Pekka Nikander

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Dr. Pekka Nikander has over 30 years software development expertise. In 1980 he wrote his first program while still in high school, five years later patching live UNIX kernel to fix bugs. Today Pekka is a multi-talented software generalist, able to work on all layers from hardware-software interface to user interfaces.

Career overview

In 1988 Pekka founded Nixu, today a leading computer and network security consultant company in Finland, driving it for over 10 years, followed by another 10 years at various leadership roles at Ericsson Research.

During the time at Ericsson he grew to be an internationally recognised expert in Internet architecture, with special attention to security, privacy, mobility, economic, and implementation aspects. He has a strong background in UNIX, all levels of programming from FPGAs and system programming to compiler design and graphical user interfaces, and computer and communications security. In early 1990s, he spend a few years focusing on user interface aspects, creating a user centric perspective that has remained active since then. From 1996 until 2006 he was active in Internet standardisation, and served at the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) from March 2005 to February 2006. From 2007 until 2010 his work focused on the future of the Internet architecture, with special attention to socio-economic, implementation, scalability, and high performance aspects.

In March 2011 he joined Senseg, a leading haptics startup, taking the responsibility for the software architecture. He built Senseg’s software team and processes from the ground up, establishing extreme programming (XP) and continuous integration and testing (CIT) as the main practises. With his team, he implemented the Senseg software architecture, iterating in three major rounds, each time adding significant functionality.

In May 2013, Pekka founded the Ell-i open source co-operative with a dozen of other people. From May 2013 until April 2014, pushing the Ell-i technical platform was his main “hobby”. In May 2014, Pekka was nominated a Research Fellow at Aalto University school of Science and Technology (the former Helsinki University of Technology).

In autumn 2014 Pekka co-founded Solu Machines together with Kristoffer Lawson and Javier Reyes. From October 2014 until October 2015 Pekka ran the company technology in the CTO role. He left Solu at December 2015 due to unresolvable disputes over the company overall strategy.

From January 2016 to September 2016 he was the Chief Software Architect at PulseOn, with an agenda not too dissimilar from the one at Senseg.

From October 2016 Pekka has been acting more actively in his Research Fellow role at Aalto University, while at the same time continuing at startup companies, including Ll co-op.

Expertise

Pekka is first and foremost a generalist. He has more than 10 years of experience, both at personal and at group-leadership level, on architecting, designing, and implementing secure and scalable distributed and decentralised systems, including protocol stacks. He has written some half a million lines of code, mostly in C and Java but also in a dozen or so other languages, including Verilog, various assemblers, C++, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, SmallTalk, Scheme, and Common Lisp. The platforms range from the Stanford NetFPGA through microcontrollers, various Unix kernels and the iPhone, to the LLVM compiler toolkit and system dynamics modelling. Today he enjoys most working with microcontrollers solving demanding hardware-software co-design problems.

In addition to the technical skills, Pekka has had a leadership role for more than 20 years. While he has never enjoyed formal management positions, he tends to lead people with his own example and initiative. He enjoys solving technically “impossible” challenges in small groups, aiming for the marine corps maxim “the impossible we do at once, miracles take a bit longer!”

At the other end of the spectrum, Pekka has some experience in deep organisational development, using methods such as World Cafe, Openspace and Theory U, which aim at being able to reveal, understand and change the deep landscape of organisations.

Pekka has authored or co-authored about 100 refereed scientific articles, and is the inventor or a co-inventor in some 20 priority patents.

Pekka has first-hand experience on six startup companies: Nixu, Senseg, Ell-i, Solu, PulseOn, and Ll co-op. Additionally, during his Ericsson times he ran two startup ideas for a few months each, before finding out that the markets were not ready for the ideas.

Experience

Co-counder and CTO, Luottamuksen Loyly co-op, Oct 2016 - present
Chief Software Architect, PulseOn, Jan 2016 - Sep 2016
Creation of a software architecture and processes almost from the ground up.
Founder and CTO, Solu Machines, Oct 2014 - Dec 2015
Solving a few "impossible" challenges.
Research Fellow, Aalto University, 2014-present
Research on distributed embedded systems, especially security and architecture.
Co-Founder, Ell-i co-operative, 2013-present
Developing open source hardware and software for wireline IoT. A "hobby".
Chief Software Architect, Senseg, 2011-2014
Creation of a software architecture and software team from the ground up. Three architecture iteration rounds leading to a mature architecture that needed no more changes.
Expert, Ericsson Research, 2010-2011
Corporate-wide responsibility for inter-networking security, working at the interface between Ericsson Research and the business units.
Chief Scientist, Ericsson Research Nomadiclab, 2000-2010
Research on open communications technology and security, e.g., information-centric networking, trust management, mobile communications, decentralised authorisation, decentralised service platforms, high performance communication protocols, and high level synthesis of networking hardware.
Senior Visiting Research Scientist, HIIT, 2003-2009
Research on Host Identity Protocol (HIP), authorisation management and trust formation, and micro-economic incentives in communications security.
Member, Internet Architecture Board, 2005-2006
One of the 12 members of the IAB. The IAB responsibilities include architectural oversight of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) activities, and Internet Standards Process oversight.
Adjunct Professor (docent), Helsinki University of Technology, 2001-2006
Adjunct Professor of Distributed Systems Security at the Telecommunications Software and Multimedia Laboratory.
Professor (acting), Helsinki University of Technology, 1999-2000
Acting Professor of Cryptology at the Telecommunications Software and Multimedia Laboratory.
Research Manager, Ericsson Research Nomadiclab, 1998-1999
Manager of Ericsson Research NomadicLab. Research on communications technology and security.
Assistant Professor, Helsinki University of Technology, 1997-1998
Research and teaching on distributed systems security and cryptographic protocols.
Partner and Chairman of the Board, Nixu, 1993-1998
Practising partner.
Founder and Managing Director, Nixu, 1988-1993
The founder and the first CEO/Managing Director. Built up the company and hired first half a dozen of employees.

Education

Skills

Internationally recognised top level knowledge and skills, with more than 10 years of full-time working experience, in data communication architectures, Internet standardisation, computer and communications security, and computer programming. Good knowledge and skills, with 3 years or more of full-time working experience, in user interfaces and human-computer interaction. Good skills, with one year or more of full-time working experience, in compiler design and implementation, operating systems design and implementation, and high level hardware synthesis.

Finnish (mother tongue), English (C2 - fluent), Swedish (C1 - very good knowledge), German (A2 - basic).

Selected refereed publications

Selected priority patents

Books