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EITN Forum: Cloud issues tackled, surveyed

Enterprise IT News’ inaugural forum event, finally launched at Gasket Alley, an up and coming lifestyle hub, in the heart of Petaling Jaya.

On a rainy Friday evening, members of the local IT industry congregated to catch up on the latest cloud updates and issues, as presented by tech vendors Huawei, Oracle, Microsoft, and even local regulator, the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation.

The topic theme being discussed? “How can cloud work for your business. Really.”

In the months leading up to the event, informal chats and discussions about the local cloud industry had led to four main pressing issues emerging.

In no particular order, these are:

  1. Cloudwashing – everybody says they are offering cloud, despite the completeness of their offering, not quite being there yet. We delve more into this, below.
  2. The big guy vs the little guy – one would seem more like value-for-money, when compared to the other. What exactly are we paying for, and what’s the catch? And what about cloud resellers?
  3. Are regulations helping or hindering? EITN says this because for example, should data residency still be a requirement for regulated industries like the financial services and healthcare sector? Our local regulator, Bank Negara, has guidelines for outsourcing vendors, and cloud providers are guided by this document as well – but are outsourcing frameworks and guidelines suitable for cloud providers?
  4. The big gaps in understanding between tech vendors and the end user segment. How do we reduce the bill shocks, surprise audit visits, and more.

These four main issues, and the questions they present, are something to think about, we at EITN would say.

An important note about cloudwashing

Everybody wants to be associated with the word “cloud”, and some want to appear as though they are offering cloud-like services at least, if not true cloud services. Be it the tech software players, the hardware guys, the big players, the small players, or even local boys, and foreign brands – a majority of them are on the cloudwashing bandwagon.

And what about the cloud resellers? Should one deal directly with the cloud provider, or their reseller?

Tan Tze Meng

MDEC’s Tan Tze Meng also had a lot to say about cloudwashing, and rightly so, he has pointed out, that this cloudwashing tactic is spreading confusion and frustration, especially when the cost management benefits of cloud, are not realised.

One reference to true cloud is NIST, or the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which lists the criterion for cloud as being able to offer on-demand self-service, having broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and measured service.

According to these criterion, on-premise cloud is a farce, and effectively overturns the idea of the hybrid cloud, which hundreds if not thousands of tech vendors are trying to sell.

Also, only the big players have the heft to provide true cloud services, as it pertains to NIST’s criteria. In part, this is because of the multi-billions of dollars investments they are making in data centres and submarine cables, to provide cloud services.

According to Tze Meng, out of all the global big cloud players there are, only less than a handful are real cloud providers.

This then begs the question: what about the rest of the cloud industry?

Can we have a cloud conversation without mentioning the other brands that are NOT Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Google?

Should we get hung up on the definition of cloud?

This is one of the things that the whole industry has to be on the same page about, and until they do the end user environment has to manage their expectations of what they are going to get from their cloud providers.

Survey results

A quick post-event survey of cloud revealed the following also:

When asked if cloud computing is suitable for every business, 62.5-percent said yes, while the remainder said no.

Of the 37.5-percent that said no, a majority say that cloud computing is suitable for less regulated industries, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), financial services, government, healthcare, SMEs with applications that do not require heavy bandwidth, and startups, as well as businesses that are online and/or have a quick go-to-market strategy.

One respondent said, “I would like to know which industries some would say cloud is NOT suitable for” while another said, “All organisations (businesses) will have at least one workloads that is suitable for cloud.”

Out of the five possible benefits of cloud – economical, quick scalability, security, resource efficiency, easy management and simpler connectivity- quick scalability was ranked the highest by 50-percent of respondents.

The attributes of economy, resource efficiency, and easy management, tied for the second most important benefits of cloud.

These are not the only reasons to move to the cloud, however.

A survey revealed these other reasons for businesses to go to the cloud

Vendor comments

Huawei’s lead architect, Ken Sim, comments about relevancy of the small (local) cloud providers in the industry.

“In developing economies and countries and also the emerging market, it is crucial to build and grow the Local Cloud provider ecosystem, (by) providing them with the necessary enablement from a technology, solution standpoint, while at the same time, encouraging these local Cloud providers to learn from the much bigger and established Global Cloud provider, in terms of their technology adoption, innovation and expansion of footprint.

Local provider can learn from the Global provider, on things such as how to evangelise to expand market share and customer mindshare, footprints into key industries verticals, as well as on how to put together technology and solution for better financial and economical feasibility in order to maximise monetisation of a Cloud business.

Microsoft’s Director of Legal, Corporate and Government Affairs, Jasmine Begum, on big players and GDPR:

You would want to work with partners who can commit to the “trusted partner” principles. You need to be able to say that your partner is transparent. Would your cloud provider be able to say for example, where your data is being hosted?

These are your considerations. You should be able to answer about whether you have reviewed your legal document when you signed up with a vendor, and whether your supplier made a commitment to comply with the General Data Protection Rules (GDPR).

Because of the presence and pervasiveness that we have, we are able to make many engineering changes (to our cloud platform) to be able to comply with GDPR.

Another consideration – the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) does not require the appointment of a Chief Privacy Officer, but the GDPR requires you to do that, and there are audit processes that have to be in place.

These are the different areas we are looking at to become more compliant.

Transparency, compliance, privacy and security – these should be your benchmark (when selecting a cloud provider).

Jasmine Begum
EITN's chief editor Cat Yong, on the floor with Ken Sim

Oracle’s Cloud Enterprise Architect, Ryan Kuan, on cloud-based Blockchain

Part of Oracle Cloud Platform, Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service delivers an enterprise-grade blockchain platform with industry leading resiliency, scalability and security. It is fully managed by Oracle and provides customers rapid provisioning and simplified operations with built-in monitoring, continuous backup, and point-in-time recovery.

Ryan Kuan
EITN editor Lorraine, chatting with MDEC's Tze Meng and RakutenTrade's Sekar Jaganathan



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