Planning, risk and strategy in business, businessman and enginee

Wider acceptance of cloud, willingness to manage its risk

After over 2 years of the pandemic, Alibaba Cloud organised their first physical conference event at the KL Convention Centre, Malaysia, which saw a capacity crowd filling the grand ballroom. Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation minister, Dr. Adham Baba launched Alibaba’s Cloud Day KL Summit, and also witnessed the unveiling of the Digital Heroes Program, a nation-wide digital talent strengthening  initiative aimed at inspiring young talent and bridging the gap between academia and the industry.

Of note as well, was the panel discussion moderated by IDC’s Sudev Bangah that comprised of panellists from organisations like Entomo, Bank Muamalat, Genting Group, and Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

Titled “Cloud as the Driving Force of the Digital Economy”, pertinent questions like when to apply different approaches – Cloud First, or Cloud Smart – came up as well as whether cloud still makes sense for organisations.

Sudev pointed out that cloud computing has been on our shores for the last 10 to 12 years, but the topics of conversations around it has shifted from benefits of CAPEX over OPEX, to emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Management (DM) which cloud infrastructure is able to realise for organisations.

The sphere of control

It is good to note that IDC finding that 82-percent of Malaysian organisations are adopting, or are about to adopt cloud.

Genting Malaysia’s Calvin Chee acknowledged this higher acceptance and shared that besides the pandemic, other reasons why there is higher readiness now compared to before, is the set up of cloud regions in Malaysia, and even the awarding of digital bank licenses by the regulator.

Bank Muamalat’s Megat Mohamad Faisal commented that despite operating in a highly regulated industry, banks like his are considering cloud technology because of the dearth of digital technologies available that are cloud-based. “Cost is a huge factor too, and with COVID now, we want to manage cost more effectively,” Megat said adding that chip shortages that could raise server prices have to be taken into consideration too.

That said cybersecurity control is a key factor when banks select their cloud service provider. “Because we are highly regulated, we definitely need to rethink some form of control over cybersecurity,” he said.

Cloud has become a staple

Entomo’s co-founder and COO, Navin Deshpande, wanted to draw attention to the pertinence of differentiating Cloud First from Cloud Smart approaches.

But he shared about Entomo’s own journey which from the very start was cloud-centric. “We never bought any servers even till today.”

Today, they buy cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and then value add to it with services/apps which they offer to their customers as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

For him, cloud conversations revolve mainly around three main initiatives – the shift and lift approach, application modernisation, and the cloud native framework.

“We play in the second and third area. We work with our customers to solve business problems. We deliver software-as-a-Service, but we take care of the entire stack.”

He reminisced about trends 10 to 15 years ago whereby big US software players wanted to keep selling on-premise software licenses. “Now, we see all of them have moved to the cloud and they move very fast.

“You have the top five application providers offering cloud software and the subscription model. So the decision set has reduced. It is very hard now not to have cloud.”

The risk conversation

Gary Sien, the Global Lead Architect for Alibaba Cloud’s global financial services solutions said, “If you look at it from the risk perspective – not being able to continue with your business versus having to manage risks from cloud usage; most business owners will tell you that they can handle the risk of using cloud.

“If you look at it from a banking perspective  – serving your customers is a lot more important than managing internal stakeholders, right?”

According to Gary, internal stakeholders are asking more questions like governance, the party that will be billed for IT resources, and exercise of direct control, and more.

“So, I think the whole fundamental shift in terms of thought processes allows for this ‘acceleration’ of questions, and more thinking about the approach to adopt, be it Cloud First versus Cloud Smart.

“It all comes down to the risk appetite,” he concluded emphatically.