As the largest and dominant telco provider in Malaysia, Telekom Malaysia (TM) has provided connectivity and telco services to the country for years. As TM continues to innovate and complete its digital journey, it has formed many partnerships with various organisations. One such company that has journeyed with TM for more than a decade is VMware.
According to Umapathy Sivan, Chief Information Officer of TM, both companies have been building the tech together in their journey. TM works with VMware on its infrastructure development to build a virtualised environment for its virtualise orchestration and delivery model. Part of the reason the company decided to work with VMware was that it gave the ability for TM to have a heterogeneous environment based on its internal and external needs. The way TM handled is digital journey was to modernise first and progress from that.
“When we look at the Magic Quadrant, VMware was always a leader in this area. They were not only leading but also innovating at the same time. We felt it was the right combination to build with them.”
Devan Parinpanayam, VMware Malaysia Country Manager, added, “We started our journey with TM with their data centre modernisation and to build their own private cloud. We’ve been working with them for the last decade, and it’s been progressing to where they are today.”
Speaking about TM’s digital transformation framework, Sivan explained that the organisation focuses on four core pillars. This includes research and development and innovation. They plan to take the idea of a brokerage service for API and go to market with it with their ecosystem partners.
Another pillar is analytics. TM has lots of data, just sitting in storage. They want to monetise their data in the right way. From a data management perspective, TM wants to cross-share information and collate data to do other things. This includes working with government agencies and others.
The third and fourth pillar is the transformation of infrastructure services they have in the organisation, which includes the use of RPA that is built into the system and DevOps. They have presented test automation tools to the consensus department and are waiting to deploy it.
“We have built a DC grid for the line of business and line of service, where all our enterprise applications are hosted in the data centre. We built our hybrid cloud around this with Azure and Google Cloud as part of the external service providers. We were able to have more than a Linux platform available. We had a Microsoft and SAP platform as well. We managed to converge all these and build it into a strong core of data services and application management.”
Moving forward, Sivan explained that TM wants to build a strong DevOps environment. VMware’s acquisitions of key service providers support their journey. Today, 80% of TM’s enterprise applications are managed and developed inhouse. They buy from principle, but the maintenance and development are done inhouse. The plan is to take the DevOps environment to the external market. This includes expanding the service to working with SMEs, providing automation and services.
“VMware’s Enterprise PKS is in our radar. We are building a roadmap for an external grid. We are looking at the market for the right fit.”
He added that TM is planning to evolve further, especially with respect to its infrastructure and cloud layer grid. TM already has its own build of cloud called the I-Grid and the next generation of its grid will be called TM Grid. Kubernetes will play an important role in this because it allows TM to have the container capability extended to the external market.
While Kubernetes is heavily utilised in the US and Europe, Southeast Asia is beginning to explore the potential of Kubernetes. According to Sivan, TM is upskilling and reskilling its staff to ensure it maintains its talent pool. At the same time, VMware supports them in learning and development.
Interestingly Sivan mentioned that their competitors are not even able to build their own grids. Most of them are doing white labelling and co-branding. But that is their strategy. TM’s capabilities and resources allow them to make the best out of it.
TM, VMware and 5G
Looking at 5G, Sivan pointed out the technology in Malaysia and the rest of the world is like “Fast and Furious meeting Star Wars”. This is because, at one point, everyone was racing towards the implementation of 5G. But, most of them were still unaware of the enormous scope and potential that the technology has to offer.
US President Donald Trump’s regulation on the speed of 5G implementation opened up the eyes of many governments into understanding this technology more. Sivan believes it could be a blessing in disguise as most organisations and governments could not find the right use cases out there.
“TM is building the 5G infrastructure. You need three components for 5G, which are infrastructure, where TM is at the forefront, you also need connectivity, which the European providers like Nokia are much stronger, and you need applications, which is China’s strength. TM is focused on the foundation and has started implementing use cases under 5G.”
At the same time, Sivan pointed out that we should not only be looking at 5G but at the potential of future Gs in the market as well. This is where Sivan feels the standardisation by VMware is good as it allows both VMware and TM to learn from each other. Through this, both organisations can build the right offerings in this region.