Authored by: KT Ong, Country Manager - Malaysia, Dell Technologies
The year 2020 was a watershed moment as the world battled COVID-19 and its unprecedented impact on society and the economy. The pandemic has also awakened many to the importance of technology and digitalisation – organisations now have a better understanding of the value of risk management, raising the question of what they need to do now, and in the future, to improve digital capabilities and agility.
Digital transformation has been a priority for organisations around the world for some time. The pandemic has only accelerated the need, and one of the major objectives has been to find ways to leverage cloud as an operating model to enable easy managing, scaling and sharing of compute, storage, networking and data protection. According to the Dell Technologies 2020 Digital Transformation Index, digital transformation is seen as a critical business driver for recovery – 84% of organisations in Asia Pacific have shifted their transformation programmes into high gear and 86% are reinventing their business model. This fast track toward digital transformation has contributed to the heightened demand for private and public cloud models.
Even so, many organisations still make decisions related to cloud workload transitions without thinking longer-term or having a vision in place. IT investments are decided upon point-by-point around individual software and problems, and this often do not result in the best overall solution. Additionally, in a crisis, there is the possibility that similar quick and “ad hoc-style” solutions will be even riskier. While quick decisions are key, it is equally important to think about those decisions in the context of the overall architecture for the future.
In the data-driven era today, the need for consistent operations and infrastructure across clouds is paramount, so organisations are quickly finding that hybrid cloud models are the right strategy when it comes to longer-term costs, scalability and security.
Aim for a flexible, hybrid cloud
The public versus private cloud debate has been well documented, but the best solution is a combination of both. Public clouds tend to offer lower costs, higher scalability and access to next-generation technologies, while private clouds provide improved security, low latency and greater control over data governance and data locality. While organisations may have moved fast – and often pushed forward into multiple clouds – they now find themselves in a cloud sprawl. The complexity of managing many requirements across data security and privacy can get expensive. Therefore, the goal is to take to the public cloud only those workloads that benefit most from it. Embracing this approach has led more organisations to adopt a hybrid solution, or the best possible combination between public and private clouds and the data centre.
Above all, the strengths of a hybrid cloud are its flexibility and openness, allowing changes to be made when a new direction is needed. With a hybrid cloud model, data applications, services and workloads can be managed and moved across private and public clouds using the same consistent infrastructure and operating environment, as business needs dictate.
Cloud is also a central theme in Malaysia’s MyDIGITAL initiative, where the government is implementing a “cloud-first” strategy at both the federal and local state levels to drive cloud services adoption, with a key target of migrating 80% of public data to hybrid cloud systems by end of 2022. Furthermore, the blueprint also outlines the goal to create an enabling environment for local data centre companies to specialise in high-end cloud computing services and help the local data centre industry to achieve RM3.6billion in revenue by 2025.
Make an ambitious plan, adopt a phased approach
A typical large or medium-sized organisation has hundreds if not thousands of applications in its environment, most of which are not even cloud-capable without changes. Barriers to transfer may include security requirements, data location requirements, application performance requirements, or outdated technology used by the application.
Developing a hybrid cloud strategy must start with the organisation's applications. First, analyse the application portfolio and evaluate which applications are generally portable to the cloud. In parallel, consider the advantages and disadvantages of moving to the cloud.
Once the applications have been reviewed and assessed, it is time to develop a plan. For any organisation with many applications, it is not economically feasible to move to the cloud with a one-time push. Rather, the change should be done in a phased approach – either a single application or one application environment at a time.
This phased implementation approach makes the design phase especially important. It is crucial to forecast the intended result before initiating the design phase. Moreover, it is also advisable to consider the continuity of development and risk control. By building a plan that considers the appropriate environment for the estimated workloads, an organisation can reap the benefits of scale, management and mobility across a variety of clouds, all while ensuring security and privacy.