While we are still grappling with many uncertainties in businesses and lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear – organisations large and small have crossed the Cloud Rubicon.
Retail brands with a purely physical play are now online to keep up with the shift towards e-commerce, and even F&B stalls and hawkers are embracing online channels to keep their razor-thin margins from shrinking further.
In Singapore alone, Alibaba Cloud registered a 50 percent surge in demand for Cloud-based technologies at the height of the pandemic, a strong demonstration of the fast growing shift towards Cloud that was propelled by COVID-19.
In our dynamic business landscape, only the Hybrid Cloud can provide the scalability and security at a cost-effective ratio without leaving businesses to build their digital competencies from ground zero. Now that the die is cast, it is even more important for SMEs to keep their momentum going into the hybrid cloud or risk being left behind by competitors when they already do not have the luxury of size, funding or time to recover and grow at their own pace.
(L-R) Lancelot Guo and Michael Tsang
The pros of the hybrid cloud
Beyond the immediate concern of facilitating business-as-usual with a remote workforce, enhancing the employee digital experience is also front of mind. Hybrid cloud is a major building block in making all this possible and IT decision makers (ITDMs) are quickly realising this, with nearly three quarters (71%) of ITDMs in a recent Equinix survey saying they want to move more IT functions to the cloud and two-thirds hoping to accomplish this within the next 12 months.
On top of providing staff with the necessary digital tools to access company apps and services outside of the office’s network, SMEs have to strategise how to deploy business-critical information to make timely decisions, manage supply chains and serve the changing needs of customers. Underlying this, 57 percent of ITDMs have highlighted security as their top concern when choosing a cloud vendor, according to Alibaba Cloud’s findings.
As a single, central touchpoint to manage data how and where they want it, hybrid cloud allows SMEs to house and scale their workloads based on compliance, policy, and security requirement and replicate business-critical data. This not only helps them backup key data but also accommodate fluctuating computing demands – whether to meet surging workload in online platforms or maintain a seamless and secure digital employee experience.
Keeping Costs Low
Keeping overheads low is always a priority for SMEs, even before COVID-19 pandemic. Moving to the cloud enables SMEs to have a lower capital expenditure upfront, yet provides the option of buying IT resources when they need to. A hybrid cloud keeps SMEs nimble and responsive while dancing around roadblocks that they cannot just stride over like larger companies can.
An IDC study notes that organisations reported a 69 percent lower migration cost in hybrid cloud compared to the public cloud from its ability to consume resources on-demand and when needed.
Where scalability and performance may come at the expense of higher capital and operating expenditures in other cloud models, a hybrid cloud is the best option to protect and preserve SMEs’ bottom lines, while providing the flexibility to migrate data and apps at any given time.
One less uncertainty to cope with
Modernising and moving legacy, monolith systems is a major roadblock in any SME’s cloud journey. Yet another key advantage of the hybrid cloud approach is that it saves time and resources needed to adapt to new architectures and frameworks. With hybrid cloud models that are capable of seamlessly integrating local software to public cloud, enterprises can enjoy the advantages of public cloud without rearchitecting their familiar on-premise work environment and succumbing to disruptions on network and security.
For SMEs embarking and pivoting their journeys – instead of building another layer of complexity to slow down their transition – the jump to hybrid cloud should be as speedy and as painless as possible. This is particularly critical as going online becomes a ‘make or break’ situation.
As employees adapt to new efficiencies in remote working, hybrid cloud fundamentally protects their time in having to cope with IT changes or even learn a new digital workspace system from scratch. This also gives employees a peace of mind in not having to struggle with yet another uncertainty, resulting in a happier and more productive workforce.
At the end of the day, SMEs need both a robust hybrid cloud infrastructure and strategy to truly recover and grow.
SMEs should also understand that businesses are on their own personal cloud journeys and no journey is identical. While fundamentals of having a Hybrid Cloud infrastructure that can deliver high performance, secure cloud workloads and access to vibrant ecosystems is important, a trusted partner for them would be one that is able to bridge their business operation needs and wants.
As SMEs bound forward towards an increasingly digital world, they should look to hybrid cloud to protect their business-critical applications, reduce operational expenses while seamlessly ensuring a smooth working experience for employees at home or at the office.
Lancelot Guo is President, Ecosystem and Sales Operations, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence and Michael Tsang is Senior Director, Partner Account Management, Equinix Asia-Pacific