Finnair’s Day 2 modernisation.

€1 million in saving from an 8-month modernisation project.

  • Avoided skyrocketing licence costs and tackled technical debt
  • IT production costs fell by 50% and feature development costs a third of what it used to
  • Faster product roll-outs thanks to modern CI/CD solutions and refreshed architecture

Project Summary.

In partnership with:
Client location:

Project Background.

As its digital transformation journey continued, there were clear opportunities to save money and improve supportability by modernising mission-critical applications.

As a 100-year-old company, many of Finnair’s legacy applications were acquired, developed and/or architected years (if not decades) ago. They tended to be resource-intensive, relying on costly and intricate database solutions. And it wasn’t easy to deactivate unnecessary components or scale them based on load.

Then came a catalyst for action…Licence costs were due to skyrocket

It was time to modernise affected applications to:

  • Tackle technical debt
  • Leverage cloud-native solutions


  • Tight timeline

    We only had 8 months before licence costs went up.

  • Many unknowns

    The applications were based on end-of-life technologies, and many had been in use for decades.

  • Complex landscape

    It was integrations galore – more than 150 message queues and more than 20 upstream and downstream APIs/integrations.

  • Zero margin for error

    These were mission-critical applications required to get planes in and out of the air.


The pending licence increase made us focus on driving more benefits out of cloud. But we needed to get this right – because the majority of the affected applications had an impact on operations. If things didn’t go smoothly, flights wouldn’t depart on time.

Tiina Flyström

Vice President, Common Platforms

The approach.

Nordcloud has supported Finnair since the start of its cloud journey and continued to provide managed services after the data centre exit and initial modernisation. 

To help free them from Day 2 cost and supportability issues, we worked with a broad team to tackle the complex landscape, eliminate expensive licences and help them leverage open-source alternatives on AWS.

Addressing end of life issues.

  • Finnair was using unsupported Java and RedHat instances that left them open to risks. We upgraded Java from 1.7 to 17.X and modified outdated EJB components to improve performance, reduce memory consumption and speed up application execution. Moving to supported versions gave Finnair access to updates, bug fixes and security patches. 

Modernising key service components.

  • We replatformed from IHS to Apache, from DB2 to RDS PostGres and from Web Application Services to Tomcat. Importantly, we minimised the effort required for application changes by focusing on ‘problem areas’ like the JavaEE platform and closed-source DBs. We also migrated code repositories from CVS to GitHub.

Containerising 2 applications.

  • We untangled webs of dependencies, improving supportability and scalability while giving Finnair access to serverless compute engines. This included breaking applications into different tiers (back-end, queues and messaging/batch jobs, front-end), as well as refactoring code.

Nordcloud helped us sort through the possibilities and complexities to define the target state, so everyone had a common aim, clear scope and detailed schedule. This meant we didn’t have any frustrating discussions in the middle of the project. Everyone stayed aligned, and it was nice to see everything running so smoothly.

Tiina Flyström

Vice President, Common Platforms

A true team effort.

Continuous stakeholder alignment

Supported by focused steering group meetings with key stakeholders

  • Alignment between design and architecture
  • SME support from AMS teams
  • Weekly alignments
  • Continuous handovers

Squad-based setup

Supported by a robust transformation function and plan

  • 3 modernisations and dev squads
  • Core team of architects
  • Wave-based transformation
  • Directional business case

Fit-for-purpose design and architecture

With tight integration between architecture review boards and tech teams

  • POC-based approach to get stakeholders on board
  • High- and low-level technical
  • Deployment verifications
  • Backlog prioritisation

The most challenging part was removing AIX components out of IBM MQ – there were hundreds of them. It was very complicated, but it went smoothly because of the Finnair team’s commitment to areas like testing and UAT, together with the Nordcloud team’s technical expertise.

Tiina Flyström

Vice President, Common Platforms

8 months later,
Finnair is on track to save €1 million.

Ahead of schedule.

The project finished 2 weeks early and there were no negative impacts on operations (no hiccups led to flight delays).

Increased agility.

Product roll-outs are faster thanks to modern CI/CD solutions and the refreshed architecture, which separates code and configuration.

Major savings.

Finnair is projected to save almost €1 million over 3 years (meaning the modernisation pays for itself many times over).

  • No more overprovisioning: Thanks to the containerisation, Finnair can scale services more efficiently.
  • IT production costs fell by 50% and feature development costs just a third of what it used to: Thanks to the improved workflows, simplified architectures and enhanced tools.
  • Savings across application management: Because of streamlined processes for the AMS team.

It was a tight schedule, but we made it with time to spare. Thanks to the modernisations, Finnair is staying one step ahead in this new, digitally transformed world.

Tiina Flyström

Vice President, Common Platforms

Get in Touch.

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Ilja Summala
Ilja’s passion and tech knowledge help customers transform how they manage infrastructure and develop apps in cloud.
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Group CTO