By Linda Lim
Even as cloud computing seems to be all the rage in the business world, Bernie Trudel (left), the president of the Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA), believes that there is some way to go before companies fully realise the benefits of the technology.
IMpact spoke with Bernie, who was in town last month for Cloud Asia 2017, where he gave his thoughts on how Singapore is faring in terms of cloud usage and how small businesses can start on the road to becoming cloud-ready.
At what stage of development is cloud computing at as a technology?
Cloud computing is still in its early days despite the hype. From a numbers perspective, 7% of all ICT spending globally is on cloud, while 93% is spent on traditional ICT ways. The next milestone would be to enable traditional IT services to be easily migrated to the cloud. A move from 7% to 20% of all ICT spending could be the next development.
In which sectors does cloud have the biggest impact?
According to research house IDC, the finance industry is the biggest user of cloud computing, followed by healthcare. In terms of impact, I see potential everywhere. In manufacturing, for instance, there could be cloud and IoT (internet of Things) being tied together in an automated factory of the future, where things are based in the cloud using machine learning as well as sensors and controllers.
In Singapore’s healthcare industry, there are three examples of cloud use: SingHealth's Health Buddy app, the Ministry of Health's HealthHub app, and Fullerton Healthcare Group’s migration to the cloud, which resulted in lower costs and a better use of capital. There is also a push in Singapore for public hospitals to be on the same cloud in order to share resources and health records.
What are some of the common pitfalls for companies using cloud solutions?
The way cloud is used is important. It does not mean that the backend will automatically change its operating model when things are put in the cloud. There is a danger of an old IT problem being transferred to the cloud instead of being solved using characteristics of the cloud. Under such a "lift and shift" scenario, nothing will change and the company will not realise the full potential of using cloud solutions.
How does Singapore fare in harnessing cloud technology?
Singapore is doing a good job in using cloud computing technology compared to other countries, and is ranked amongst the top three on the Cloud Readiness Index. The Government has put in place the right elements for cloud computing to be used but it has not reached the same levels as other developed nations such as Japan.
Any examples of successful cloud implementation in Singapore?
From the demand side, SingHealth has embraced cloud in a big way. They are a great case study with their use of medical records. The goal is to consolidate patients’ health records into electronic ones that can be shared across different providers, with patients having access to their own records. This can only be implemented via cloud. Going from paper to electronic records saves space and time, and more benefits can be realised when the records are combined.
What advice would you give to a small business that is considering cloud implementation?
They should start small with one service. A simple thing they can do is to put commonly used data on cloud so that everyone can access it through the cloud instead of servers. They can explore use of SaaS (software as a service) for office automation and placing productivity apps on the cloud. They can also think of using cloud to help them do things differently and at a lower cost. For example, they can move away from everyone having their own copy on a computer to a shared copy on the cloud.
Would you recommend companies to use a public or private cloud service?
Both. Every organisation buys IT solutions from different vendors, so the same goes for cloud computing. Having a choice is important, not only to avoid lock-in, but to have the best solution to meet requirements, which may mean building a private cloud in some cases.
The goal is to get people to move away from being fixated on public versus private cloud, and to view cloud as a set of tools to help businesses. Users should choose from a wide set of providers just like doing grocery shopping at multiple supermarkets.
Tell us about cloud trends in 2017.
More companies would be thinking about multi-cloud, where many private and public clouds are tied together. They will move away from a "lift and shift" mentality and towards thinking about the characteristics of the cloud to maximise the benefits of the technology. We may also start to see industry-specific clouds.