB was underway. With that in mind, we designed a plan to carry out the migration in phases—with minimal downtime. To do this we:

  • Audited the tool’s infrastructure

  • Audited the Neo4j database structure and data entities to be migrated

  • Planned the migration by

    • Picking a set of data entities to migrate on each phase

    • Analyzing the code to be refactored

    • Setting a timeframe for each phase

    • Building diagrams to communicate our plan

    • Scheduling a dry run

  • Implemented a flexible code freeze if we found bugs

The results: Empowering Equinix to close multi-million dollar sales deals

Equinix, Secretly Nice, and NaNLABS have worked together in sync to make this sales enablement tool part of its core business.

Equinix has also benefited from these results:

  • The user retention rate is always on target. Equinix measures the retention rate every month to determine whether or not users are finding value in the tool. This metric is always on target.

  • 80% of completion of MongoDB migration. This change happened in six months and had minimal downtime. 

  • Platform stability and critical bug reduction. The sales tool is stable because we’ve fixed the most critical, user-facing bugs.

  • Reduced response time to bug resolution. Highly critical bugs are now solved within a day; less critical ones are solved within a week.

  • Sales team productivity improved. Keeping the databases continuously updated helped the sales team complete important tasks in less time, causing a spike in productivity.

  • Trusted servant and Agile partners. We served Secretly Nice and Equinix by adjusting to their time zones and communicating using their preferred channels, such as Slack. 

Do you need staff augmentation services?

Matt chose the team augmentation model because working with freelancers helped him solve critical issues but not the root cause of the problem. You can also augment your in-house development team if:

  • You have a pressing deadline. You don’t have the time to hire and onboard new employees or team members. 

  • It’s a temporary position or business need. You’d rather find a software development agency for a few months than hire and onboard full-time employees—or rely on freelancers. 

  • You have a tight budget. Finding a nearshore software development agency to augment your existing team is often more cost-effective than hiring for every role internally.

  • You need a particular skill set. You might find team augmentation useful if you need a highly-specialized developer or someone to handle operative tasks for you.

  • You want to scale your existing MVP. Augmenting your team is a great idea for MVP development as it will help you improve the software architecture and make it ready to take on bigger clients.

If you’re thinking about augmenting your team and getting outstanding results, we’d love to help you out. And if you need just expert advice, without hands-on development, you can try our consultancy services.

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you. 

Frequently asked questions about staff augmentation

  • What is IT staff augmentation? Why do you need it?

    IT staff augmentation is when you hire an external team to work on a project as an extension of your IT department. You need IT team augmentation to: 

    • Meet pressing deadlines

    • Close a skill gap in your in-house team

    • Meet business results with an outsourcing business model

    • Get a dedicated team of experts with specialized skills on time-bound projects

  • What are the different types of staff augmentation?

    The different types of staff augmentation are:

    • Commodity. This type is when you need more hands on deck urgently. You don’t have the time to hire professionals and train them, so you look for a service provider to provide them on a project basis.

    • Skill-based. When you use this staff augmentation model, you’re likely looking for a particular skill set but aren’t necessarily looking for a highly-specialized professional to achieve certain business objectives. You might use this model to cover your customer service needs or handle data entry tasks.

    • Experts or highly skilled. This last form is when you get a team augmentation provider (like NaNLABS!) to “lend you” a team of experts to work on a specific project that your internal team can’t cover alone. For example, you might need a team of developers that are highly specialized in Amazon Web Services. 

  • What is staff augmentation vs consulting?

    Staff augmentation vs consulting are two different ways of working with an external party on specific projects. With staff or team augmentation, you get an extended team of people to take on part of your work. Consulting means that you get one or a team of people to review your processes and come up with solutions to streamline them. With consulting, the hired team doesn't execute their recommendations, you do. 

  • What’s the difference between staff augmentation and outsourcing?

    The difference between staff augmentation and project outsourcing is that in the first one, an external team works alongside your in-house staff. An outsourcing model means you delegate responsibility to an external team (provided by the outsourcing company) and you only get to see the results, you’re not involved in the process. 

    For example, imagine you need to develop an MVP. If you do it through team augmentation, a team of external developers will work with your in-house engineering team on the coding and deployment of the tool. If you outsource the project, an external team will take the responsibility off your plate and come back in a set timeframe with a finished MVP. 

  • What are the benefits of staff augmentation?

    The benefits of staff augmentation are:

    • You save money as you don’t need to pay for onboarding and legal attributions

    • You get to see the progress in real-time and get to give timely feedback

    You can close a skill gap and get results fast

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