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.