Are hybrid clouds the secret weapon of Asia Pacific enterprises?

The Asia Pacific market has become a pressure cooker. A jolt in the regional economy is straining current IT infrastructures. Increasing workloads and incessant demands any time and from anywhere are seeing many traditional infrastructure creaking under pressure.

Decentralized, scalable IT infrastructures is the obvious answer. But getting the expertise, resources and investment to deploy and manage such an infrastructure within the four walls of a corporate is not only expensive but also time and labour intensive. Besides, ripping out old infrastructures in today's cost-conscious environment is a huge gamble for many IT decision makers.

Time to go hybrid

Instead, many in Asia Pacific are taking a keen interest in hybrid clouds, according to a recent survey commissioned by NTT Communications and conducted by IDG Research Services. Entitled Global Market Pulse: Cloud Computing Infrastructure Study, the study examines the opinions of 300 IT decision makers evenly distributed across the US, EMEA (UK) and APAC (Hong Kong and Singapore).

Cloud computing is gaining momentum and APAC is the region to watch in the next 12 months, according to survey results that indicate 31% of APAC IT decision makers plan to implement clouds in the next 12 months; 26% look to pilot-test cloud projects; and 28% have implemented cloud in one or more locations.

Regardless of geographies, improved availability is the top reason quoted by respondents who have cloud plans or have actually them implemented. Flexibility and enhancing disaster recovery capabilities are the close second and third reasons respectively. In Asia Pacific, however, disaster recovery is the top reason behind cloud projects.Nevertheless, all these initiatives and figures suggest that year 2013 will be a tipping point for cloud deployment in the Asia Pacific region.

The case for hybrid clouds

Hybrid cloud, according to the study, is going to be big in Asia. Sixty-five percent of respondents said that they are now using, evaluating, or planning to implement a combination of company-owned and third-party servers.

Additionally, 80% of APAC IT decision makers expect their enterprises to use a mix of in-house and third-party infrastructure in future.

What makes the situation more complicated is that enterprises don't just look at hybrid clouds as those between private and public clouds. They are also looking at them as solutions that bridge the infrastructure gap between clouds and legacy environment that many of enterprises would not or could not virtualize right away due to technical or resources issues.

So why should enterprises go hybrid? And why will hybrid cloud be a buzz in Asia Pacific?

The answers to these questions lie in the real-world advantages of hybrid cloud infrastructure, with the top two being customization and flexibility it allows.

Many Asia Pacific decision makers see flexibility offered by hybrid cloud--as compared to restrictions brought by third-party vendors--as a huge advantage when it comes to service provision. Enterprises' biggest fear is often related to: customization and flexibility (51%); security (47%); availability of in-house IT infrastructure (43%); and necessary skill set/training (39%). Hybrid clouds offer an ideal solution that addresses all these concerns.

Spotlight on network virtualization

A clogged pipeline will be a major roadblock for firms that rely on networks to access their services and data. Survey respondents are concerned about capacity limitations (75%) and possible downtime when changing network configurations (73%). These are also key critical success factors when it comes to evaluating, planning or implementing cloud services.

All these factors are driving strong interest in network virtualization. Benefits such as availability, redundancy, quick recovery from hardware failures, and the ability to reallocate unused bandwidth for better utilization are wanted by the Asia Pacific IT decision maker community. In fact, the region's top IT decision makers said that they have a strong interest in cloud computing that includes a virtualized network service for improved performance (68%) and reliability (64%).

Asian trends than matter

Asia Pacific's fascination for hybrid clouds could not have come at a better time.

With strong GDP growth, and trends such as mobility and IT consumerization shaping purchasing behavior and productivity, many enterprises are experiencing growing pains. Traditional IT infrastructures are ill-prepared to meet on-demand requirements and respond rapidly to changing business needs.

Fully aware that they can't manage everything by themselves, many enterprises look to bank on the expertise and services of third-party vendors. At the same time, they look to implement highly flexible IT strategies that are also cost-efficient.

Hybrid clouds, especially those that come with a virtualized network service, can help Asia Pacific enterprises gain control, scale to dynamic requirements, and deliver highly customizable solutions to meet on-demand expectations. According to survey results, most IT decision makers in the region are already taking a hard look at all these.


High satisfaction level is also pushing interest to new heights. According to the survey, Asia Pacific IT decision makers report high levels of satisfaction with the effectiveness brought by their cloud investments. Flexibility and improved scalability are results of their cloud projects, these respondents pointed out.

This offers an ideal opportunity for global cloud service providers that have their own datacenters and offer virtualized network services as well as a strong value proposition for enterprises who want to alleviate their growing pains, capture market opportunities quickly and demand a highly secure and controlled infrastructure. As key partners, they also offer expertise and experience to shape new IT strategies to meet new demands from customers, stakeholders, and regulators.

As deployment and proponents multiply in the Asia Pacific region, hybrid clouds are well poised to become the regional enterprises' secret for success.

Taylor Man is executive vice president, New Business Division, NTT Com Asia HKNet.

This story, "Are hybrid clouds the secret weapon of Asia Pacific enterprises?" was originally published by Computerworld Hong Kong.

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