Authored by: Lancelot Guo, President, Ecosystem and Sales Operations, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence and Michael Tsang, Senior Director, Partner Account Management, Equinix Asia-Pacific
While we are still grappling with many uncertainties in businesses and lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear – organisations large and small have crossed the Cloud Rubicon. Retail brands with purely physical play are now online to keep up with the digital consumer, and F&B stalls and hawkers are embracing online channels to maintain their already razor-thin margins.
In Singapore alone, Alibaba Cloud registered a 50 per cent surge in demand for Cloud-based technologies at the height of the pandemic. In our increasingly digital world, it will only become more critical for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to keep their momentum going into hybrid cloud to recover and grow.
Why Not Both?
Beyond the immediate concern to continue business-as-usual with a remote workforce, SMEs now have focused on enhancing their employees’ digital experience. Hybrid cloud is a major building block in these digital infrastructures and IT decision-makers (ITDMs) are quickly realising this, with nearly three quarters (71%) of ITDMs in a recent Equinix survey saying they want to move more IT functions to the cloud and two-thirds hoping to accomplish this within the next 12 months.
On top of providing staff with the necessary digital tools to access company apps and services outside of the office’s network, SMEs have to strategise how to deploy business-critical information to make timely decisions, manage supply chains and serve the changing needs of customers. Underlying this is security, with 57 per cent of respondents highlighting this as their top concern when choosing a cloud vendor, according to Alibaba Cloud’s findings.
As a single, central touchpoint to manage data how and where they want it, hybrid cloud allows SMEs to house and scale their workloads based on compliance, policy, and security requirement and replicate business-critical data to the cloud. This not only helps them back up key data but also accommodate fluctuating computing demands – whether to meet surging workload in online platforms or maintain a seamless and secure digital employee experience.
Keeping Costs Low
Keeping overheads low is always a priority for SMEs in a pre and post-pandemic world. Requiring lower capital expenditure upfront, but arming SMEs with the option of buying IT resources when they need to, hybrid cloud keeps SMEs nimble and responsive while dancing around roadblocks that they cannot just stride over like bigger companies can. An IDC study notes that organisations reported a 69 per cent lower migration cost in hybrid cloud compared to the public cloud from its ability to consume resources on-demand and when needed.
Where scalability and performance may come at the expense of higher capital and operating expenditures in other cloud models, hybrid cloud is the best option to protect and preserve SMEs’ bottom lines, while providing the flexibility to migrate data and apps at any given time.
One Less Uncertainty to Cope with in a World of Uncertainties
Modernising and moving legacy, monolith systems is a major roadblock in any SME’s cloud journey. Yet another key advantage of the hybrid cloud approach is that it saves time and resources needed to adapt to new architectures and frameworks. With hybrid cloud models that are capable of seamlessly integrating local software to public cloud, enterprises can enjoy the advantages of public cloud without rearchitecting their familiar on-premise work environment and succumbing to disruptions on network and security.
For SMEs embarking and pivoting their journeys – instead of building another layer of complexity to slow down their transition – the jump to hybrid cloud should be as speedy and as painless as possible. This is particularly critical as going online becomes a make or break situation.
As employees adapt to new efficiencies in remote working, hybrid cloud fundamentally protects their time in having to cope with IT changes or even learn a new digital workspace system from scratch. This also gives employees peace of mind in not having to struggle with yet another uncertainty, resulting in a happier and more productive workforce.
The Perfect Union
At the end of the day, SMEs not only need a hybrid cloud infrastructure but also a proper hybrid cloud strategy to truly recover and grow – one that can deliver high performance, secure cloud workloads, provide consistent operations and access to vibrant business ecosystems like that of Equinix’s, and to support business innovation and growth without the worry of costs and an incompatible existing infrastructure.
SMEs should also understand that businesses are on their personal cloud journeys and no journey is identical. They need to select the right public cloud service provider that is able to bridge their business operation needs, without sacrificing security.
As SMEs bound forward towards an increasingly digital world, they should look to hybrid cloud to protect their business-critical applications, reduce operational expenses while seamlessly ensuring a smooth working experience for employees at home or at the office.