How to accelerate digital transformation with culture, APIs, and cloud

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Digital transformation is constantly changing the way businesses and consumers interact with each other. In the simplest scenario, digitalisation is implemented by mapping a “physical” information process to a digital counterpart, aiming to produce the service more quickly and at a lower cost to customers. However, the greatest opportunity for using digitalisation is in business innovations that could disrupt the market. This may lead to a significant competitive advantage and should be the main objective for all companies going digital.

We will briefly explain how to unleash the potential of digital transformation for your business, enabling you to cut costs and lead times for your future innovation projects.

Develop a culture of experimentation

To begin harnessing the benefits of digital business opportunities, your company will need to set up an innovation process including idea gathering, validation and creation of prototypes. The customer should be involved with the innovation process to enable constant feedback and validation. Doing so leads to continuous refinement of the product and a better match with customer expectations. Since the input from the market may be constantly shifting the final objective of the project, agile methodologies of software development should be chosen over waterfall models.

The ability to validate concepts, as well as dismiss those that do not resonate with your customers, will quickly maximize the number of ideas that can be experimented with, and therefore increase the probability of focusing on initiatives that are more likely to succeed. Using this method of working will put your business in a competitive position in relation to your competitors.

An example of this culture can be taken from the gaming industry, where Supercell dismissed fourteen potential projects in the process of creating its four blockbuster games. Only a small proportion of the projects started were ultimately developed into a finished product and launched to the public.

APIfy your business to accelerate innovation

To accelerate digital innovation, ensure that your internal business applications and processes are available externally via an easy to use but secure API. Loose coupling of your internal business data with external customer-facing applications reduces costs and accelerates innovation by preventing the need to repeatedly connect the source application to your external application to update recent changes.

Not only do APIs improve productivity for creating new applications, but they may also enable customer, community or partner-driven application development initiatives, allowing third parties to build innovative applications on top of your own data. These third-party applications can lead to improved sales of your core offering and better customer satisfaction with minimal investments. In addition to the improved sales of your core offering, APIs may open new business opportunities via monetization of the data provided by the APIs.

In the context of APIs, remember that developers are your customers. For successful API adoption, optimal developer experience, i.e. capability to find, understand and utilize the API, is crucial.

Focus on value-adding work with the cloud

Modern cloud platforms offer infrastructure (as a service) but also building blocks (Platform as a Service) that enable developers to focus on the development of the actual service, whilst leaving the infrastructure work to the cloud provider.

In addition to traditional IT services such as storage and databases, cloud platforms also provide a large portfolio of more sophisticated services, including Internet of Things, data processing, and analysis; all at the click of a button. Such platforms enable development of high-end data-intensive solutions, with minimal up-front investment or commitment, minimal development effort and minimal delays.

Cloud platforms are the perfect environment in which to develop and maintain applications from concept to production, as they offer both the flexibility required in the prototyping phase and the scalability and durability required by production systems.

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Nordcloud Opens an Office in the Heart of Copenhagen

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Nordcloud has officially opened up its new office in Copenhagen to support growth across Europe. The shared office, located in Christianshavn (right in the ‘cafe culture’ heart of the city) is perfect for recruiting the best tech talent Denmark can offer.

Anders Sabra, who has previously held positions at both Microsoft and IBM, is taking the lead in growing the Danish office says,

“With 10 existing customers in Denmark previously being managed from Nordcloud in Malmö, we have seen a need to be even closer to our Danish customers. We are delighted to have a presence locally now and to be able to help our customers with their growth.”

Today, Nordcloud was announced as the 5th fastest growing company in Finland (1561%) by Deloitte, and in Denmark, we’re sure we’ll also see significant growth in the next 12 months. I’m very happy to have been given the opportunity to lead the growth in Denmark with our multi-cloud migration, managed services and application development”.
As the office grows throughout next year, Nordcloud hopes to ramp up recruitment in this region, looking for both technical and sales positions.
If you would like to get in contact with Anders and our Copenhagen office, please contact us here.

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ARCHITECTURE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY GENERATION – THIS TIME, RE:IMAGINED

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Much like the last 5 years at re:Invent, we were treated on the Thursday to a keynote by Werner Vogels, speaking at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. It’s a huge space and the production values that AWS brings to their keynotes (coupled with the 16,800 capacity) made for an electric start to the morning.

Vogels started the keynote by reflecting on the keynotes he has delivered over the last 5 years. During his first ever keynote back in 2012, Vogels discussed 21st-century architecture. He provided 4 guiding commandments: Controllable, Resilient, Adaptive, and Data Driven. He returned to this theme by calling this particular keynote ’21st Century Architectures, re:Imagined’

 

It was made clear from the start that, unlike previous years, there would be relatively few announcements. He was true to his word, and instead focussed on just a few key themes. Vogels took time to thank AWS’s customers, reflecting that in the beginning, they knew they had to be collaborative to succeed. They wanted to build a collection of ‘nimble’ tools which could be assembled to build what customers needed. AWS listen to customer feedback, launching services that are rock solid, then working with customers to set the roadmap and development priorities.

AWS want to help you build services for the future, and a lot of the announcements this week are enabled by developments in technology that have come about in the last 2-3 years.

 

Voice As A Control System

One of the themes Vogels spoke about was IoT and allowing whole environments to become accessible. Every device has the ability to become an input or output device, but with so many out there, it’s good to consider how we interact with all of them and their systems. Vogels believes that digital interfaces of the future will be human-centric, and the things that we as humans use to communicate will become the inputs to systems. The first of these will be the voice as it’s the most natural and easiest interaction.

Once you can use your voice to control systems, Vogel suggested people won’t look back, from surgeons operating theatre equipment, to simply controlling the lighting or heating in your house, it will unlock digital systems for everyone.

To demonstrate this point, Vogels talked about the International Rice Research Institute who provide rice farmers advice on how much and which fertiliser to put on their crops based on their years of research. Consumption of this information was very low until they invested in a voice interface. Farmers can call, select from one of 27 dialects, and provide information on their land and crop conditions. They then use voice recognition and machine learning to read back to the farmer which fertilizer they need.

This was building up to the announcement of Alexa Business, a service that ‘makes it easier for you to introduce Alexa to your organization, providing the tools you need to set-up and manage Alexa enabled devices, enroll users, and assign skills at scale’

 

Ensure You Are Well Architected

The next theme of the keynote was architecture. Typically, systems have three planes: Admin, Control, and Data. (Vogels suggested architecture that extensive was difficult to visualise on marketing slides!) The AWS Well Architected Framework was launched two years ago and has grown from a single document to five pillars across five documents with two ‘lenses’. It guides the user on how to architect for specific use cases, (currently HPC and Serverless). The framework is included in AWS certifications and AWS regularly run boot camps and ‘Well Architected Reviews’ for its customers.

 

Dance Like No One Is Watching, Encrypt Like Everyone Is

This particular section had a strong focus on security and availability. On security, Vogels recapped everything you need to ensure you are doing, from implementing a strong identity foundation to automating security best practices. The need to encrypt everything was also highlighted and security has become a problem for all. Developers are now seen to be the new security team and everything needs to be remembered. For example, ensuring the security of the CI/CD pipeline, as well as ensuring security within the pipeline.

Development has also changed over time, meaning you need to be more security aware. It’s more collaborative, there are more languages, and more services and teams are combining. To help out, AWS have launched Cloud9a cloud-based IDE, including a code editor, debugger, and a terminal pre-packaged with essential tools (JavaScript, PHP, Python), to allow you to write, run and debug your code, so you don’t need to set-up your development environments to start new projects.

 

Everything Will Fail. All The Time

Availability, reliability, and resilience were discussed, from the basics, (hard dependencies reduce availability, redundant dependencies increase availability) to the best practices of Distributed Systems, through to deployment automation and testing. Nora Jones (Netflix), gave the example of using Chaos Engineering and how they do this at Netflix.

Vogels highlighted that available systems cost more and therefore it becomes a business decision whether to easily run something in a single availability zone, but only achieve 99% of uptime. If you want to increase this you need to distribute your services across multiple availability zones or even regions. DynamoDB Global Tables, for example, help you to do this, becoming the ultimate tool in reliability design. Although this has little to do with AWS (and more to do with decisions made within organisations), AWS can make this much easier for you. This brings us nicely onto the final part of the keynote – letting AWS do the ‘heavy lifting’ through its managed services.

Galls Law says, “A complex system that worked is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked”. AWS allows you to keep your systems simple by providing nimble services which you can assemble to build what you need. If you run your own RDBMS, you have to take care of the control and data planes. If you run on AWS, AWS manages the control plane. AWS Managed Services are designed for AWS to control the complex and hard to manage moving parts. making it simpler for you. This was demonstrated by Abby Fuller speaking about containers on AWS, and how Amazon Fargate can help you to make your environment much more simple. AWS will continue to release managed services over the next year.

 

Serverless

Serverless was something that couldn’t possibly be missed out of this keynote, with it being the ultimate AWS Managed Service. There is no server management, has flexible scaling, high availability, and no idle capacity. Here are the final (Lambda) product announcements

In addition, the AWS Serverless Application Repository was also announcedallowing users to discover collections of serverless apps and easily deploy these into your account in a few clicks. You can also publish your own apps to share with the community, allowing you to easily consume their 3rd party Lambda functions and apply them to your environments.

 

If you would like to understand how Nordcloud can help you take advantage of AWS Managed Services, help discuss whether your environment is well architected for, or discuss any other of the releases made this week, please get in touch. 

 

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Nordcloud’s Fast! Makes Finland’s Top 5 Fastest Growing Tech Companies (Again)!

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Nordcloud comes fifth in Deloitte’s 2017 Technology Fast 50TM

Helsinki, December 1st, 2017. Nordcloud, the Nordic’s market-leading public cloud provider has been named one of Finland’s fastest growing technology companies by global consultants Deloitte.

Nordcloud was placed at #5 in a list that ranks the fastest growing technology companies in Finland based on revenue growth, having established itself as the fastest growing public-cloud managed-service provider in Europe.

The company has set ambitious targets for the years leading up to 2020. Nordcloud is aiming to quadruple its size with annual revenue to reach over €200m. It expects to almost double its staff in the next year alone, by recruiting more than 150 people to maintain its high levels of customer service, R&D, and international expansion.

“Having topped the Finnish Fast 50 in 2016, this year’s results confirm that we’re continuing to grow incredibly strongly as we mature as a business,” says Nordcloud CTO Ilja Summala. “The company was launched in 2011 with a clear vision, inspired by the potential we saw for cloud services to give businesses the flexibility and speed they need to innovate, transform the way they do business, and develop their services.”

“We’ve achieved this result with the help of outstanding partners and customers”, says Summala. “Together we’ve been rolling out our vision of transformed corporate IT using hyperscale cloud and software, with the greater agility and efficiency that brings”.

Nordcloud is focussed on building a full-stack cloud-native system integrator with the aim of being the top Europe-wide choice and one that also addresses specifically European concerns such as compliance with EU regulations, as well as having a local presence on the ground in every territory where it has customers.

 

About Nordcloud

Founded in 2011, Nordcloud is a European leader in public cloud infrastructure solutions and cloud-native application services. Since 2012 it has completed more than 300 successful deployments that have helped its enterprise customers reap the full benefits of the cloud, including better security, agility, scalability and reduced costs.

Nordcloud is forecast to turnover €50M in 2017 and employs 250 people at offices in Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, London, Munich, Amsterdam, Poznań and Malmö.

 

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 programme lists the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Finland based on revenue growth over the previous four years. The Finnish Fast 50 is part of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 EMEA and Global Technology 100 programmes and includes all areas of technology: from Internet to biotechnology; from medical and scientific to computers and both public and private companies.

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