During a recent interview with Computerworld Malaysia, VMware's new country manager for Malaysia and Brunei, Alex Loh, emphasised that transformation - IDC's Third Platform - will feature strongly for both economies. He also outlined his local plans for the company along with his take on Malaysia's industry prospects in the immediate future.
Alex Loh recently replaced Laurence Si, who now leads AWS Malaysia, as the country manager of VMware in Malaysia and Brunei. Alex is responsible for further accelerating and extending the company's growth in these markets. His role includes strategic planning, business development and sales and channel management, while supporting and empowering VMware's customers' use of software-defined IT solutions in the market.
Having more than 20 years of experiences in the IT industry ranging from technical engineering to sales and solution-selling afforded me with technology know-how and a deep understanding of challenges faced by businesses in Malaysia.
Prior to joining VMware, he founded and managed IoT Solutions, a company focused on helping businesses utilise technology to harness data analytics for growth. In addition, he spent 13 years with Dimension Data Malaysia, where he led its sales and solutions development group and alliances.
Photo - Alex Loh, Country Manager, VMware Malaysia and Brunei
What changes will you be making in VMware locally in terms of resourcing and investment in the next 12-18 months?
With growing mobile penetration, Malaysia's workforce is fast becoming highly mobile. We have recently launched solutions such as the Workspace ONE suite to provide Malaysian businesses with better enterprise mobility capabilities. Committed to support our customers and partners in enhancing business mobility, we are currently looking at increasing resources in this area.
My team and I are putting together a 3-year growth plan for VMware Malaysia, which focuses on helping our customers on their digital transformation journey.
We remain committed to empowering our partners with the support to provide businesses in Malaysia with solutions and know how. This includes growing our relationships with new and existing distributors in the market, to extend the reach of our core and advanced suited of solutions. In addition, I will continue efforts in raising awareness of the VMware brand in Malaysia, and our capabilities in enabling businesses on their cloud and business mobility journey.
Is the local economic sentiment helping or hindering you?
The World Bank had reported continued growth of the Malaysian economy, albeit at a slower pace with projections to fall from 4.7 to 4.5 percent from 2015 to 2016.
To boost the country's growth, the Malaysian government has shown a commitment to help businesses adopt technology. The Malaysia Budget 2016 revealed initiatives that especially highlighted the government's commitment to drive connectivity, innovation and productivity.
These initiatives include the allocation of RM2 billion (about US$500 million) to increase internet speed, and RM200 (US$50.14) million for SMEs to transform with technology. As the government takes steps towards enabling ICT adoption, enterprises across the nation are presented with greater opportunities and resources to embrace various productivity-driving solutions.
Aligned with the government's push, VMware is committed to enable businesses in Malaysia through our solutions to transform IT by enhancing business mobility and security through a software-defined approach. We will continue to work closely with local organisations, providing cloud and business mobility solutions that enable them in their IT transformation journey. For example, we most recently released the advanced and updated version of VMware vRealize Suite, a cloud management platform that provides customers the ability to provision and manage at scale - compute, storage, network and application services across hybrid cloud environments.
Is DX (digital transformation/3rd platform) more of a reality in the local market in your view?
Digital transformation is a reality in Malaysia, and it has become increasing important for organisations evolve and be adequately equipped to ride the change. According to IDC's 2016 Asia/Pacific Digital Transformation (DX) MaturityScape Benchmark Survey, 34 percent of organisations in ASEAN fall within the opportunistic stage of Digital Transformation (DX) maturity. Having already established basic digital capabilities, these organisations must focus on increasing the integration and consistency of digital initiatives to progress to the next stage of maturity (i.e. repeatable).
In Malaysia, the government is pushing digitisation and encouraging businesses in Malaysia to innovate and adapt to the fast-changing trends and demands in this digitally-driven era.
According to an MCMC report, a survey revealed that as of Q1 2014 there were about 20.1 million Internet users in Malaysia. With increased connectivity and mobility, it was also revealed that 70 percent of Malaysian workers expect their employers to provide equipment and hardware that enables them to work anywhere with access to application on their own devices.
What will be VMware's role in promoting this DX wave?
In today's mobile-cloud era where future workspaces continue to be digitised, VMware will equip organisations with the solutions and know-how to transform IT and help manifest real business outcomes while delivering new levels of simplicity, speed and affordability.
As an industry leader, we will continue to accelerate digital transformation, enabling business mobility, future proofing the cloud and enhancing security for businesses.
We already partner with leading service providers in Malaysia to provide solutions tailored to the local market needs. For example, we are collaborating with VADS Berhad, Malaysia's leading Integrated Managed ICT/BPO Service Provider, to provide businesses with the agility to deliver end user computing services quickly and easily without the complexity of deploying and managing infrastructure. Extending our expertise in virtualization - from the data centre to the desktop to the device - our solutions aim to provide employees with a secure, virtual workspace where end users can login once to access all of the applications, files, social tools, and online services they need, from any device they choose, everywhere.
We have also launched Workspace ONE, a new platform for delivering secure digital workspaces for flexible workstyles and bring your own device (BYOD) earlier this year. A first of its kind, the digital platform brings together identity, device management and application delivery on a single integrated platform so business can be conducted by mobile end-users regardless of platform, location, device or application.
In addition to providing businesses with the technology, we also believe strongly in equipping the workforce with the skills as businesses leverage opportunities brought about by digital transformation.
Last year, we announced our collaboration with Malaysia's premier Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) to provide virtualization and cloud training for students in Malaysia. Investing in talent development is key to ensuring expectations and demands for the rapidly changing trends of technology in the industry and nation are met. As Malaysia advances towards developing its digital economy by 2020 under the Digital Malaysia initiative and Vision 2020, the collaboration will ensure that businesses have access to a ready workforce enabled through the comprehensive program, ranging from curricula development, training of staff and students to professional certifications.
What is your take on how the local market is handling security concerns across the board and especially in cloud computing scenarios?
Security remains high on the agenda of many businesses with a recent VMware business survey conducted in Malaysia found data protection to be one of the top three IT priorities for 2015. As mobility and cloud becomes increasingly mainstream, businesses realize that traditional approaches to network and security cannot solve today's challenges. The typical business application today is connected to several different clouds. Add in the explosion in the number of devices and the interdependency of all of these services and network elements, and security today has become more complex than ever before.
As organisations accommodate employee demands for workplace mobility and continue on their digital transformation journeys, applications and user data are on more devices in more locations than ever before.
Cyber-attackers can now easily infiltrate or target new gaps or exposed frontiers within an organisation's ever-expanding network. To secure data and applications in today's digital business environment, we believe in the need for a ubiquitous layer in between physical infrastructure and applications, one that provides full network visibility or an application-oriented lens into the infrastructure. This will enable IT to align security controls and protect the organization's most important digital assets.
Business mobility and network virtualization solutions like VMware AirWatch, VMware Identity Manager and VMware NSX allow centralised user and identity management, app-level micro-segmentation, secure containers, and fine-grained access to application capabilities and content. VMware NSX, in particular, offers organisation's the new, architecture-based security they need to defend themselves. Leveraging micro-segmentation, the VMware NSX network virtualisation platform offers automated provisioning, automated move, add or change for workloads, distributed policy enforcement at every virtual interface and in-kernel, and scale-out firewalls distributed to every hypervisor on the platform. This means that should a component within the network become compromised, its attributes can be quickly and automatically updated or deleted, and quarantine controls enforced to stop a cyber threat from moving laterally and causing more damage.
With data security becoming ever more important to enterprises, we see the need for businesses to their security strategies that focuses on agility, simplicity, and ubiquity.
Given the recent takeover by Dell of EMC, what is the long term strategy for VMware as a brand and service vendor?
It is business as usual for VMware, and we will continue to operate independently when Dell closes its acquisition deal with EMC and remain part of the merged entity. Our mission and strategy remain unchanged, and we will continue providing customers value through software-defined computing, networking and storage solutions, together with its cloud, mobile and desktop offerings. Dell is committed to VMware's independence, ecosystem and revenue acceleration.
Looking slightly ahead, what local projects have excited you?
Besides enabling businesses on their IT transformation journey, we are also very heartened by the benefits and impact our solutions have brought to their employees and even the communities in Malaysia.
As an example, we had the deployment of the largest virtualised desktop environment in Malaysia by the Ministry of Education (MOE) where the implementation of VMware's virtual desktop infrastructure technology had transformed the way MOE provides education.
Through the deployment, we had enabled access of technology, internet and online learning resources to more than 300,000 students in rural areas across Malaysia. With more than 10,000 schools located in rural areas, transporting engineers for system maintenance presented logistical challenges, resulting in inconsistent and sporadic service. By modernizing the desktop infrastructure, not only did system maintenance became more cost-effective and efficient, the MOE was then able to centralize its management, enabling the schools to receive latest software updates and applications in a timely manner. We are proud to have played a part in helping the MOE transform the access and quality of education across Malaysia, extending education to teachers and students in remote areas of the country
Looking ahead. Malaysia remains a key market for VMware, and we remain committed to helping businesses in their digital transformation journey.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.