Meet our new colleague: Jasper Geurtsen
Meet Jasper Geurtsen, a staff engineer with a passion for technology and innovation. At 50 years young, Jasper's enthusiasm for his field is as vibrant as ever. Living in Haarlem with his wife and two adult kids, a graduate in technical computer science from HTS in Enschede and one of the founders of Aknostic, his journey is a testament to his dedication to the tech world.
Good to have you back on board Jasper! For those who don’t know who you are, could you tell us a bit more about your impressive background and professional journey?
Certainly! After graduating at the HTS, I spent a significant time in the tech industry, particularly in technical automation. I've worked with Lucent Technology on pioneering optical fibre projects, which was groundbreaking at the time.
In those early stages of my career I've been involved in some really interesting projects, like working on traffic management systems—those digital signs you see on highways and parking guidance systems in cities. I even developed a police override button for traffic signs at the arena.
At TomTom, I was part of the Bluetooth team, which was a small group responsible for all the devices that connected to the TomTom. I was one of the team leads of the OS platform teams of the TomTom devices. One of the exciting projects I worked on was developing software for the remote control of the high-end models. It was quite challenging because the hardware we were working with was such that you could only program it once. If it wasn't done right, the whole thing had to be thrown away.
After a decade in various tech roles, I took the entrepreneurial leap and founded 9Apps, which has evolved into what is now known as Aknostic. Jurg (CEO) and Flavia (CTO), who are close friends, were one of the first engineers to fully embrace the possibilities of in that time the early days of AWS. We even wrote books about this. We felt we could make a tangible difference in the tech landscape by helping out companies that were struggling with their cloud architecture.
Sounds like you’re quite the entrepreneur. Anything else that sparked from this?
Actually, yes. For 9Apps we built a monitoring tool that worked much better for our needs compared to what was available on the market. Then, interestingly, we got requests from people in different sectors. For example, museums asked us if we could monitor their beamers for video projections because they kept failing. They wanted a device that could check the projectors and send a message if something went wrong. We developed that capability, although it never went into production. Later, someone from the horticulture industry asked if we could monitor temperature, and that's how 30MHz grew into what it is.
And now, after roughly 10 years, you’re back. What are you planning to do?
At least for half of my time I’ll be involved helping with development of the Clouds of Europe. You could consider this as another entrepreneurial project. In this case it’s about creating an alternative for the major cloud services such as AWS or Azure. Built on Kubernetes and with a more sustainable approach. The other half of the time will be dedicated to helping customers, implementing architectures and 24/7 monitoring of their infrastructures.
What attracts you most in Aknostic’s current culture?
For me, it's their collaboration ethic. Which is about everyone being actively involved and responsive. For example, when you have to deal with an incident at night. You're not 100% awake, and you need to be sharp to handle production issues. If a server goes down or a hard disk fills up, you have to wake up and tackle the problem together. When you're alone, it can be overwhelming, but with a team, you can give each other pointers, divide tasks, and come to a solution much faster. It's about leveraging collective knowledge and support to navigate through the problem efficiently.
And how do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in your field?
I follow new developments through websites and RSS feeds, especially AWS releases. I haven't found a good engineering podcast about K8s yet, but I'm on the lookout.
Enough about work! Although technology seems to be a big part of your life, do you have any other hobbies?
Haha, sorry for this, but I do love tinkering with tech at home. I've automated our mechanical air circulation system so I can control it from my computer or over Wi-Fi. It's a fun way to merge my professional skills with my personal interests.
But I'm also into mountain biking! I haven't done it as much in the last six months due to home renovations, but I love hitting the trails on the Veluwe and Utrechtse Heuvelrug. It's a great way to enjoy nature and stay active. There's something about being out on the trails that's exhilarating. It's not just a physical challenge; it's a mental break from the world of technology. It's where I recharge.
You're also quite into music I was told, right?
That's right. I used to arrange bands for a youth center in Amsterdam. One of my proudest moments was booking Racoon before they became well-known. It was challenging with a limited budget, but it was definitely a highlight for me.
These days I love going to concerts with friends. It's something I do quite often. The last concert I attended was the Sleaford Mods at Tivoli. Their music is a minimalist post-punk rap, quite a unique genre. It was a really good concert.
To wrap things up: you know we have a pretty good coffee machine here at Aknostic. What’s your preference?
A black lungo! Not to weak though, haha