Cloud computing news #9: Bimodal IT strategy

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This week we focus on bimodal as IT strategy.

Gartner defines bimodal as the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, Mode 1 focused on stability and Mode 2 on agility. Mode 1 is sequential, emphasising predictability and accuracy when problems are well understood. Whereas Mode 2, is more agile, exploratory, aimed at solving new problems, drive business and deliver results.

With digital transformation, IT delivery is not just about software and applications but also about business needs, customisations, scalability and efficiency. Bimodal IT helps in the adoption of new technology while keeping the space for traditional development open. According to Gartner survey 2016, 40% of CIO´s are on the bimodal journey, with the majority of the remainder planning to follow in the next three years.

 

Insurance companies can embrace digitalization through Bimodal IT

Insurance companies are in great need for agility and speedier time to market because of evolving customer demands, rise of FinTechs and regulatory requirements. According to Insurance Hub, the fundamental question is: How to reduce the complexity of a legacy IT landscape whilst promoting the development of new and innovative products and processes?

In this context, Bimodal IT is the most promising approach. Some benefits of Bimodal approach are:

  1. Speed and flexibility – and ensuring efficient and safe operations of existing systems: new IT requirements can be quickly and flexibly implemented without replacing existing legacy systems. An integration layer synchronizes the ‘new’ and the ‘old’ world and makes functionalities from existing systems available for the new applications by means of defined interfaces.
  2. Cultural transformation: existing systems can be operated as usual but the development of the new innovative products need new agile approaches.
  3. Innovation at the interface to customers and partners: Through agile methods iterative character, products can be developed within short cycles, validated and adjusted based on customer feedback. As the insurance sector is often characterized by outdated system landscapes, Bimodal IT can be a crucial enabler in meeting the industries’ challenges.

Read more in Insurance Hub

 

Building For A Digital Future With Bimodal IT

According to Digitalist Magazine, IT’s highest priority has been for decades to enhance control over the business systems of record – but this is not enough any more. Organizations must grow incrementally and exponentially – sometimes taking quantum leaps to get ahead of the market.

For that reason, business leaders must shift from a traditional IT strategy to a bimodal IT approach that differentiates the business. Mode 1 systems helps guide and steer the business but mode 2 to catalyzes innovation by leveraging new sources of data, leading-edge technologies such as AI and machine learning, and massive compute power and storage functionality at scale.

With a bimodal IT strategy, CIOs can capture data from IoT sensors, drones, devices, and new sources to come. Using powerful in-memory compute technology and a modern, data-based infrastructure, we can rapidly process that data and share it with mode 1 systems to create a more complete view of the business, its opportunities, and potential disruptors.

There is no need to replace the technology that is working, however. Most companies will be able to retain their existing mode 1 systems. Teams can stand up new mode 2 systems and develop integrations between mode 1 and 2, allowing them to connect these systems to new sources of data.

Read more in Digitalist Magazine

 

BIMODAL IT AT NORDCLOUD

We are ranked globally #2 by Gartner capability assessment in Mode 2 use cases such as supporting agile applications and cloud native transformation. We can help you move away from legacy applications and update your workflow with modern, cloud-based applications that are tailored to solve your most challenging problems. Benefit from scalability, and easier and more flexible management.

How can we help you take your business to the next level? 

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Nordcloud ist führender „Accelerator“ für „Managed Public Cloud“ in Deutschland!

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Public Cloud is der Key Enabler für die digitale Transformation, doch die meisten Unternehmen brauchen externe Expertise, um sie bei den strukturellen Veränderungen zu unterstützen. Nordcloud wurde im aktuellen Anbietervergleich „Vendor Universe 2018“ im Bereich „Managed Public Cloud Provider“ vom unabhängigen IT-Forschungs- und Beratungsunternehmen Crisp Research zum „Accelerator“ ausgezeichnet. 

Um die neue Nordcloud-Studie über Nutzung der Public Cloud im deutschen Mittelstand zu lesen,

Klicken Sie bitte hier

Crisp untersuchte Research fünf für Deutschland relevante Cloud-Märkte und die darin tätigen Dienstleister, um Entscheidern in Unternehmen eine Leitlinie zu geben und die größten Handlungsfelder innerhalb der Branche zu analysieren. Zusammen mit 16 weiteren Anbietern wurde Nordcloud in der Marktrubrik „Managed Public Cloud Provider“ getestet. Die Bewertungskriterien wurden dabei in die zwei Hauptkategorien „Service / Product Value Creation“ und „Vendor Performance“ unterteilt.

nordcloud vendor universe

Wir sind stolz, dass sich Nordcloud bereits kurz nach dem deutschen Markteintritt zu einem der führenden Managed Public Cloud Services entwickelt hat.

Uli Baur, Country Manager, Nordcloud DACH

 

Das Ergebnis bestätigt Nordclouds Vorreiterposition innerhalb der Cloud Computing-Branche: In der Kategorie „Service / Product Value Creation“ erzielte das finnische Unternehmen den Höchstwert von 85 Prozent (Durchschnittswert: 62 Prozent), für die „Vendor Performance“ erhielt es insgesamt 81 Prozent (Durchschnittswert: 58 Prozent).

Besonders in den Bereichen „Service Portfolio“, „Integration“ und „Customer Experience“ konnte Nordcloud überzeugen.

Carlo Velten, Senior Analyst und CEO von Crisp Research gratuliert: „Nordcloud befindet sich derzeit auf der Überholspur der Managed Public Cloud Services und führt das Feld erfolgreich an. Unsere unabhängige Analyse hat gezeigt, dass Nordclouds End-to-End-Multi-Cloud-Service den Kunden ein marktführendes, umfangreiches Partnernetzwerk sowie tiefreichende Technologie-Expertise in den Bereichen IT-Infrastruktur, DevOps und neue Technologie-Paradigmen bietet.“

Nordcloud befindet sich derzeit auf der Überholspur der Managed Public Cloud Services und führt das Feld erfolgreich an. 

Carlo Velten, CEO, Crisp Research

Uli Baur, Country Manager Nordcloud DACH pflichtet dem bei: „Wir sind stolz, dass sich Nordcloud bereits kurz nach dem deutschen Markteintritt zu einem der führenden Managed Public Cloud Services entwickelt hat. Cloud Computing hat durch die voranschreitende digitale Transformation branchenübergreifend an Relevanz gewonnen, doch nur wenige Unternehmen verfügen über das nötige Fachpersonal und Know-how, um die strukturellen Veränderungen alleine zu meistern. Dienstleister wie Nordcloud unterstützen Unternehmen dabei, ihre Geschäftsprozesse zu beschleunigen und mithilfe von Cloud-Lösungen in Zukunft wettbewerbsfähig zu bleiben.“

 

Public Cloud ist der Key Enabler für Innovation

Nordcloud und Crisp Research haben in einer aktuellen Studie die Strategien und das Mindset zu Public Clouds im deutschen Mittelstand untersucht und die Ansprüche an Managed Public Cloud Provider analysiert. Deutsche Unternehmen legen einen immer stärkeren Fokus auf die Public Cloud und sind dabei auf die externe Expertise von IT-Service- und Consulting-Anbieter angewiesen.

Managed Public Cloud Provider als gefragte Experten

Da sowohl die Transformation in die Public Cloud als auch der Betrieb dieser Systeme zum Teil hochkomplex sind, greift die große Mehrheit der befragten Unternehmen (79 Prozent) auf die Unterstützung externer Dienstleister zurück. 52 Prozent gaben an mit einem, 19 Prozent mit zwei Managed Public Cloud Providern zusammenzuarbeiten. Die externe Expertise wird dabei nahezu in allen Teilbereichen beansprucht, von der Cloud-Strategie (64 Prozent), dem Monitoring und Management (54 Prozent) über die Entwicklung der API-Strategie (51 Prozent) bis hin zur Entwicklung von DevOps-Betriebskonzepten (51 Prozent). Managed Public Cloud Providern wird somit eine hohe strategische Relevanz zuteil.

Um die neue Studie von Nordcloud in voller Länge zu lesen,

Klicken Sie bitte hier

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Nordcloud named the leading ‘accelerator’ in the cloud computing industry

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Vendor Universe 2018 in the area of Managed Public Cloud Provider

Nordcloud, one of Europe’s leading providers of public cloud infrastructure solutions, has been named a leading ‘accelerator’ by independent IT research and consulting firm Crisp Research in the current vendor comparison ‘Vendor Universe 2018’ in the area of ‘Managed Public Cloud Provider’.

In this comprehensive study, Crisp Research examined five cloud markets relevant for Germany and the service providers active in them in order to provide decision-makers in companies with guidelines and to analyse the largest fields of action within the industry. Together with 16 other providers, Nordcloud was tested in the market category ‘Managed Public Cloud Provider‘. The evaluation criteria were divided into the two main categories: ‘Service / Product Value Creation’ and ‘Vendor Performance’.

The result confirms Nordcloud’s pioneering position within the cloud computing industry

In the category ‘Service / Product Value Creation’ the Finnish company achieved the highest value of 85 percent (average value: 62 percent), for ‘Vendor Performance’ it received a total of 81 percent (average value: 58 percent). Nordcloud was particularly convincing in the areas of ‘Service Portfolio’, ‘Integration’ and ‘Customer Experience’.

nordcloud vendor universe

Nordcloud has developed into one of the leading Managed Public Cloud Services in the German market

Carlo Velten, Senior Analyst and CEO of Crisp Research congratulates: ‘Nordcloud is currently in the fast lane of Managed Public Cloud Services and successfully leads the field. Our independent analysis has shown that Nordcloud’s end-to-end multi-cloud service offers customers a market-leading, extensive partner network and deep technology expertise in the areas of IT infrastructure, DevOps and new technology paradigms’.

Ulrich Baur, Country Manager of Nordcloud Germany agrees: ‘We are proud that shortly after entering the German market, Nordcloud has developed into one of the leading Managed Public Cloud Services Providers. Cloud computing has gained in relevance across industries as a result of the advancing digital transformation, but only a few companies have the specialist staff and know-how to master the structural changes alone. Service providers like Nordcloud are helping companies accelerate their business processes and stay competitive in the future with cloud solutions.’

If you’d like to find out more about the study, contact us here.

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Cloud-Native Development (AWS CodeStar with AWS Cloud9)

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Back in April 2017 AWS released CodeStar, a cloud service designed to make it easier to develop, build, and deploy applications on AWS by simplifying the setup of your entire development project. This sounds to me a lot like a DevOps dream.

AWS CodeStar is used as a bundle service, because it uses CodeCommit, CodeBuild, CodePipeline, CodeDeploy, Lambda, EC2, Elastic Beanstalk, CloudFormation, and Cloud9.

Let me guide you step by step on setting up AWS CodeStar.

CodeStar Workflow

First thing you are presented with are multiple templates that will help you get started with Web Application or Web Service. Within these templates you are presented with popular programming languages like C#, GO, HTML 5, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, and Ruby. Each of the programming languages can be launched into other AWS services such as EC2, Elastic Beanstalk, and AWS Lambda. For this article, I have decided to create HTML 5 with the only AWS service provided for this language is EC2.

codestar workflow

Once you decide your programming language and AWS service you are presented with the Project details screen. Within this screen you are able to pick your project name, and the repository you would like to use. I have decided to go with AWS CodeCommit.

project details codestar

The repository part is one limitation that I noticed right away. You only get two repository options AWS CodeCommit or GitHub, but what about Bitbucket, GitLab or other Git repositories. Well that is when it becomes a little more difficult to setup, because it will require you to setup a Github hook to an Amazon API Gateway to AWS Lambda that pushes your code to Amazon S3.

API codestar

Now that we have named the project and picked the repository we get presented with a pipeline review. We see that AWS CodeCommit will be the Source, Build and Test currently have nothing, Deploy is using AWS CodeDeploy, and for Monitoring it will use Amazon CloudWatch.

project codestar

Since I picked EC2, I am able to pick the EC2 configuration. This allows me to pick the instance type, VPC, and subnet. What I do not like about this is the security side of it. CodeStar assumes that I have already configured the VPC and Subnet.

configuration codestar

Once you have configured the settings that were presented to you it will either bring you to the next create project step or if an EC2 was needed, it will ask you for an Amazon EC2 Key Pair. Which could be another limitation, because you have to have one created, but you can also create it in another window and refresh.

EC2 codestar

Maybe you have already been presented with this, but after the steps above you are presented with connectivity. You are allowed to use multiple tools outside of the ones listed, but the following are just the most common used, besides the AWS Cloud9 IDE tool. If you did pick GitHub it would ask you for integration with GitHub, but since I picked CodeCommit it provides me with an HTTPS/SSH connection string. HTTPS has been known to have issues pushing to Git well SSH hasn’t. It really depends on your preference and the size of the push.

code codestar

I have decided to pick the AWS Cloud9 IDE Tool. Depending on the tool you pick it will explain how to get your CodeCommit linked up to the tool of choice. Once done the creation of a CodeStar project is finished and the real fun starts.

You can skip this section about me explaining AWS Cloud9 if you decide not to use that IDE tool, but it is something that you should definitely consider.

What is AWS Cloud9?

Back in 2016 AWS acquired a company called Cloud9. This company focused on created an integrated development environment for web and mobile developers to collaborate together. It wasn’t until re:Invent 2017 that AWS announced AWS Cloud9.

The one major downside of Cloud9 is that it requires EC2 instances to run it. Now depending on your coding structure or how large of an instance you want to create AWS Cloud9 could cost you less than $2 per month or more.

codestar environment

You can also go into the advanced setting and change the network, tag, and cost-saving settings. The cost-saving settings (hibernation) is a really cool feature, because it allows the AWS Cloud9 EC2 instance to be shutdown an intervals of 30 minutes.

network settings codestar

For me the key purpose of using Cloud9 comes down to what is my production system is going to use. You will probably be using an EC2 environment that is based on the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) with the instance type of your choice. Most of the AMI will have your AWS CLI, git, Python, Java or even another programming language installed.

Limitations of AWS Cloud9

  • Limited Live debugging
  • No offline functionality
  • Limited integrations with other AWS Services within Cloud9 console

Finishing up CodeStar

Now you have reached the final screen, or what is known in CodeStar the dashboard.The dashboard allows you to drag-and-drop the multiple sections around. The sections are as followed: project wiki section, CloudWatch metrics, API endpoint (not if you used EC2), and git history from CodeCommit or GitHub. If it is integrated with JIRA or GitHub, you are able to add issue tracking section.

Congratulations you have now created your first CodeStar project.

Limitations of CodeStar

I did have an issue of taking my code from a my do it yourself pipeline to CodeStar. The code wouldn’t compile within CodeStar, but did just find in CodeBuild. Not sure if this an AMI issue, but would need a deeper debugging.

  • Max of 10 projects per user
  • No Custom Project templates
  • No Integration with BitBucket
  • No API endpoint for EC2 instances
  • Slow when deploying

Thanks for reading this (extra long) I hope you come out learning more about AWS CodeStar and AWS Cloud9. Stay tuned for the next article about setting up HTML 5. If you’d like to know more about using CodeStar, please contact us here.

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Cloud Computing News #8: Cloud is the new normal for public sector

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This week we focus on public cloud in the public sector.

5 reasons for public sector to move to cloud

According to GCN, government agencies across the globe are increasingly leveraging cloud computing in their business services and functions. The cloud can be a platform for constant and ongoing innovation within the public sector. It can deliver unique solutions to hard problems and presents an opportunity for substantial technology transformation.

GCN lists 5 reasons why public sector should leverage the cloud computing:

  1. Boost innovation: Cloud native applications can leverage machine learning, burst compute that would be hard (if not impossible) to build and run inside a datacenter.
  2. Leverage a rich portfolio of infrastructure, platform and software services: Rather than sticking with a single cloud provider who may have the best compute and storage services, public sector should adopt a portfolio of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS options that supports their business needs both now and in the future.
  3. Reduce costs: The cloud offers a compelling and cost-effective alternative to on-premise in the public sector.
  4. Refocus on delivering value to the mission rather than continuing to invest in commodities: Instead of purchasing hardware and software that must be upgraded and managed through its lifecycle, the cloud allows IT departments to cede much (and in some cases all) of this work to third-party providers.
  5. The cloud is the perfect platform for business service modernisation. Benefit from a rich portfolio of applications, infrastructure and services that are ready to be used. Innovation in clouds today is unparalleled in the tech industry, almost guaranteeing that an investment in the cloud will remain modern for years to come.

Read more in GCN

Digital transformation within the public sector is opening up new services

Raconteur lists five key examples of digital transformation in the public sector that are “opening up services and improving delivery in a wide range of areas worldwide”. Here are some picks from the article:

  1. Vancouver, first city to develop and implement a digital strategy in Canada has multiple digital transformation initiatives that have delivered value and benefits to residents, staff, businesses and visitors. For instance, VanConnect, a mobile app that enables users to view and access information about various city programmes and services anywhere, and #VanWiFi, that provides free public wifi at around 600 locations citywide, making it one of the largest free public wifi networks in North America.
  2. By the end of this year, all Moscow schoolchildren will have access to an online school, a cloud-based education platform holding 800,000 assignments, textbooks, tests, educational presentation.
  3. In Estonia, virtually all government services are delivered digitally, with the exceptions of marriage, divorce and property purchases. The main principle of Estonia’s e-government is that citizens should have to provide information only once.

Read more in Raconteur

Cloud is the New Normal in Government. Now What?

According to AWS Blog, The U.S. federal government has been migrating to the cloud for a long time. The cloud journey began with email services and websites, and now virtually any type of workload is running in the AWS Cloud.

So what does the future of cloud computing in government look like? Here are a few take aways from this blog post:

  • Agencies will start moving from workload-specific cloud migrations to enterprise-wide solutions
  • Workforces will become more productive: employees can experience greater empowerment with new technology tools that allow them to focus on strategic, innovative, mission-critical work.
  • IT systems will become much more responsive: by moving to an agile DevOps model, IT teams are able to iterate quickly and deploy code on a daily basis, with little risk.
  • More organizations will be able to solve problems that they weren’t able to solve in the past.

Read the full blog post and watch a video of Brett McMillen, Senior Manager for U.S. Federal Civilian at AWS, talking about the future of cloud computing in government.

Cloud transformation at Nordcloud

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Captain’s Log @ Nordcloud Talent Acceleration

Ahoy there! I have just returned from week 1 of Nordcloud’s Talent Acceleration programme in Helsinki, 6-week AWS training course aimed at seasoned IT professionals to turn them into cloud experts with a mixture of classroom lectures, practical labs and real-world scenarios.

Upon accepting Nordcloud’s offer, I knew I’d be joining with other new starters from around Europe in Helsinki for week 1, but where would we be sleeping? A hotel? A shared apartment?

helsinki

The accommodation details came through on email along with the rest of the joining members, a two-bedroom houseboat for the 5 Nordcloud students. It certainly looked cosy from the picture. I’ll say that I was a little apprehensive about sharing close quarters with people I’ve never met before. We coordinated our visit between ourselves over email and mobile messaging groups, arranging to meet up depending when our flights arrived in Helsinki.

boat

It turned out that I was one of the first to arrive, and I had been liaising with the boat owner to arrange picking up keys (or perhaps “on-boarding” is a better term here). I was greeted by a tall Russian with a big grey beard, a ship’s captain if ever I’ve seen one! He proceeded to give me a thorough tour of the boat’s quarters during which I placed my belongings in the prime sleeping spot. He then told me he would show me how to fill the water tank as over a week, it would run out. He placed a large hi-vis vest on me and said “you’re the captain now, Captain Terry…” He then said “follow me” and grabbed a hose from the side of the harbour, put it between his teeth and climbed down the side of the boat on a small ledge no bigger than 5cm. The weather was kind in Helsinki, however, I wasn’t too keen on falling and taking a swim in the harbour water. I told him I had a great view from where I was, and he proceeded to hold onto the boat with one hand and placing the hose into the tank, just above the water line. He said that if we had any problems with filling up the tank then we should call him… I was pretty sure we’d be calling him.

UCN Terry

Life on the open sea was good to us for the week, with the activities planned plus eating out together each evening, we didn’t spend too much time on the boat apart from sleeping. It was certainly a good way to get to know my fellow Nordcloud candidates. When we ran out of water midway through the week, I took captain’s responsibility to go and fill the tank and did so without incident. With the long list of things I learnt during the start of the Nordcloud Talent Acceleration course, boat maintenance was a surprise addition to the list!

I have just booked my flights for week 5 meet-up in Helsinki, I await the accommodation email with interest…

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Cloud Computing News #7: Company culture affects cloud readiness

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This week we focus on how company culture can drive the digital transformation.

 

How can CTOs improve employee readiness for Cloud?

Digital transformation requires also employee readiness which few companies consider when planning transformation. Infomation Age discusses how CTOs can help solve the employee engagement in transformation by driving digital change to successfully integrate new technologies into the enterprise. According to a study by Bain & Company 2017, 87 % of employees feel disengaged globally. This can be a result of fragmented and outdated technology which makes working remotely frustrating.

So how can CTOs improve employee readiness for digital transformation?

  1. Identify the problem, make a roadmap, and pilot: Identify problems that needs solving and what will the enterprise gain from the migration. Draw up a technology roadmap and structure the pilot phases for cloud-based tools which will underpin employee connectedness.
  2. Integrate the technologies employees use and break down communications barriers.
  3. Gather insights from analytics, to share with the c-suite to improve productivity and engagement across the entire organisation.
  4. Use predictive analytics and machine learning for IT teams to be proactive with security and safety.
  5. Change the culture: focus on the employee experience. Digital transformation is a long-term process that can only be successful when it has the backing of the entire organisation.

Read more in Information Age

 

How to support Cloud? 3 ways to build an agile company culture

To work effectively in the cloud, you need more than just the right technology – you need the right culture. In our blog post, we introduce three ways you can build an agile company culture that supports the cloud, so you can get the most out of your digital transformation.

  1. Share a common vision: Digital transformation is like rowing a boat; if one person is rowing in the opposite direction, it makes hard work for everyone else. Likewise, you won’t be able to push forward with the cloud if you’re faced with resistance from a few uncommitted employees. To ensure everyone is on the same page, you need a shared vision that they can believe in.
  2. Abolish the hierarchy: Not entirely, of course, but loosening the reins to give employees more decision-making power will drive your business forward. The agile methodology is founded upon making small but important decisions quickly so you can make progress.
  3. Make it a business goal: For the cloud and digital transformation to be adopted across the entire business, it must become ingrained in all your processes, not just one small silo. Someone has to be the champion that drives this integration forward and ensures that the agile methodology becomes a core part of your business operations.

Read more in our blog post

 

More Value from the Cloud When Company Transforms its Culture

According to AWS Cloud Strategy Blog, the mining industry is in the midst of a transformation. The future is digital—mining companies are shifting their business strategies to account for how technology can help create new business and operating models.

These new technology solutions can help miners improve safety, increase efficiencies in production, drive more accurate planning, or even promote more sustainable mining practices. Yet an area that is often overlooked is how adopting the cloud goes beyond enabling a new technology-driven solution—it’s also about enabling a new technology-supported way of working.

AWS has been working with their mining customers to explore how their people can innovate, using the cloud as an enabler of great change:

  • Focus on the end results: What outcomes will you see once your solution is ready?
  • Drive internal collaboration so that technology solutions are grounded in outcomes that end users (like line-of-business users) need versus outcomes IT thinks they might want.
  • Help employees select small but important wins that can serve as an entry, not only into the cloud, but also into new ways of working, allowing IT to forge tighter alliances to line-of-business leads, adopting continuous development methods, and allowing space for rethinking processes and team structures.

Read more in AWS blog

 

Cloud transformation AT NORDCLOUD

Accelerate operations by moving IT to the public cloud with our solutions, you can find them here.

Our data driven solutions will make an impact on your business with better control and valuable business insight with IoT, modern data platforms and advanced analytics based on machine learning. How can we help you take your business to the next level? 

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Building operational resilience for FSI businesses

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A lot has been discussed and written about the recent TSB bank fiasco that saw its customers unable to access their banking services. The interesting thing is the planned downtime was supposed to last only 4 hours but instead went on for almost 48 hours (12 times more) for many of it’s customers, and left them ranting and raving about how helpless they felt while the bank took its (long), sweet time to sort out their mess!

There are few fundamental issues here, but the one I want to focus on is the fact that this isn’t the first time it happened with TSB (it also occurred in April 2018) or within Financial Services & Insurance (FSI) vertical – there already have been occasions when an IT systems meltdown happened unplanned, or a planned maintenance lasted 12 times longer than expected. At the same time in a world where we talk about Robotic Process Automation (RPA) & Artificial Intelligence (AI) taking over everything that’s mundane, repeatable and quick to learn, do we really understand the problem fully enough to find a solution to building an enterprise business that’s operationally resilient?

Firstly, let’s understand why Operational Resilience (OpR) is important in FSI:

  • Threatens the viability of firms within FSI and causes instability in financial systems.
  • Introduces significant reputational & business risk within the ecosystem, hampering growth and confidence for all participants involved.
  • Hinders the ability of firms to prevent and respond to operational disruption.

One way to get a grip on the OpR problem is to look at these incidents and happenings from the perspective of other participants, (apart from Banks and Financial Institutions (FI)) in the Financial Services ecosystem, i.e. Customers & Regulators. There have been numerous questions and concerns from both these participants but to keep it simple, the top three that we hear the most are:

  1. How can you not get it right after you have failed many times?
  2. How long is long enough to be unexpected?
  3. How do we reward for failures?

How can you not get it right after you have failed many times?

 “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination” – Albert Einstein

The point being, we need to apply new age design thinking into age old processes and do some right brain activities to come up with out-of-the-box ideas. You might think it’s easier said than done but going back to the principle of design thinking – empathising with the user- is a great place to start.

Since FSI is such heavily regulated sector, it needs to develop focus areas based on an end-to-end lifecycle of business services (i.e. inception, delivery & maintenance) that impacts its market participants, profitability and risks directly. In the diagram below, I look at an example of a business service – “Retail Mortgages”.

Looking specifically at this service, the FIs need to think how they can break it down (for OpR) into three key pillars – Focused Services, Technical Enhancement & Risk Management, followed by a framework that identifies, maps, assesses, tests & governs the whole mechanism in a periodic way.

This is exactly where public clouds are such key enablers for this new world design thinking due to the flexibility, security, standardisation and resiliency they provide. As you introduce new business services into this framework the communication and governance should be standardised and in-line with your internal audit policies, only then will you be able to achieve true OpR by investing in all the aspects of that service. This also helps you answer questions like ‘should we buy more capacity and IT staff for testing a CRM system or should we improve the OpR of business-critical mortgage services?’

retail mortgages

Business Architecture for OpR Framework in public clouds

How long is long enough to be unexpected?

When I ask this question to some of my colleagues in financial services, their response is typically synonymous to the answer you might get if you ask someone ‘how long is a piece of string?’ which frustrates me. Ultimately, you don’t know until you measure it. Once you have applied some design thinking on your business services the next step is to measure & communicate them. With public cloud there are numerous ways to develop an automated process or introduce new tooling that can help set-up impact tolerances specific to your business service. You can run stress testing and simulate numerous operational scenarios and report back on a management dashboard, (without significant capital expenditures) present it to your company board, internal audit teams (to match alignment) and keep it ready for your external auditors when they ask for it. You can therefore measure your OpR and predict the expected downtimes in a much more accurate way rather than running into long and unexpected downtimes.

How can we reward failures?

This is a bit of a grey area hence it is important to get straight to the point – financial institutions put aside a lot of money for paying fines to regulators, compensating customers for loss of service and confidence, and at the same time, giving big pay-outs to staff for achieving irrelevant goals that are not in line with business focus areas. To fix this, the overall governance framework needs to set goals specific to selected business services, empower staff with set of right tools that helps run & manage the operations and have board level oversight to measure goals through open, fair and transparent metrics that not only looks at internal participants but include the interest of market participants like customers & regulators. By having this mind-shift and moving to the public cloud, financial institutions can lower compensation towards failures and invest where they really need to.

In a nutshell

to build an operationally resilient public cloud infrastructure:

  1. Focus on business services in the order of highest priority based on your organisational goals, you will notice that by doing so the investments are going to the right places, in the right detail, in a timely and systematic way and failures are only going to make you better, not miserable.
  2. Set-up operational metrics and impact tolerances that will be collected and reported to measure your operational resiliency. Use tooling and automation offered within the public cloud to improve governance & actionability within your organisation.
  3. Manage business risk through goal setting and empower your teams with the right tools and transparent processes.

It’s high time the financial institutions stop ‘putting the cart in front of the horse’ or doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. It’s time to re-think, to re-imagine, to re-invent and to re-organise the mess by embracing the public cloud and delivering what your customers really expect by working with market leaders like Nordcloud.

FSI ready high grade offering from Nordcloud

Nordcloud offers a full stack cloud offerings, starting from enablement, governance, migration to business service operations. Within FSI we have designed specific frameworks that comply with regulatory standards and can be adopted out-of-the-box with bespoke configuration. Letting you focus on your core business while we take care of everything else.

Contact us here to learn more about how to build an operationally resilient business.

Cloud computing is on the rise in the financial services – are you ready?

Download our free white paper Compliance in the cloud: How to embrace the cloud with confidence, where we outline some of the many benefits that the cloud can offer, such as:

  • Lowered costs
  • Scalability and agility
  • Better customer insights
  • Tighter security

Download white paper

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Leveraging AWS Greengrass for Edge IoT Solutions

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There is a growing demand for intelligent edge solutions that not only collect data, but also control on-premise equipment at industrial customer sites. Historically such solutions have often been based on low-level custom firmware that has required technical specialists to develop and maintain.

AWS Greengrass has significantly lowered the barrier for edge IoT development by extending familiar cloud technologies to the edge. Cloud architects and cloud application developers can use their existing knowledge of serverless development and programming languages they already master. In many cases the same exact code can be run both in the cloud and at the edge as a Greengrass Lambda application. This has proven very useful for use cases like KPI algorithms and diagnostic logic that need to be executed both centrally in the cloud and in distributed fashion on the equipment located at the edge.

Building blocks for IoT

It’s important to keep in mind that Amazon usually offers the building blocks for making applications, not the actual end-user applications. This also applies to Greengrass and AWS IoT in general. You get an extensive set of features for building IoT applications, but you still need to put them together into an application that solves the business case requirements. Amazon calls this eliminating the “undifferentiated heavy lifting”. Application developers don’t have to deal with low level issues like scaling databases or designing communication protocols which have already been solved in general. Instead they can focus on implementing the business-specific features and logic relevant to the use case.

In fact, as the AWS IoT platform has evolved in recent years, the need custom databases has been almost completely eliminated. AWS IoT Device Management provides a flexible way to organize IoT devices into groups and hierarchies. Custom metadata can be attached to the devices, enabling indexing and searching. You no longer start a project by designing database tables from scratch, but instead you first look at what AWS IoT already offers you out-of-the-box.

The same principle applies to business logic. In many cases there is no need to write custom code, because AWS IoT’s MQTT based messaging platform offers simpler ways to filter, route and process data. This is particularly important for datalake solutions, because the amount of data processed can be quite large. If you can completely omit custom code, you don’t have to worry about scaling it. The best datalake solutions simply connect a few services like AWS IoT, Kinesis Firehose and Amazon S3 together, and the data is automatically collected into S3 buckets regardless of its size and bandwidth.

Business logic at the Edge

In the case of Greengrass edge solutions you still usually need Lambda functions to implement business logic. Greengrass contains functionality for topic-based MQTT routing, but to process the contents of MQTT messages, some code is needed. However, the implementation can be just a few lines of code to execute the required algorithm as a Lambda function. Developers don’t have to worry about building containers, opening network connections or configuring security settings. Greengrass takes care of all the details of deploying the Lambda function.

It’s worth noting though that larger customers usually prefer to build a customized management system on top of AWS IoT and Greengrass. There are lots of exposed details and moving parts when dealing with “raw” AWS IoT devices and Greengrass deployments. When a lightweight business-specific management layer is built on top of them, end-users can deal with familiar concepts and ignore most unnecessary details. Power users can still access the underlying technologies simply by using the AWS Console.

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Cloud Computing News #6: Cloud Governance is key to success in the cloud

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This week we focus on cloud governance and cloud competence.

One third of mid-market companies have no IT governance strategy

According to a recent report by Deloitte that surveyed 500 executives in the mid-market and private segments, one-third of executives reported having little to no formal IT governance processes in place. Companies cite a lack of resources (26%), cost (21%), and a lack of C-suite understanding of the importance of IT governance (19%) as the top factors preventing them from creating such policies.

Company leaders are concerned about gaps in IT management oversight and governance that may create new vulnerabilities, the report found. 50% ranked IT governance processes and principles among the top three areas of concern for their business.

The report gives 6 tips for companies to mitigate IT-related risks.

Read more in TechRepublic

Cloud enablement, governance and strategy at Nordcloud

Our Cloud Enablement Services help your organisation to take advantage of the public cloud. We have a number of cloud advisors at Nordcloud, who are on hand to assist our customers with their journey to the cloud.

Read more about our services here or contact us here.

Fastest route to cloud adoption is to form a Cloud Competence Center

Fastest route to cloud adoption – reducing the time it takes you to get your products to market and future proofing your public cloud usage – is to form a Cloud Competence Centre.

For companies to fully realise the benefits the cloud has to offer, and free up valuable developer time, a Cloud Competence Centre is the ideal way to efficiently leverage public cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, or Google.

Nordcloud’s team of expert cloud architects will ensure that your development & operations teams are seamlessly operating as one, providing support for cloud platform development & support for project on-boarding, by focusing on five key areas: Cloud Customer On-boarding, Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Developments, Cloud Enviroment Developments, and Architecture and DevOps Support.

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Set up a Cloud Competence Center to address Cloud Governance needs

Strong governance policies are key to cloud success.

The cloud provides a wide set of tools to extract many of the things that required a lot of work in the past. This includes managed databases, managed load balancers, virtual networking etc. At the same time, the Cloud Platform itself has to be managed in some way and certain questions need to be asked. How do we design our AWS Account or Azure Subscription structure? How do we provide and monitor access to these environments? How is networking managed? Should we have a baseline for security components across the environments?

Managing a cloud platform requires ownership, typically seen in a Cloud Owner and a Cloud Steering Group. It also requires a centralised function to onboard cloud customers, do cloud platform development and maintain best practices for cloud deployments.

Setting up a Cloud Competence Centre addresses exactly these needs. When you provide the teams a service that speeds up their work and makes their journey to the cloud easier, there will be less Shadow IT and more consistent, secure and automated environments across all business units.

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