20 Sep 2020Blog

Integration Specialist Ritva helps customers reach the cloud

Integration Specialist Ritva Köppä-Laitinen

Ritva is an experienced database and integration specialist who has worked in the Solita integration team in Helsinki for more than five years. She usually takes on the role of a consulting expert or architect in projects. She is an accomplished specialist whose determination and excellent results have brought her to where she is now: guiding customers from on-premises platforms into the cloud.

In her youth, she recalls thinking that she would avoid IT, her parents’ chosen industry. She originally trained as a chemical laboratory assistant, but after working in a research laboratory, she began formulating new plans for a future career. In 2005, Ritva graduated from the University of Helsinki, majoring in information systems. Already interested in data and integrations, she completed all their available courses. Her first summer job was at an insurance company, where she stayed on for many years as a software designer and architect before switching to Solita.

Solita develops skills in step with customer needs

Ritva has worked on multiple Oracle-based integration projects, and she has handled accounts of varying sizes and industries. Her role as an integration specialist and architect has given her the opportunity to see every stage from pre-sales and architectural design to implementation, maintenance and testing.

Ritva has developed her skills as the needs of customers have changed. Multiple businesses have transferred or are about to transfer from traditional implementations to cloud-based integrations. Ritva has designed migrations with customers from existing Oracle implementations onto cloud-based Boomi and Azure integration platforms. She has designed alternative architectures and implemented Proofs of Concept with Boomi.

I had something of an age crisis and felt that I needed to jump to the cloud! About a year ago, I completed my Azure architecture certification and have worked hard on Boomi certification. Being able to design things from the ground up with a clean slate is a nice feeling.

The best way to develop at Solita is learning in customer projects, and Ritva finds the varying backend systems, implementation technologies, and challenges of different customers the most rewarding aspect of working at a consultancy firm. Projects are a treasure trove of different solutions, and specialists are free to absorb new information endlessly. There is no risk of growing bored.

Although Ritva most enjoys designing architecture from a clean slate, there is also an opportunity for learning when entering a project in progress and seeing someone else’s solutions.

If I see something that a customer is doing really well, I learn those best practices and apply them in other accounts. This is a great asset in this line of work.

In addition to learning by doing, Ritva has developed her skills through independent study of technology partner training materials, at Solita’s training paths and on Udemy courses, for example. Learning from colleagues also deserves a mention. The importance of infrastructure and platform service expertise is highlighted when working with cloud services, and in the case of Linux questions, for example, Ritva has been able to rely on the help and skills of her colleague.

Ritva is still enthusiastic about routine things like PL/SQL implementations, as long as the project is sufficiently challenging in other respects.

The bigger and more interesting a problem is, the more excited I get! It’s even better when I can unravel the situation and push it to completion.

Every job has its routines, and most of the work an integration specialist does is basic stuff: nearly identical mapping and clicking.

Moving to the cloud changes working methods

Consulting experts work with a wide range of problems, stakeholders and teams. There is almost no limit to what lurks on the customer side, which presents particular requirements for integration service providers. Some customers nominate an administrative person as the project contact person, even though they have no understanding of integrations. In this case, the customer’s expectation is that Solita will act mostly independently as the service provider. In some cases, there may be multiple providers, and these environments pose their own challenges. If the customer has their own technical team, the responsibility for implementation and design is shared.

Sometimes we can work at a highly technical level with the customer and design new architectures together in workshops. It’s also normal for me to be in a call with a customer for three hours for collaborative troubleshooting.

Although the overcoming of technical challenges is an essential part of the work, technical aspects are often related to interpersonal communication and processes. For example, if the right parties cannot communicate, a crucial technical idea may never see the light of day.

For Ritva, the biggest transformation in moving to the cloud is the collapsing of old silos. The models of business and working are changing. The old way was for a separate infrastructure team to focus on the platform and for developers to work on the implementation with a clear division between the two. Now specialists can work with a virtual machine and may not need the help of a separate infrastructure specialist.

On the other hand, the ease of cloud-based tools is somewhat superficial: it is a tougher test of skills with a risk of greater damage if the whole is not understood. Information security is one area where many things need to be understood and adopted. Pricing policy has also become challenging in a way, because a cloud environment requires an understanding of the costs of different components and how the components interact.

Innate courage to challenge

Ritva has never been afraid to address problems, whether in customer projects or the internal affairs of the office. Solita encourages its employees to boldly challenge things and bring forward their personal expertise.

Bureaucracy is not for me. My nature is incompatible with the military approach of “shut up and do your job”. I really like that I can say my piece at Solita without people thinking that I’m being difficult.

Ritva has also seen that problems will be dealt with instead of getting swept under the rug. Specialists are genuinely heard.

In the future, Ritva is looking forward to participating in cloud migration projects and architectural design and implementation. Her wish is to avoid getting stuck with a single technology. In her dream project, she would design a large customer’s architecture with a clean slate and no limitations due to a lack of funds or workers.

What would Ritva like to say to those who are considering a career in integrations? Integrations will provide a wider perspective of the whole, that much is clear. Developers often work on a single system or user interface while integrations combine the systems of multiple companies, an understanding of which is a considerable help in the work of an integration specialist.

The tools vary as well. For those who are not into coding, there are some easy drag-and-drop tools like Boomi. On the other hand, some work with MuleSoft by coding in Java.

Ritva was interviewed by Minna Luiro, who works at Solita with integration-related recruitment and employer image, among other things.