What to do when one cloud just isn’t enough

There is no "one cloud fits all".

This guest post was written by Sundi Balu, Chief Information Officer – Global Enterprise & Services and International, Telstra

Simply offering cloud solutions is no longer a free pass to market leadership in Asia. With a third of global IT spending going to cloud-related investments, it’s quite safe to say that cloud adoption is the “new normal” for enterprises, rather than something exceptional. Many businesses will be rightly asking: how can I differentiate my organisation through the cloud?

My answer: we need to move from “one cloud fits all” to an “unlimited cloud”. Rather than simply relying on a single vendor or type of cloud infrastructure, businesses need to give themselves the ability to rapidly shift between different clouds based on how they grow, scale, and pivot their operations. This has big implications for Asian businesses, because it tackles the cross-border disparity in regulation, skills, and consumer demands that otherwise hamstrings their technology and growth strategy.

Keep it Simple, CIO

Many CIOs will have read “unlimited clouds” with a look of terror on their faces. One cloud is complex enough to successfully operate, after all – why multiply that pain? The reason is simple: business agility. Asian enterprises operate in markets where their commercial viability depends on how fast and well they can adapt to changes in consumer demand, competition, regulation, and a whole host of other factors. Multiply that across numerous interlinked country markets, and the business is faced with a situation where there can never be a “one size fits all” approach to sales, marketing, or product development strategy. Why should that be the case for your cloud environment?

An “unlimited cloud” model allows businesses to move between clouds based on what they need in any given market, at any time. Let’s take cross-border regulation and data residency as an example. Data sovereignty requirements differ across countries and over time – so what happens if one country suddenly demands that all data be hosted locally but a business is operating solely on public cloud? In this case, the business’ ability to adapt is going to determine whether it retains its licence to operate in that particular country or not.

A business employing an “unlimited” model, however, can shift its affected data into a locally hosted private cloud, while potentially keeping core applications themselves in a public or hybrid setup to maintain uptime for customers. That’s exactly what we, at Telstra, are already doing, acting as “cloud brokers” for a number of our customers. The cloud broker turns the pain of migrating between these different clouds into a fully-managed, fully-orchestrated service, operating as part of a one-stop cloud shop in which network, storage, and compute are all integrated to work in any manner of configurations. As a result, we allow CIOs to focus on higher-value priorities like the company’s digital innovation strategy or service development roadmap.

“Unlimited clouds” may seem complex, but when it’s delivered as a fully-managed offering it gives CIOs the time and ability to deliver the right services where and when they’re needed.

The building-blocks of clouds

Telstra now offers everything from colocation to fully public cloud within that “unlimited” model. But in order for this model to work, it also needs to encompass a whole range of organisations and their highly varied levels of talent and skills maturity.

The vagaries of talent across Asia make it impossible to support a “one cloud fits all” approach. Countries like Singapore, Australia, and Japan understandably have the most mature talent pools, yet emerging markets like Indonesia may be the ones which need cloud infrastructure most urgently to support business growth. In many Asian markets, relatively low staffing costs and close public-private sector ties have caused businesses to be less than enthusiastic about the upskilling and compliance costs of moving to the cloud. Yet as consumer demographics shift into “mobile-first, social-always” product and service consumption, these businesses need to be able to adapt – based on real-time information and insights that only the cloud can support – faster and at greater scale than ever before.

The solution is in how the cloud is built, particularly for hybrid and private cloud. One of our technology partners is VCE, the market leader in converged infrastructure – a delivery model where network, storage, and compute infrastructure come as fully-integrated systems that can be deployed in any organisation within weeks instead of months. VCE’s converged infrastructure systems, called Vblocks, have helped businesses deploy new services more than four times faster and develop five times more applications while cutting “lights-on” cost economics by almost a third.

Vblocks form one of the core building-blocks of our private clouds and hybrid cloud solutions because of their standardised simplicity. I think of them, and converged infrastructure systems generally, as the cloud version of the prefab units being used to construct the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge in record time. Converged infrastructure allows enterprises, and the cloud brokers guiding them, to not only deploy clouds incredibly quickly but also move between them with ease because of their standardisation and high degree of inbuilt systems compatibility.

Asia’s businesses are more connected, and face more market complexity than ever before. In a region that’s characterised by its heterogeneity, CIOs need not just one cloud but “unlimited clouds” that bolster them to take on their highest priorities: getting capabilities to market as fast as possible, in a way that can constantly adapt to changing consumer preferences. When built on converged infrastructure, “unlimited clouds” can get Asian enterprises past many of the issues around talent, regulation, and systems complexity that they’ve traditionally faced.

Watch the interview which Anthony Elvey, VCE’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific and Japan, recently conducted with Sundi on this topic here.

About the Author: Dell Technologies