VMware Malaysia head leaves to set up AWS in KL
By Edwin Yapp February 29, 2016
- AWS starts shop in KL, to be led by former head VMware Malaysia head Laurence Si
- Former Dimension Data exec to helm VMware Malaysia in March
VIRTUALISATION giant VMware Inc has lost its Malaysia country head of four years – Laurence Si (pic) has left the company to establish the local operations of cloud computing giant Amazon Web Services Inc (AWS).
Digital News Asia (DNA) has also learnt that Alex Loh, formerly the head of sales at Dimension Data Malaysia, is expected to begin at VMware Malaysia in March. He was also previously the head of Dimension Data’s solutions development group, alliances and the cloud.
Meanwhile, Si’s move to AWS has since been confirmed by several industry sources familiar with the matter, and he is expected to start sometime in March.
Among his first tasks would be to set up a full-fledged AWS operation in Kuala Lumpur, according to these sources.
Prior to helming VMware Malaysia and Brunei, Si spent a total of 11 years with networking giant Cisco Systems Inc, where his last role was director of Cisco’s strategic business solution group, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In his capacity as country head of AWS, he will be expected to spearhead all of its cloud business as the company seeks to build a greater presence in Malaysia.
AWS counts amongst its Malaysian clients companies such as ride-hailing company Grab, media company Astro Radio, and video-streaming startup iflix.
Part of this effort includes expanding its developer and partner ecosystem, as well as growing its large enterprise accounts, which is said to be weaker than its other accounts, according to an industry insider who spoke to DNA on the condition of anonymity.
“The situation isn’t going to be cakewalk for Laurence [Si] as AWS has a reputation for being very tough on top-line numbers.
“Additionally, AWS is known to be extremely aggressive with its price-cutting mechanism in response to competition.
“This means that sales will always be a ‘moving goalpost’ for the country head to chase, which makes it even harder [for Si], coming from a more traditional IT shop,” said the insider.
AWS, Google Inc and Microsoft Corp routinely cut prices in response to competitive pressure from one another, and this is one of the main differences between them and traditional on-premises software companies.
AWS first made its presence felt in Malaysia in 2013, when it launched a programme targeting startups. Since then, the company has signalled its intention to also target large enterprises in all verticals.
Last year, it continued to burnish its enterprise credentials by snaring larger customers, while this year, its revenue is expected to reach an annual US$10-billion run rate.
Tough task too
Meanwhile, in his new role, Loh (pic) will oversee sales and marketing, and will be responsible for VMware’s operations in Malaysia and in Brunei.
An industry source said his task, amongst others, would be to come up with strategies to grow VMware’s business beyond virtualisation and expand its market into cloud computing, as the Palo Alto, California-based company reaches a saturation point in the enterprise IT market.
“Loh is an experienced and aggressive IT sales executive and has a good sales track record with Dimension Data,” said the industry insider.
“However, he will have his work cut out for him as there will be a lot of expectations placed on him to grow VMware’s top and bottom line – possibly by as much as double, in a bid to bolster the next phase of VMware’s growth.”
The insider said that amongst other challenges, Loh will be responsible for growing VMware’s hybrid cloud computing offering known as vCloud Air, while at the same time defend its turf in the virtualisation sector, which would require working hard to keep existing clients.
The task is made much harder as public cloud computing giants AWS, Microsoft, and Google have been actively stealing market share away from VMware by offering a subscription pay-as-you-go enterprise IT model for customers, instead of using an on-premises licensing model.
The public cloud versus hybrid cloud debate is an ongoing industry issue. Traditionally, public cloud implementations are favoured by software developers and startups which want speed and agility to market, while hybrid cloud implementations are favoured more by traditional larger enterprises with legacy, on-premises IT infrastructure.
For many years, VMware’s flagship software known as vSphere was the undisputed leader in virtualisation – software that allows computer servers to run multiple operating systems and allows the pooling of computing resources.
But while it continues to lead in that segment, many industry pundits have repeatedly noted that VMware needs to find some other avenues for growth, given that the server virtualisation market is approaching saturation point.
Its transformation began in 2014, when VMware chief Pat Gelsinger threw his weight behind two pillars: Monetising vCloud Air; and banking on its network virtualisation (NSX) offering.
However, growth in vCloud Air has been slower than anticipated, while its NSX offerings aren’t mainstream as yet.
On top of this, VMware, a subsidiary of EMC Corp, is also believed to be weighed down by complications related to the ongoing mega-merger between Dell Inc and EMC, which is affecting its stock price too.
“Is Loh up to the task? Perhaps having a good sales track record works in his favour,” said the industry insider.
“But it will still be an uphill task as he needs to convince enterprises that VMware’s offerings are exactly what Malaysian customers need, especially where its hybrid cloud and network virtualisation products are concerned, and also in the face of competition.”
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