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Meet Juha Holkkola – FusionLayer’s Success Through the Adversity

Today we have selected Juha Holkkola to take his interview. He is the Chief Executive & Co-Founder of FusionLayer.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

Thanks for asking. Of course, remote work has required us to change our working habits a little, but luckily, the team has remained safe. We also had pretty good remote working facilities before the pandemic hit us, which was helpful when we had to switch the operating mode.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded this company?

FusionLayer has been around in the DNS, DHCP, and IPAM space since the late 90s. The current company called FusionLayer resulted from a reverse merger within Nixu Corporation when the information security arm of the group did an IPO in late 2014. At that time, the goal was to keep the DDI part of Nixu Corporation private, so the legal entity’s name was changed to FusionLayer.

At that time, I was one of the owners and also the managing director of Nixu Software. So I took on the responsibility of realizing our product vision. At the same time, the majority of the group focused on information security and went public. 

How does your company innovate?

It’s all in the name. The technology vision of FusionLayer is to be the layer that fuses automated processes between the OSS realm and the network infrastructure. We hold nearly 30 patents worldwide for this technology. We are also working with some of the largest telecoms in the world. Helping them realize this technology vision for their commercial and operational benefit. So everything we do is about visibility and automation.  

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

It’s been an exceptional year for sure. When COVID-19 hit, we saw many of our telecom customers starting to invest more in their networks. As COVID-19 caused an increasing reliance on internet connectivity, it looks like the level of investment and the number of projects among service providers have been going up. In addition, 5G, network automation, and the edge cloud are all experiencing pretty good momentum. 
At the same time, we have seen our share of enterprise customers pushing out their projects. So in many ways, it has been a mixed bag in the short to mid-term. 
But looking at the bigger picture, I think that COVID-19 is turning out as a catalyst for next-generation networking that will support our societies in developing further both economically and socially.  

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

When the COVID-19 wave hit us, the biggest challenge was that there was very little visibility. No one knew what would happen next, and there were lots of pundits out there declaring gloom and doom. Yet what we did was to keep our cool, keep our finger on the pulse, and remain as agile as possible. 
I’m happy that we did this because, in the end, it would have been a mistake to make too hasty decisions. Our workload has increased rather than decreased with the way things turned out, and we’ve also hired a few more people during the pandemic to keep pace. Quite a few people were advising me to cut costs aggressively during the early parts of the pandemic, but that would have been a mistake. 

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Most of the internal systems we use today were in place already before COVID-19, so we’ve primarily just started using them via VPN. And, of course, the use of Microsoft Teams has increasedBut the biggest thing we did was regular team meetings. During the early stages of the pandemic, we had meetings three times per week. After that, we reduced it to twice a week, and now we’re back to our usual one team meeting per week. From the management’s point of view, the essential thing during the early parts of the crisis was regular communication within the team to ensure everyone was on the same page. Some reacted with fear, while others were as calm as ever. And there was little to no visibility initially. Under those circumstances, it’s management’s responsibility to lead people from the trenches by continuing to plan, communicating those plans efficiently, and remaining generally proactive.   

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