Starter for 10: Meet Jonna Iljin, Nordcloud’s Head of Design
When people start working with Nordcloud, they generally comment on 2 things. First, how friendly and knowledgeable everyone is. Second,...
Meet our Technical Trainer Michaela Vikman! As a cloud trainer she helps external and internal customers learn about and succeed in public cloud.
I am probably one of very few technical people who did not come to Nordcloud because of public cloud, instead I came looking for a training job. Once I started learning about public cloud I of course got completely hooked; starting out with Azure, then moving on to AWS and finally adding also GCP to the mix.
I grew up in Pietarsaari and then moved to Turku to study chemical engineering. After graduating I started working in a telecommunications company in Espoo and spent 18 years there before coming to Nordcloud. So everything IT related I have learned on the job and as I have had many different roles over the years I see myself as a good example of embracing lifelong learning.
My core competence is technical training, meaning that I deliver AWS and GCP courses for our external and internal customers. Sometimes those courses are held in Helsinki where I am based but I also spend a lot of time travelling and delivering public and dedicated courses in the Nordics and the UK. In the last year most courses have been virtual, which has been a new and interesting experience for me.
The fact that it is available for anyone. All the major providers offer possibilities to try things out for free or with very little money so anyone can give it a go. For companies the most efficient way to train a lot of people is usually through training courses, but e.g. unemployed people who maybe cannot afford instructor led training still have many other ways to learn.
I love that I get to spend my working time doing what I like the most: learning new things and then passing on that knowledge to others.
Also I really appreciate the freedom that I have when not delivering courses. Of course I have targets regarding what I need to have done by when, but how and when I choose to work is up to me. A side effect of this is that I might not get out of my pyjamas until lunchtime.
Seeing the difference that training can make in a company has been very rewarding. Continuous learning is very valuable both for the company and the individual and Nordcloud offers employees possibilities for training and certification with certification bonuses as an additional source of motivation.
Especially on the dedicated customer courses where everyone is from the same company I also see how powerful it is when people get a common terminology and knowledge base to move forward with. Also from a non technical perspective the courses add value in that they bring people together in the same room for several days and encourages discussions that would not take place during a short meeting.
Outside work I love hanging out with my husband and friends and relatives. I also like doing sports and try to work out at least once every day. And of course there can never be too much eating and sleeping.
Open, relaxed and positive.
The 2017 summer party at Allas Sea Pool. Coming from a large company it was pretty amazing to work for a company where everyone in the Helsinki office could fit into the same sauna. As the company has grown a lot since then we now need bigger venues for the parties but we continue to have fun together.
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.
IDC predicts that by 2020, a lack of IT skills will affect 90% of all European organizations — resulting in $91 billion of lost revenue annually.* In particular, the IT skills associated with cloud implementations, migrations, and net new deployments are in very short supply.
Therefore, to accelerate the delivery of these cloud projects, organizations will increasingly have to upskill existing employees or leverage external service providers that have the know-how to deliver these capabilities at scale. In this blog post we will explore these numbers a bit further and argue, why exactly upskilling is such a crucial – and possibly cost-saving – step on any company’s cloud journey.
Trained organizations are 80% faster to adopt cloud and 3.8 times more likely to meet cloud ROI requirements.
The value of cloud is realized with the changes in technology and changes in how the organization works. On the technology side this means DevOps, new architectural patterns and cloud native technologies in addition to hyperscale cloud. On the process side this means adopting agile ways of working and embracing lean tools like constant improvement and optimization. These have an impact on the entire organization, not just IT. You could say that to get the cloud benefits, you need to transform the technology, people and processes.
Lack of IT skills and enough knowledgeable experts is something we at Nordcloud have seen in practice throughout our customer base. Hiring more experts is very hard since there is a huge shortage of talent on the market and the cost of recruitment is very high.
To solve this issue, we provide upskilling for our customers. We feel that in the long run our customers themselves also need to have the right knowledge. Knowing how cloud works also make the cooperation between customer and consultant work more seamlessly. Not to mention that trained organizations are also 80% faster to adopt cloud and 3.8 times more likely to meet cloud ROI requirements. **
The value of cloud is realized with the changes in how the organization works.
Besides learning to know the technology you are working with there are some other forces driving the cloud upskilling. Some of the main reasons for training is being able to deliver new innovations for the business to be able to grab bigger portions of the competitive market and having the ability to find new revenue streams with the help of the right competence and hyperscale cloud. Companies are starting to understand that new approaches demand new digital skills and that they need to upskill existing employees to increase their productivity and start building new digital products faster.
We at Nordcloud have also seen a drastic increase in our cloud training business. During the last year we saw a 66% increase in participation numbers. As an example, last year we arranged 101 AWS courses with an excellent (4,50/5 average in) participant satisfaction.
To cater for all needs Nordcloud has a wide selection on different trainings varying from very basic Awareness trainings to official AWS, Azure and GCP courses to comprehensive 6-week Talent Acceleration Programs which all are used for our own needs as well.
*IDC Infobrief sponsored by Nordcloud (2019): Hyperscale Cloud Platforms as an Accelerator for Digital: the Role of Transformational Partners
**IDC White Paper sponsored by AWS (2017): Train to Accelerate Your Cloud Strategy.
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.
Me and two fellow Finnish Azure Padawans started our journey with Nordcloud on January 2nd, right after New Year 2019. The first two days went with introductions, getting to know the office, getting our equipment etc. Talent Acceleration Program itself started the following Monday, 7th of January, in Poland at our Poznan office. Our journey to Poznań started on Sunday at Helsinki Airport where we met the TAP leader Aki Stenberg and our trainer Jarkko Girs. The plan was to be at our destination in the afternoon but our flight from Helsinki to Munich was delayed and we missed our connecting flight to Poznan. So, we ended up waiting for six hours at Munich Airport to get to the next available flight, arriving in Poznan around midnight. We had accommodation sorted out, so we took a taxi from the airport to the Apartamenty Pomaranczarnia, apartment complex located in the centre of the city, where I shared a flat with Timi. The apartment was really nice and it was also located in a rather quiet street. After travelling for nearly 12 hours, the only good decision was to get some sleep.
On Monday morning we met with Esa and Tom (from the London office) and headed to McDonald’s to get some McBreakfast. This became a habit, we ended up having breakfast there every morning. After finding the right entrance to the office, the day started with meeting six Polish guys joining the program and Aki’s welcome words. For the first time, the whole TAP-crew was together. The day then continued with some basic Azure stuff with Jarkko. The next two days were Azure Fundamentals training by Jarkko. Lots of good stuff with a bunch of slides and labs. On Wednesday evening we went to Restaurant Brovaria to have some food and (of course!) beer. It was a very enjoyable evening involving all TAP participants and a handful of our Polish colleagues. A light-hearted session was in order for the start of Thursday, pairing up and presenting a brief introduction of ourselves in front of the group (slight caveat; we swapped roles and presented as if we were our partner), very funny and a great ice breaker for the group. On Thursday afternoon the program continued with a whiteboard session hosted by Teemu Tapanila (The Azure Guru!).
We were split into three groups in which we needed to come up with a solution for a client that provided us their needs and so on. Every group succeeded quite well considering the fact that we only had had a few days of Azure training. Great session!
On Friday morning Matti Puolitaival (Senior Cloud Architect) gave us the first glimpse of our upcoming case study and Dariusz Dwornikowski gave a presentation around our potential career possibilities at Nordcloud. Another Azure guru, Slawomir Stanek, gave us a presentation regarding what it’s like to be Cloud Architect at Nordcloud. The week flew by and before we knew it, it was time to wrap up the week and head to Poznań airport for our flight back to Helsinki. Luckily this time the flight went much better and we were in Helsinki approximately at the time we were supposed to be.
Week 2 started in Helsinki from where we remotely joined classroom training delivered by Jarkko in the Poznań office. This week’s Azure training consisted of Microsoft’s 70-533 and 70-535 courses, both of which are now replaced with new ones (but the content was still valid!). Once again, multiple sessions involving slide decks and technical labs. Azure training was the key focus from Monday to Wednesday, until Thursday when the focus shifted to agile methods of working, including a scrum workshop. A self-study day was planned for the Friday, primarily watching Pluralsight training videos.
Week 3 began in a similar vein to week 2, remotely joining the classroom training delivered by Jarkko. Thursday arrived which meant case study time! A brief morning kick-off quickly moved on to a planning meeting in our individual teams (the group was divided up into 2 Polish teams and the Finnish team, including their honorary Finn ‘Tom’). Team Finland came up with our high-level design quite quickly, initially drafting this on paper and then moving this into a LucidChart diagram. Once we received approval from our mentor that our design would work in practice, we were able to proceed with creating the environment (manually via the Azure portal). This work consumed the rest of Thursday and Friday morning. By Friday afternoon we were ready to present our progress to the other teams during the case study review. Our design was by no means perfect, but overall progress was good and the week had been a success. Time for a well-earned beer!
Monday morning arrived, meaning week 4 could commence. Time was allocated in the morning for teams to finalise any outstanding tasks from the manual Azure build in week 3. By 12 pm this was complete, and then we got a 90-minute introduction into working with ARM templates by one of the Senior Cloud Architects. Now the case study started to get interesting! We were tasked with replicating the environment we created in week 3, but this time using only ARM templates to carry out our deployments. This was quite a steep learning curve for us all, many of the group had no prior experience working with ARM, but all 3 teams managed to create working templates and make good progress. Friday afternoon signalled another case study review. Team Finland had some slight problems with our templates, so we weren’t able to make it work by then. Not a major issue though, luckily the next phase of the case study wasn’t starting in week 5 and we had time to fix this. All in all, another successful week. It appeared working with Azure wasn’t quite so scary after all?
Week 5; DevOps time! Once again our journey to Poznań began on the Sunday from Helsinki Airport. We couldn’t have the same travel issues that we experienced in week 1, could we? Yes, we could! This time the flight from Helsinki to Munich was even more delayed than last time. Our flight left over two hours late, meaning yet again we missed our connecting flight to Poznan. To make matters worse, our replacement connecting flight was then cancelled too, a night in Munich for us then! Eventually departing Munich the following day around 1 pm, unfortunately, meant missing the first day of DevOps training. Top tip: don’t ever fly via Munich. Finally, we arrived in Poznań, finding the nearest Uber and heading to our apartment to meet Esa and Tom. 26 hours of travelling could only mean one thing, dinner at “bar a boo”, if you’re ever in Poznan, try it, you won’t be disappointed! On Tuesday we joined the DevOps training held by Krzysztof Knapik (only 1 day later than planned!). Another mixture of technical slides and intuitive labs. The training had been tailor-made for the TAP program, this was great. Team Finland managed to complete some outstanding tasks on Tuesday evening that had been left over from the previous case study, this meant we could fully focus on learning CI/CD pipelines!
Krzysztof’s training continued on Wednesday and was completed by close of business, a really interesting and valuable 3 days. Wednesday was again chosen as the Padawan evening event, bowling and a few drinks was the plan, what could go wrong? After good fun bowling, mixed with dinner and beers, it was decided a group visit to the local shot bar was the best plan! The night was great fun, although the entire TAP-crew certainly appeared to be nursing a hangover the next day.
Thursday was our introduction to security in Azure, held by Senior Developer Joona Somerkivi and Cloud Security Architect Joni Helle. The sessions were a real eye opener, the important lessons were to ensure you’re always in control and cover your ass! Joni Helle presented a really useful workshop/lab regarding how to identify security flaws in Azure and properly secure your deployments. Friday was Kubernetes day, a fast-paced introduction hosted by Piotr Kieszczynski. Most of the group were complete Kubernetes rookies prior to this session so there were lots to learn! The pace was difficult to keep up with at times, but it was great to get an instructor-led introduction to the platform. After the Friday session, it was time to return our key cards and say goodbye to all the great people at Poznań office (hopefully we get a chance to visit once again!). There were no Helsinki bound flights from Poznan on Friday evening, this meant a 4 am wake up on Saturday morning. We checked out of the apartment (which we had grown quite fond of in the 2 weeks we had stayed), returned the keys to reception, hopped in an Uber and headed to the airport. Our flight was surprisingly right on time, meaning we had nearly an hour to spend in Munich. The connecting flight to Helsinki was also on time and we arrived at Helsinki Airport around midday. A relaxing weekend was needed before the last week of TAP commenced.
Before we knew it, week 6 arrived, the final week of TAP. Starting on Monday morning with the DevOps case study kick off. Time to build some DevOps CI/CD pipelines, and once again deliver the environment we had created twice before throughout the program. Having learnt valuable lessons from the previous case study tasks (and, seeing how the Polish teams had worked), Team Finland managed their time much more effectively, minimising time spent in meetings and carving up the project into individually assigned tasks. We ended the task with a “mostly working” solution, some minor things were still missing by the time of case study review at Friday morning (again, not a major problem, the main point of the exercise is to become comfortable working with CI/CD pipelines in a “real-world” scenario). On Friday afternoon we had our final closing TAP meeting, Aki recapped what we had gone over in the past 6 weeks, the Padawans then had a chance to give feedback and discuss about the past six weeks. We did it! TAP Azure? Done! We got our TAP diplomas, and it was now time to prepare ourselves for assignment on real customer cases. The six weeks went by incredibly fast, lots to learn, at times very demanding, but equally rewarding and totally worth it. All ten Padawans concurring the TAP program was a great success. A huge thanks to Aki, Jarkko and everyone who was involved in the program – time to get started in the real world!
Text: Jukka Loikkanen & Tom Lloyd, Photos: Jukka Loikkanen & Aki Stenberg
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.
According to a 2017 report by Global Knowledge, a massive 68% of IT decision makers faced a present skills shortage in their teams.
Gartner research 2018 indicated that companies need to shift from external hiring strategies towards training their current workforces. Statistics clearly show the importance and benefits of employee development: a more competitive workforce, increased employee retention, and higher employee engagement.
“Organizations face huge challenges from the pace of business change, accelerating privacy regulations and the digitalization of their industries,” said Matt Shinkman, managing vice president and risk practice leader at Gartner.
The use of cloud has been growing rapidly in the last 4-8 years. Compliance, automation, improved security, infrastructure as code, better DevOps practices, and developing cloud-native applications, are just some common reasons corporations want to move to the cloud.
Adopting a new cloud environment involves extensive change, from skills to processes to technology. With the growing technology changes, it is hard for companies to keep up, and even harder for the average employees.
Skills development is a process where we turn from a beginner to a junior, and ultimately a senior. Skills development comes down to two key factors: identifying the skills gaps and developing those skills.
When developing skills, it is commonly broken down into hard and soft skills:
Hard skills are commonly looked at. It is great to have a smart co-worker, but it doesn’t help the corporation if the employee is not willing to share information or can’t handle stress. Therefore it is best to help employees build both skills.
According to a recent study, 2017 U.S. training expenditures increased 32.5 percent to $90.6 billion. We at Nordcloud have also seen a drastic increase in our cloud training business. During the last year we saw a 66% increase in participation numbers.
As an example, last year we arranged 101 AWS courses with an excellent (4,50/5 average in) participant satisfaction.
“Excellent course, materials and instructor! Gave good overview of AWS. There were also some interesting questions asked, the answer were good and the instructor seems very educated surrounding the topic. All in all, a good training!”
“The pace was very high which was great for me. I really enjoyed the presentation and the trainer was very knowledgeable. I learned a lot about the basic AWS technologies and all the technical questions were well answered. Great instructor, any question and the answer comes out like from a machine gun. Very much knowledge of the topic in her.”
As a cloud native Nordcloud knows the public cloud well, and we understand what it takes to succeed there. We provide cloud training for both individuals and companies.
Competition for cloud professionals is fierce so how can you ensure your company has the top IT talent? Research firm Gartner reports that “by 2020, 75 percent of organizations will experience visible business disruptions due to [infrastructure and operations] skills gaps.”
Recent Gartner survey of 400 executives (10/2018) found that a shrinking pool of qualified candidates surfaced as a top business risk for global executives in risk, audit, finance and compliance. Cloud computing, which was ranked the No. 1 risk in 2Q18, remains a concern. Cybersecurity disclosure and the artificial intelligence (AI)/robotics skills gap round out the top five concerns among executives surveyed. Digital transformation initiatives have only increased this pressure.
“In this strong economic environment of significant business growth and record-low unemployment levels, the battle for talent is heating up as employees now have more bargaining power,” said Matthew Shinkman, practice leader at Gartner. “As a result, talent is harder to find and even more difficult to keep.”
To mitigate the risk of talent shortage, Gartner recommends a market-driven approach to sourcing strategy that ensures it adapts to evolving external labour market realities and organization needs.
As an Amazon Web Services Training Partner and Azure Training Partner, Nordcloud delivers a variety of engaging and hands-on official cloud training courses that cater to all needs. Whether you’re new to the cloud or have experience with AWS or Azure services, we have something for you. Please note that you do not have to be our customer to sign up for training – they’re for everyone!
We base our trainings on our in-depth understanding on public cloud and to the latest development of cloud. Our approach to learning is very practical, courses have lots of hands-on activities and immersive exercises. By completing introductory and advanced courses built around self-paced labs, you’ll deepen your skills and learn best-practices for architecting, developing and operating infrastructure and applications on the AWS and Azure cloud.
We also offer customised, organisation-specific training, if that’s something you’re interested in. We can significantly increase the adoption of Public Cloud usage and ensure the investments are paying off by upskilling your organization.
By attending our cloud training, you’ll guarantee your cloud success when you learn to do things right from the start.
The challenge at the moment is the lack of cloud natives capable of creating the solutions that enable the future. People with the skills, knowledge and ability to apply the latest tech to the most recent challenges.
As the leading cloud solution provider in Europe, we can’t wait for the world to catch up. We’ve decided to gather the most capable future cloud experts together and provide them with the opportunity to brush up their skills and join the movement toward a frictionless future.
Nordcloud Talent Acceleration programme is the gateway into the world of Nordcloud. At Nordcloud Talent Acceleration, we provide a fast-track learning program that brings forward thinking people to a visionary community.
We offer two training programs that transform IT specialists into the next generation of cloud natives. Pick from either our public cloud (AWS/Azure) ready Cloud Engineering or Cloud Development curriculum, developing your skills and completing your certificates.
Interested in accelerating your skills and becoming a cloud superhero? We are now recruiting for Microsoft Azure tracks that start in January 2019 and March 2019. We are looking joiners from Poland and Germany for both of the tracks.
We offer you a permanent employment from day one, six weeks intensive cloud bootcamp and large variety of interesting customer projects to kick start a new cloud superhero career!
You are warmly welcomed to follow my day in our Talent Acceleration team!
Who am I and what do I actually do, besides talking a lot while waving my hands and hanging out in Linkedin? And what is talent acceleration actually? Those are the things I hope to answer with this short story.
First of all I’m going to tell you a bit more about myself. You may call me Pinja, one of the Talent Acquisition Ninjas of Nordcloud. I joined the company in June 2018 and jumped on a fast-forward moving train of a rapidly growing tech company with huge potential to untap. This ride has been an absolute pleasure so far and suddenly I’ve found myself in the most interesting, new and exciting situations. Our growth has been impressive, and there is still a lot to do. For a recruiter and HR person like myself, this is a very challenging but especially rewarding situation to be in. As our company’s motto states, ‘we power up our customers’ business with an unlimited source of energy: our people”. This is people business to its core. For me, the feeling of getting things done and seeing some of my recruits walking around at the office with a Nordcloud hoodie on is the best possible reward.
My own background is very far from tech savvy, but I claim to know something about people. I’ve always been intrigued by all things humane and therefore studying social psychology was a perfect match for me. Recruiting was a quite natural career path to take after that, as working with people is my greatest source of motivation. Matching great talent with new opportunities, seeing people step up their game when given the right chance and seeing the sparkle in their eyes while doing so is what makes me happy. The years working with tech recruitments have also created the little engineer in me and suddenly I see myself doing bits of coding stuff, fighting with Excel and reading about all things technical – you really are the company you keep!
Well, honestly there isn’t a regular day! I do a lot of basic recruitments stuff, such as interviews, hunt and gather CVs and send out technical assignments, job offers and take care of our new joiners. I work closely with our managers and try to solve their business needs from a resource point of view. Our talent acceleration works hard to solve the need for people in a field where there are not enough cloud-skilled people existing. We have created our own solution for this and are training our own pros.
Currently I am recruiting people for Poland and Germany, where we are offering a permanent employment and a full-time six weeks of training in Microsoft Azure to start with. This is a big project, where everything has to be orchestrated carefully, so I’ve been spending recently a lot of time networking with the right people, planning, researching and just testing things that could work out. This is ramping up growth and creating market entry at the same time, in addition to the normal recruitment activities.
The basic philosophy of this ‘talent acceleration as a strategy’ is to accelerate the skills and productivity level of new hires and existing staff too. Basically this makes it possible for you to hire into specific roles at an “underfill” level and rapidly accelerate new hires to full performance. Shortly put, it is critical for talent acquisition to create talent strategies that meet future challenges now, not next year. Job market, especially in tech, is in constant flux and shifting so fast that normal recruitment processes and traditional talent acquisition can’t catch up.
PS. You can find me at Linkedin, feel free to connect there!
Upon accepting Nordcloud’s offer, I knew I’d be joining with other new starters from around Europe in Helsinki for week 1, but where would we be sleeping? A hotel? A shared apartment?
The accommodation details came through on email along with the rest of the joining members, a two-bedroom houseboat for the 5 Nordcloud students. It certainly looked cosy from the picture. I’ll say that I was a little apprehensive about sharing close quarters with people I’ve never met before. We coordinated our visit between ourselves over email and mobile messaging groups, arranging to meet up depending when our flights arrived in Helsinki.
It turned out that I was one of the first to arrive, and I had been liaising with the boat owner to arrange picking up keys (or perhaps “on-boarding” is a better term here). I was greeted by a tall Russian with a big grey beard, a ship’s captain if ever I’ve seen one! He proceeded to give me a thorough tour of the boat’s quarters during which I placed my belongings in the prime sleeping spot. He then told me he would show me how to fill the water tank as over a week, it would run out. He placed a large hi-vis vest on me and said “you’re the captain now, Captain Terry…” He then said “follow me” and grabbed a hose from the side of the harbour, put it between his teeth and climbed down the side of the boat on a small ledge no bigger than 5cm. The weather was kind in Helsinki, however, I wasn’t too keen on falling and taking a swim in the harbour water. I told him I had a great view from where I was, and he proceeded to hold onto the boat with one hand and placing the hose into the tank, just above the water line. He said that if we had any problems with filling up the tank then we should call him… I was pretty sure we’d be calling him.
Life on the open sea was good to us for the week, with the activities planned plus eating out together each evening, we didn’t spend too much time on the boat apart from sleeping. It was certainly a good way to get to know my fellow Nordcloud candidates. When we ran out of water midway through the week, I took captain’s responsibility to go and fill the tank and did so without incident. With the long list of things I learnt during the start of the Nordcloud Talent Acceleration course, boat maintenance was a surprise addition to the list!
I have just booked my flights for week 5 meet-up in Helsinki, I await the accommodation email with interest…
At Nordcloud Talent Acceleration, we provids a fast-track learning program enabling people to become a cloud expert in just 6 weeks.
Our first Cloud Engineer track kicked off in June 2018 and will soon be followed by two more Cloud Engineer tracks starting 27.8.2018 and 1.10.2018, and a Cloud Developer track starting 27.8.2018.
You can apply and find more information on these coming programs here.
We asked the graduates:
Read more on Harri experiences in Harri´s blog post ‘Taking the fast-track to become a cloud expert’
– Well, I’d say Yes and No, but let me elaborate on that answer a bit. 🙂
I’m one of the participants in Nordcloud’s first Talent Acceleration program, which kicked off in the beginning of June. Nordcloud helps its’ customers to utilize the public cloud, but currently there’s a real shortage of cloud professionals, especially of seasoned Cloud Architects. Nordcloud Talent Acceleration is a fast-track program – lasting just 6 weeks – for training cloud experts from seasoned IT professionals to help Nordcloud mitigate talent demand.
After the training period ends in middle of August we’ll graduate to become Cloud Engineer, and start working in real customer projects, with the support of more senior staff members in the beginning. Getting real work experience in actual customer projects is a valuable thing, and one you can’t get with just taking cloud courses.
For myself, the program is a return to a more technical role. At the start of my career I worked couple of years as a software developer and later on part as a sysadmin, but my last role has been working as a consultant – in theory mostly helping customers with collaboration tools and B2B marketing, but in practice selling my expertise in a very wide range of topics related to digitalisation. I’ve done everything from doing studies and compiling reports to delivering trainings and public speeches but also some technical work as well.
All of us in the #1 program have several years of work experience in the traditional IT fields; most seem to come from a networking or a sysadmin background, but some have also programming experience. We will be going through several AWS courses (architecting, systems operations and DevOps), which comprise of both classroom training and labs, but we’re also working in small teams on a couple of case studies, i.e. architecting, implementing and automating an environment modeled after a real customer case (so called ”Lift & Shift” case).
I’ve been following the developments in the cloud field, but never had a change to dig deeper into any of the cloud platforms, while working as a consultant on the application layer things. Getting familiar with Amazon Web Services has been very interesting, and I’ve been amazed about the possibilities virtual servers in the public cloud, containers and serverless offers. We have currently learnt both how to build modern server architectures in AWS by ourselves, and also started to learn how to automate infra creation as well. The thought that one can just store a complex server infrastructure in a version control system, and easily deploy that to any other region is mind-boggling – to say the least.
Nordcloud has also done quite a lot of IoT and AI / Machine Learning projects – which I wasn’t aware of before joining – and offers advisory services as well. As I’m always interested in new technologies and have consulting experience, I might lean into that direction in the future; let’s see.
So getting back to the original question – yes, I think we will be ready to work as Cloud Engineers after the program, but I’m sure there will still be a lot to learn and working with our experienced Cloud Architects will definitely help us get productive in a fast manner.
I’ll try to find the time to write another blog post or two about my experience later on, so stay tuned!
Harri Lakkala, Nordcloud Talent Acceleration Cloud Trainee
BTW. If you are an IT professional working on the ”old stuff”, check out the Nordcloud Talent Acceleration website. Nordcloud has at least 2 more infra tracks coming up in August and there’s also a new Cloud Developer track. You are a salaried employee from day 1 (including the training period) and get pretty extensive AWS trainings, so becoming a cloud expert has never been easier!
Harri Lakkala is one of the Nordcloud Talent Acceleration track #1 participants and a seasoned IT/Digitalisation Expert. This blog post has been cross-posted from Harri’s LinkedIn blog.
Getting AWS Certified is only half the battle. A certification is much more than a piece of paper – it is used as an assurance to showcase that you have the basic understanding of the product that you’re looking to be certified in and each certification uses strict requirements and procedures.
Everything starts with you and ends with you, but of course, having an organisation that values training and improving employees is a big plus. Organisations are constantly weighing in options for transitioning into the cloud. Everyone has heard of the vast number of enablers like faster time-to-market, infrastructure as code, DevOps, automation, a fresh start, and most of all the growing cloud services.
Organisations have been overworking IT employees for a long time and now they want them to be trained in a new mindset. This is easier said than done because people usually resist change, but in fact, the organisation already has these invaluable resources. This knowledge usually consists of networking, operating systems, database, managed services, and so much more.
The issue now is that some organisation’s executives do not have the understanding of the key services provided by the different cloud platforms. So they push the employees to get this training, but don’t provide the incentives.
Employees who are willing to continuously self-develop and improve themselves are becoming very valuable in the market. This increases the competition in the growing market. Every day, certified employees are being contacted by HR or headhunters who are offering 10%+ raise. Money is a big enabler for a lot of employees, but so is dedication and respect of the current organisation. Most people are juggling life and work responsibilities, but some still have the motivation to add another commitment to their already hectic schedules, especially the ones that are taking technical courses to gain proficiency.
Offering competitive wages and keeping those wages fair amongst current and future employees should be something that the organisation automatically does, but since this is usually not the case providing incentives can be the motivation that keeps that employee committed to their current organisation. This can be anything from a pay raise, one-time bonus, stocks, donation to a charity of choice to something as simple as giving flexible work hours during the study period.
It is not just for you to show growth in the industry, but your organisation also needs it to become an APN Partner. Currently, there are three performance tiers (Standard, Advanced, Premier) based on training, customer engagements, and overall business investment and getting certified will help your organisation look more mature compared to other competitors.
At re:Invent 2014, they announced a change to the APN Partners requirements for 2015, showcasing that AWS wants to help customers identify successful APN Partners. One way was by increasing the certifications needed to achieve the different tiers. The Premier Tier was “8 Associate Levels” and “4 Professional Levels” certifications needed. Below is the current 2016 requirements:
As you can see from the 2016 APN Partner requirements that Associate Level has increased by 250% and Professional Level by 200%.
There is a lot of material available to help you prepare for an AWS certificate, but the internet is also full of older material that can lead you down the wrong rabbit hole. The first place to start is by looking at the AWS Certification Roadmap:
*Note that you have to take an associate certification before you can take a professional cert. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate is broken up into 5 domains.
Each domain will challenge your understanding of AWS Services, AWS Best Practices, and most of all the Well-Architected Framework.
AWS recommends a three-day training course titled “Architecting on AWS” and a 4-hour “AWS Certification Exam Readiness Workshop”. Before taking the certification exam, I recently joined a Nordcloud “Architecting on AWS” Training course and was able to use it as a refresher course. Architecting on AWS is a course designed to teach solution architects how to optimise and get a deeper understanding of AWS Services and to showcase how the numerous services fit into Architecting on AWS.
The key focus for the Solution Architect – Associate is High-Availability, In/outs of VPC, EC2, RDS, and the plentiful storage solutions.
I am going to share with you how I prepared for the certification because I believe it’s best to hear from the source. When I was new to AWS, I started by taking the AWS Accreditation courses: “AWS TCO and Cloud Economics” and “AWS Technical Professional” AWS Accreditations are only provided to APN Partners. It took me just under one week to get accredited following the curriculum during my spare time.
As I started to prepare for the Architect exam, another exam called “Cloud Practitioner” came out and I wanted to make sure that I knew the basics of AWS and had a good feeling about how to take the exam. I changed gears and took some AWS training courses that focussed on “Cloud Practitioner” exam. This took me about 3 weeks.
AWS Free Training Path:
I picked a date and signed up for the exam. I also knew that I was going to take the Architect exam about 1 month later so I registered for this too as I didn’t want to wait until I felt like I could take the test. Nobody is ready to take a test because of the fear of failure!
Note: If you do not hold a passport from a Native Speaking Country you are able to request up to an additional 30 minutes.
Non-English Speaker Steps:
To request a 30-minute extension for your exam, please log into your AWS Certification Account (not the PSI account) and take the following steps:
Now when you go to schedule your exam the time will be 30 minutes longer than normal. Note that you MUST request the accommodation BEFORE you schedule the exam.
AWS Free Training Path:
My mindset ever since my first test/exams in grade school has always been understanding things and not just memorising them. The same goes for AWS exams because I really want to understand how each service works and all each feature helps to enhance the key services.
Does this hurt me on exams? Of course, as I can’t remember the exact IOPS or throughput of the various EBS Volume Types. I do know that HDD EBS Volumes are mainly used Big Data or log processing. I know that Provisioned IOPS SSD allows for more than 10,000 IOPS and are mainly used for large databases.
Spot Instances cost more than a regular EC2 instance, but I do not know by how much. I do know it depends on the region and that they are primarily used for a short burst of intensive jobs in CI/CD pipelines or batch processing jobs.
It was finally the exam day and I was very nervous. I didn’t want to let the organisation down or be a failure. I arrived at the testing centre about 20 minutes before and had a coffee to try to calm my nerves.
Sometimes I didn’t understand what the question was trying to ask. I just moved on and came back to it at the end of the exam. AWS Exams allow you to mark the questions so you are able to identify the ones you skipped or needed more in-depth thinking on.
Scenario-based questions are time to consume, but what I did was skip them until later. I understand this could be risky if I didn’t finish the exam on time, but spending a long time on understanding the harder question could make me miss out on easier ones later.
When I finished the Solution Architect: Associate and Practitioner Exam the results came about 2 days later. PASSED