As Singapore slowly emerges from the global pandemic and paves its way for an economic recovery, businesses here are struggling to find their footing as they adjust to an increasingly connected and digitalized environment.

Many business leaders have asked me recently, “How do I digitally transform in the current challenging economy?”

The answer lies in leveraging technology that can help them to do more with less, starting with the cloud. The cloud has played a significant role in helping many businesses survive – and even thrive – as operations moved online and employees shifted to remote work during the health crisis.

We explore if 2020 was the year of multicloud technology for Southeast Asia

Businesses are looking to eliminate complexities and streamline processes. They need to have the agility to react to market changes and take advantage of opportunities. They need to be able to move quickly, to adapt and make changes to stay relevant and minimize costs. The good news is that cloud technology can help in all these areas.

Complexity of hybrid cloud 

The cloud journey isn’t always smooth sailing, especially when businesses choose to take a hybrid cloud approach. In other words, if they choose to set up a mixed computing, storage and services environment made up of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud and third-party public cloud services. 

Implemented well, hybrid environments offer the advantages of both private and public clouds and help to drive the best return on IT investments. Businesses have the capability to move workloads between private and public clouds as computing budgets and needs change.

However, things can get messy when the rubber meets the road – mainly because collapsing operational silos is often easier said than done. 

According to Nutanix research, a majority of organizations in Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) see hybrid cloud as the ideal cloud approach but an alarming 72% believe that their transformation is taking longer than expected.

So, what exactly is holding organisations back?

A great deal of it has to do with the complexity of synchronizing private and public cloud technologies. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, for instance, each have their own expansive, high-powered toolbox for managing resources in public cloud servers. On the other hand, private, on-premises clouds often use different tools and interfaces.

Reconciling the differences between private and public clouds can get expensive and time-consuming, but a hybrid cloud environment can also be a marvel of power and flexibility — if IT teams have the tools to seamlessly coordinate their public and private clouds. 

Reconciling the conflicts 

Let us dive into the crux of the matter – the differences between private and public clouds. In a nutshell, private clouds are public cloud-like solutions built on conventional on-premises data centres with racks of computing, networking and storage gear. Public clouds, on the other hand, are giant server farms operated by Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other technology platform companies.

Infographic created by HotWire Networks, a web hosting company

Private and public clouds have different use cases. The consensus is that private clouds work best for industries with sensitive data – such as the public sector and financial services – where tight security and abundant, concentrated computing power is critical. By contrast, public clouds have are known to be ideal for rapid software development and services that must scale up or down quickly. 

That said, in this rapidly evolving environment where flexibility is key, enterprises need to be able to move resources like applications, containers and virtual machines between public and private clouds.

This is where hybrid environments come into play. An encrypted highway of sorts, hybrid cloud allows businesses to meld on-premise, private and public cloud capabilities.

However, until now, it was nearly impossible to move applications across platforms without re-architecting them. One component of tackling this challenge is to implement a unified cloud platform to manage workloads in both environments. Still, to be truly hybrid, businesses need help getting their workloads to flow seamlessly between public and private clouds. 

Getting down to bare-metal level

Over the past year, I have come to realise that enterprises often need much more control over their public cloud resources than we as an industry previously believed. Here’s where utilising public cloud “bare-metal” compute instances with dedicated servers are critical. Bare-metal instances can enable businesses to build their hybrid cloud environments with ease, which typically would have required substantial expertise to master. 

Why is this important? The team that manages an on-prem infrastructure may not be the same one managing the cloud infrastructure. This can then result in unnecessary costs and time spent, because different people do essentially the same job on separate cloud architectures. 

Instead, businesses should utilise a hybrid cloud platform that would allow on-prem and cloud services to work the same way in both on-prem and bare-metal public cloud instances, all while breaking down silos. 

Bare-metal compute offers businesses the opportunity for complete portability and flexibility. It provides superior economics and help teams manage and administer their multiple cloud environments through one unified, seamless IT operating environment, while keeping costs down.  

Supporting future of work 

There are several use cases for businesses to invest in a unified hybrid cloud management tool, and we have seen these come to life this year especially. 

A flexible hybrid cloud platform allows businesses to support a remote workforce while adding secure connections for employees working from home. While businesses are beginning to reopen their offices, remote work could be a potential fixture in the future workforce.

An analysis by Deloitte found that up to 47.8 million people in ASEAN could shift to working remotely over a multi-year time horizon. A hybrid cloud platform can enable organisations to support this future. 

External factors such as seasonality, like the upcoming holiday shopping season, may require some businesses to ramp up computing resources. 2020 is also known to be the year of disruption, increasing the impetus for businesses to strengthen disaster recovery and reduce downtime after a disaster. A unified hybrid cloud platform can enable businesses to spin up more capacity and shrink it when they need it, without having to reinvent these environments.

Ensuring hybrid success

There is a rule of thumb that Nutanix takes with software development. We focus on getting our product out in front of the customers, letting them try it out, gathering feedback, fixing bugs and iterating quickly to generate improvements. We also discuss directly with customers to identify their pain points and everyday challenges. 

Business leaders should tap into this methodology to ensure that hybrid environments deliver the most value to the organisation’s users. 

Hybrid clouds are more than an emerging trend. It is a new set of technologies and IT operating models that is reshaping how organisations across different industries will function now and in the future. 

Contributed by Ho Chye Soon, Singapore Country Manager, Nutanix

About the author

Ho Chye Soon is the Singapore Country Manager at Nutanix, responsible for charting the company’s strategy and growing the business in Singapore. Together with his team of experts, Chye Soon is committed to helping enterprises across Singapore – a key market for Nutanix in Asia Pacific – solve the complexities of the private cloud, hybrid and multicloud world, freeing them up to focus on their business. Under his leadership, Nutanix Singapore has witnessed a 125 percent year-on-year growth in 2020 and will continue to drive true business value for customers and partners. 

A veteran in the IT industry with more than two decades of technical and management experience, Chye Soon brings extensive expertise in enterprise sales, channel and operational strategy. In addition, as a natural builder, he comes with a passion for coaching and mentoring talent.

Prior to Nutanix, Chye Soon was instrumental in establishing and growing Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) enterprise cloud business in Singapore and APAC, where he grew the company’s footprint through new channel partnerships. Before HPE, he held several senior management roles at Dell which enabled him to develop and implement strategic activities across the region. As General Manager in 2017, he oversaw business operations, sales and business development for Dell’s commercial business in Singapore. As Sales Director, he created industry domain-focused vertical teams to better serve Dell’s customers, driving business across major industry verticals and expanding customer bases. 

Chye Soon’s first key management role was with TeleTech International, a Singapore-based supplier of radiocommunication products and services. 

He holds a Bachelors of Science from the University of Oregon.