Learning from each other

The tech industry has a wide variety of tools and best practices. To enable a team to work effectively, knowledge must be distributed. At times, the whole team must learn something new. Read about the best practices Managed Cloud Applications team leverages for tackling these challenges.

Managed Cloud Applications team faces new technologies and programming languages from time to time. The team also wants to develop their internal processes by learning from the front line. And all this in between the daily tasks of development, customer communication and incident management. How do they do it?

Teaching each other

Managed Cloud Applications team has a bi-weekly slot for 90 minute meeting dedicated to continuous improvement. From time to time, one of the team members is assigned to prepare a training session. The developer will prepare relevant information, examples and maybe a demo or hands-on task on the subject. As a result, the whole team learns a lot in a short time and with small effort.

This kind of learning is recommended when one of the team members has knowledge that others don’t. For example, it might be:

  • former experience in a programming language that a new customer is using, or
  • knowledge gathered in using a new technology in a project.

When the whole team wants to learn something new, a study group could be a more beneficial approach.

Study group for books

Besides developing new features, Managed Cloud Applications team handles anything traditional DevOps processes might contain. To be effective in handling the operational tasks, the team leverages from what bigger companies have already learned. This means reading a book in common pace and discussing it weekly.

Recently, the team chose a book available online and agreed to read two chapters weekly. Each Monday developers met for three quarters of an hour to discuss what they had learned and how they could apply it to their work. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that not even the majority of attendants had had the time to read the chapters.

To allocate time for everyone to read the book, the team changed their process. The meeting time was expanded to an hour, and it began with everyone reading only one chapter further. When everyone had read the week’s chapter, discussion could begin. The pace of reading the book was halved, but team members gained a lot more from discussion. Now every attendant is familiar with the topic and can bring their own ideas to the table.

Learning together builds rapport

Arranging study groups to read a book or assigning one team member to educate others has other effects besides increased knowledge. There are many positive effects, including but not limited to:

  • Developers learn to trust each other by learning together.
  • Leading a learning session empowers individuals to see how their knowledge benefits the whole team.
  • Developers get to enhance their performance skills when leading a learning session.

Does your team take advantage of study groups? Could you start it today?

 

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A story of a busy bee from the Copenhagen swarm by Casper Bøgeholdt Andersen

Casper works as a Sales Director in the Copenhagen office. He decided to share with us what motivated him to join Nordcloud and how it’s like to work here.

Where are you from and how did you end up at Nordcloud?

I’m responsible for our market activities in Denmark. Ever since I was a kid, I have always found great passion in building and commercializing topics … from creating worlds with LEGO up until earning money as a 15-year-old by organizing parties for high school students. As a 30-year-old I established software-vendor iSpoc, which I exited at the beginning of 2019 in order to try out new projects. In addition, I have co-founded three other tech startups and worked at Egmont, Siemens Business Services and the ISV-company Fischer & Kerrn (with the responsibility of creating new markets). When I heard that Nordcloud planned to strengthen the position in Denmark I saw a golden opportunity to use my skills and to take part of a promising company. Therefore, I took contact with our CEO Jan & Co. for an introduction…

What is your core competence? On top of that, please also tell about your role and projects shortly.

My core competency is developing, planning and executing sales and marketing activities as well as creating relationships with customers and their stakeholders. I strive to build a good atmosphere around our activities, to establish the best starting point for long-term, sustainable partnerships.

 What sets you on fire / what’s your favourite thing technically with public cloud?

That we challenge customers to make the right decisions when they want to cloud-enable their businesses. Public cloud as a whole is democratizing the technological opportunities for organizations across countries, sectors and professional functions with – practically – limitless access to use the newest cloud-native services and to scale their activities. That’s a true game-changer and will launch a new wave in digitalization and automation.

What do you like most about working at Nordcloud?

Nordcloud is a small and agile business with a strong startup spirit but at the same time among the leading cloud consultancies in Europe with huge ambitions. It’s amazing to be a Nordcloudian and to work with great, highly skilled colleagues with various nationalities.

What is the most useful thing you have learned at Nordcloud?

Enabling public cloud via best practices and strong, market validated methods.

What do you do outside work?

I run in the woods or by the sea that we are living next to, and I also keep fit by biking. I enjoy being with my family and socializing with our friends. Plus, I like cooking, travelling and exploring museums.

How would you describe Nordcloud’s culture in 3 words?

Professional, pragmatic and progressive.

Best Nordcloudian memory?

I got a very inclusive and empathetic welcome when I started my journey as a Nordcloudian.

 

Casper is also an active contributor to Linkedin. You can read his latest article on the 10 good reasons to move to Denmark here

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Ensuring the Growth through Talent Acquisition

Marko leads our global team of talent acquisition professionals and plays an important part in ensuring that we have a strong talent base with the right skillset. Talent Acquisition team is there to make sure that – thanks to having skilled tech experts and other Nordcloud pros – we are able to deliver high-quality solutions to our customers.

Among many other things Marko is appreciated by his positive can-do attitude, human approach and team play spirit – he’s always ready to deliver and you can 100% trust he’s there with you. Here’s his story!

Where are you from and how did you end up at Nordcloud?

I have a long background from HR and recruitment related roles from mainly larger global organizations. So, when I was given a chance to join Nordcloud in spring 2018 I was eager to hop onboard to a frontrunner operating in public cloud industry. The strong growth mindset combined with agile ways of working helped my decision to join. Naturally very talented and easy-going colleagues proved my decision was right 😉

 What is your core competence? On top of that, please also tell about your role and projects shortly.

As an HR person working with people and supporting the growth of our business is naturally in the core of everything, we in Talent Acquisition do. My own core competence is within Talent Acquisition and Employer Branding. Engaging with talented candidates across the globe is naturally very important and something I find very valuable to me and the company. 

In my current role as Global Talent Lead, I’m responsible our Talent Acquisition functions. Luckily in this role I’m also able to roll my sleeves and support our business in their concrete recruitment needs. Also all the development projects, big and small related to TA are on my agenda. Very cool!

What sets you on fire / what’s your favorite thing technically with public cloud?

Being an HR person, I’m looking at things from a bit different “HR”-angle. The thing that sets me on fire is engaging with people externally and internally. Technically the most inspiring thing for me is the sheer speed the public cloud scene is evolving and changing constantly. New features in the systems and the ways we can bring added value to our clients amazes me every day.

What do you like most about working at Nordcloud?

The number 1 for me has been sharing my days with and learning from the talented colleagues in the company. No matter the country or role, everyone is very skilled and hardworking and bringing their best to the table in all occasions. This combined with the fact that Nordcloud is a very easy company to enter, everyone is warmly welcoming you to the team. Though not a start-up company anymore but the fact the startup mindset is still somewhat present in a good way (problem solving attitude, how to improve the processes and how to make a difference every day). Me like! 

What is the most useful thing you have learned at Nordcloud?

First of all, during my tenure In Nordcloud I’ve learned to know very talented new colleagues. From Talent Acquisition perspective I’ve learned a lot about how to scale up recruitment to make a difference and to support the growth of our company and business in the best possible way. 

What do you do outside work?

Having 2 kids (10-year old boy and 8-year old girl), wife and 2 dogs – family life comes as a high priority quite naturally. Whenever having time, different types of sports (crossfit, cycling, skiing, etc) are also very close to my heart. 

How would you describe Nordcloud’s culture in 3 words?

Open, Honest and Collaborative

Best Nordcloudian memory?

Those numerous after-works with colleagues after a hard day’s work. Just to sit back and relax 😉

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Leading Azure team in the UK by Harry Azariah

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Life at Nordcloud

Harry Azariah joined UK Azure team almost 1,5 years ago as Senior Cloud Architect, and was quickly promoted to lead the local Azure team. Here’s his Nordcloudian story. Enjoy!

 

1. Where are you from and how did you end up at Nordcloud?

 

I’ve lived in South London my whole life. I had been following Nordcloud for couple of years and then my ex colleague who had joined Nordcloud was talking about how great it was and he invited me for a chat with the team.
After the meeting, I was really interested in joining and contributing to the success and the vision of the company.

 

2. What is your role and core competence?

 

I am the Azure team lead in the UK; I have come originally from an infrastructure background but have been working with Azure for the past four years. Doing everything from solutions down to implementation.
My role in the team is to ensure quality in all UK lead Azure engagements and to build a strong team culture through social events and group activities.

 

3. What do you like most about working at Nordcloud?

 

I like our dynamic, young, modern thinking – we build processes in a new way compared to big consultancies and system integrators etc. I also like our general flexibility and that we are not managed from top down; everybody can contribute and influence.

 

4. What’s your favourite thing with public cloud?

 

Constant change, always things to learn and new stuff to play with.

 

5. What do you do outside work?

 

Socialising, watching sports, occasionally playing sports. I’m also a massive foodie so naturally cooking and eating are too of my favourite past times.

 

6. Best Nordcloudian memory?

 

I have a lot of good (and fun) memories from our social team evenings (Christmas party, leaving or welcoming parties etc).

 

Harry is one of our UK Technical interviewers, and if you like his story and can imagine working closely in his Azure team, have a look at our openings here!

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Modular GraphQL server

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Tech

I have been working on a customer project to build a new eCommerce platform with GraphQL API. We ended up using GraphQL API instead of REST API, because there were multiple backend services that needed to be used and compose the actual API for the frontend. We also needed to reduce loading times, as the frontend would only send one request instead of multiple requests for different REST endpoints. We could have used custom endpoints for the frontend, but that would have been a maintenance burden. It would have required updates for each change, when the  frontend needs new data or because of some other reasons.

We started to build the API using Apollo GraphQL server and Typescript. We had the first versions running in no time to support frontend development. We started to add features and data structures one at a time. 

After a while, as we were adding new features and data structures, it was obvious that we needed to keep the code base modular and split the main types into their own components. It was difficult to find a good way to split the code and schemas, and not to introduce a custom solution and complexity when using the Apollo server.

I tried to split the code so that we had resolvers and schemas in their own folder for each main type and merging them at a  higher level, but there were some modules whose dependencies were too tight. I also tried to use schema stitching, which introduced its own problems, like resolvers were not executed when another schema called this one.

One issue was also with the request context, that it was defined in one place in the Apollo server configuration when the server was created. We had multiple things that we needed to pass to modules via the context object, like getting user data and language selection etc. All those were coming via the HTTP headers, so we needed to parse it and pass it along as context. There were things that only one module needed, so defining them at the main application level didn’t seem to be the correct solution.

Also testing in both solutions was a little bit difficult. You could do unit tests for resolvers, but couldn’t really test the schema itself, unless you loaded the whole application. So the module couldn’t really test its own schema.

GraphQL modules

One day I came across a post about a new library called GraphQL modules. The name already told me that this was something that I had been looking for, so I went ahead and started to learn more about it.

GraphQL modules, as the name implies, was just the thing we were looking for. Its purpose is to make it possible to split your GraphQL server into modules and also have clear dependencies between modules.

A basic application with GraphQL modules can be defined like this:

Not that much different compared to creating a schema for an Apollo server.

Module dependencies

The power of GraphQL modules comes with splitting the application into modules, and defining dependencies between the modules and providers (more about providers in the next chapter). Importing a module as a dependency can be done like this with the imports property:

A module can import other modules and schemas that will be automatically merged. A common way is to define one application module, which only imports all the needed higher level modules for the application:

Providers

GraphQL modules introduce dependency injection, and providers are classes, functions, configuration or other values that can be injected to resolvers or other providers. Providers are defined in the module and modules can also get them from the imported module, so you can create a module with shared services, like a library to be imported.

It is possible to manage provider lifetime with the decorator configuration option `scope`, and there are three options available:

  • Application – Singleton, created once for the application.
  • Session – Created for each GraphQL request.
  • Request – Created for each injector request.

This helps to manage things like connection pools for databases or create ids for logging to group by client request etc.

Testing

With the plain Apollo server, testing was mostly unit tests that tested / called single resolver functions. If you wanted to test resolvers through the GraphQL schema, most of the time you ended up loading the whole application. 

With GraphQL modules it is easier to test at the module level and not only at the function level. Each module is a complete application, so tests can load them easily and run queries against the module. Dependency injection also makes testing easier as tests can mock services that the injector will return. Below is an example of how to load a module mock services, and execute a query in a test case for a module that is in the providers section.

With the ability to test at the module level, you can have a better view of what data is coming in, as well as its format. GraphQL schema validation is done before resolvers are executed, and by running the queries in test cases, you can make sure that the resolvers are executed as expected and with the “real” inputs from the query.

Conclusions

After finding the GraphQL modules, it has been my number one choice when starting to build new GraphQL servers. Coding is much more straightforward when code can be split into its own modules. 

Code reusability is also higher when you can create modules that are just libraries that can be imported. There are many common things that different applications have, like getting user tokens from headers or getting user language settings etc. You can have common modules for those things that different applications share.

One caveat when starting with GraphQL modules and Typescript is the need to setup the ‘reflect-metadata’ library. It must first be imported into your application to ensure that type definitions work with GraphQL modules. It also needs to be in your test files. Nevertheless, it is just one line that needs to be added as the first thing in the file.

To make type definitions easier to split, I have also used a library called `graphql-import`. It makes it possible to import `.graphql` files and use type imports in the schema definitions.

The documentation of the GraphQL modules is really good with clear examples, so you should definitely read more from there.

I also created an example project, based on my colleague’s demo application built on AWS AppSync, where you can see these in action: https://github.com/KariHe/demo-graphql-modules-in-gcp

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Greetings from sales at Nordcloud Netherlands!

CATEGORIES

Life at Nordcloud

This week we got to dig deeper into the role of Sales Enterprise Manager at Nordcloud and interviewed Rogier from Amsterdam.

 

Here’s his Nordcloudian story!

 

  • Where are you from and how did you end up at Nordcloud?

I’m from a small city close to Amsterdam called Weesp and have lived my 32 years old life here ( – 1 year when I lived in Spain/Argentina during my studies!).

After my studies I started at Canon as a Junior Account Manager and worked my way up to a more senior role at Pci/Canon. During that period I was working with Bart Bijman, who is now the Country Manager of Nordcloud Netherlands.

Bart was working at Nordcloud and I left Canon for a green oil & energy company called Argent Energy and we kept in touch. In the beginning of 2019 Bart called me about Nordcloud once again, and told me about an Enterprise Sales Manager role in the Netherlands. We discussed the unique business and the possibilities and I got hooked immediately!

 

  • What is your role and core competence?

My role is Enterprise Sales Manager and everything I do is new business, so I bring new customers in.

I cooperate with cloud talent, partners and channels, set up meetings/organise workshops and onboard new customers with the full focus on Enterprises & Independent software vendors.

 

  • What are your most used USP’s since working in Sales at Nordcloud?

It’s important to first listen & be approachable – it’s always about the customer and their infrastructure/products/services/apps.

After the customer tells me why they are unique (find the dots), I explain the history of Nordcloud and where we are good at (everything).

The most important thing after the meeting is that the customer have the feeling that “yes Nordcloud can bring my company further”!

 

  • What do you like most about working at Nordcloud?

On a personal “human” level I like the fact that we are an international company, working closely together with different nationalities. Also, discussions at Friday drinks are just also always fun!!

On a company & customer level I like the fact that it’s never the same – solutions and situations are always different & unique. You get to develop yourself and meet and cooperate with so many different people!

 

  • How would you describe our culture?

Open & helpful.

With any questions everyone is willing to help and work as a team.

#wintogether #growtogether – just like our values!

 

  • What are your greetings/advice for someone who might be considering a job at Nordcloud?

If you want to work for an international & unique company with a lot of diverse opportunities and new/unique projects, you should defo have a discussion with us!

 

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CXOs: Don’t miss these Cloud Lessons from the C-suite

CATEGORIES

BlogInsights

Hindsight. Retrospect. Lessons learned. Call it what you want, but we all walk away from business and IT projects wiser, sometimes humbled, and undoubtably better prepared for next time. If you’ve been a part of moving any of your companies’ workloads to the cloud—no matter the size or complexity—I’m sure you are nodding along.

Things you thought you would go swimmingly sometimes present the biggest challenges. Concerns that kept you working late into the night turned out to be non-events. At Nordcloud, we have sat shoulder to shoulder with our customers working through situations like these. Along the way, we too have learned.

In our new eBook—5 Real-World Lessons from the C-suite to Apply to Your Digital Transformation— you will discover our top five most common lessons we emphasize when talking with CXOs and business leaders. What you won’t see are technical bits and bytes, architecture best practices, or ROI analyses. Not that these aren’t important, but they are well understood and documented elsewhere. Instead, use it to learn about fresh thinking and new stones to turn over.

Everyone needs to have a vested role in a successful cloud transformation.

For instance, there’s a good chance that loyal MSP that’s been an integral part of your IT operations for the last five years could be the partner to take your business through a cloud transformation.

Why, you ask? Read the ebook to find out.

So, give a thanks to all the other CXOs and leadership teams that have gone before you. They’ve stubbed their toe along the way, miscalculated expectations, and even ruffled some feathers. Now you can learn from them and come to your next cloud initiative better equipped. But this eBook isn’t just for cloud leaders and the technical teams—put this in the hands of all parties involved. Procurement, HR, operations, legal, and more. Everyone needs to have a vested role in a successful cloud transformation.

GET A HEAD START – DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK

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