A strategic approach to cloud migration: Finnair’s ambitious application modernization


In Industry 4.0, migrating to the cloud is quickly becoming a mandatory step. While financial pressures often act as a major driver of cloud migration, the cloud offers much more than just cost savings: it offers greater manageability and scalability than on-premises services. Not only is the cloud changing how the industry can attract new talent, but companies that stick to legacy systems will not be able to improve their survivability in the future. Embarking on a cloud migration brings significant benefits to a company’s day-to-day operations by changing the way new services can be tested and developed.

Founded in Finland in 2011, Nordcloud was created in response to a gap in the Nordic region market where there was no cloud consulting for management, operations and capacity services. From there, the company grew significantly year on year and was acquired by IBM in December 2020 to bolster its global public cloud services.

Cloud migration for Finnair

When Nordcloud was approached by Finnair, the airline was seven months away from the end of its data center contract. Finnair is Finland’s largest airline, but this project coincided with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, so its systems were less used.

Before the data center contract expired, approximately 400 servers and 70 applications needed to be transferred to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The AWS platform offers a number of built-in features that are easy to test to see if they are beneficial for using Finnair, using a “fail fast” mentality.

According to Cormac Walsh of Nordcloud, an expert in digital transformation and cloud solutions for the aerospace industry: “A cloud migration project must have a very robust cloud migration strategy and cloud governance strategy, so in four weeks, we had a full cloud strategy and migration. to plan.

“We assessed the application base, covering all virtual machines, applications and databases, as well as interdependencies with third-party applications and integrations with external systems. In the case of aviation, this would include, for example, crew management systems, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) applications and reservation systems. Everything must be done in an extraordinarily coordinated fashion so that there is absolutely no downtime.

Nordcloud was heavily involved in managing the migration and integration of third-party applications, which offloaded a considerable amount of work from Finnair. This has been particularly beneficial during the pandemic, where furloughs have led to additional skills shortages.

Modernization of managed applications

Managed Application Modernization is a service offered by Nordcloud where an application, virtual machine, or application suite can be moved to the cloud while eliminating legacy inefficiencies and technical debt. This can have major long-term benefits in terms of day-to-day operations and cost savings, and Nordcloud is so confident in its assurance that it offers managed application modernization as a service at zero upfront cost. For Finnair, the costs were spread over three years, meaning they paid as they earned the value of the service.

“We look at the level of technical debt that exists within a particular application, and then how to strategically address it,” says Walsh. “There’s a sort of principle in the cloud migration business that says you should do your migration work as simply as possible in the beginning, and then think about deep modernization later. While that’s very true, if we’re thinking about the idea of ​​re-platforming, you’re already stepping into the water in terms of modernization.At this point, it makes a lot of sense to look at what else can be done for this particular application.

“In this managed application modernization, we have reviewed the overall status and formed a plan that encompasses application modernization opportunities. Some of them, if they have a low enough technical debt and do not immediately present security risks, can be “raised and moved”. However, for other applications we will see surgically how they can be improved. This produces many benefits for our customers, some of our major customers have realized licensing cost savings of $1 million per year immediately after migrating sets of applications using this particular model.

Finnair was running SAP on DB2 with an AIX operating system, which Nordcloud turned into SAP HANA (High-performance ANalytic Appliance). Its business-critical applications and integrations on AIX were modernized with a new platform, and Nordcloud managed all licenses and helped reduce costs through license optimization. The most challenging application was the Air Flight Maintenance and Operations System (AMOS), which relied on legacy technology and was limited in its scalability. Nordcloud split the app into four separate software suites that migrated with a mix of refactoring and lift and shift.

Since the migration to the cloud was successfully completed, Nordcloud has continued to support Finnair with a large-scale application modernization project.

To learn more about how Nordcloud can support you in your cloud journey, join us at the World Aviation Festival October 4-6, 2022 or Learn more here.


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