By Avanti Kumar
A discussion with Malaysia's industry leaders over the last two years reveals a story tantamount to a quiet revolution in cloud adoption.
Simply put, the cloud continues to offer businesses and individuals a direct path of storing information and accessing, storing, and retrieving this from any web-enabled interfaces, which are usually user-friendly. In principle, the use of the cloud allows users to benefit from high availability, speed, scalability, and security at any time, regardless of location.
As defined in a recent article entitled The Benefits of Using the Cloud over On-Premises in Malaysia, cloud computing is the on-demand access to computing services – from data storage, software, and servers to big data analytics – outright over the Internet.
The cloud offers a direct path to digital transformation, which is essential to connect with opportunities in local and wider markets, demanding a digital vision and the right choices.
Cloud computing has emerged as a core foundation of continual digital transformation, especially in the Asia Pacific region. IDC reports public cloud services spending growth of over 38% to US$ 36.4 billion in 2020.
Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 23.1% in 2021 to total $332.3 billion, up from $270 billion in 2020, according to the latest forecast from Gartner, Inc.
Meanwhile, IDC group's Vice President of Worldwide Research commented, "The cloud, in all its permutations – hardware/software/services/as a service as well as public/private/hybrid/multi/edge – will play ever greater, and even dominant, roles across the IT industry for the foreseeable future. By the end of 2021, based on lessons learned in the pandemic, most enterprises will put a mechanism in place to accelerate their shift to cloud-centric digital infrastructure and application services twice as fast as before the pandemic."
In addition, the positive attributes of the cloud have fuelled a spike during the COVID-19 era over the last two years. One of the drivers of public cloud expansion arises from the need to address the large numbers of remote workers through various lockdowns and the hybrid working model moving forwards.
As cited in the article entitled Why Should Malaysian Businesses Adopt Cloud Computing?, Malaysia's public cloud market alone, which amounts to 3.63% of the total IT spending in the country, has already reached USD643.4 million, according to research site Twimbit. This makes Malaysia the second-biggest cloud market in ASEAN after Singapore.
As discussed in The Benefits of Using the Cloud over On-Premises in Malaysia, the country's current scenario of prioritising digitalisation continues to see business leaders and individuals reviewing the best use of digital tools and services – whether on-premise or offsite through various cloud models and collaboration with service partners.
On a granular level, there are important factors that wise business leaders will consider when aligning digital infrastructure choices to drive their business goals.
Several different cloud computing models, types, and services have evolved to meet the rapidly changing technology needs of organisations, as detailed in an earlier article. A short review of the main types are listed below:
Provisioned by large cloud computing companies, this cloud model can rapidly offer large storage space and enable collaboration for your team. Other advantages include:
It is similar to public cloud storage. Private clouds allow users to access, use, and cache data on the cloud remotely. Private cloud infrastructures are usually protected behind a firewall, which tracks and controls network traffic. Only authorised people can use these computing resources. Often, companies with strict regulatory standards prefer private clouds to manage data. Other advantages include:
Hybrid clouds are a combination of public and private clouds engineered to allow users to use and store data on both platforms seamlessly. Advantages include:
In recent years, businesses of all sizes and in different scenarios that opted for cloud technologies have started to reap multiple benefits.
Some of the proven advantages are detailed in the article entitled Why Should Malaysian Businesses Adopt Cloud Computing?. Some of the benefits include:
Given its inherent flexibility and speed of deployment, cloud computing empowers business strategies towards a more customised and ideal direction.
The recent usage of public cloud by TnG Digital Sdn Bhd, a leading e-wallet provider in Malaysia and product of the joint venture between Touch 'n Go Sdn Bhd and Ant Financial Group, illustrates the strengths of this cloud model. Following approval from the Central Bank of Malaysia (BNM) to operate mobile e-wallet services for Malaysians, TnG looked for a technology solution to operate and deliver across four key areas: regulatory frameworks, security, user and partner expectations, and agility and scalability.
Alibaba Cloud's responsive support via DingTalk ensured fast solutions 24/7 and helped TnG meet rigorous regulatory requirements using cloud computing with the latest cloud technologies.
Admittedly, while each business scenario calls for different solutions, many businesses are recently turning to a hybrid model, as explored in an earlier article. A hybrid platform is often linked to advantages, including enhanced flexibility, more deployment options, security, compliance, and tapping greater value from existing infrastructure.
Generally, providers may offer various computing services:
Malaysia's largest fund management company, Permodalan National Berhad (PNB), accelerated its digital journey by choosing Alibaba Cloud as its technology partner. PNB continues to surmount its operational challenges through the utilisation of premium support services and Elastic Compute Services (ECS), which has helped provision high elasticity and maintain network and system efficiencies.
PNB's Chief Technology Officer Muzzaffar Othman commented, "With a clear digital transformation roadmap and technology partners, such as Alibaba Cloud, PNB is determined to stride forward by ensuring operational resilience, high availability, secure digital engagement, and a seamless user experience."
Recently, the Malaysian government's Outlook 2022 report stated, "We must mobilise the nation towards a digitally connected economy – including via 5G, where appropriate – in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to support, among others, new working and learning norms; better disaster and pandemic management through real-time data; and more cost-efficient processes."
IDC's recently released Top ICT Predictions 2022 envisions a continued surge towards digital-first strategies, with almost 65% of Asia/Pacific's GDP being digitalised by 2022. The research further envisions that one in three companies will generate more than 30% of their revenue from digital products and services by 2023.
The Malaysian government's appointment of Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, as another major cloud service provider (CSP), will strengthen Malaysia's acceleration of its cloud-first strategy.
Since its inception in 2009, Alibaba has evolved to embrace and innovate in other sectors and levels. The company is crafting a services infrastructure to help actualise the country's cloud-first strategy of advanced and comprehensive cloud services, embracing elastic computing, database service, networking, security, middleware, analytics, and digital intelligence services. This will empower Malaysians to reap the opportunities afforded by the ongoing 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).
As we have seen, all three models of clouds deliver common benefits, such as rapid deployment, cost and maintenance reductions, security and backup of your data, business continuity planning, scalability, elasticity, efficient collaboration, and more.
Ideally, the decision of which cloud is best for you should be made in consultation with a trusted technology partner - or partners - depending on whether you choose to partner with a single cloud service provider (homogenous) or several (heterogenous).
If you want to choose the most appropriate cloud model for your business scenario, remember:
a) Public cloud services are suitable for many environments across multiple sectors that need to use apps and services to perform IT operations with varying demand, such as provisioning communication services for a specific number of uses.
b) Private clouds are usually well suited for highly regulated sectors and government agencies and organisations handling sensitive data, requiring optimal control and security over IT loads and operations.
c) Hybrid cloud is increasingly touted for offering many of the benefits of public and private clouds simultaneously. It is typically useful for an integrated environment, such as an organisation serving several sectors with different performance and regulatory requirements that require more flexible policy-driven implementation.
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