Nordcloud wins major Finnish cloud agreement

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Valtori is the IT arm of the Finnish government. It serves approximately 80,000 people across 90 government agencies, empowering them with the tech capabilities they need to operate efficiently and interact with citizens, partners and stakeholders.

Following a €63 million tender, Valtori is poised to enter a new era of cloud-driven innovation and cost optimisation – with Nordcloud as one of its chosen partners.

Valtori + Nordcloud: A true cloud partnership

Valtori customers are at varying stages of cloud maturity. They work across Microsoft Azure and AWS, and Google Cloud. Nordcloud – as a multi-cloud leader triple-certified across all 3 – will be helping Valtori support those customers wherever they are in their journey, regardless of which hyperscaler they’re using.

“The Valtori/Nordcloud partnership will be a collaboration in the truest sense. Nordcloud will be providing expertise and best practices that will help the Finnish government move faster towards cloud, while maintaining robust security and data protection. Together, we’ll empower government agencies to provide better digital services and experiences to Finnish citizens,” said Jan Kritz, COO at Nordcloud.

Cost optimisation is key

Cost savings is an important cloud transformation driver for the Finnish government, and Valtori launched this tender process to help maximise those savings. By combining a cloud-native approach and strong partner relationships, Nordcloud proposed a creative and aggressive commercial set-up that has never been done in Finland before.

Tommi Berg, Product Manager at Valtori, said: “We are very satisfied how Nordcloud demonstrated their ability to provide solution for our cloud capacity needs. They worked closely with hyperscalers to devise an extremely competitive commercial proposal that will help Valtori achieve its cost optimisation objectives. At the same time, their cloud-native expertise will help Valtori customers achieve more value from cloud transformation.” 

Finland is going cloud native

Nordcloud is one of Finland’s original cloud natives, and we’re expanding rapidly throughout the country. Valtori therefore gets a local partner with a European-wide reputation and credentials – together with superscale capabilities that come from working with an IBM company.

“Nordcloud is a great Finland technology success story. With Valtori, we’ll be working in Finnish and complying with Finland’s stringent data protection and security requirements. We’ll be drawing on our cloud experts from Helsinki to Jyväskylä to Oulu to help Valtori make this incredible leap in cloud capabilities over the next 4 years,” said Jan Kritz, COO at Nordcloud.

Do you want to leverage Nordcloud’s cloud-native superpowers, hyperscaler relationships and IBM-powered scalability? Let’s discuss your RFP.

END


About Nordcloud, an IBM Company

Nordcloud is a European leader in cloud implementation, application development, managed services and training. It’s a recognised cloud-native pioneer with a proven track record helping organisations leverage public cloud in a way that balances quick ins, immediate savings and sustainable value. As well as partnering with VMware, Nordcloud is triple-certified across Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services – and is featured in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. Nordcloud has 10 European hubs, over 500 employees and has delivered over 1,000 successful cloud projects for companies ranging from mid-size to large corporates. IBM announced its acquisition of Nordcloud on December 21, 2020.
Learn more »

About IBM

IBM acquired Nordcloud in December 2020, adding deep expertise to drive it’s client’s digital transformation. Nordcloud’s cloud-native tools, methodologies and talent further underline IBM’s is committed to deliver a successful journey to cloud for its clients. 
Learn more »

About Valtori

Valtori provides sector-independent ICT services for Finland’s central government, as well as information and data communications technology and integration services that meet the requirements of high preparedness and security. Its wide customer base includes all government agencies and institutions, and tens of thousands of people use its services.
Learn more »

Get in Touch.

Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.









    Starter for 10: Meet Toni Kuokkanen, Nordcloud’s new Solution Strategist

    Joining a hyper growth company during a pandemic

    Toni Kuokkanen joined Nordcloud as a Solution Strategist aiming to supercharge customers into the next phase of their cloud journey. As part of our ‘Starter for 10’ series, we talk to Toni about his first impressions, plus his take on the cloud and how it aligns with Nordcloud’s vision.

    Q1: What’s your background and how does this fit with Nordcloud?

    I have a long background in the IT field and I have seen a lot of different kinds of approaches to bringing new employees into the organization. When I decided to join Nordcloud I was curious and eager to see how I would fit in. As my style of working and starting in a new company is quite fast-paced, I like to learn everything from a new company as quickly as I can, which can sometimes be a bit challenging if there is not enough information available. This was not the case with Nordcloud, and I enjoyed a smooth and fast start.

    Q2: You call yourself a ‘Jack of all trades’ – can you elaborate on this?

    It means that my interests are broad, I have worked with all aspects of IT in the past and I like to learn more every day. I don’t focus on a single subject but always try to see the bigger picture. I believe you can’t just be very good at one specific one thing if you don’t understand the other aspects around it on some level.

    Q3: Why Nordcloud?

    I have followed Nordcloud for a few years and admired the way the company and team have taken the cloud space here in Finland by storm (and now in Europe, too). As my friends here all had great things to say about working for Nordcloud, it was an easy decision for me.

    Q4: So, what were your first impressions?

    As mentioned, I like to think of myself as a generalist in nature. I do things maybe a little differently, so running through a one-size-fits-all induction process would be a bit of a pain for me. But my worries were quickly forgotten as I saw that Nordcloud had polished the induction process to work nicely with every type of person. Fast-paced sessions were filled with useful information and no nonsense or corporate mumbo jumbo.

    I really like how well organized all the starter stuff has been. I got my home office equipment shipped ahead of time so I had all the setup from day one. It might be a small thing to some, but I really like to feel ready to go with everything I need from day one.

    Q5: How does it feel to be joining such a fast growing company?

    The overall feeling in the company is really energetic, you can feel the growth that Nordcloud is going through right now and everyone I meet seems to be excited about that, and the possibilities they see for the future.

    Q6: What’s different about Nordcloud?

    For me what has a big impact on how the company feels is the discussions I see in less official channels. It gives that certain vibe about how people feel about working for the company. At Nordcloud this gives a warm and fuzzy feeling, Nordcloud is very international so all the chatter brings in multiple nationalities. Also the threshold to open a discussion is low and that is super important when you are a newbie here. 

    Also everyone seems to be proud to be working here, which isn’t always the case from my experience elsewhere. It definitely brings something extra to the feeling of the company.

    Q7: What’s been helpful for your role so far?

    My work as a solution strategist is very self-driven so I’ve really appreciated how all the documentation is centrally located and easily available. It allows me to quickly bring myself up to speed and understand the picture for each customer. This is not so easy for other companies where documentation can be scattered around. 

    Q8: What’s your vision of the cloud, and how will you play your part in this?

    My vision is that the cloud will move more into native models. I see that IaaS will eventually fade away or at least be a minor aspect. Containers and serverless architecture will rule the earth, until something more elegant perhaps comes to the fore. My role in all this is to be a guide for our customers, to help them choose the best way to move forward and use the cloud to its full potential. Nordcloud will be an integral part of this as we have world class talent and capabilities in this space.

    Q9: What haven’t you experienced yet that you’re looking forward to?

    As I have worked just over a month here I am sure I have lots of exciting things ahead of me, plenty of experiences and ups and downs. But what I am most excited about is achieving that feeling when you complete something big – a time-consuming project with an outcome that you had in your mind months or even years ago. Seeing your vision come to reality and flourish is a reward that you never get bored of.

    Q10: How can people connect with you?

    Connect with me on LinkedIn or send me a message. And, as I have worked here for just a little over a month, I will write another update on how things are going later on, as I’m looking forward to an exciting time ahead… Until next time. 


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      Using Machine Learning to Generate a User Interface

      CATEGORIES

      BlogDigital Design

      What if you could turn drawings into a website in the blink of an eye? How much easier would it make developers’ lives? Nordcloud UX developer Ari Aittomäki decided to find out.

      Optimizing design systems and saving everyone’s time

      It was a video from AirBnB that first inspired Ari. Sitting at our Jyväskylä office, Ari was looking for a thesis topic when he came across AirBnB’s ambitious feat of turning hand-drawn images into a mobile application interface. Their tool: machine learning. 

      Ari saw the value of this immediately. In meetings with busy clients, he could generate a website on the spot using nothing but a video camera and drawings on a whiteboard.

      “The idea is this: you’re in a meeting with your client and plan their website by drawing pictures. You use simple sketches, like a box with an X for an image. Normally, each viewer would interpret the drawings differently in their heads. But now, there would be a TV next to you generating the user interface in real-time. Importantly, it would use existing components from the client’s design system. It would already be as close to the final result as possible,” Ari explains.

      Ari wanted to see how far he could get. The project was extremely ambitious: AirBnB worked with a big team and didn’t release any information on how they accomplished what they did. But that didn’t stop Ari from trying.

      Building components from scratch allows you to pick and choose what works

      “Right off the bat, I knew I couldn’t be as detailed as AirBnB. If you drew a button, their interface would even try to recognise which button from their component library it was. I settled for 4-5 bigger elements, like a picture with a text, a navigation bar, etc.,” Ari says. “This was because I had to teach a neural network to recognise each element. To do this, I had to feed it thousands of pictures, and I had to draw all the pictures by hand.”

      Ari drew 20 pictures of each element. His girlfriend contributed a few more. Then Ari created a script that generated 100 copies of each picture, changing small details and flipping them around so they wouldn’t be identical. Eventually, his sample size was a bit over 1,000. 

      “I ended up re-teaching a neural network from Google that had already been taught to recognise things like planes, cats and dogs. It worked really well,” Ari shares.

      When challenges appear, creative problem-solving is needed

      Around this time, Ari faced a problem: “I now had a neural network that recognised images with single elements. I had gotten so close. But the pictures I drew in meetings would have many elements in them. How could I make it recognise multiple elements from the same picture?” 

      It’s was if Ari had a neural network that recognised cats but wanted to feed it a picture with a cat and a dog. How could he stop the network from interpreting the entire picture as one creature?

      Ari ended up solving his problem by finding a Python script that, with a few tweaks, would identify areas with borders and separate them as their own pictures. This program would chew the pictures first and spit the individual elements to the neural network. 

      “I could have continued drawing pictures with multiple elements, but that would have been an uphill battle. It would have taken so long to teach them to the network. Sometimes, the border between doable and almost impossible is really hard to recognise,” Ari recollects.

      The end result proves that Ari’s ambitious dream could be a reality

      Ari’s final result is a prototype with a lot of potential. Work still remains to make it function together with design systems, as intended. 

      “We definitely have Nordcloudians who could take this to the next level, especially given our expertise in design systems,” Ari says. 

      Ari wasn’t ultimately able to implement the video camera feature he first had in mind. The current prototype uses pictures instead, meaning it doesn’t operate in real time. 

      “It’s somewhat of a mystery how well it would actually work,” Ari says. “It would probably be best to leave its programming to someone with more AI experience.”

      From left to right: 1. The original picture. 2. Removing the background color and only leaving black and white elements. 3. Searching for uniform areas. 4. Identifying individual images and saving them as JSON files.
      The end result.


      All in all, Ari is happy with the results. He was able to prove that yes, the idea can be realised – even by one developer. “I also ended up getting a good grade for my thesis,” Ari laughs.


      Interested in design systems? Check out the Nordcloud Design Studio. And if you’re a design system enthusiast, why not join us?

      Get in Touch.

      Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.









        Creating Nordcloud’s Design System: 4 Takeaways

        CATEGORIES

        BlogDigital Design

        We work a lot with design systems. However, it’s one thing to create a design system for a client, and another to develop your own. Here’s the story of how the Nordcloud design system came to life – and the lessons you can incorporate into your next design project.

        A toolkit of components makes developers’ lives easier

        As our development team is constantly creating tools, both for customers and internal use, they started thinking: why not create a toolkit of components? After all, these tools usually have something in common. A toolkit would make developers’ lives easier and also give a consistent look to Nordcloud’s software.

        Thus the idea for Nordcoud’s design system was born. Designer Elena Kazakova joined the Nordcloud platform and tools team in Poland to make the project a reality. The project was interesting experience for everyone – in total, 7 Nordcloudians were involved in the project. 

        “The project was done in React with Storybook, which meant everyone could deepen their own knowledge as well as bring insights from previous projects with me,” said Elena Kazakova, our design system star.

        Building components from scratch allows you to pick and choose what works

        Instead of using pre-made components, we built Nordcloud’s design system from scratch. This challenged us to put our design system skills to the test! We really enjoyed the freedom of creating it ourselves:

        “It’s been an interesting opportunity. The web is full of design systems developed differently. We browsed through many for inspiration, but at the end of the day, we got to create the components in a way that suited us best, without making any compromises,” front-end developer Robert Grzonka commented.

        The team has been building components for Nordcloud’s design system from scratch.
        The end result will create consistency and help save development costs.

        Remote meetings helped the team work effectively

        Over the months-long project, the team worked closely together — albeit, remotely. Normally, Helsinki-based Elena would be the only one to join via video, but COVID-19 meant the entire team was working remotely.

        Because of this, dailies were crucial. These daily meetings allowed everyone to catch up with what was going on (nearly) face-to-face. “It was really good to see the same faces every day. It felt like we’re still going to the office,” Robert said.

        The team used Jira for planning and tasks and Slack for communication. For product owner Agnieszka Leszczynska, remote channels provided their own learning opportunities: “I now have to focus more than ever on giving clear and specific requirements, which has been a very useful exercise.”

        A design system gives consistency and saves development costs

        What’s the benefit of having a design system? For one, it provides a consistent user experience for everyone who uses our tools. Secondly, it allows us to reduce costs and deliver products more efficiently because we have reusable components ready at our fingertips. Maintenance is also easier with a design system in place.

        What’s next? Work is ongoing. “Ultimately, we plan to go open source and open the development to everyone in Nordcloud. Then people will be able to contribute to the system and extend it,” Agnieszka says.


        Interested in design systems? Check out the Nordcloud Design Studio. And if you’re a design system enthusiast, why not join us?

        Get in Touch.

        Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.









          4 Reasons Why Accessibility Matters in Design

          CATEGORIES

          BlogDigital Design

          What is accessible design, and why does it matter? In our daily work, accessibility means creating digital services that can be used by everyone; those with disabilities and other limiting factors included. Here are our top four reasons why we consider accessibility an important part of our daily work:

          1. Many of us will need accessible services at some point

          Accessible design grants many of us equal access to services. In the EU, over 80 million people have some form of impairment. These are significant groups of people that are at risk of being excluded when services aren’t designed with accessibility in mind.

          And it doesn’t end there: you can also be impaired momentarily. Think of a time when you’ve fed the baby, used the computer one-handed or looked at your screen in bright sunshine. We all face obstacles while using digital services — and that’s why we all benefit from services designed to be accessible.

          2. Accessible design is usually better design

          The rules for accessibility tend to overlap with what’s considered good design. For reference, let’s look at the commonly-used POUR principles that guide designers and developers in making accessible products:

          1. Perceivable: the user can identify content and elements — whether it’s visual, sounds or touch.
          2. Operable: the user can use controls, buttons and other interactive elements.
          3. Understandable: the user can understand the format and presentation and learn how to use the interface.
          4. Robust: the product is designed to function on all appropriate technologies.

          In the Nordcloud Design Studio, following these guidelines impacts the way we work – from writing code to creating visuals. Everything starts with quality code: we semantically think of HTML and label it for screen readers. We also make components accessible with keyboards and screen readers. When we write text for the user, we use plain language. For the visual look of a service, we increase the colour contrast and use relevant images.

          Making a product with these considerations in mind provides a better user experience to those with disabilities — and to those without them. And the more user-friendly a service is, the better it arguably is. 

          3. An accessible service has a higher number of potential users

          What’s the most important goal when designing a digital service? For many, it’s to have it become as widely used as possible. Making a design accessible automatically makes it available to more people, which results in a higher number of potential users.

          An accessible design doesn’t shut anyone out – but without it, you’re limiting someone’s access. Just think of it in terms of buildings: those that don’t have a ramp outside can be visited by fewer people than those that do. If you’re a store that lives off of visitors, getting them inside is key.

          4. Accessibility is equality

          At its core, accessibility isn’t just a nice-to-have feature: in many countries, it’s the law. In the EU, public organisations are governed by the Web Accessibility Directive, and many products and services fall under the European Accessibility Act — not to mention laws governing equality within individual countries.

          According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, access to communications technology is a human right. It’s our responsibility as designers and developers to make sure we’re creating services that fulfill that right for everyone.

          As we’ve seen, on the user’s side, accessibility is a human right; on the designer and developer’s side, accessibility provides a roadmap for creating user-friendly services for many.

          Get in Touch.

          Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.









            IBM named a Leader in Everest Group Cloud Services PEAK Matrix for Europe and North America

            CATEGORIES

            Press releases

            IBM has been named a Leader in Everest Group’s 2022 Cloud Services PEAK Matrix Assessments for both Europe and North America.

            Everest Group recently published its 2022 PEAK Matrix® Assessments for Cloud Services, for Europe and North America. IBM was named as a Leader in both, and Everest Group stated how the provider is the right fit for enterprises looking for strong hybrid and multi-cloud capabilities in both these regions. 

            The report recognises how IBM continues to build expertise across industry-specific requirements, from retail and consumer goods to financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and telecommunications.

            Everest Group highlights that, when compared to its peers, IBM is better placed to serve clients with onshore and nearshore cloud delivery requirements. Enterprises also appreciate IBM’s technical expertise, availability of niche technology skills and long-standing relationships with clients.

            These capabilities were strengthened by the acquisition of Nordcloud in 2021, a European leader in cloud implementation, application transformation and managed services, having helped 500+ organisations succeed on their cloud journey including the likes of Finnair.

            Everest Group mentions that IBM and Nordcloud’s tools, platforms and strategic consulting offer mature coverage across cloud advisory services, application discovery, cloud native modernisation, transformation and operations. Clients can benefit from IBM’s maturity in AIOps, FinOps and SRE-enabled DevOps.

            Nordcloud’s speed and skill in the cloud journey is a differentiator. The ability to use highly technical resources and a differentiated agile and flexible way of working delivers the speed and agility needed by enterprises in an increasingly fast-paced space.

            Everest Group noted the recent acceleration in cloud adoption among enterprises, and how these businesses no longer look at cloud from a cost-savings angle, but as an area of investment to drive value. Enterprises expect services beyond the cloud, like customer experience-centric design, business-led transformation, and code-based infrastructure.

            The Everest Group reports assessed 28 and 29 cloud service providers in Europe and North America respectively. The providers were then categorised as Leaders, Major Contenders, and Aspirants based on their capabilities and offerings. View the Europe and North America reports.

            Want to embark on a cloud journey in an accelerated, cloud-native powered way?
            Please don’t hesitate to contact the Nordcloud team.

            Get in Touch.

            Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.









              Starter for 10: Meet Max Guhl, Nordcloud’s Global FinOps Advisory Lead

              When people start working with Nordcloud, they generally comment on 2 things. First, how friendly and knowledgeable everyone is. Second, how fast Nordcloud is growing.

              This blog series gives you insight into both those elements – the great people and the supercharged growth. In this article, we talk to Max Guhl, Global FinOps Advisory Lead, about his first impressions as a Nordcloudian and the cloud-native future.

              Q1: You joined Nordcloud fairly recently, but how did you first get involved in FinOps?

              When I first became a cloud enthusiast, my focus was on anything but costs. I was more interested in how to make cloud work at scale, automating services and digging through the huge amount of hyperscaler tools available. 

              The cost issue first really became a focus during a project a couple of years ago, in a previous role.  The customer and the team I was working with realised how much cheaper it was to run things in Lambda / Dynamo DB / API Gateway than in the original application architecture. A few tweaks to the architecture diagram took us down from well above €1,000 a month on AWS to a mere €50. 

              That was a real eye-opener. Of course, we all hear that ‘cloud-native can be cheaper’, but I never realised quite how much cheaper! 

              Q2: From your experience, how is FinOps different from ‘normal’ technical work?

              Most other challenges in the cloud space are answered with direct, technical solutions. So, if you’re looking to autoscale, activate autoscale. If you’re looking to automate, we have automation tools. 

              FinOps is different. With FinOps, people always link smaller technical activities to that to save costs, but it’s not that simple. It can be more complex initially, with many fine adjustments. It actually requires a shift in people’s understanding, and their processes. FinOps is not just a solution, it’s not just a one-time action. It’s a continuous process that needs to be established and optimised.

              Q3: What resources do you recommend for people who want to learn more about FinOps?

              Firstly, I’d definitely recommend having O’Reilly’s Cloud FinOps on your bookshelf as a starter. Also, check out the FinOps Foundation community for a range of helpful basics and, if you’re looking for a real deep dive, prove your knowledge with the FinOps Practitioner certification, which I have done myself. 

              And at Nordcloud we’re providing some great tips for those interested in FinOps.  Our FinOps guide gives a great base level understanding, while our FinOps 101 and FinOps 102 blogs answer some key questions around the topic.

              Q4: You’re currently building a team of FinOps experts. What are the typical traits and skills you’re looking for?

              It’s important to have an understanding of the technical and financial sides of things. FinOps experts have to be mediators between the architects and the management and financial teams. It’s a unique area, where you need to be able to understand numbers, understand the technical side, and explain things in a clear way to every level and stakeholder. 

              Q5: You have an interest in Quantum Computing – do you see any correlations between FinOps and Quantum?

              It’s an interesting comparison. Quantum computing is becoming more and more democratised and accessible. Hyperscalers are super keen to provide quantum resources for tests and use cases. The resources are readily available, which makes it quite easy to access, experiment with, and eventually figure out use cases and business cases for the future. 

              So why is this interesting when thinking about FinOps? Well, FinOps – even if some find it a boring topic – is actually a pathway to innovation. FinOps will help businesses optimise their cloud infrastructure and processes, making them more cost-efficient, and in-turn enabling innovative technologies – like Quantum.

              You can run jobs thousands of times faster than before. This means less cost, faster results, faster speed to market. 

              It will be easier to process and manage data. Businesses won’t need to worry about the resource needed to oversee data or processes over long periods of time, because workflows will be so fast.  This fits perfectly into the notion of cloud being flexible, pay-as-you-go, just tapping resources when you need them.

              Q6: What’s the biggest misconception around FinOps?

              Sometimes, when we talk to businesses about FinOps, people think the result will be ‘I just have to resize servers”, or ‘I just need to scale back there’, or ‘I’ve done FinOps now, I’m finished, check.’ This is not the case. FinOps is really a culture.

              It’s a lifecycle: inform, operate, optimise. It’s a continuous activity, but many don’t understand the process, or the potential results. 

              Also, some say it’s a blocker for everything, much like they see security or compliance services. It won’t stop anything, it’s easy to integrate and, once up and running, will provide incredible value. It gives teams the possibility to innovate, be cost efficient, and fulfil the real potential of public cloud.

              Q7: What are we doing differently at Nordcloud around FinOps?

              While FinOps is very often seen as a blocker or a simple task, here at Nordcloud, we’re really trying to change this in the eyes of our clients and the market. We want to make it the cool part of cloud, something fun to do. We make it attractive and actionable.

              Also, with Nordcloud Klarity tools, I think we’re making it more actionable, more automated – this ‘autopilot’ approach that I think makes it more appealing. And we’re not stopping, we’ve got a great product and delivery teams here focused on making things better. It’s an exciting time for FinOps, for sure.

              Q8: Do you think that there will be a time when you feel like you are ‘done with FinOps’ and start to focus on other topics?

              I see FinOps as an evolving journey with lots of turns and iterations of the concept itself. Just like DevOps, it has a start, but at this point I’d say it also has no real end. This is just a new pattern of how to operate applications in the cloud and probably will be for the foreseeable future. Companies will need to adapt and learn fast to remain agile and effective on the budgeting and cost control side. By 2025, it will be too late to start thinking about regaining control over your cloud spend, and doing so not just from above, but from bottom-up preferably.

              Q9: How would you describe the characteristic ‘Max Guhl’ style?

              When people have a cloud consultant in mind, it’s usually a certain type of person. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s funny, I do believe that when people meet me they don’t expect a highly professional, high-performing cloud or FinOps expert. 

              In some ways, I take pride in this – I am relaxed, personable, and build excellent relationships with clients and colleagues, and I know my work speaks for itself. I can express myself, but I am also able to deliver at such a high level.

              Q10: How can people connect with you?

              Connect with me on LinkedIn or send me a messageI am quite active on my LinkedIn, so I’d encourage people to connect with me there. I like to share content, engage in conversations, speaking gigs, podcasts, all with the passion I have for everything cloud, technology, and FinOps. 

              Get in Touch.

              Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.









                Nordcloud wins AWS Migration Partner of the Year 2021

                It’s the definition of glad tidings for us at Nordcloud as we enter the festive season – AWS has named us Migration Partner of the Year 2021 for the Nordics.

                What made this such a momentous year for Nordcloud as a leader with AWS Cloud?

                As Peter Bakker, Nordcloud’s AWS Partner Manager, put it, “For every project, we worked back from the desired end result – which is a happy customer who successfully migrated and is leveraging all AWS has to offer. By keeping our eye on that goal, we made sure complex projects stayed on track and delivered.”

                How did we make that happen at such a high level this year?

                Peter cites 2 key success factors:

                “First of all, we reached new levels of collaboration across Nordcloud, AWS and IBM. This teamwork meant customers benefited from the best brains working in the cloud across a whole range of disciplines.

                Second, our teams at Nordcloud have incredibly deep knowledge of AWS systems, methodologies and technologies. Feedback we get time and time again (from customers and from our AWS contacts) is that we really know how to assemble the complex jigsaw of AWS funding, tools and tech to deliver great outcomes for everyone.”

                What were Nordcloud’s 2021 AWS highlights?

                Among all our ongoing projects with European customers on AWS, there have been a couple of stand-out ones in the Nordics this year:

                What’s next for AWS migrations at Nordcloud?

                We’re raising a glass to this recognition – and preparing for an even more successful 2022. It will be another year where our cloud-native superpowers achieve great things for customers. And it will be another year where teamwork triumphs – as we work with our AWS and IBM partners to overcome tricky challenges, apply amazing tech and show the world what cloud can deliver.

                Want to see what the AWS Migration Partner of the Year can do for you and your organisation?

                Learn more about our approach and offering.

                Get in Touch.

                Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.









                  FinOps 102: Who does what? And where to start?

                  CATEGORIES

                  BlogCloud Costs

                  In part 2 of this FinOps blog series (part 1 is here), our FinOps Lead Max Guhl tackles some burning FAQS with his characteristic honesty. Want insight on how to divide FinOps responsibilities within a team? Curious about how to make it work with multi-cloud?  Wondering which workloads to start with?

                  Read on – you’re in the right place.

                  Q: What role do IT, finance, application developers and engineering teams play in this new world of FinOps?

                  Max: I think it’s a cloud spend issue. Organisations are now at a stage of cloud maturity where the scale of spend is on the radar of senior leaders. Before, it simply wasn’t a big enough line item in the budget. Hyperscalers have always recommended using tagging and implementing spend controls and cost allocation early on. But because there was limited business impact in the early days of cloud adoption, people didn’t pay as much attention to it.

                  But hyperscaler platforms are far from just being “hosting” services. And that’s where the trouble starts. We need to rethink this view of cloud as a replacement for on-prem infrastructure services. The sheer richness of what it offers goes so far beyond servers and storage, that it’s nothing short of unprofessional to dump cost saving responsibilities on to IT. 

                  Instead, I would strongly advocate for having at least 3 parties at the FinOps table: finance, IT operations and application developers/engineering. This is because:

                  • Accountability for cost should always sit with the application
                  • Making sure services are provisioned safely and well managed sits with IT – the costs here are mostly labour and licences rather than hyperscaler costs
                  • Finance should ensure cost allocation and chargebacks are in line with corporate processes.

                  It’s also very important that IT and finance learn to get out of the way of engineering teams when it comes to designing for an application’s best possible ROI / TCO. 

                  Q: This sounds pretty complicated. Are senior business and IT leaders right to be sceptical that this can be achieved? There are so many different application owners, plus there’s the finance department. How does this actually work in practice?

                  Max: FinOps is the short version Financial Operation, it’s the art of managing financials in the public cloud. Here’s the quick definition: Real time reporting + just-in-time processes + teams working together = FinOps.

                  Each individual engineer, software delivery squad and operations team can start living FinOps simply by reading and analysing automatic suggestions from tools like AWS Cost Explorer and asking:

                  • Do they make sense in the given case? 
                  • Will there really be savings if they’re implemented? 
                  • Can we commit to a reserved instance/upfront payment plan? 

                  Start with thinking about it, and learn as you go.  Another nice angle is thinking about how you can build an application the cheapest possible way, without sacrificing security, reliability or quality/performance. Make this a nice hackathon exercise for architecture teams.

                  We’ve seen great results with these bottom-up approaches, in terms of building up the right culture and capabilities. They give FinOps the same feel as the DevOps mindset of “you build it, you run it”. Think of it as “you build it, you fund it” – and see what happens next! 

                  To be honest, without buy-in from your engineers and administrators, you’re not going to make FinOps a reality anyway. If you follow a pure top-down approach, you risk creating a sort of shadow IT. You also risk your best engineers thinking about whether they want to work in a place where finance gets to decide on technical architectures.

                  Q: Should anything be top-down?

                  Max: There has to be vision and drive from the top, as with any change management initiative. At the end of the day, FinOps is about making money. By optimising cloud spend, you can drive more revenue, signal customer base growth, enable more product and feature release velocity and even help shut down a data centre.

                  From our point of view, the easy part is the top-down modelling and chargeback management. We solved this years ago and even built tools for it. So don’t waste time on that – instead, focus instead on people, organisation and culture

                  Q: How does it work when organisations are multi-cloud, especially when it comes to individual hyperscaler special agreements and savings plans? Will customers benefit from using tools to overcome the strain the multi-cloud reality is putting on their FinOps?

                  Max: There are a few factors in play here. 

                  First, this is where we enter the realm of contracting with hyperscalers. If you’re getting a big discount or co-invest from AWS, Azure or GCP, you’ll have a better TCO for cloud usage in a given time period. As an end user of cloud (e.g., an individual developer), these things are “given”, and the IT organisation and digital product teams aren’t in a position to influence them. They’re more likely to be in the hands of corporate purchasing and procurement departments, which sit across the organisation and are affected by many other factors. 

                  Second, when you’re using more than one hyperscaler, you need a way to get an accurate and holistic overview of your spend. Moving between hyperscaler tools is inefficient and risks savings opportunities falling through the cracks. A “do it yourself” approach doesn’t really work here, because it’s so complex. 

                  Tools like our Nordcloud Klarity suite provide full insight into and understanding of spend and cost optimisation opportunities across all clouds and VMware. When it comes to multi-cloud FinOps, everyone can then understand the contractual situation, discount models and spend across the estate – which gives you a mechanism for enforcing accountability and embedding that FinOps mindset.

                  Q: Do you think there are any limitations to FinOps? Things it won’t solve or workload types where it makes no sense?

                  Max: Everything has its limits. But as with DevOps, it makes little sense to start with why FinOps wouldn’t work. 

                  For sure, FinOps is more interesting and impactful when used with dynamic workloads than with static server estates. But implementing a mindset and an approach that’s conscious of cost-of-usage and cost-of-design is of value, regardless of application type.  

                  On average, people are leaving 20% of value from the cloud on the table because they’re not keeping on top of their usage and spend consumption.

                  Check out this FinOps guide for ideas on how to capture that value

                  (And if you want to read more of Max’s honest insight about getting started with FinOps, read part 1 of this FAQ series.)

                  Get in Touch.

                  Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.









                    FinOps 101: Can you? Should you?

                    CATEGORIES

                    BlogCloud Costs

                    FinOps – it’s a hot topic, but it’s not an easy topic to get to grips with. So we’ve brought in the big brains to lend some insight into how it’s developing and how organisations can start to adopt its principles and practices to boost savings and value from cloud.

                    Enter Max Guhl, Nordcloud’s FinOps Lead. We’ve put him in the hot seat to answer common questions customers and stakeholders are asking about FinOps. Here’s part 1 of the series. (Part 2 is here.)

                    Q: We’re hearing a lot about FinOps recently. Why has it suddenly become such a hot topic?

                    Max: I think it’s a cloud spend issue. Organisations are now at a stage of cloud maturity where the scale of spend is on the radar of senior leaders. Before, it simply wasn’t a big enough line item in the budget. Hyperscalers have always recommended using tagging and implementing spend controls and cost allocation early on. But because there was limited business impact in the early days of cloud adoption, people didn’t pay as much attention to it.

                    Now we’re at the point where enterprise public cloud users are recognising the huge savings potential hiding in their estate. Often, it’s after the first bigger migration project is completed or when the first huge data-driven project goes into production and starts to scale.

                    Q: What is FinOps anyways? Did that term just evolve over time, is it cloud specific?

                    Max: FinOps is the short version Financial Operation, it’s the art of managing financials in the public cloud. Here’s the quick definition: Real time reporting + just-in-time processes + teams working together = FinOps.

                    Q: At what monthly cloud spend should an organisation start thinking about FinOps and cost control at scale?

                    Max: Historically, I would have said that spend below a few million euros per year meant it wasn’t worth setting up financial controls or related tooling. And that’s because that spend level meant it wasn’t worth finance’s time to get involved to that extent.

                    Now, so many organisations are spending €10 million plus on cloud annually, and there’s a clear and simple lesson from their experiences: it’s really hard playing catch-up with cloud cost control processes.

                    This has made me rethink my views on tackling cloud spend and shown the benefits of integrating cost management early on. From the first days of cloud usage, companies should embed a sense of cost ownership and accountability for consumption and spend. It simply doesn’t make sense to think of cloud as an “innovation cost” or “server cost” in some shape or form. That mindset backfires once you dive into the full scale of hyperscaler services. 

                    Q: Who should own FinOps in an organisation? It’s such a buzzword that it can feel like everyone wants to own it.

                    Max: And that’s great news! It’s great that so many people are enthusiastic about adopting it like other ops trends.

                    We consider FinOps to be more than just a function or a service – it’s a culture change. And that shift is the important thing to work on. Implementing cost control tools and processes from the top is relatively easy. Getting full buy-in from individual architects and developers – and incentivising them to embed FinOps in their day-to-day work – is much harder.

                    Q: With more companies adopting cost control and savings efforts, what common challenges are you seeing?

                    Max: There are 3 main issues we see over and over again: capability, culture and organisation.

                    The capability bit is the hardest to overcome. You can only optimise costs if people have the right training. This applies to application architecture and engineering, too – if people don’t have sufficient understanding of how Azure, AWS or GCP works, they can’t maximise the benefits or manage the costs.

                    The second hardest challenge is culture. We need to rewire the brains of IT, developers/engineers and finance teams. Cloud spend is complex, with shared responsibilities all over the place. People need to get off their high horse, move out of their comfort zone and work together to achieve the best possible outcome.

                    The third common challenge relates to organisational approach. For instance, companies try using a “scale-up” approach to fix performance issues, just like they did on-premises. And that leads to big (and unnecessary) increases in cloud costs. 

                    Q: Are there specific workload types where this “scale-up” organisational approach is common?

                    Max: A great example of this is databases hosted in the cloud, where people often throw money at them in an effort to fix performance issues rather than looking at what can be done to optimise operations.

                    Databases are often treated like “traditional servers” – where people essentially bolt on more CPU and RAM to solve a problem. However, looking into performance improvements and optimisation of the DB itself is far more efficient than “patching up the issue with money” (scaling up infra resources). This is true for managed databases / PaaS as well. All this means that it takes cloud skills AND database skills to achieve the aim of cost-efficient cloud usage.  

                    On average, people are leaving 20% of value from the cloud on the table because they’re not keeping on top of their usage and spend consumption.

                    Check out this FinOps guide for ideas on how to capture that value

                    And read part 2 of Max’s FinOps FAQs for more honest answers to burning questions.

                    Get in Touch.

                    Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.