Cloud growing in Asia, but companies face new challenges

  • More companies, including those in Malaysia, are embracing the cloud in Asia Pacific, according to a new study by Forrester
  • With adoption comes new challenges: Skills to deal with cloud implementation; and broadband infrastructure cost and reliability 

CLOUD computing has attained wider adoption and more companies are opened to its use in enterprises across Asia, although there are still some challenges arising from companies adopting the cloud, according to a new study by Forrester Research.

Cloud growing in Asia, but companies face new challengesSpeaking to the media last week, Michael Barnes (pic), vice president and research director of Forrester Research, said that 75% of Asia Pacific organizations have a strong understanding of cloud computing.
 
Along with this, 67% believe that their IT organizations are ready to run the company’s most strategic apps in either a private or hybrid cloud environment, but the higher adoption rates also brings with it new challenges, the analyst noted.
 
Dubbed the VMware Cloud Index, the online-based survey queried 4,799 senior IT practitioners across Asia Pacific (including Japan) in September 2012. Comissioned by the cloud and virtualization player, the countries covered in the survey included Australia, Singapore, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, and China, and the survey is in its third year running.
 
In Malaysia, the survey polled 49 senior influencers of IT in multinationals, 44 in local/ regional companies, and 16 in public sector organizations, or a total 109 IT professionals.
 
Barnes said that across Asia Pacific generally, the maturity of cloud computing has progressed, noting that 74% of respondents view the cloud as top priority or highly relevant to their respective organizations.
 
“This percentage rises to 88% for very large organizations of over 10,000 employees and stands at about 68% for small organizations of fewer than 500 employees,” he said.
 
Also interesting was the fact that nearly 80% of respondent believe that the cloud can help them compete more effectively in the marketplace, and that nearly 70% believe that by failing to pursue cloud initiatives their companies risk falling behind their competitors, Barnes noted.
 
Malaysian trends, challenges faced
 
The Malaysia-specific survey results were encouraging as 36% of companies surveyed are “currently using” cloud computing and 40% are “currently planning” to use cloud in the coming year.
 
Barnes pointed out that the above cumulative figure of 76% (36%+40%) was above the regional average of 74%. “Seven in 10 respondents also believe that cloud computing makes their jobs less complex,” he added.
 
Notwithstanding this, the VMware Cloud Index study also revealed some significant challenges for those who have adopted or are about to adopt the cloud. The first had to do with lack of control over employee access to non-sanctioned, third-party applications, while the second had to with the reliable and affordable broadband infrastructure needed for the cloud computing to thrive.
 
Barnes said that while 56% of Malaysia respondents believe that their organizations currently have the skills and infrastructure necessary to create and manage a private cloud, only 19% believe that they are successfully managing the use of cloud-based services within the organization.
 
Asked why this was so, Barnes acknowledged that the survey did not explore this question in an in-depth manner. But he added that this could be attributed to the fact that senior executives in the survey felt that they did not have control over what applications their employees use, including those popular ones offered by third-party, app-based public cloud providers such as Dropbox.
 
Laurence Si, country manager of VMware Malaysia, said that organizations need to be agile not only with technology, but with their people.
 
“As customers leverage cloud computing to fuel their growth, IT needs to be equipped to plan, develop and deploy cloud solutions that are aligned to the organization’s needs,” said Si. That is why VMware organizes enablement platforms throughout the year to help customers stay at the forefront of the latest industry developments, he added.
 
But perhaps more worrying was the fact that along with Thailand and Indonesia, Malaysian survey respondents cited access to reliable and affordable broadband as a key concern and barrier to cloud adoption over the traditional challenges of data privacy, security and sovereignty usually cited as barriers to adoption.
 
Cloud growing in Asia, but companies face new challengesAhmad Azhar Yahya (pic, courtesy of Oracle Flickr stream), CEO of VADS, noted that there are still challenges of broadband connectivity especially in the area of local access.
 
Also a panelist at the press briefing, Ahmad Azhar said there were two connectivity types: "The first is between data centers and private clouds. These are pretty much driven by customers requirements and this is not an issue. However, if you’re talking about public connectivity, public Internet access, then it’s subjective and will depend on how the public views this.”

Asked if he believed this cost of connection would go down in future, the CEO of Telekom Malaysia’s wholly-owned managed service provider said, “This is subject to many things such as infrastructure costs, where the services are located, and whether they are offshore or on onshore. If they are offshore, the cost will be much higher.”
 
Barnes noted that while respondents in these three countries cited broadband infrastructure issues as their main concerns, this does not mean that the traditional issues of data sovereignty, privacy and security weren’t present.
 
“Companies are still concerned with such issues; it’s just that for these countries, the survey revealed these challenges as the most pertinent.”

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