5 Workplace health tips from Nordcloud

As COVID-19 continues to effect our working environment,  lots of businesses have expanded their work from home policies. Many of us are being encouraged to self quarantine, avoid gathering places and to improve hygiene, but even when the pandemic is over, how can we all strive to improve the health of our teams in the coming weeks?

1: Improve work-life balance

Making sure you have sufficient time to wind down after a stressful day or week is not only important to reduce stress for your mental wellbeing, it will also improve your immune system! When you get stressed your body releases a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Being stressed often or for long periods of time increases risk for heart complications, weight and sleep issues as well as a reduced efficiency of your immune system.

Encouraging physical activities in and outside of your workplace can improve productivity, reduce sick days, and boost individual development. For example, in our Stockholm office we have a table tennis table which has greatly boosted physical activity amongst our coworkers (when we’re not working from home!).

 

2: Clean your desk and equipment

As COVID-19 has been spreading worldwide we have all gotten more information about how to improve our hygiene. In case you missed it the basic steps are:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water often
  • Cough into your arm or a tissue and throw away the tissue immediately
  • Avoid touching unclean surfaces (doorknobs, subway gates etc)
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Work from home if you can

These are all important to remember, but what about our workplace? Do you have a colleague who only cleans his or her coffee cups every Friday? Keeping empty cans on their desk? Seldom cleans their keyboard?

These are all places where germs propagate. With the latest studies suggesting that the Coronavirus can live on hard surfaces such as metal, glass and plastic for as long as nine days, when did you last clean your laptop?

 

3: Keep some plants and keep them well!

Studies have shown that indoor plants not only boost your mood and productivity. They also help clean the air indoors and reduce stress. By cleaning the air and reducing stress we go back to points one and two, less stress and cleaner air has large health benefits. We keep a couple of plants in the office and have roof windows to increase sunlight.

Having employees responsible for their own small desk plant also gives a couple of minutes of therapeutic stress release for the individual every day, much cheaper than a therapist could be!

 

4: Encourage healthy eating habits

Here at Nordcloud we have our headquarters and many of our offices in the Nordics. During the colder half of the year, due to reduced sunshine we often get vitamin D deficiencies. Other vitamin deficiencies also make themselves known during this time as the common cold spreads faster and we have decreased immune responses when it does show up. We battle this by keeping fresh fruit and a jar or two of vitamins in our office which is an easy way to boost vitamin levels.

 

5: Take care of your mental health

We touched upon the subject of mental health in points one and three. The year is now 2020 and the subject of mental health has been destigmatized and brought to light. Mental health is today just as important as physical health yet is not widely understood everywhere. Promoting training and awareness in the subject has a lot of benefits not only for the employees productivity and creativity, improved mental health in the workplace has shown to improve physical health and work culture as well.

Click here to learn more about how we are helping businesses during COVID-19

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    Six capabilities modern ISVs need in order to future-proof their SaaS offering

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    BlogCloud Migration

    Successful ISVs are leveraging public cloud capabilities and becoming SaaS providers. The move to public cloud-based SaaS offering provides ISVs a potential for business growth that cannot be matched with traditional on-premise single-tenant solution. In fact, Gartner estimates that the market size of the SaaS marketplace this year will be $99.7B while growing at the rate of 21% [1].

    ISVs can benefit from moving to SaaS in several different ways. It helps them to:

    1. Unlock new customer segments through lower customer acquisition cost and easier geographical expansion
    2. Reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) through elimination of customer-specific support costs
    3. Reduced time-to-market through leveraging built-in components available in all the public cloud platforms
    4. Leverage data and insights through a unified data platform 

    Moving from a traditional license-based business model to a subscription model also lowers customers’ barrier to buy while improving financial predictability for the ISV. In contrast to the traditional licensing model, subscription models allow customers to use the software without committing to long licensing periods – lowering their barrier to buy. It also smoothens the revenue curve through monthly recurring revenue, resulting in improved financial predictability.

    Successful SaaS providers have built their business around 6 core capabilities

    Having worked with many SaaS providers on their cloud migration journey, we have identified a set of capabilities that separates the successful companies from the rest. These capabilities are:

    The key for building these six capabilities effectively is to use the capabilities provided by public cloud platforms like AWS, Azure and GCP. I’ll go through each one of these capabilities in some detail below.

    Multi-tenancy

    Successful SaaS vendors provide standardised service to all customers through multi-tenancy. This means that they provide a single shared application and data layer to all customers, without customer specific instances.

    In contrast, the traditional single tenancy model results in high costs due to maintenance overhead of keeping application instances in sync across the installation base. Your different instances will also easily drift apart from each other in terms code and configuration. 

    Some organisations opt for limited multi-tenancy where all the customers share a common application layer, but the data layer is kept in separate customer-specific instances. This can be a useful model for organisations whose customers are following strict data compliancy regulations and must keep their data in a specific geographical region, for instance.

    The full multi-tenancy model provides the most value by allowing teams to focus on developing and maintaining a single version leading to lower TCO and easier maintainability. In full multi-tenancy customer specific variations can be built into the software as components that can be turned on or off based on the need.

    Automation

    Successful SaaS vendors minimise any manual steps and build end-to-end automation across development, testing, deployment and operations. Automation capabilities and DevOps toolchain can drastically improve delivery quality and speed-to-market. 

    For instance, on the infrastructure side companies should use Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) tools like AWS CloudFormation or Terraform to increase automation and consistency of environments, to templatise and automate infrastructure stack creation. 

    Companies should utilise the full DevOps toolchain that automates the workflow from coding to deployment. Automating the whole workflow is very important as any gaps in the automation will effectively become a bottleneck and kill the benefits that you were hoping to achieve. To achieve the end-to-end workflow automation, it is recommended to set up a dedicated team responsible for the DevOps toolchain and way of working.

    We recommend our customers is to use a managed DevOps tool service rather than building their own toolchain. For instance, Azure DevOps is a great SaaS service provided by Microsoft that is also compatible with other public cloud platforms like AWS.

    As your development teams will have more responsibility in the SaaS model, it is important to perform automated security and compliance tests. Start with automated reporting and compliance checks inserted into CI/CD pipeline complemented with cloud environment best-practices / anti-pattern checks.

    Microservices and Serverless

    Microservice architecture and serverless let companies focus on functionality rather than integration. We tell our customers that whenever they start developing something new to their SaaS solution, they should always think if it can be implemented using serverless services like AWS Lambda, Azure Functions or GCP Cloud Functions. If serverless is not an option, they should build new functionality as microservices.

    Serverless services allow you to build your functionality as event-driven components that are executed on-demand triggered by specific events, like database change, log activity etc. Serverless functions speed up development and deployment time and can significantly reduce cost as you only pay for the requests, not for the idle time.

    Microservices architecture has been around for a while, but it is interesting that so many ISVs are still stuck in the world of traditional monoliths. Microservices are built to separate functionality as independent components, where the functionality is offered through APIs, and that can be developed and maintained without having to worry about dependency issues (given you don’t alter the APIs).

    Data as a Platform

    Shared platform allows SaaS vendors to leverage insights from data aggregated across applications. In fact, a shared data layer is fast becoming the number one capability many ISVs and SaaS providers are after and which sets apart the successful providers from the rest. There are still many organisations that are not able to leverage data across their customer instances in an effective way. 

    Public cloud offer unparalleled capabilities to build a consolidated data asset from your service. Even if you’re keeping your customer databases in separate locations, you can still benefit from having a shared data lake for insights and analytics. However, you might have to do anonymization in case of strict data policies. 

    Shared data layer for applications is important not only for sharing data and getting platform wide analytics but also for compliance and auditability. Using cloud platform services (e.g. AWS Lakeformation) it is possible to build shared data layer with detailed access controls and audit trail. 

    Single Codebase

    Having a single codebase can sound like an obvious thing but maintaining a strict single codebase policy requires dedication. SaaS vendors with multiple different versions of the code end up spending more on change implementation, deployment and maintenance. Instead of building customer specific functionality to different codebases or versions, you should have a single codebase and build customer specific functionality into common build through config options. This is in line with what I already wrote about multitenancy.

    Velocity of Innovation

    The last common capability for successful SaaS vendors based on our experience is enabling velocity of innovation through public cloud. Having the possibility to shoot up a development environment in minutes or building your prototype as a serverless functions utilising cloud-native pre-built components can have a massive impact on the way you introduce new value adding services to your customers. 

    We recently worked with a SaaS provider who wanted to create a new mobile service from scratch. Using AWS Lambda, we were able to develop the first prototype overnight, which would potentially have taken them weeks to develop in their old on-premise environment.

    Building a roadmap for the six capabilities

    Public cloud is a natural choice for SaaS providers as it offers unmatched range of components and functionality to build the six key capabilities SaaS vendors need to compete in the highly contested market.

    Nordcloud has helped many SaaS vendors to migrate to public cloud and to build the six capabilities increasing their potential to grow faster than their competitors.

    Based on our experiences we have developed a capability maturity model that helps our customers to map their current state and future aspirations. 

    Let me know if you’d like to hear more about how your organisation can benefit from public cloud and our experience in helping SaaS vendors to succeed.

    [1] Gartner, Forecast: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2016-2020

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      Nordcloud positioned in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure Professional and Managed Services, Worldwide

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      Nordcloud positioned in Gartner´s Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure Professional and Managed Services, Worldwide

      This Is The Third Year In A Row Nordcloud Has Been Included In This Report

      2019 Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure, Professional and Managed Services, Worldwide report evaluated 19 different vendors.

      Nordcloud achieves highest placement for its ability to execute in the Niche Players’ quadrant.

      According to Gartner, “this Magic Quadrant is focused on MSPs that have deep technical expertise with hyperscale providers, effective cloud management platforms (CMPs), and managed services that leverage automation, where possible. The MSPs must also possess the ability to deliver cloud-optimized solutions, regardless of whether a customer is deploying new cloud-native applications or migrating legacy workloads from an existing traditional data center. This depth of expertise and technical integration, including exploiting the API-enabled automation of hyperscale providers, distinguishes these MSPs from data center outsourcing (DCO) providers. Traditional DCO providers usually offer solutions that largely treat hyperscale providers as if they were simply virtualization platforms.”

      According to Gartner, “by 2024, more than 50% of cloud service deals will include both application development services and cloud infrastructure professional and managed services, up from 10% in 2019.”

      “We believe Nordcloud has landed in the Magic Quadrant for a third year in a row because we combine cloud infrastructure and cloud application development in order to provide full-service cloud transformations to our customers. This is expected to be a key feature in the majority of deals within the next five years” says Jan Kritz, CEO, Nordcloud.

      “Our hyperscale focused MSP strategy and European market focus ensures our customers get local access to the capabilities to drive success on their digital transformation while reducing IT costs.”

      Nordcloud Recognized Also By Financial Times

      The Magic Quadrant recognition is the latest acknowledgement Nordcloud has received. Previously, The Financial Times positioned Nordcloud in their 1000 fastest growing companies in Europe (FT1000) listing in March 2019.

      Nordcloud is a rare company worldwide to have audited partner certifications with all three leading hyperscalers: Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Nordcloud operates in 10 European countries and employs over 420 cloud experts.

      About Gartner

      Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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        Unlocking the Cloud Operating Model

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        Life at Nordcloud

        Our Cloud Advisor Petri Pekkarinen works at the Helsinki office and his main responsibilities are to consult customers about public cloud strategy, operational models and governance. You might know him from our blog as he has earlier written about how Cloud Center of Excellence Supports Continuous Transformation and Right Partners Are the Key to Digital Transformation Success.

        Here’s his story.

        Cloud Advisor Nordcloud

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

        I’m from Helsinki, Finland. I started my career roughly 15 years ago in telecommunications industry and then moved on to traditional datacenter marketing and solution sales. Roughly 3 years ago I realized my whole career has been very product driven and products alone don’t make a change – people do.  So I made a move service provider company and consulting, but even there I felt I was not able to make a big enough impact. 

        At Nordcloud I have reached my goal and here I’m really able to help organizations transform and modernize their operations.

        2. What is your core competence?

        I’m always looking forward and always trying to find ways to improve in everything. I believe my background in business, product management and IT contributes strongly on my ability to see the big picture and areas where Nordcloud’s customers should improve.

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

        It is definitely the global scale. Public cloud puts everyone on the same line, no matter what is the size of your company. Public cloud significantly reduces time-to-market for new products and effortlessly makes them available for everyone around the world. Thanks to public cloud, competitive landscape is dramatically different to, say 10 years ago, and traditional companies are forced to rethink the way they are operating in order to remain competitive against more agile competitors. 

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

        At Nordcloud I have an opportunity to cowork and learn from very skilled teams and individuals and deliver world class services.  

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

        Well, to start with, I didn’t have public cloud experience, so I pretty much started from scratch. But it was a positive surprise to realize physical datacenter infrastructure and infrastructure in cloud are not very different in terms of architecture and components, so it didn’t take long to get up to speed. The real learning for me is around devops, agile development methods and technologies. 

        I’m still learning and most likely learning will never stop. That’s another great part of working at Nordcloud!  

        6. What do you do outside work?

        My family keeps me pretty busy (in a positive way), but when I have personal free time I enjoy going to live concerts and movies. I’m also passionate Liverpool FC supporter and in general I’m watching the Premier League football almost every weekend. I also like to read informative and educational books.

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

        This one is easy to question to answer. Open, collaborative, agile. 

        8. Best Nordcloudian memory?

        AWS Summit 2019 in Stockholm. It was really great to hear Guido Partels (Managing Director, Nordics & Baltics) thank Nordcloud for outstanding cooperation during his opening keynote.

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          Benefits and risks of lift & shift migration to public cloud

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          Lift & shift is a common option for moving on-premises apps in the cloud while avoiding application re-designing. The aim of Lift & shift is to provision, import, and deploy applications and infrastructure resources to match existing, on-premises architecture without modification. Our customer companies choose to lift and shift in order to reduce on-premise infrastructure costs and then re-architecture application once it is in the cloud.  

          Typical example of Lift & shift is copying virtual machines (containing applications and data) and storage files (just data) across the internet into a pre-deployed target public cloud account. Although Lift and shift can be done manually, the process can and should be automated with tools such as AWS Server Migration Service.

           

          Benefits of Lift and shift cloud migration

          While Lift and shift is not the only way of migrating to the cloud, it can be the fastest and cheapest migration method. Compared to replatforming and refactoring business are limited cost, effort and complexity. Some of our customers also find that it is easier to re-architecture applications once they are running in public cloud, mostly because during the process of migrating the application, data and traffic, they also develop better skills.

          Summary of benefits:

          • Migrate fast to public cloud
          • Reduced risk compared to replatforming and and refactoring
          • Lower initial cost compared to replatforming and and refactoring
          • Thanks to multiple cloud native and partner tools available, the process can be highly automated with limited or no downtime.

           

          Risks of Lift and shift

          Lift and shift is appeals because it is easiest way of migrating to public cloud, but it isn’t without its risks and opportunity costs.

          Most typical challenge we see with Lift and shift is that existing applications are not properly resized for public cloud, as outside the cloud applications are often over-provisioned for peak load. In worst case scenario the application architecture is not cloud ready or cloud friendly resulting in degraded performance, or operational issues.

          Secondly, just copying applications and data without understanding what’s what, means everything is pulled to the public cloud, including insecure configurations and malware. Therefore lift and shift project should not be conducted with lack of effective security governance, risk management, compliance with company’s security policy.  

          Also actual costs may be more than estimates, which can be caused by inaccurate resource estimates, providers changing prices due to upgrading, or bad performance resulting in the need for more resources.

          Thirdly, applications that are lift & shifted to the public cloud may be able to take full advantage of the cost-efficiencies of native cloud features such as autoscaling and ephemeral computing.

          Summary of risks:

          • Inefficient and expensive cloud consumption.
          • Lack of understanding of the cloud. Inefficiency of work, or data leakage with wrong operation due to lack of cloud knowledge.
          • Poor cost & workload estimation to due to lack of cloud skills or understanding of application data.

           

          Nordcloud has proven services that can effectively mitigate lift and shift risks. Our post migration capacity optimisation service reduces cloud spend to optimal level and our training and advisory services can train IT organisation and create operating model that leverages cloud benefits. We believe that lift and shift is a valid option for IT organisations that want to progress fast.

          Read about Nordcloud Migration Factory here

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            Cloud Journey: the 5 steps to nailing digital transformation

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            Many organisations recognise that becoming more agile is vital to a successful digital transformation. This agility comes hand in hand with the cloud, but businesses find it challenging to find the right operational model for leveraging this.

            Getting the most out of the investment into public cloud requires changing or adjusting many aspects of work outside of technology. Supporting this cloud journey is the core focus of Nordcloud’s Consultancy & Advisory services.

            Our cloud advisory services have been built around the common experiences and customer needs which we have seen in hundreds of public cloud projects we’ve undertaken since 2011. We also work and in close co-operation with the hyper-scale professional service, like those of AWS, Azure and GCP. These experiences we have refined into the method we call Cloud Journey.

            The 5 steps of Cloud Journey

            Our five-step process is an approach which is both in line with industry best practices and based on our real-life experiences from real projects.

            1. Strategy

            Strategy is about setting and validating the goals and high-level roadmap for your organisation’s cloud journey. Our services for this phase include cloud strategy projects, vision workshops, and building directional business cases for cloud adoption. We also help with identify the capabilities needed for reaching those goals.

            2. Foundation

            For us, foundation is about both the technology and the organisation and processes for public cloud. In practice, this means defining things like a cloud governance model, the role of cloud competence centre, defining policies, security controls and the scope for the cloud core infrastructure in terms of tooling and architecture (for example networks and accounts).

            3. Innovation

            Innovation means taking full advantage of the capabilities of the public cloud and being able to quickly build new solutions for your business needs. For this, Nordcloud offers help with design services, setting up DevOps practices and in taking advantage of the data related possibilities of cloud.

            4. Migration

            Migration focuses on ensuring the existing application portfolio is also treated to the benefits of cloud. A typical advisory service would be (for example) planning the migration project, assessing the application portfolio for migration (6R analysis), or building a detailed business case for migration. We also help customers lead the transformation of their IT assets and organisation as cloud migration is different from a data centre migration and the work does not stop with the completion of the migration project.

            5. Optimisation

            After migration, optimisation helps with the transformation of ways of working, as does refactoring applications and improving the cloud core infrastructure itself. The goal for optimisation is ensuring cloud produces the needed business outcomes. Typical services could include cost optimisation services and best practice reviews, or for example, helping define and implement the next steps in the evolution of customer’s cloud centre of excellence.

            By working exclusively with the public cloud, we aim at maximising value for our customers. With this is mind, the goal for our advisory services is to produce actionable, practical recommendations.

            Cloud advisory 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.

            Ready to get started on your cloud journey? Contact our cloud experts here!

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              Cloud Computing News #3: Cloud strategy is a must-have

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              This week we focus on cloud strategies.

              How and Why Leaders Must Implement Cloud Computing

              “Organizations that do not have a high-level cloud strategy driven by their business strategy will significantly increase their risk of failure and wasted investment,” says David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

              According to Gartner, a cloud strategy defines the business outcomes the enterprise seeks, and how to get there. Instead of thinking about it as installing new technologies, adopt a cloud service from an outcome perspective. What do you want the cloud to accomplish, and the enterprise to gain?

              Gartner highlights 4 key points for creating a cloud strategy:

              1. Select the right cloud option: it is vital that technology strategic planners select the option most aligned with the enterprise goals and needs .
              2. Think bimodal: a cloud strategy must address both modes based on the overall business strategy and the degree to which the business is focused on aggressively pursuing digital business.
              3. Categorize cloud service options based on benefits and challenges.
              4. Define guiding principles for the ideal way for cloud adoption to occur within the enterprise.

              Read more in Gartner´s white paper Cloud Strategy Leadership

              Multi-Cloud Strategies Grow

              Wall Street Journal reports on two recent separate surveys on the adoption of cloud services:

              According to a study by Forrester

              • 86% of firms already in the cloud have a multi-cloud strategy.
              • Over half of the respondents said they have been spending between $10 million to $100 million a year on multi-cloud services.
              • Why multi-cloud then? Reasons for that vary from safeguarding data by backing it up in cloud storage across different vendors, to taking advantage of different services offered by competing platforms, or simply as a bargaining for better prices.

              IHS Markit Ltd., a London-based data and analytics research firm found that

              • Midsize to large companies currently use an average of 8 different cloud providers – and this number is expected to rise to 11 within the next two years.
              • Most firms plan to “adjust their cloud strategy” within the next two years, aiming to improve performance.

              Read more in WSJ

              Public cloud infra quarterly revenue has more than doubled in the past 3 years

              According to the cloud market growth data by International Data Corporation (IDC), digital transformation is moving enterprises into the cloud.

              “Public cloud has been growing the most. Digital transformation initiatives such as edge computing and machine learning have been bringing new enterprise workloads into the cloud, driving up the demand for higher density configurations of cores, memory, and storage”, says Kuba Stolarski, research director for Infrastructure Platforms and Technologies at IDC.

              Vendor revenue from sales of infrastructure products for cloud IT grew 45.5% year over year in the first quarter of 2018 (1Q18), reaching $12.9 billion. IDC also raised its forecast for total spending on cloud IT infrastructure in 2018 to $57.2 billion. Of this forecast, the public cloud will account for 67.0% of the total, growing at an annual rate of 23.6%

              Public cloud infrastructure quarterly revenue has more than doubled in the past three years to $9.0 billion in 1Q18, growing 55.8% year over year. Traditional (non-cloud) IT infrastructure revenue grew 22.0% from a year ago.

              Read more in IDC

              Cloud enablement, advisory 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.

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              The main purpose of UX writing is to ensure that the people who use any software have a positive experience.

              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.