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In conjunction with Asia Tech Singapore 2022, Gregor Hohpe, Enterprise Strategist, Asia Pacific, Amazon Web Services, speaks with Telecom Review Asia Pacific to shed light on cloud trends and important enterprise cloud strategies.

Globally, cloud adoption is on the rise. How does cloud adoption unlock value for enterprises?

We see companies moving to the AWS Cloud for several reasons. Cost continues to be a major motivator for moving to the cloud, and rightly so—customers like amaysim saw a 75% reduction in compute costs by using Amazon EC2 Spot instances and Amazon ECS. However, the rising levels of uncertainty faced by organizations today have triggered a rapid shift from optimizing for the steady state to optimizing for change. Cloud gives organizations much needed agility, from the elastic and economic scaling of resources based on their needs to the ability to innovate and deliver solutions faster. And increasingly, we see customers move to the cloud as they look to reduce their IT carbon footprint. According to 451 Research, moving computing workloads from on-premises data centers to the cloud can reduce the carbon footprint associated with running IT workloads for companies in the Asia Pacific by more than 78%—just from energy efficiency gains alone, and the Customer Carbon Footprint tool helps customers understand and further optimize their footprint.

What are some cloud trends that are on the rise?

There is a shift in the types of workloads that customers are moving to the cloud. While many organizations started with relatively modern, customer-facing systems, we are seeing more customers moving core systems, or what you might call legacy systems, to the cloud, often migrating off existing mainframe infrastructures. AWS has demonstrated cost and availability advantages for all types of workloads, and customers benefit from that.

Customers are modernizing existing workloads to take advantage of the elasticity and increased software delivery speed in the cloud. The agility those customers gain is a critical factor in today’s “economies of speed”, where organizations cannot rely on scale, but must foster fast learning and experimentation.

Cloud is no longer just seen as a place for only compute workloads and many customers use cloud for advanced data and analytics workloads. For example, Globe Telecom, a leading telecommunications provider in the Philippines, built a customer intelligence platform on AWS that collects and processes real-time customer data at scale to provide a 360-view of its customers.

Looking further out, Werner Vogels, Chief Technology Officer for Amazon, has observed macro trends around the technology industry, which include machine learning augmenting software developers’ workstreams to help them create more secure and reliable code, the rise of smart spaces that interact with their occupants, and developers beginning to make sustainability-conscious decisions about the systems and applications they are building.

What are important considerations when enterprises develop a cloud strategy?

As we engage with many customers on their digital transformation journey, we see two critical success factors. First, many challenges in large organizations are not technical, but about the people and culture. Senior leadership alignment and commitment are critical to set a clear direction and expectations with the rest of the organization based on top-down goals. Second, a strategy should not just consist of a set of goals, but a credible path on how to achieve them. That path will involve significant decisions and force important trade-offs. For example, will you first lift-and-shift applications and modernize later, or vice versa? Are you looking to make one giant leap or do you prefer incremental steps that deliver value sooner but might not be the shortest path overall? Gaining clarity on the path forward, ideally guided by a set of principles, avoids analysis paralysis and assures consistent decision making.

Lastly, cloud isn’t a technology upgrade. It’s a lifestyle change for IT. According to AlphaBeta research, cloud and cybersecurity skills will be the top two most demanded digital skills by employers by 2025. So, it’s important that organizations are trained on the cloud and comfortable not just with the new technology but also with new concepts and ways of working.  We train hundreds of thousands of people with new digital skills a year for that purpose. In Singapore, for example, AWS has trained over one hundred thousand individuals with cloud skills since 2017. 

For enterprises that have already embarked on the cloud, how can they accelerate digitalization to ensure business continuity and security?

Migrating IT infrastructure to the cloud is a critical enabler for an organization’s digitalization, but it’s only part of the picture. Many large-scale IT operations were designed to optimize existing business processes. And they have done an amazing job, making the business faster, more efficient, more accurate, and more repeatable. But they built what I call “digital copies” – they took something that already existed and made it digital. Customers who are successful in the digital economy work differently. They use IT to do things that the business could not have done before: new products, different customer experiences, and shift from a product to a service model. “Reprogramming” your IT to this new model is important, but also implies profound changes to its operating model.

Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos wrote in a shareholder letter a couple of years back about embracing external tailwinds. Cloud is a strong tailwind for your organization. But sometimes it can feel like changing the wheels on a moving car.

AWS maintains the highest security and privacy practices, which is one reason we are trusted by governments and organizations around the world to deliver services to millions of individuals. The cloud provides numerous security controls which offer unparalleled fine-grained control and visibility into your security posture that is impossible to replicate in on-premises environments. Additionally, AWS comprises 26 regions globally that are built on the same system infrastructure and are designed from the ground up by AWS.  So, while moving to the cloud, we encourage organizations to not simply replicate their existing security and business continuity setup, but to fully utilize these new capabilities.

Most importantly, simplify. IT is used to adding ever more processes and mechanisms. The AWS cloud provides a uniform platform with integrated identity and access management, monitoring, and automation. By embracing this architecture, you can improve operational capabilities while also harmonizing and simplifying.

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