Salminen Janne

Hybrid Infra Transition – Huge project enabling highly efficient infrastructure at OP

What is this project that employs 24 people and 5 teams in OP’s Development & Technology and whose stakeholders span the entire OP?

Hybrid Infra Transition or HIT is OP’s current project that is among the largest of its kind in Finland. It involves moving all OP’s ICT services from A to B. In other words, OP’s entire infrastructure and platforms – each service from mainframe up to capacity, server and telecommunications services – will be transferred to a new supplier, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

“This is a major collaboration project that concerns practically everyone working at OP. While my unit has the HIT specialists with in-depth expertise, almost all tribes work or communicate with us and participate in the project. Our goal is to transfer the infrastructure successfully, without incidents. If our customers don’t notice anything, we have succeeded,” says Janne Salminen, Tribe Lead, Hybrid Infra & Datacom.

HIT seeks reliability, cost-efficiency and smooth services

The HIT project began in 2018 when OP started a competitive tendering process to find a new partner. The new supplier should provide a service which would support OP’s new agile operating model based on autonomy and self-management and which would also use DevOps and automation.

“We wanted to find a partner with whom we could increase service reliability and reduce the number of incidents in production. Since cloud services were to be a key priority for OP Financial Group also in the future, the selected new partner should support the cloud too. Another key goal was increasing cost-efficiency,” explains Janne.

In June 2019, the lengthy competitive tendering process ended and OP selected Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) as its new partner. TCS, which put in the winning tender, is a global market leader especially in ICT infrastructure services for the financial industry.

“TCS has a very process-oriented approach based on automation. They have solid experience in including automation in service provision and as development support. TCS’ extensive experience in the financial industry will be very valuable to us in the coming years and we’re looking forward to learning new things through our collaboration. Personally, I appreciate the fact that we’ll be working with a global company which has extensive resources and is partnering with firms like Microsoft, AWS, Google and Oracle”, Janne says.

“OP also wants to automate things as much as possible, and together with the partner we seek to get rid of any unnecessary manual steps. This will help us reduce incident impact times in service provision and improve the quality of services provided to our customers,” he continues.

At the moment, OP is transitioning into modern data centres built for OP. In the future, they will enable replacing the entire legacy infrastructure and increase efficiency further. Highly efficient data centres also support environmental values and make services smoother.

“The HIT project, however, is basically an as-is transition, which means that we avoid altering OP’s systems during this project. This is because OP wanted to minimise the HIT project’s adverse effects on other activities. They would’ve been greater if OP’s systems were changed already during this project”, Janne adds.

Best things about working in the giant project

Because the HIT project covers the entire OP, it has involved extensive cooperation with various tribes. In the beginning, the project included dozens of cooperation groups. However, other tribes have their own key targets and projects, which has been a challenge for the HIT project. Although the entire OP has been gradually shifting to agile since 2019, the extent and nature of the HIT project has sometimes required a waterfall style approach. The project has attempted to have the best of both worlds.

“Sub-projects have applied sprint thinking in splitting work, and planning and retrospective meetings have involved rituals from OP’s agile operating model. We’ve also wanted to reduce the huge need for meetings. It’s been quite interesting to try to combine the two methods,” Janne says.

Janne has been working in similar projects a couple of times before, but what makes OP’s project different is its size.

“Such a big transition project has perhaps never been implemented in Finland before. Still, the key takeaways from this project are very basic: communication about the project needs and committing the organisation to implementation are crucial. I can’t stress that enough,” Janne points out.

For Janne, people’s commitment to the project has been striking.

“It’s been terrific to see how the different stakeholders, line organisations and tribes have come together to deliver one of OP’s most challenging projects ever. I must say that we truly have hard core expertise at OP,” Janne adds.

Top reasons why a specialist like Janne joined OP

Janne himself joined the company in November 2018 when OP was starting its corporate culture change and the HIT project. At the time, Janne was at a turning point in his career, looking for new challenges, bigger environment and diversity in duties. He mentions two main reasons why he chose OP:

  1. IT’s role in enabling business
    “I was drawn to OP’s culture where IT’s role in enabling business is understood and used in new ways. No boundaries exist between business and IT, and everyone pulls together for the benefit of customers.”
  2. Bold attitude to change
    “I was inspired by OP’s corporate culture and the decision to take the whole organisation on a journey of change towards agile practices based on self-management and autonomous teams. I think it’s absolutely awesome. I think OP is a great place for anyone who wishes to take their career to the next level!”
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