The hero maker putting his customers on center stage

Who is the man who combines the discipline from martial arts and creativity from classical piano compositions into modern serverless cloud solutions?

The hero maker putting his customers on center stage

The lights dim. A hushed silence falls over the audience as the young pianist Vesa Kaihlavirta nervously takes the stage. His talented fingers clatter across the keys, performing with a mix of confidence and trepidation. While he appreciates the applause, Vesa has never been one for the spotlight.

As an adult, Vesa still plays the piano as a challenge and source of calm, but he no longer performs solo. He prefers the backstage life, working behind the scenes building software solutions designed to put his customers on center stage, and make them the heroes of their own show.

“I like being in my bubble but not all the time.”

Vesa Kaihlajärvi - NordHero

At home as father of four, and at work, Vesa Kaihlavirta likes to strike a balance between being deep inside his own head and being with people, sharing ideas and developing as a team. “I’m always interested in working with new people, I’m fascinated by them,” Vesa says. Although like many Finns, he can be a bit slow to develop a close rapport, “When I get there, I’m really glad as people bring new perspectives to the work and to my personal thinking.”

As a cloud consultant, NordHero has clients ranging across sectors from SMEs to larger corporations, making it a good fit for Vesa, who has experience across the board. During university doing his BSc, he hit the ground running with his first job offer from a Nokia sub-contractor. He later joined telecoms company, Qvantel, back when it was a small 100 plus start-up. Then after a stint with Paytrail, the largest payment service provider in Finland, Vesa went back to Qvantel, which by then had grown to a 1000 plus global entity.

Helping clients make the most of the cloud

Now, Vesa brings his experience and technical knowledge to clients entering the cloud space, many of them for the first time, and mostly on the AWS platform, where NordHero predominantly plays. His goal is to understand what customers need then come up with solutions that are viable and that meet their expectations.

Vesa has been practicing martial arts under different forms for a long time, and has developed an understanding of the discipline and principles that are at the core of martial arts. That means in addition to defending customers against ninja attacks, he can also help them navigate the cloud, helping them achieve more in a shorter time for less cost.

“AWS customers who are new to the cloud can get started quite quickly with some pretty easy things, but as they get further in,” Vesa laments, “they easily start planning the same kinds of architectural solutions in the cloud that they’ve got used to building in their on-premise data centers. Even though the cloud can offer them a totally new world of opportunities, making them far more productive than before.”

The value of cloud computing lies in its ability to offer cheaper and more flexible options with better resource usage than traditional on-premises systems. But if you’re inexperienced, this can also come back to bite you. A simple example that Vesa’s seen a lot, is when people start creating servers then leaving them. Maybe those servers only need to run for eight hours, but they’re left running 24/7. Then, depending on the type of contract, they’ll be billed for them by the hour, or even by the minute. “A more cost-conscious way would be to turn down those services in the evening, when they’re not needed, then you can easily spin them up again next morning.”

Why is Vesa the right person for the job?

Vesa has been a developer-in-training since almost before he could walk. At age six when most kids were still in the sandbox, Vesa was hard at play on a C64 computer and preparing for future challenges. With English as the dominant computer language, he also became interested in reading English books. And we’re not talking about the ABC’s. When he was only seven, Vesa started with Tolkien’s The Hobbit. And during all this he was learning to play classical piano.

He’s also really good at the boring bits

When he’s building a new software solution, Vesa can liken the process to preparing a new piano piece. Once the project has been researched and scoped the actual building phase can be long and tedious. For a six-sheet Chopin waltz, Vesa would call this the grind phase, where he takes just a few bars of music at a time, starting with the most melodic parts, then laboriously drills first the right hand and then the left. Repeating and repeating, until he gradually combines them and can play the piece fluently. But even then there is still a lot to be done before he make it his own.

As with app development, he begins by working with what already exists. “You have to have the basics in place before you can start reinventing,” Vesa explains, “so you learn to use what’s there, before adding your own flair or expertise.” Or if it’s playing Chopin, that means mimicking other pianists before attempting a new interpretation or style.

“It can be a tough process to get there, but the reward will be an inspiring piece of music or a fantastic and functioning cloud solution.”

Image credits: The top image generated with OpenAI’s DALL-E 2.


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