Emerging ASEAN markets hit wall with cloud adoption

There’s more work to do in developing markets in ASEAN to achieve higher levels of cloud adoption, say industry leaders in the region.

In Cambodia, for example, most organisations, except for those in education and financial services, are still running business applications on premise, said Ou Pannarith, director of ICT security at the country’s Ministry of Posts and Telecom.

Pannarith attributed Cambodia’s low cloud adoption rates to the lack of skills in the country whose universities have not equipped computer engineering graduates with enough knowhow in managing and migrating cloud workloads.

Another barrier is the lack of major cloud service providers that have established operations in Cambodia. Pannarith said this has created challenges for organisations that need technical support from cloud operators who may not be able to respond as quickly.

Cloud certification is also a bugbear as organisations have had to find ways to get their cloud engineers trained and certified to handle workloads hosted on specific cloud services. Even if the training was available, Pannarith said the costs are often too high so cloud engineers have had to rely on their employers to fund their training.

Interestingly, Pannarith said such employers are likely to be systems integrators (SIs) rather than the banks and start-ups that are using cloud services. “That’s because the SIs want to introduce the cloud solutions to their customers and so they need to be certified.”

Adding to the challenges are potential data sovereignty issues that may emerge. Although there are no data residency rules enacted by the Cambodian government thus far, Pannarith said it is a hot topic being discussed right now in the country.

In Thailand, which is more mature in adopting cloud services, more businesses, as well as the public sector, are using cloud-based infrastructure and applications, though hybrid cloud setups are increasingly common.

Nantawan Wongkachomkitti, deputy manager of the Thai government’s student loan funds office, said: “More people are using cloud hosting, but still maintain the database in house.”

There is a danger, however, that Thai organisations are jumping on the cloud bandwagon without fully understanding which it means for their business.

“A lot of organisations just want to jump to the cloud because it’s a buzzword. They just want to see how to use it, and they don’t even know if they need it,” Wongkachomkitti said.

In Malaysia, considered to be the most mature among emerging markets in adopting cloud, the skills gap still exists. Tan Tze Meng, head of data cloud department at Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), said the situation gets worse in multi-cloud deployments.

“MDEC uses three different public cloud platforms – AWS, Microsoft Azure and Alibaba Cloud,” Tan said. “Finding people who are skilled in all three platforms is extremely difficult.”

“Even if we try to outsource it to the service providers, they don’t have the expertise to handle three different cloud platforms. So, we are becoming the training ground where they work for us to learn how to manage three clouds.”

Major cloud firms have been doing their part to plug the skills gap through collaborations with universities and governments, but their efforts are often limited to mature markets like Singapore and Australia where cloud players have established a local presence.

Unless cloud suppliers are willing to invest in emerging markets and address the skills gap, budding cloud engineers and developers in those markets would have to rely on the school of hard knocks to build up their experience.

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