How Organisations in Malaysia and Southeast Asia Are Prioritising Their Cloud and Data Centre Investments

In 2018, we saw significant developments in the data centre industry in Malaysia as well as the Southeast Asian region. But technology never stands still. As it’s still early in 2019, we caught up with KT Ong, Country Manager – Malaysia, Dell EMC, to ask him what he thought would be some of the top data centre and cloud trends to watch out for this year.

According to Ong, the debate is no longer about public versus private cloud because what we’re seeing today is that public cloud adoption isn’t slowing down AND private cloud investments are accelerating. That means the majority of IT practitioners don’t have a single “cloud”, but execute IT operations across multiple clouds in multiple localities, and industry research have highlighted this.

In fact, according to the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index, 1 in 4 Malaysian businesses (39%) have identified multi-cloud as an investment priority in the next three years.

Powering all this, said Ong, is the explosion of data. “While organisations continue to digitally transform with modern data centre infrastructure that is software-defined and cloud-ready, we’re also experiencing a pendulum swing back to the edge – the result of highly distributed data being generated courtesy of the Internet of Things (IoT) – which is giving rise to a data tsunami.”

“And with 5G on the horizon, we can expect to see a whole lot more data – and a boat load of AI, Machine Learning and Compute happening at the edge – being shared via low-latency, high-bandwidth networks,” he added.

While we have seen high public cloud adoption over the years, Ong stated that we are now also witnessing a shift to private or hybrid clouds, and partnerships with cloud service providers to meet varied business requirements and workloads.

For example, for gains in speed and efficiency, certain workloads are being moved back on-premise, while public cloud is increasingly being used for non-mission critical workloads.

IDC predicts that by 2021, Malaysian enterprise spending on cloud services and cloud-enabling hardware, software and services will reach US$621 million, leveraging the diversifying cloud environment that is 50% multi-cloud.

On this, Ong said, “So, while it’s clear that the future is multi-cloud, organisations are facing significant challenges managing the complexity and demands that this reality brings. They need a strategy that allows them to move data back and forth with ease, and manage their entire multi-cloud infrastructure in a simple, seamless way.”

He also added that organisations can no longer consider cloud adoption as a “tick in the box” in their digital transformation journey. “The way we use cloud infrastructure is changing – and quickly. Emerging technologies will bring many incredible transformations to our lives, and the cloud will play a vital role in making this future a reality. It is essential organisations make the right IT transformation decisions around their approach towards cloud computing.”

When asked whether multi-cloud is already becoming the norm or are Malaysian companies choosing sides in the cloud arms race for now, Ong said that there is no “choosing sides” from a macro view. It really comes to down to choosing the right environment to effectively manage a variety of data workloads and deciding which model, or which cloud, is best for which workload.

“Rather than looking at it as an “either/or” situation, the choice should be driven by one simple principle. As a customer’s cloud operating sophistication increases, it is often easier (not to mention more strategic) to optimize their applications and expenses by matching the right application with the right environment. IT investments need to be balanced between different localities, ownership models, and architectures best suited to the work at hand,” he commented.

On the plus side, Ong asserted that organisations in the region are more advanced than their counterparts in many aspects of IT transformation. “While yet to fully harness the value of their IT resources, organisations are deploying the right IT infrastructure solutions to support their unique business needs. Customers are investing in flash, scale-out storage usage, and software defined networking and storage, at a faster rate than elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, data generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) is driving an explosion in computing at the edge of the network. Gartner predicts that by 2022, about 50% of all enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside of a traditional centralised data centre or cloud environment – a 5x increase from just 10% currently.

From his experience, Ong said that there is already tremendous interest from a variety of customers in the APAC region. “As the hotbed of innovation and technology adoption, it is hard to pinpoint any one industry that is reaping more rewards than the others. Farmers can use data gathered to help them grow crops or livestock more successfully, and doctors monitor and capture data of hundreds of patients simultaneously – all industries have the potential to grow from harnessing the power of edge computing.”

“As more and more industries catch up and we see larger scale deployments and more devices (e.g. smart factories, oil & gas, connected vehicles), server class infrastructure will move closer to edge to enable data processing and decision making at scale with lower latency,” he explained.

Hence, edge computing is driving a new class of distributed and decentralised architecture concepts, and only companies driving innovations to optimise for this will win in the long term.

However, with progress there always comes a new set of challenges. The data sprawl and the amount of data coming in from the edge can’t be underestimated and organisations will need new IT capabilities to harness the power of a distributed edge to core to (multi) cloud hybrid architecture.

That’s where IT providers like Dell Technologies come into the picture. Due to the complexity of these architectures, organisations will need to turn to a technology provider that is both focused on architecture innovations at the edge, and also on integrating these innovations into a cohesive solution that enables hybrid computing all the way from edge to cloud.

That means ensuring the data centre is equipped to not only handle a variety of workloads sharing a variety of cloud architectures, but doing so with ease, intelligence and automation.

“Dell Technologies is focused on just about all of them, from joint innovation with component suppliers and solutions development with ISV partners, to industry-wide initiatives, and customer-specific architectures and engagements. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach as the barriers are many, diverse and complex. At the end of the day, we take more of a market-centric approach to edge implementation – our customers’ needs dictate the strategies and solutions we tailor,” he explained.

Ong agreed that despite all the progress, there are still many barriers facing today’s organisations. He cited a particular finding from Dell Technologies’ Digital Transformation Index, which stated that 91% of organisations globally are held back by persistent barriers, with security and data privacy concerns topping the list.

“That said, business leaders are not sitting around doing nothing – they are prioritising cybersecurity as the number one technology investment over the next one to three years,” assured Ong.

Predictions aside, Ong conceded that the tech landscape is constantly innovating and it’s anybody’s guess what will be possible over the next five years. Nevertheless, organisations need to prepare to make transformational investments in IT right now.

If you are interested to learn more about cloud and data centre best practices, strategies, implementations and innovations, be sure to attend the Malaysian leg of W.Media’s regional Cloud & Datacentre Convention that will be held in Kuala Lumpur on the 11th of April 2019.

For more information and to register, click here.

Vietnam – Fast Forward

Hot on the tails of the very successful inaugural and opening convention for 2019 in South Korea, Vietnam played host to another first for the W.Media Group. The Cloud and Datacenter Convention was held at the InterContinental Hanoi Landmark 72, Hanoi on the 21st February, 2019.

The Vietnam conflict, known as the Second Indochina War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975 Since then, Vietnam has grown leaps and bounds, surging forward at a very fast rate in recent years. It is interesting to understand where countries like Vietnam have emerged from; such as the Korean conflict preceding the Vietnam conflict between North and South Korea from 25 Jun 1950 – 27 Jul 1953. We can make good comparisons with Vietnam and South Korea developing and maturing in to great countries with good economies, yet North Korea still remains very much the same as it was back in the 1950’s.

Vietnam, is the fastest growing economy in the ASEAN region today. Technology is developing exponentially and it won’t be long before this country competes with some of the other more mature countries in the region.

With more than 700 delegates and 13 sponsors and partners, this was an extraordinary result and illustrates just where Vietnam is heading. In 2010, I mentioned during a closing presentation in Singapore that Vietnam was one of those emerging countries to watch, and it is great to see just how much it has advanced since then.

W.Media has certainly found the right formula in the provision of these conventions that has afforded a freshness to the industry over the past 10 months. The purpose of these conventions that W.Media convene, is to bring together likeminded people, such as yourselves, to explore, exchange, discover and interact with your peers and providers. And in so doing, provide you with information ideas and contacts to accomplish the best possible outcomes for your business or organisation whether you are a provider, consultant or an end user. The whole crux of it all is to gain knowledge. The more delegates and more sponsors that come will make this experience that much better.

The team has put in a lot of hard work getting this one up and running successfully, particularly so early in the year. So, on that note, let’s see how it all panned out.

After the Welcome Address by Vu The Binh, of the Vietnam Internet Association (VIT), the opening keynote was performed by Dr. Dao Dinh Kha, Director General, Department of Information & Technology, Ministry of Information and Communications. Through his presentation ‘Opportunity of Data-Center and Cloud Computing Services in Vietnam’, Dr. Dao provided a comprehensive overview of Vietnam’s current status, challenges, barriers and opportunities. Although Vietnam is still a fair way behind other countries, the path forward is positive he noted.

He stated that “cloud computing technology has not been applied extensively” and one of the main problems is “the lack of infrastructure and skilled human resources.”

Although there are challenges that are still remaining, such as investment approval procedure, cross- border data flow regulations, customers obligations and rights and requirements for data location, Dr. Dao states “Good news: problems being addressed, regulation is being modified and prepared!”

“From suspicion and restriction of use, Vietnamese enterprises and organizations are gradually aware of the great benefits of using cloud computing services and data center services” – Dr. Dao

The first panel session of the day was ‘The Cloud and Data Centers Landscape in Vietnam.’ This session was very interesting indeed and addressed some issues confronting a rapidly emerging economy. It was discussed about being last in global scorecard? One of the delegates stated that ”there are many ways to improve if the industry (in Vietnam) really wants to. For example, forming or joining Cloud associations to have a collective approach to improvement.”

A key comment from the panel identified that it was important that the Industry can also give feedback to the government on how they want the government to support it. Such as policing and governing or supporting the industry better and by promoting it.

From an observer’s perspective, I am not sure that Vietnam is last on the global scorecard. In fact, the country is climbing up the ladder of recognition hastily. If I flick back through my notes on Dr. Dao’s presentation, we can see some strong evidence of this as noted below.

Although spending on cloud computing is still low (1.7 USD / year in 2016), which is 107 times lower than Singapore; 6.5 times than Malaysia and 2.4 times than Thailand, we can see from the ACCA’s 2018 Readiness Index (based on CRI consisting of 10 indicators) that Vietnam is ranked 14th in the Asia-Pacific region. Among ASEAN countries, Vietnam follows Singapore, Malaysia Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Yes, there is a long way to go to catch up to the leaders but the path is solid and moving forward with great support.

The general direction of speakers and panel sessions was targeted at a technologically emerging country around the data center, cloud and communication space. About getting the infrastructure right in support of cloud and communications opportunities. There was a good diversity of topics covering many aspects providing delegates with much information to take back to their workplace and process.

A initiative from W.Medias first conference was the inclusion of the “technology bench” which has proved over a number of conferences to be undeniably very popular with delegates queuing up to be a part of it.

There was another inclusion to this convention that proved quite popular – Workshop Sessions of 2- hour durations. These sessions were designed to delve much deeper in to a particular topic than where a usual presentation would cover a topic at a much higher and broader level.

The second panel session was about data center design and operations. With an emerging technology country like Vietnam, this is a topic which cuts right to the core of where the most focus needs to be channelled. There is a plethora of information and discussion that spews forth from this topic. I suppose my only criticism is, that this session was not long enough being only 40 minutes. I understand that we need to keep sessions to a comfortable time to avoid boredom, but panels, like this one, are different. Something to look at for the future.

“+6 – 7% year on year GDP shows that Vietnam is doing very well, W.Media is sharp to identify Vietnam as a strong growing DC market at the right time” – Tran Song Hai, DP Consulting

OK. About the panel discussion. Wow, if you did not get something from this you must not have turned up!! Too much to form in paragraph format so, let’s bullet point the key information.

  • The Vietnamese Government has gone through many studies and efforts in making industrial 4.0 and 5G possible (Ed., South Korea is the forerunner with the implementation of 5G).
  • Where I see the challenge, will be in the ability for providing a fair playing ground in Vietnam for the global cloud & data center players
  • Three key concerns discussed by the panel –
  1. How to design a data center for high density
  2. How to meet international standards
  3. The all-important issue of safety
  • Trend –
  1. Average of 8kw/rack with 18-20kw/rack for some facilities
  2. There is a need to build modular because CSPs are poor in forecasting their deployment
  3. Use of DCIM to control the cost structure, to find hotspots. It was identified that a small difference in heat management can save a good deal of money.
  • Skillsets of employees in operating data centers is lacking in emerging markets. Opening doors for foreign investment will encourage global companies to operate and train local workforce into global standards.
  • Why can’t we cookie cut data centers? … just copy the best data center. A rather interesting analogy was cooked up by one of the panellists (Ed., excuse the pun 😉) – Same ingredients but a different chef results in different tastes. What makes a difference between a good and bad data center though the same building has operational excellence… e.g. SOP, Recover from failure… and Connectivity…

STOP PRESS: – Just In

  1. The Vietnamese Finance Minister announced today that the launch of the 5G wireless network will help raise quality of life. Also noting that South Korea launched its commercial 5G network on December 1st, 2018
  2. Government to establish 10 Smart Industrial Zones by 2022

Well, that’s it from Hanoi, Vietnam for 2019. Great introductory convention and one that has now been penned in for next year given its overwhelming success.

Next event will be back to Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on the 11th of April, 2019.

Look forward to seeing you all then.