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Making IT simpler is key to Malaysia's SMB transformation: EMC interview

AvantiKumar | April 30, 2015
According to an EMC study, Malaysian SMBs are still wary of adopting new IT infrastructure particularly cloud, said EMC Malaysia MD Cheam Tat Inn.

According to an EMC study, Malaysian small and medium businesses (SMBs) are still wary of adopting new IT infrastructure particularly the cloud, said business IT solutions firm EMC's Malaysia managing director, Cheam Tat Inn.

Speaking to Computerworld Malaysia, Cheam said EMC began the year with posing the need for simplicity in businesses; a need that was increasingly driven by digital natives.  With organisations through the world operating in a highly virtual environment, the role of IT infrastructure should be to make processes simpler so businesses can focus on important areas such as talent acquisition, P&L (profit and loss), business strategy and so on.

As 2015 continues to move industry into a new transformational phase, with the implementation of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) as well as the Asean Economic Community, all sectors including SMBs, which make up almost 99.2 percent of total business establishments in Malaysia, need to be aware of the building blocks for a simple, modern IT infrastructure in order to remain competitive.


Cheam Tat Inn - EMC Malaysia 

Photo - Cheam Tat Inn, MD, EMC Malaysia

From your conversations with Malaysian SMBs, could you give your impressions of the concerns faced by traditionally run businesses?

Based on a study conducted by EMC last year we found that Malaysian businesses are indeed still wary in adopting new IT infrastructure and to be more specific, they were wary of cloud adoption.

We believe this is a result of concerns surrounding security and data protection, data and application portability, the lack of IT skills within an organisation and complexities related to integration of existing on premise IT infrastructures with cloud platforms.

Affordability also remains a big concern for traditionally run businesses. These challenges can be especially daunting in the traditionally run enterprises and SMBs, which are two significant contributors to the Malaysian economy. As a technology partner, we take these concerns into account and find that it is crucial we make it very simple for businesses to adopt IT infrastructure and cloud computing.  

Hyper converged infrastructure is an excellent way for these customers to realize benefits of modern IT infrastructure in a simple, easy to install format.  With VSPEX BLUE, we aim to deliver virtualisation, compute and storage in a simple, scalable, easy to manage hyper-converged infrastructure appliance. It is designed to offer businesses the fastest, lowest-risk path to the private/hybrid cloud.

VSPEX Blue is great example of EMC taking into account the needs and concerns of SMBs and creating a product that fully benefits them

What is the overall strategy that EMC is using to make the complex scenario of IT implementation more accessible to local SMBs?

In relation to my first answer, we believe simplicity is key in making the complex scenario of IT implementation more accessible to Malaysian SMBs.

Part of our strategy is to invest in educating and consulting customers, focusing on the unique need and nature of each business. We believe this is the only way to make modern IT infrastructure the new normal and unleash its positive impact on businesses.

In terms of solutions, we are focusing intensely on SMB specific need gaps. For example, a hyper converged environment cuts down on operational costs significantly.

It is not without reason that the demand for converged infrastructure will increase. The market, valued at about US$4 billion globally, is expected to "easily" double over the next few years. This is why we are pinning high hopes on EMC VSPEX Blue for the SMB space. With VSPEX BLUE, users will be able to connect to the public or hybrid cloud seamlessly via our EMC cloud architecture, our cloud services.

This helps when businesses are growing rapidly, and they require their IT to be secure, cloud-enabled and able to scale.

Finally, cost flexibility is key to target SMBs. With the launch of VSPEX BLUE, we have introduced some radical moves to ensure cost flexibility. As part of our effort to keep prices competitive, we have removed ourselves from the supply chain even as we continue to deliver end technology for SMBs.

For most products, when a customer wants to place an order, it goes through a reseller; the order is then passed on to a distributor and subsequently, EMC, which will then liaise with the original equipment manufacturer. With VSPEX BLUE, EMC's distributor can deal with the manufacturer directly - in this case, Foxconn Technology Group. Everything, from the engineering to the shipment, is all done by our distributor, Avnet. They also take a call on the pricing. This is truly revolutionary. Even the most partner-centric organisations are not as flexible when it comes to pricing strategy.

How are you helping SMBs overcome their reservations about IT infrastructure?

We have to encourage and enable mid-market businesses to use technology strategically in order to advance their objectives. Especially in the light of higher regional competition as ASEAN Economic Community comes into play, it is important that Malaysian mid-market and SMBs start to look at IT as an investment not just cost.

Educating, consulting, and partnering our customers through their journey of transformation is critical. At the same time, we are focused on the unique need and nature of each business and delivering products, solutions and subject matter expertise in line with their needs.

At the same time, pricing and product portfolio are important to drive transformation in the SMB and mid-market space and we are all out to deliver this for businesses now.

What are things should SMBs watch out for when adopting new IT?

All SMBs are different and require different solutions. Our goal is to work with them to assess the must haves for their business challenges. But some points that are part of the basic hygiene include

o Select scale-out infrastructures so you have the ability to meet users' changing demands at the speed of business and freedom from the operational time cost of advanced IT forecasting
o Focus on modular building blocks for seamless linear scalability
o Select vendors that partner with them to simplify IT configuration, management, and maintenance and provide an integrated IT experience

Why do you think it is difficult for local SMBs to adopt cloud?

Ever since the global recession of 1990s and then 2008, SMBs have become a very critical business segment for the global economy to thrive.

With government grants for IT adoption in nearly every emerging and emerged market, to vendors such as EMC focused on delivering solutions portfolio and expertise that fit the needs of the SMB sector, I believe it has become far easier for SMBs to make timely technology investments today than it was a decade or so ago.

The challenge has been to overcome the traditional mind-sets and recognise the role of IT as a strategic enabler. I believe SMBs are already on their way to achieve this in today's highly competitive environment. They are ready to take advantage of what the ecosystem has to offer in terms of grants, portfolios, and expertise.

Could you sum up the latest moves EMC is making to help to redefine simplicity for local businesses?

In recent months, simplicity has been at the core of our new solutions. For instance:

o VSPEX Blue - helping businesses redefine simplicity. It delivers compute, storage, networking and management in an agile, scalable, trusted and easy to manage hyper-converged infrastructure appliance. It radically simplifies IT Infrastructure deployment and management and defines new levels of ease-of-use with power on to Virtual Machine (VM) provisioning in 15 minutes. It is also provides embedded integrated management experience, downloadable software titles and secure remote support. Ideal for infrastructure consolidations, virtual desktops in large remote or branch offices and managed service providers
o EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution that integrates hardware, software and services from EMC and VMware to unite the strengths of private and public cloud. The EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution enables IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) in as few as 28 days. Organisations no longer will have to make trade-offs between the speed and agility of public cloud services and the control and security of private cloud infrastructure

Some expected trends in Malaysia include:

  • The Malaysian Enterprise 4.0


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