Martin Yates, Strategic Enterprise Practice Director at Dell, Asia-Pacific and Japan, discusses how cloud computing is shaping business strategy in the Asia Pacific region, and why companies need to redefine their use of IT to drive growth and meet customer demands.
What value does cloud technology bring to businesses in Singapore and the APJ region in particular?
Cloud services in its many forms allow organisations to refocus and achieve two very important leading IT goals which support the overall business agility and profitability.
Firstly, while the overall cost of infrastructure has been declining year-on-year, it has not been necessarily matched by increasing operational IT efficiency desired by organisations. Cloud services enable a very high level of automation of traditional manual IT labour tasks and end user services, thus delivering the agility benefit of much greater time to value services.
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The modern theme of “doing more with less” is achievable in many areas with cloud adoption and our customers are getting great business outcomes as a result of these investments.
Secondly, a powerful driver, the shift towards commercial cloud-based infrastructure and software-as-a-service in the public domain frees organisations from having to use their capital expenditure for purchase of IT services infrastructure.
Such external cloud services can be leveraged where applications and company data is permitted outside the corporate firewall. In many cases, best value is derived from blending cloud services inside and outside the organisation, commonly referred to as hybrid cloud.
The “pay as you go” or “pay per use” models continue to gain market growth and mindshare of IT executives looking to reduce in-house expenditure. There are numerous advantages of all forms of cloud adoption, although cost and agility stand out most to organisations as the leading reasons for cloud adoption.
Within Singapore and the Asia Pacific region, we are witnessing an explosive growth in cloud adoption, both private and public, and are also seeing a greater shift towards hybrid cloud solution across industries. Notably, Asian governments are quickly planning and migrating to cloud on a very large scale in pursuit of flexible cost efficient e-government programs and smart city enablement.
Why does Dell support an agnostic, open approach to cloud? Why do you feel that open computing solutions should be a crucial factor in efficient enterprise IT strategy?
Dell has a different and more valuable open approach because we see the solution to IT as more than technology; it’s about delivering business outcomes and meeting customer demands. Dell has listened carefully to its customers’ needs and been active in the cloud market as it develops and matures, responding precisely to the demands. Dell takes the view that one size does not fit all, and that all our infrastructure and services should deliver not only on the current demands but future demands as well, hence protecting our customers’ investments. The demand from our customers for private cloud is derived from our leading strategic partners such as Microsoft, VMware and RedHat, powered by Dell certified infrastructure – server, storage and network.
Beyond private cloud, Dell extends this openness to external cloud choices by partnering with global public cloud leaders such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google, CenturyLink and many more local partners. In essence, we believe customers should have all choices and ability to change as the market changes. Cloud is central to Dell’s strategy and we have strengthened our portfolio to deliver cloud-enabled solutions as we see everything going to the cloud and to that extent, our customers have total assurance Dell can provide turnkey end-to-end solutions and support on private, public and hybrid cloud platforms.
Recent reports by the Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA) have suggested cloud adoption in Asia is yet to reach its potential because of data protection and sovereignty concerns, have you come across this worry with customers? And how does Dell attempt to appease their fears?
Data protection and sovereignty with regards to applications used from outside the corporate firewall is a common concern. Each country and industry may have differing regulations on what can and cannot be hosted outside the corporate datacentre. Dell’s cloud strategic planning team supports and advises customers on their journey to the cloud to ensure they obtain the highest value while remaining compliant. Very often, it is the sentiments of senior executives within organisations that have a large role to play in such cloud, public or private, decision roadmaps, even where specific rules do not apply to the industry or country they operate within. It’s important to note that regulations and data privacy are not cloud topics alone but a general IT concern, with rules that equally apply to traditional IT and outsourcing in the same context.
Dell announced that security is at the hearts of the company’s data centre and cloud strategies moving forward. What services can we expect to see from Dell which will enable businesses to secure their data, in both data centres and cloud ecosystems?
Dell has a broad range of products and services that ensure security is assured to exacting demands from desktop to datacentre to the cloud.
At the enterprise level, Dell SecureWorks provides mission critical data centre security-as-a-service for complete end-to-end 24×7 security assurance for cloud and traditional IT operations.
In the cloud core on an infrastructure level, Dell network switches and Dell Software next-generation firewalls, secure mobile access VPN and endpoint system management appliance extend deep security assurance into the network fabrics while assuring leading performance. Many of Dell Software’s capabilities extend into powerful policy enforcement, identity management and auditing of the IT environment bringing control and assurance to our customer operations. Best practices are applied to infrastructure security, operating system hardening and hypervisor protection in our design and deployments.
Many feel that the end of the data centre is nigh – with cloud computing making data centres in many cases redundant. What is your take on this forecast?
For most organisations, the end of the in-house datacentre remains a myth for many years to come. However, the datacentre as we know it is in transformation to greater efficiencies from cloud service model adoption, while ever more being powered by a software-defined network and storage approach. While some organisations may partly shift into public cloud for varying uses and at varying degrees of use, clearly, defence, homeland security, sensitive government departments, private medical and financial data will remain firmly inside the organisational perimeter.
Industries and SMEs less exposed to concerns such as data regulations, legacy and complexities may be able to downsize or even remove the need for significant large datacentre investments. Ongoing, application workloads in many organisations are under constant evaluation especially within office productivity and collaboration. Dell has supported hundreds of organisations make this transformation into hybrid efficient cloud use; Microsoft Office 365 has been a particular favourite of many of our customers.
What do you believe is the most interesting or exciting cloud project taking place in APJ at the moment?
We have entered a period where businesses are redefining their use of IT to drive new business rather than just support it. We are entering a more dynamic application driven phase of datacentre modernisation and agility delivered by the software-defined datacentre. Dell is right at the centre, having all the pieces and partnerships that make this value real so I find this an exciting time in cloud evolution.
Personally, I am also delighted to see the Singapore government’s Infocomm 2025 planning strategy, which envisions a smart IT enabled nation powered by cloud services. A smart city nation leverages on nearly every aspect of cloud services, cloud applications for improved citizen services, cloud for big data decision support such as city power, waste, water and traffic management. As Asian nations must innovate to remain sustainable and keep ever growing populations fed, housed, watered and in good health, cloud services will be pivotal in supporting these growing demands.