William Ho, who is enterprise solution architect, regional infrastructure integration services, for ICT solutions provider Fujitsu Asia, spoke to Computerworld Malaysia and outlined some of the issues faced by CIOs in transitioning their organisation to cloud computing.
Photo - William Ho, Enterprise Solution Architect, Regional Infrastructure Integration Services, Fujitsu Asia Pte.Ltd.
Could you outline what you see as key challenges and constraints that Malaysian organisations are facing with their adoption of virtualisation and cloud computing?
Cloud is becoming a more essential part of IT infrastructure to support business growth and the breadth of operations within organisations. Companies are now more aware of the business value that cloud computing brings and many are taking steps towards transitioning to the cloud. A smooth transition entails a thorough understanding of the benefits, as well as challenges involved. Like any new technology, the adoption of cloud computing is not free from issues.
The main challenges that Malaysian organisations face while adopting cloud continue to be on the security and privacy concerns of business assets. The fact that the valuable enterprise data will reside outside the corporate firewall raises the alarm. The many security breaches happening around the world has certainly impacted the "trust" element for a cloud service provider. Furthermore, inadequate regulations, laws, legislations related to cloud computing is also another data privacy concern that has further challenged the adoption of cloud computing, particularly under the public cloud environment.
Secondly, there are many IT departments, not only in Malaysia but also in APAC that are adopting the "wait and see" attitude and delaying the cloud deployments within their organisations; they do not see the urgency of leveraging cloud computing for business advantages. Amongst the reasons given is the standards, specifications and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) associated with cloud computing that is unclear to IT leaders.
Thirdly, the lack of transparency from cloud providers has elevated interoperability and portability concerns to their cloud consumers. Cloud computing services should have the capability to integrate smoothly with on-premise IT, as businesses can migrate in and out of the cloud, not constrained by long lock-in periods and be able to switch providers if necessary.
Another reality on cloud is the new types of knowledge and skills required to successfully deploy and manage today's cloud environments. For instance, organisations that subscribe to 'X'aaS from cloud providers, such as SaaS services, there will be a need for people who know what type of services to pick, negotiate service level agreements and integrate off-site offerings with on-site data and operations.
Lastly, we see slow alignment of local industry compliance requirements with cloud computing deployment in the country; and lack of independent authoritative sources that businesses can turn to for help and advice on cloud related matters.
How far behind is Malaysia when it comes to cloud adoption? Which industry sectors are showing the most progress?
Malaysia is the second largest cloud computing market in the Asean region, with major enterprises beginning to move their services to the cloud. However, cloud computing is still relatively new in this region and slowness in adopting cloud is attributed to the reasons/factors as discussed.
To date, adoption of cloud computing predominantly at this juncture seems to be initiated from services providers (i.e. Data Centre services providers and Independent Services Providers) and government. As for commercial entities, the investment put into virtualisation has started to see substantial returns whereas moving to cloud computing raised many concerns and there are many questions yet to be answered. And, it did not appear to have massive appeal within these industries.
Besides the government sectors, there are three other major sectors in Malaysia that have shown increasing interest on cloud solutions, namely manufacturing/hi-tech industrial, healthcare and retail, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Has there been a shift in the CIO role with how they relate to the board when it comes to bidding for the cloud projects?
In recent times, the Board of Directors have started looking at CIOs as advisors to this new concept of computing and getting the latter's advice on how to minimise IT investments while aligning it to the organisation's business directions. According to IDC's latest survey in July 2013, reducing total cost of IT remains the top priority of businesses' IT investments and transformation.
The CIO role is likely to evolve into one that actively participates in strategic business discussions and is looking at where and how to best collaborate with the rest of the C-level, a go-to person to seek out potential cloud services that benefits the company overall value chain, someone able to bridge conceptualisation of cloud computing to realisation, map-out the transformation for better business revenue. In essence, continue building the IT's value and credibility to the business, especially in this new era of computing that has significant implications to the business for the years to come if without proper advice or recommendations from the right person, and the most trusted role to the board has got to be the CIO from the organisation.
How has Fujitsu helped organisations in Malaysia smooth their cloud migration: through potential downtimes, risks of consolidation and so on?
Companies will need some handholding when transitioning to a cloud environment. Within Fujitsu's global cloud strategy, we have developed a comprehensive approach to help smooth customers' transition to the cloud.
Fujitsu's approach is distinct because we focus on customers' business value by understanding their workload demands, and aligning the business needs with IT capabilities. We recognise that cloud is not a one-size fits-all solution. By leveraging on global collaboration, we are able to increase the use of the 'right' technology to balance innovation, cost, and future readiness. Then, we identify an appropriate cloud solution to address customers' business challenges while minimising possible risks during cloud migration and consolidation.
Also, as we know, the majority of the applications were built many years before cloud services appealed to the market. Therefore, Fujitsu offers legacy modernisation to cloud services, allowing organisations to gain at least some benefits from cloud services for their legacy applications.
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