Cloud adoption in Asia set to rise: Amazon

It gives firms shorter time to market and flexibility in meeting demand changesTHE ability to move quickly to capture market opportunities, particularly in the face of increasing consumer choices and decreasing customer loyalty, is the top reason businesses in Asia are embracing the cloud, said Werner Vogels, vice-president and chief technology officer of Amazon.新蒲崗迷你倉 Dr Vogels spoke to BizIT on the sidelines of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) first summit on cloud computing in Singapore, which saw 1,400 attendees comprising business leaders, IT professionals and developers. AWS has data centres in Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney that provide cloud computing resources for companies in the Asia-Pacific region. “In the past, companies would almost enjoy the fact that the next generation of their product could be sold to the same set of customers. That certainty is gone. Combine that with a lack of capital these days given the economic times that we live in, it’s really important for customers to be able to innovate very quickly, to make sure that they build products that customers really need instead of having to focus on infrastructure,” he said. Cloud computing provides this agility by enabling businesses to scale very rapidly to meet changes in demand without the need for massive investment in huge computing resources. AWS’s cloud offerings have helped Indonesian hotel group Archipelago International to launch new hotels faster by cutting down on the infrastructure procurement time required from weeks to just minutes. They have also enabled local property portal Property Guru to introduce services in new markets in under two weeks. For Singapore Post, the ability to move fast in seizing e-commerce opportunities in South-east Asia has benefited not only the company but also its clients. For instance, with AWS, the mail, logistics and retail solutions provider was able to build an e-commerce store for Adidas in Singapore in less than three months, taking only about a quarter of the time it would have traditionally required. Marcelo Wesseler, Singapore Post’s senior VP for eCommerce, added that with the cloud, it has significantly improved its customer experience, and doubled the number of customers for its vPost online shopping and shipping service within a short span of six months. Reaping cost efficiency is still important, and AWS says that its innovation in this aspect is shared with customers through lower prices. It has reduced its pricing 37 times in the past seven years, and offers three different types of usage models with the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) that businesses can combine for optimal savings. They can choose to pay for computing units or instances by the hour (Amazon EC2 On-Demand Instances), reserve instance capacity for a period of time and enjoy discounts on hourly usage (Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances) or bid for unused capacity (Amazon EC2 Spot Instances) at even lower prices compared to the first two models. Local start-up Semantics3 relies heavily on a combination of Amazon’s Spot and Reserved Instances to keep its IT cost to an average of just US$3,500 per month, according to Semantics3 co-founder Vinoth Gopinathan. The company, started by three National mini storageniversity of Singapore graduates in April 2012, tracks prices from 20 million products sold online in the US. Information such as constantly updated changes in product pricing and demand is then provided via application programming interfaces (APIs) which are sets of programming instructions and standards for accessing Web-based software applications. With the APIs, developers can easily build shopping comparison engines while retailers can gain competitive analysis and better price their own products. Profitable since its first month of operation, the company is able to flexibly scale its computing resources according to demand. It currently serves companies in the US and Europe. And if such cost savings are still not enough, AWS has a new tool called Trusted Advisor which can give customers advice on further optimising their infrastructure and cost. Hungama Digital Media, an India-based aggregator, developer, publisher and distributor of Bollywood and South Asian entertainment content, for example, has further shaved off a third of its bill on movie transcoding within a matter of months using this tool. In embracing the cloud, Mr Wesseler shared that “initially, we were very scared” but the company’s e-commerce platform has not had a single incident since it went live. He added: “As with any new technology, you can only be as good as the people who work on it. AWS has helped. After two months, we were very self sufficient.” Nevertheless, barriers to cloud adoption still exist. Dr Vogels noted that some companies are worried about the loss of control. “Actually in the cloud, we give (customers) much finer grained control and mechanisms,” he said. As for security concerns, he shared customer feedback that their security posture had improved after moving to the cloud. “Customers can really decide who has access to a particular piece of resource, and what operations can be done to it by which individual. For example, you may have a group of developers working for you who are actually allowed to start and stop the development environment but are not allowed to touch the production environment,” he explained. He added that AWS has also been delivering a number of tools around data encryption. AWS is next applying its expertise and resources to the industrial cloud. According to The Wikibon Project, data from large-scale industrial machines is expected to grow at two times the rate of any other big data segment within the next 10 years. Wikibon is a worldwide community of practitioners, technologists and consultants dedicated to improving the adoption of technology and business systems through an open source sharing of free advisory knowledge. It estimates that total industrial Internet technology spending will reach US$514 billion by 2020. AWS will be the cloud provider for American multinational conglomerate GE’s big data and analytics platform. This platform will manage data produced by large-scale, industrial machines and turn it into real-time insight for industries such as aviation, healthcare, energy production and distribution, transportation and manufacturing. Benefits potentially include improved accuracy in healthcare treatments and extreme levels of energy efficiency.self storage

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