PHOTO - Dr Andrew Lau, senior director, Exalogic, Asia Pacific Oracle Corporation.
Malaysia enterprises, especially in the telecommunications, financial services and public sectors, are considering integrated, cloud based systems to consolidate their data centres and IT infrastructure, Oracle Asia Pacific's Dr Andrew Lau told Computerworld Malaysia during an interview on 5 September 2012.
According to Gartner Research, by 2015, 35 percent of total server shipped value will be as integrated systems. Based on the market findings and phenomena, Dr. Lau included discussion of some of the common pain points and pitfalls for local enterprises in the telecoms, financial services, and public sector when they are trying to consolidate and optimise their data centres or IT infrastructure.
How will the global economy, which some people now expect will impact multinational companies (MNCs) and enterprise IT firms in Malaysia in the coming year, affect the drive towards a cloud infrastructure?
We see broad-based adoption of cloud solutions across all industries. The top industries include financial services, telecommunications and government/public sector. Recently, we have also seen significant uptake in other sectors - manufacturing, high technology, retail, healthcare and others.
While we are unable to comment from a global economic perspective, a recent survey of 364 enterprise application and business managers (conducted by the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), showed that organisations are rapidly increasing their adoption of cloud and cloud services. One tenth have had cloud implementations for more than five years, and another 51 percent have between one and five years of experience with cloud implementations.
The report also highlights that cloud upgrades and new implementations outranked cost savings (45 percent) at 48 percent and is the top trigger for organisations moving to cloud-based environments. While companies have benefited from cost savings due to their cloud computing initiatives, Oracle sees that increased business flexibility and scalability ranks equally high on the benefits achieved from cloud.
In addition, the realisation of these benefits increases with greater experience with cloud. Early cloud adopters report difficulties gaining support within their enterprises, but support also grows with experience.
Based on this, we see that in the overall economic sense, cloud computing is seen as a strategic imperative with high business priority over the next few years with wider adoption across many more MNCs and enterprise IT companies in Malaysia.
What are some of the misconceptions that many companies in Malaysia have about what to expect from virtualisation?
Firstly, virtualisation is not cloud computing. At the same time, organisations and data centres need to be aware that cloud technology is not going to solve all problems.
Many data centres are still based on a silo architecture design - whereby each application runs on its own dedicated middleware, database, servers and storage. Each silo is designed to handle peak load, so inherently there is a lot of excess capacity built in. Each silo is also different, non-standard and made up from heterogeneous vendors' components. This leads to complexity and high costs to manage.
As a result, many data centres are moving from these dedicated, physical silos to a virtual environment that can provide better shared services, dynamic IT resource provisioning and standardised appliances configurations.
Virtualisation is an important enabler for cloud computing in the way that it allows hardware sharing and flexible application deployment, but the following points of 1) Simplification 2) Infrastructure Performance and Scalability, and c) Reduction of real estate and power consumption, should be taken into consideration in taking virtualisation a step further into actual cloud computing.
With the demand explosion for IT services and applications, data centres would need to be able to ensure that the provisioning of such services stay scalable, secured, manageable and offer attractive ROIs at the same time.
And to have IT provisioning that is operationally efficient and agile: This is directly linked to the capabilities provided by the management layer across the entire stack, from the application, middleware, operating system, compute, network and storage.
The Oracle Exalogic is an example of an engineered system that helps manage cloud environments in a substantially less complex and error prone manner than managing traditional systems built from individually sourced, multi-vendor components. This is because it is designed to be administered and maintained as a single, integrated system. For enterprises that want to get more for their IT investment than merely keeping the lights on, Exalogic is the logical choice.
Another important feature is that the virtualisation approach can help reduce the infrastructure complexity and therefore the associated risk, both of which can be proven to be rather expensive in the long run if it is not countered properly.
What is your checklist to data centre managers and local companies about what they need to do to ensure they get the best ROI when planning and upgrading systems?
Data centres and organisations should look to reduce risk and IT complexity as they upgrade. Data security is also a key item on the checklist when it comes to application isolation while running under virtualised IT environments. Systems should be able to be singularly managed both at the hardware and software layers.
Next thing to look into is the re-training of the existing staff on the new technologies that allows application consolidation and systems consolidation into single rack engineered systems. This will help prevent expensive and inefficient duplication of IT human resources.
Space (real estate) and power consumption considerations must be factored in as well as these are becoming more expensive in the inner cities.
The checklist can be quite long, but the most important thing is that it covers the key aspects of IT systems and human resource management.
Can you give some examples of good practice and share success stories of companies in Malaysia?
Celcom Axiata, as one of the country's foremost mobile telecommunications provider, has adopted Oracle's solutions to help standardise the company's technology platform. This standardisation will enable Celcom to provide a much higher level of user experience for its customers and business partners that interact with critical systems such as billing, customer relationship management (CRM) and online systems.
Telekom Malaysia (TM), as another customer of Oracle, has implemented the full suite of Oracle BSS/OSS solutions for CRM, billing, order fulfilment, service activation, integration, portals and service delivery platforms. (A case study is available in the communications industry section of the global Oracle website.)
Earlier, you mentioned common pain points and pitfalls that Malaysian companies need to be wary of - can you elaborate on this?
I would like to elaborate on flexibility and scalability as these are the two extremely important factors as we enter into a globalised economy.
Companies need the ability to grow very quickly and expand offshore to exploit key and long tail markets. This adds the demands on data centres requiring them to scale very flexible, and thus the right type of data centre infrastructure becomes extremely crucial. This could be the basis for the drive towards the eventual cloud foundation for some of these entities considering private or public cloud. Gartner predicts that hybrid will become the most popular model. Which model is selected will depend on the company's requirements for deployment, elastic scalability, security and compliance, integration with other applications, capital versus operating expense budgets, and other criteria.
I would like to emphasise that IT security will still be key and it is imperative for enterprises embracing the cloud to take an approach where security is built into the entire architecture rather than being bolted on as an afterthought.
Also enterprises should not only look at products with best-of-breed IT security solutions in their specific categories, but also those with well integrated security mechanisms that enable ease of management, ease of change, and high reliability.
Where do you think most Malaysian companies are on the cloud adoption road? How far behind is the Malaysian industry when compared to Asia as well as globally?
The cloud technologies adoption by Malaysian enterprises market is very encouraging. Malaysia has many players who have in fact emerged as fine examples where the state-of-art IT technology has been deployed to accelerate new business growths.
Cloud adoption is still in the early stages here but the pace has been steadily increasing. We are seeing new business models being proposed, new applications being deployed, innovative charging models being implemented again, maximising on what the IT industry has to offer. This is indeed all very encouraging.
We also see many areas of growth in cloud deployment, for example rolling out enterprise applications to the SMB (small and medium business) markets, consolidation of information on a cloud infrastructure in the public sector and even in banks and telecoms that accelerates single instance deployment of private clouds within Malaysia or regional shores. All these sectors are areas of potential growth.
To sum up, what are the top three exciting things that you feel Oracle is bringing to the local markets?
The most exciting things we bring to Oracle customers in Malaysia are:
1. Significant long-term cost savings with extreme performance gains from Oracle's Engineered Systems- which are compute nodes, storage and networking as a single combined hardware and software platform designed to deliver extreme performance at application tier, middleware tier and database tier.
2. Oracle's One.Red.Stack approach that - delivers 'Application to Disk' capabilities under a single full stack helping to optimise data centre performance.
Oracle is the only vendor in the world with products that address every layer of the technology stack-from applications to middleware and databases, down to servers and storage. Every product within these layers has been engineered to work together and tested together to ensure that they interoperate effectively. The technologies are packaged into complete, engineered systems such as Oracle Exadata, Oracle Exalogic, and Oracle SPARC SuperCluster to make the systems much easier for customers to deploy as a single unit. These solutions are designed to be effectively and efficiently managed, supported, and upgraded together.
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