What and how to learn about cloud tech in 2021 | CON017
Hello and welcome to the Norways connection session at the Microsoft Build event. My name is Maxim Salnikov. I work as a developer engagement lead in Microsoft Norway and today we will discuss. Skilling and learning on cloud technologies.
I called this session what and how to learn about Cloud in 2021 and next 30 minutes will try to identify what to learn, what could be trending in the cloud tech this year or coming season and how to learn and to know about that. I gathered friends of Microsoft in this studio. Representatives of. Customer and partner companies to know how that works in their companies.
So with great pleasure, I want to introduce my today's guests. Lillian and Morten. Could you please introduce yourself? My name is Lillian Larson and I work as a channel manager cloud, at Crayon. My name is Morten Bakken and I'm working as a cloud architect at Visma. It's nice to have you in our studio, dear guests, and let's start from the introduction of our companies. Let's provide some quick technical profiles for our dear visitors to understand better which learning practices work in which companies.
Lillian, what about your company? Thank you Maxim. Crayon is a global provider of software managed services. And software asset management.
We are about 2000 employees globally and the headquarters is in Norway where we are about 500 employees and we are an Azure expert MSP. Also, we will definitely dive into the details of learning and skilling in Crayon. What about you Morten? Which company are you representing? Sure, so I'm with Visma.
Visma is also a multinational company, headquarters in Norway. We have customers and we have development centers all across Europe. So Visma delivers a wide range of software products. The main main ones being ERP, CRM, HRM systems, payroll systems and we're delivering from everything from single person companies all the way up to large enterprises and public sector.
We are around 12,500 employees, 4500 developers and not purely a cloud company yet, but quite a large chunk of those developers are working with cloud related projects. Awesome, now I think we understand which scale of the companies we are talking about today, and let's start our discussion from what happened last year or last season. So let's look back a bit. What kind of projects did you deliver? If we talk about cloud technologies, what about you, Lillian? If we look back on 2020 and you could see that before the pandemic it was the hustle to the cloud.
The transformation sort of journey. Now we can see that the demands in the market is after they've been in the cloud for awhile. They have been, let's say adopting the new transition and the new way of work in example in Azure services. So the demand now from the market is more competency. And more experience, more hands-on on power platform, power apps, automation and data. How to actually use your data to your advantage.
Thank you very much and actually you covered my next question. Also it was about looking forward. So then I ask Morten both questions. So what happened in terms of Cloud technologies project in some last period of time and what are your prognosis? What could be trending? In 2021, and further in Visma? Sure.
So in this month we have been in Azure for many, many years. So last year we spent quite some time on some modernization projects in the cloud. So moving from the kind of legacy cloud services to more modern things like the web apps, service Fabric, containerizing workloads, and using, for example, Kubernetes services.
We also have quite a few products that are still on premise based, so we want to move those to the cloud so we have some migration projects running. All the way from kind of lift and shift operations to more cloud native rewrites. We're also looking into some interesting opportunities using, for example, Windows virtual desktop for actually serving desktop apps over the clouds. And we're also been focusing quite a bit on serverless, the last last year, and we have also built some interesting, for example, public APIs fully serverless using API management services and Azure functions. For the future, I think we still want to look more into serverless, an, exploiting that even even more.
I think we're also working quite a bit with cloud security, raising awareness internally about that. I think that's very important to be able to deliver services and products securely from the cloud. I also think that we we start to use more and more containerization and really learn how to do that effectively in the cloud and using the native service offerings like Azure Kubernets service and so on. Awesome. So if I was asked to extract 3 keywords from your answers about what's trending, I believe this could be data, migration and cloud native and I can say that. Pretty much correlates with what we experience in Microsoft.
And yeah, from my personal experience it also very trending set of the topics on developer technology thing. Awesome, now we know what to learn. Let's jump to the points on how to learn this and I kindly ask you to briefly.
Introduce learning initiatives you have in your companies and let's actually extend the question so as large companies. You might also take active part in upscaling of your company partners. So let's let's cover both topics. How does this work in Cryon in crayon like I like when I introduce myself, I represent the indirect part of Crayon. So we are. Skilling our partners, in direct partners. The demands from the partners is,
let's say moments skilling, the time. Let's say the demands from their end customers the way that that's the way that their skilling is formed. The tension in the market to deliver scalable services so are the way that we skill them, and so that we listen. Since time is of the essence.
They usually don't have the time to have full days or weeks off just to do Skilling alone. But we do believe in learning by doing so. We are transforming, helping them to transform while we learn with them, and that they can learn from us as an advisor and also from our skilled personnel. So and we have known program for our partners. We have a cloud scale development program that's for the Nordics in general.
But that is short sessions on topic like Azure Automation, Power platforms, Moments skilling that they need to be motivated to think different and probably build different. Awesome learning by doing. I really love this statement and it's cool that you have full scale program for partners of Crayon and how does this work in Visma? What kind of learning activities, initiatives, motions do you have? Yeah, so this will be kinda more internal in Visma of course. We are running this monthly experience sharing forums across many different topics, but of course also for Azure where we do internal experience sharing when we have had some interesting experiences. For example, we can also invite external people of course also to share their knowledge about some particular topics in theese forums.
We're also running a series of Visma talks internal talks that are open for the entire company about the range of different topics where we usually invite some some good external speakers to teach us about some topics. Um, last year we've also had access to the Enterprise Skills Initiative from Microsoft, which we have really tried to utilize. It's been a very good program that we've been able to extract a lot of learning from. We also tried a little bit to have some gamification, some competitions right and together with Microsoft.
The last month we did a cloud skill challenge, which was a really, really cool way to create some engagement around learning and have some fun. While we were learning. Awesome, thanks for mentioning programs from Microsoft and let's dive deeper into the details.
So after all intention of this session is to provide very practical advice and recommendations to all the participants. So who is defining the learning plan for your company who is nurturing the learning and upskilling culture? And here I talk both about. Some formal job titles or maybe informal leaders, champs, ambassadors for myself I can say that I definitely involved in external learning.
As developer engagement lead. But also I take part in helping my colleagues to learn and upskill and complete mandatory trainings as learning champion. Myself in Microsoft Norway. So how does this work in your company's folks, Lillian? Well, and then let's say the learning It's driven by the end customers. Our partners are driven by their end customers needs and demands, so that's how they're learning.
Path is also created. They have mostly. Most of them are living in a hybrid environment.
Adopting to the cloud, scaling in the cloud. How to build new new applications. New services, quality and time to market faster time to market and at Crayon we have highly set skilled of human resources that are inspiring and motivating each other to always be cutting edge. So at Crayon we are very. Let's say a high skill company that also appreciates motivation and new thinking.
But if we dive deeper so you mentioned this cloud change how they called cloud Skills Challenge plan or for the partners class scale development program? Yes, cloud skill development. So who is building this program? Is this Department within Cryon or some person? So how does this work? Well The learning paths and let's say the topics that's driven by the market are partners, is driven by their end customers and their demands. So usually learning paths are defined and let's say picked by our customers because that's the demand in the market. So what we did on our Crayon cloud development. Program at. We took the feedback from our partners and we built the content that they were that they have responded well to its a ten day program where you can pick and choose your topic and we have used our own resources to build that kind of content, but also Microsoft MVP's that also is running the sessions so it's a high quality sessions everyday.
Awesome. And how about Visma who is defined your plan and help to build this. Yeah, it's a little bit different things really. Visma is a large company consisting of course of a lots of relatively autonomous companies and subsidiaries which do some learning activities in their own context. But we also have a central Department called Visma Techhubs where I'm working. In the techhubs we have hubs for different kind of areas of interest.
So for example cloud and technology is one of those hubs where I work. And we deliver kind of content trainings. We hold, Hosts experience sharing forums and so on. So we acts as kind of hubs for this kind of knowledge in the company and we help for example facilitate knowledge sharing. If a team from one company has some kind of problem which we know that the team in another company knows about, then we can put them together actually.
One thing that we introduced it last year and we continued to expand on this year is what we call a Ninja program, which is an interesting thing. It's kind of an informal type of role. Anyone in the company can actually be appointed as a ninja for a specific topic. It's typically a person that is, well, relatively, highly competent, and a person that is willing to share and teach others. So these people they become kind of natural, go to people for questions, discussions about their particular topic. Awesome So what I personally learn from your answers folks, is to listen to the market, what happens there and gather feedback from partners.
Then involve all. Highly skilled folks to help, including Microsoft MVP's and also to collaborate to organize hubs to share the learnings and findings and running some cool informal programs like this Ninja you mentioned. It's a great idea. I love this. Learning is taking time and. There is always. Challenge to find this time right.
We all have the work to do on our, let's say day-to-day project, right? And normal question I hear from multiple companies during our calls about learning and upscaling is how to find the time, how to dedicate some hours or maybe days for the learning. And I want to hear your recommendations. My dear guests, on how that works in your companies. I will start from myself in Microsoft. We try to block.
Some learning hours, for example, one day per week and also we have full learning days. Normally it happens quarterly, and of course it's not just a day of just sitting and learning, no first We definitely try to ask people to clean their calendars to not be distracted by calls and meetings, but at the same time we try to provide some. Interesting agenda in addition to just, say, quiet learning hours, we want to find someone who will share their best practices. Their recommendation on how to learn this or that topic, how to get prepared to this or that exam.
So we try to somehow gamify and maybe even two provides provide some socialization during this day. So how does this work? In Crayon and Visma. While at Crayon we listen to the partner ecosystem and we have to look at the partner ecosystem consists of very small partners up to very large partners. So the time spent on skilling is also for them time that's precious to handle their customers. So we are true believers, of learning by doing so, projects driven us into a skilling path. I think and to transfer competency while doing.
That's more fun, more motivating, an much more interesting than a textbook example. So that also gives them the, let's say they're doing the job, but also learning something new, so and a lot of partners needs to combine the two. They cannot. I don't.
It's going to be hard for a lot of partners to have, let's say a week off for Skilling, so they need to find solutions where they can get both. Absolutely well, I love that approach. And of course it requires someone skilled mentor or coach or and I believe you dedicate some people from Crayons side. That try to guide folks from your partners through this skilling. Learning by doing. Yes, we do have a lot of resources that's available for our partners, especially in the three clouds from Microsoft, the Dynamics part and 365.
Well modern work and security and Azure. So that's available to them if they need technical presales or they need somebody to help them find their information in jungle of Microsoft. Yes, sometimes it can be jungle, right? It's so much so many offerings and so many services and products. Yeah, I think this is very, very practical advice. So instead of purely learning, it's learning by doing definitely something I will notice for myself.
What about Visma? Yeah, so of course we have these recurring problems as well with prioritizing time between burning down the backlog and spending time on skilling and training, but we think it's really important that we invest in learning and we spend time for that thing, particularly in the cloud context where we see one of the great benefits of the cloud is the kind of high innovation rate and then constant stream of new features and services you need to kind of stay up-to-date, learn about those features to be able to use them to your advantage. So in Visma we also have similar thing as you mentioned Maxim. With these your development days we call them, so that's something they have been doing for some years where you block off a day every other week or once a month at least and spend that on your own training initiatives. Also, we have kind of a culture where we we love to learn and we we encourage everyone in Visma to learn. So all the way from kind of your personal development plan, we encourage people to put learning goals there and spend time on that.
And my next question is, what could you advise to the managers or to decision makers or to those who just plan to have this learning's lifestyle culture in the company. So if your manager, what could you start with? Or how can you extend all these efforts? Lillian, well, I think it's important first and foremost to find out where your people are at and where they want to go. What's their motivation? Find projects that they can do both learning and doing live cases. Live, let's say challenges.
I think that that is a very, very good. Let's say outpost for start to learn an also to drive motivation, but I think that most importantly is that. As managers that we do acknowledge that Skilling competencies is investment in the human resource and at Crayon, that's very important to invest into human resource. So I think having an open communication and find out what is motivation.
And what can you as manager do to feed that motivation? I think that's most important, fair enough. Morten, yeah, that's a good point. Lillian, and I think that is that is very important to realize that technical people and developers.
They need to kind of develop themselves, learn new things to grow and thrive. So I think as managers you need to build up under that. Create a nice environment for for learning. Maybe help them put the learning goals in a context a little bit like if we are looking into this or these technologies then we need to skill up on that.
For example, yeah and I think to have some fun with learning and create some engagement and for example with this competitions maybe have some leaderboards, and gamification, I think that's a good idea. Thanks for sharing your recommendations. If I can sum your answers up, this will be about.
Learning and skilling this is investment. This is not spending of your efforts, time, money, it investment. You have to do to stay relevant as a company. Then you have to find clear motivation and based on that build this learning path or learning journey and after all don't forget to make it fun to make it desire to somehow gamify this.
No, I want to ask very personal questions and it's about what's coming on your agenda. What are you going to learn personally in the next few weeks or months? Or maybe this year I will start answering for myself. My plan is to go through SC 900 certification. It's about identity compliance and security in the cloud. So what about my dear guests, Lillian? Well, thank you for having me Maxim.
My plans is to have the certification Ms 500 thats security in administration, so we'll see if I passe this summer. Awesome, so you Morten? Yeah, so I spent the full last week during the AZ 303 course, so I will spend the next weeks reading up on that material and hopefully pass the certification exam before summer. Nice plan folks, and good luck to all of us to succeed at the upcoming examinations. And thank you very much dear attendees for watching this local connection from Norway at Microsoft build.
I hope we inspired you to deploy learning as a lifestyle culture in your companies. I hope that you are now equipped with all the right tools and techniques to. Implement this kind of thinking in your teams, departments, companies and then, after all, I hope that you want to learn and upskill both on cloud tech and technologies in general, and maybe non technical things. Something to always learn, something to stay curious about, and that's a wrap.
Thank you very much for watching us. Stay tuned, always learn.