Ness Connection – Meet Valentino Fernandes

Meet Valentino Fernandes, Vice President – Delivery. Valentino’s vast experience in forming and maintaining strategic relationships with business and technology partners have aided the growth of Ness tremendously.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your role at Ness and what you do.

A: For the past two years, I have been working as head of the Mumbai development center in India. My job involves P&L accountability, capability development, meeting contractual obligations of our customers and, driving ideation and innovation to help our customers solve their biggest business problems. In addition, I work closely with the sales team on new leads and senior leadership to drive change across the delivery organization.

Q: How do you take your coffee or tea?

A: In this part of the world, many people prefer tea over coffee, and I am no different. I prefer chai tea. When I was working in the office, I used to have about 4 cups a day. Taking a short break and walking over to make a new cup usually led to a nice chat with my colleagues. Hopefully, we can share a conversation over tea in the office again one day soon.

Q: What’s on your to-do list?

A: At the moment, my to-do list seems to be loaded with tasks, and this certainly keeps me going. On one end, I am always ensuring the smooth execution of delivery, while on the other end, I am driving the digital transformation agenda. I strongly believe these changes will position our centers in India to support our future growth.

Q: How would your 10-year-old self react to what you do now?

A: Now that’s a tough one, perplexed perhaps. I would have never imagined myself working in the IT industry. I always imagined myself as a professor of some sort. It certainly is entertaining to look back at how my life has evolved and led me to where I am now.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at Ness?

A: For me, it’s the people, the challenging environment, and the never-give-up attitude. I’ve worked at Ness for over a decade, a testimony that I enjoy being here.

Q: What motivated you to work hard?

A: The drive and dedication of the people I work with every day. Significant investments have been made in the last 18 months that have begun to pay off, notwithstanding a tough economic climate due to the pandemic. I firmly believe in our ability to maintain our position as one of the top providers in digital engineering globally.
Nothing tastes as good as success – it keeps you going.

Q: Where is the next place you want to travel to and why?

A: About a couple of years back, I visited our Kosice development center in Slovakia, and I simply loved the place. I would love to experience countries on the central and eastern European belts, this time with my family so we can all enjoy it together.

Learn how you can become a part of #LifeAtNess by visiting our careers page.

Digital Transformation in a Two-Speed Journey

The global pandemic has accelerated the digital disruption that was already underway over the last decade. Large enterprises with incumbent business models are particularly impacted by this digital acceleration as they have to manage a two-speed world. On one hand, they have to run the business without breaking legacy technology and platforms, while on the other they have to rapidly adopt new technologies to be competitive in a digitally disrupted marketplace. The key to a successful path out of this two-speed world is the ability to redesign businesses while having the digital competency to drive rapid modernization of legacy products and platforms.

I joined Ness Digital Engineering as Chief Executive Officer in February 2020, because it is one of the few at-scale specialists that can provide this much-needed capability to clients. Ness has seen explosive growth despite the pandemic because it operates in this market where the demand for digital transformation outstrips the supply of true digital transformation expertise.

Ness is one of the few original product engineering specialists – long before it became a buzzword. Our recent acquisition of Risk Focus, a leading digital transformation consulting and advisory firm specializing in financial services, adds to our core DNA as a product engineering specialist. This is a major step in the evolution of Ness becoming a full lifecycle digital engineering partner.

By combining our product engineering DNA with the latest in digital strategy and technology, Ness can now seamlessly manage digital transformation journeys from strategy through execution. Our new capabilities and expertise make our solutions more comprehensive and business outcome-focused. Clients will see immediate benefits from our synergies as we help engineer their company’s future with cloud and data while helping them thrive in a digital economy that is poised for its greatest moment yet.

This past year, financial services enterprises and businesses across all industries have seen what’s possible when digital technology is applied to their business. They are looking forward to embracing the full scope of emerging technologies and the power of intelligent engineering. At Ness, we share this excitement, and we look forward to being your full lifecycle digital engineering partner!

Ranjit Tinaikar, CEO

Ness Accelerates Industry Cloud Strategy for Financial Services with Acquisition of Risk Focus

Ness, a global provider of Digital Transformation solutions and a portfolio company of The Rohatyn Group (TRG), is pleased to announce its acquisition of Risk Focus, a leading consulting and advisory firm specializing in Digital Transformation for Financial Services.

“Adding Risk Focus’s core competence in Digital Transformation services to Ness’s core DNA in product engineering strengthens Ness’ position as a full lifecycle digital engineering firm offering digital advisory through scaled engineering services,” said Ranjit Tinaikar, Chief Executive Officer, Ness. “With this acquisition, Ness also continues to execute on its strategy to build strong industry expertise in Financial Services and bolster our competencies in cloud and data services.”

Headquartered in New York, Risk Focus is a leading technology consultancy for Financial Services. Risk Focus creates measurable business impact with technology expertise, business insight, and an iterative delivery process. The company is an Advanced AWS Partner with the Financial Services, Migration and DevOps competencies, as well as a Premier Confluent Systems Integrator.

“Joining Ness allows Risk Focus to better serve our clients by adding scale-out engineering capabilities to the Risk Focus expertise in Digital Transformation,” said Vassil Avramov, Founder and CEO of Risk Focus. “I look forward to helping drive our continued success as well as deepening our technology excellence in cloud, data, and AI in my new role as CTO of Ness.”

“Ness is one of the few at-scale pure digital engineering players that seamlessly manages projects from strategy through execution,” said Thomas Kucera, Managing Director, TRG. “This acquisition strengthens Ness’ position as one of the top providers in digital engineering globally.”

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021. Alantra LLC served as an exclusive financial advisor to Risk Focus. Financial details were not disclosed.

About Ness

Ness is a full lifecycle digital engineering firm offering digital advisory through scaled engineering services. Combining our core competence in engineering with the latest in digital strategy and technology, we seamlessly manage Digital Transformation journeys from strategy through execution to help businesses thrive in the digital economy. As your tech partner, we help engineer your company’s future with cloud and data. For more information, visit ness.com.

About Risk Focus

Risk Focus, a Ness company, solves capital-markets business problems with technology and insight. Our business domain knowledge, technology expertise, and Agile delivery process have delivered seamless Digital Transformations at many of the largest exchanges and investment banks. We’re a Premier Confluent Systems Integrator and an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner with Financial Services, Migration, and DevOps Competencies. For more information, visit www.Ness.com.

About TRG

Founded in 2002, The Rohatyn Group is an emerging markets-focused asset management firm headquartered in New York, with a presence around the globe including Boston, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Lima, São Paulo, San Jose, London, Mumbai, New Delhi, Singapore, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur and Rotorua. For more information, please visit www.rohatyngroup.com

NessTech’s Frontend Challenge Explained

As mentioned before, Ness is turning five this year and we want to celebrate our anniversary a bit differently this time, namely by getting involved in the digitalization of the local community.

How are we going to do this? By organizing the NessTech Community Challenge Hackathon!

The event will have two challenges to solve: a mainly Back-End one (but not only Back-End) and a mainly Front-End one (but not only Front-End), just to keep things interesting.

The time has come for us to talk about the FrontEnd Challenge we’ll tackle at the NessTech Community Challenge Hackathon, and we’ve created an event in which we’ll discuss the details more broadly and also work on developing ideas that can, later on, turn into valid solutions for this challenge.

(Sign up for the ideation workshop, right here: https://forms.gle/9yXDYLsYh9x7gViL9

The FrontEnd Challenge comes as USAMVBT’s (Banat University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Timișoara) need to create an interactive way of showcasing the opportunities the University brings to the table, as well as the innovative projects they are directly involved in, with the purpose of making their educational programs more appealing to the generations to come. 

These are the skills you need to have (within a team) in order to be able to work on our frontend challenge (they are rated from 1 to 5, where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest):

  •  Frontend development (5 out of 5);
  •  Design (5 out of 5);
  •  Backend development (3 out of 5).

If you have some frontend development/design/backend development skills at your disposal, put them to use – and let’s digitalize the community together! 

 

Effectively Tackling Technical Debt

When it comes to software development, technical debt is the idea that certain necessary work gets delayed during the development of a software project so that a deliverable or deadline could be met at that time. Technical debt is the coding you must do tomorrow because you took a shortcut in order to deliver the software today. Over the last several years, there has been a growing recognition that technical debt has become a major issue for organizations and is now further compounded as the pace of digitalization and modernization accelerates.

Learn how to effectively tackle technical debt by better understanding the causes and ways to manage it with a proactive approach.

What Causes Technical Debt

There are two major causes of technical debt:

  1. Deliberate or intentional technical debt: This occurs when developers make short-term design and implementation decisions because they need to quickly deliver a product to the market. This can happen for good reasons in Agile sprints with the idea that it will be fixed in subsequent sprints.
  2. Bit Rot: This term is used to describe an aging code base that is either ignored or incrementally modified over time but not kept up to newer standards. An analogy would be your home, if you do nothing around maintenance and upkeep, you are compounding problems into the future.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore It

The reality is that every organization operates with some degree of technical debt. Millions of lines of existing computing code undergird most operations, and sooner or later, all code is technical debt. It is not inherently avoidable and ignoring the accumulation of it does not bring any business value. In the long run, code will be difficult to change and will result in a higher maintenance cost and expensive and labor-intensive release cycles. A study by McKinsey highlights that things are not improving: 60 percent of the CIOs surveyed felt their organization’s tech debt had risen perceptibly over the past three years.

Where Does Technical Debt Typically Persist

Traditionally conservative and regulated industries, such as financial services and insurance, tend to carry a higher technical debt load as much of their processing systems are decades old and many still run on mainframes. To keep pace in the market, they have spent years building out surrounding functionality to reduce the core system to simply a transaction processing application; however, the surrounding applications, no matter how well-intentioned, are also now aged and considered legacy.

How to Proactively Manage Technical Debt

Like financial debt, you must be wise about incurring and managing technical debt. Over the long term, accumulated debt can slow your time to market, create developer morale issues, or cause major product performance challenges. The best performing organizations employ a structured approach to manage their technical debt.

  1. Have a measurement process in place to help provide an assessment of the current state. This can include attributes such as level of automation employed, cyclomatic complexity, dead code or least used code, number of defects, and a time to release metric (i.e., how long does it take to churn out new features). It’s also important to evaluate these trends over time. Another measurement gaining traction is technical debt ratio (TDR). This calculation compares the amount of time it will take to remediate technical debt to the amount of time it took to build the system initially. Tools such as SonarQube and Coverity can help you measure technical debt and determine your TDR.
  2. Have a strategy around your application portfolio towards your investment posture by application. A simple three-category strategy of invest, hold, or exit can guide decisions. Invest applications are those where you actively spending to build out new features or capabilities to satisfy market opportunities. Hold are applications that are business-critical but for which you need to do required maintenance to keep the application up to date. Exit systems are those you have identified as end-of-life.
  3. Have an embedded process to regularly pay down technical debt for those applications in the Invest or Hold category. This can include tactics such as adding technical debt to the product backlog for every sprint or release or having separate teams that work exclusively on technical debt issues.

Why Focusing on Time to Market and Capacity is Important

Just as easy as it is to sacrifice a little quality to meet a deadline, organizations can easily get caught up in measuring the wrong success metrics when it comes to mitigating technical debt. The most common failed attempts at managing technical debt are those that focus too closely on cost reduction, application elimination, or retiring old technology and replacing it with new. The real goal is to be able to measurably reduce your time to market by freeing up organizational capacity to accelerate delivery of new products and capabilities by spending less time on maintaining the old legacy version.

Best practices on how you can accomplish this:

  • Employ sound architecture coding practices like abstraction
  • Avoid tight coupling and leverage an API-driven microservices architecture
  • Automate regression testing
  • Maintain a high percentage of code coverage

Without proper attention, technical debt will continue to compound and consume more and more of your IT budget. This will harm your ability to innovate and remain competitive. This is the time to evaluate your modernization options and move forward with a strategy that enables growth.

To learn more about modernizing your organization, contact us today.

10 Tips for a Seamless Move to Serverless

As managing legacy monolith applications becomes increasingly cumbersome, many businesses are integrating microservices into their application architecture to solve problems related to maintaining and updating the application, safely adding new features, managing scalability, and onboarding new developers. Past this point, the next logical step in this process is to make the move to serverless computing.

Just as the transition to microservices is generally a gradual transition, with more and more services breaking off the monolith until the monolith disappears, the switch to serverless generally follows a similar pattern. The challenge for many at this stage becomes how to make it a smooth transition.

Below we’ve highlighted ten tips to help you tackle this common challenge and seamlessly move to serverless.

10 Tips for a Smooth Transition to Serverless

1. Define your goal: What is the business problem you are trying to solve by moving to serverless? Is slow feature delivery causing you to lose customers? Are scalability and stability problems damaging your brand? Are you looking to reduce the cost of running your system? Do you want to reduce your developers’ operational overhead and have them focus on creating business value? Whatever the reason is, understand the business impact you want to create by moving to serverless.

2. Identify low-risk business areas for the pilot: It’s important to recognize that innovation and change require learning. Learning requires taking risks and making mistakes. Start by migrating low-risk, non-critical business processes to minimize business risk and avoid expensive mistakes. The key is to prevent big-bang migration wherever possible and make sure you have the support of your stakeholders.

3. Prototype, learn and repeat: This is the fun part where you get to build proofs of concept (POCs) to learn and validate your assumptions. These POC projects are your playground where you can learn fast and fail cheaply; however, do not confuse them with production code. Be sure to delete them after you have extracted maximum learning from them.

4. Apply continuous delivery: The sooner you apply continuous delivery (CD) to your serverless project, the better. This is the time to choose a tried and tested deployment framework. While it can be tempting, resist the urge to create your own – it’s precisely the type of heavy lifting you want to avoid.

5. Automate testing: With a move to serverless, your code has become simpler than ever; however, the complexity doesn’t disappear. Instead, the complexity moves around. It is now in the configuration and security of your functions and how they interact with external dependencies. These are the things that are most likely to break your application now. What is tested should reflect this change in the risk profile. The focus here should be on integration and acceptance tests.

6. Build observability into the code: This stage involves a few key factors for consideration – leverage and ship your logs to a log aggregation service where they can be easily searched. Use structured logging with JSON and complement log messages with contextual data useful for finding related logs. For example, include the order ID as an attribute in every log message related to an order. This is the opportune time to create dashboards and alarms for key performance indicators.

7. Focus on security: Follow the principle of least privilege, meaning each function should have only the permissions it needs – nothing more, nothing less. Apply account level isolation, so each environment has a separate account to help contain a security breach. You can also use git commit hooks to stop account credentials from leaking.

8. Apply continuous learning: You’re in production; congratulations! But don’t stop there. Keep experimenting, learn and iterate on your designs. Share what you’ve learned with other teams and with the broader developer community.

9. Standardize error-handling and correlation IDs: Identify common patterns and cross-cutting concerns. Look for ways to standardize how you deal with these concerns—using middleware engines such as middy is a good way to standardize your code.

10. Automate operations and security monitoring: Use the power of serverless to automate operations and security monitoring. For example, you can adopt ChatOps using AWS Lambda with Slack integration.

To learn more about how you can modernize your organization, contact us today.

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