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AWS eyes mission-critical workloads in ASEAN

Cloud giant AWS is eyeing more business from mission-critical workloads and the financial services industry in Southeast Asia as it readies itself for the next phase of growth

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is eyeing more mission-critical workloads and cloud deployments in the financial services industry, in a bid to carve out a bigger slice of ASEAN’s cloud computing market.

Speaking at a media briefing on the sidelines of AWS Re:Invent 2022 in Las Vegas, Conor McNamara, managing director of ASEAN at AWS, noted that as the region emerges from the throes of the pandemic, more organisations are now putting their mission-critical workloads on the cloud.

“Although AWS has been around for 16 years, the fact that we have the most resilient and fault-tolerant cloud is something that customers really value, whether you are Siam Cement Group running SAP in the cloud, or UnionBank of the Philippines putting Finacle core banking in the cloud,” he said.

McNamara also cited companies like Malaysia’s Astro, which have put their billing systems on AWS, and others that have picked the cloud supplier to run their customer relationship management and other mission-critical workloads, “something we continue to see as a core part of our strategy going forward”.

Amid the digital banking wave in ASEAN that has seen neobanks and traditional banks alike embracing cloud services in droves, AWS is also clinching more deals in the financial services industry.

According to IDC, nine in 10 banks in the Asia-Pacific region plan to increase their cloud spending this year, a big leap from many years of hesitating on cloud largely because of initial regulatory hurdles that had to be overcome.

“There isn’t an industry vertical or a customer of any size that isn’t touching the cloud to some degree, but I think it’s fair to say that financial services is certainly where we’ve seen huge momentum over the last few years,” said McNamara. “And one of the drivers of that momentum has been new digital banking licences being granted across Southeast Asia. In places like Indonesia, we’ve seen organisations acquiring traditional banks and turning them into digital banks.”

Read more about cloud in ASEAN

More recently, AWS won a deal to provide cloud infrastructure services for Trust Bank, Singapore’s first cloud-native bank backed by Standard Chartered and FairPrice Group.

Trust Bank is using Amazon EC2 to scale up its service as it signs up more customers, as well as Amazon RDS to store real-time data, including consumer feedback and transaction history.

“One of the reasons customers choose AWS for digital banking is not only that we have the most resilient cloud or the strongest partnerships, but also that we have a team of people to help customers start from an idea to building a production-ready, regulatory compliant, scalable solution in the cloud.

“And that’s really important – it’s not just the technology, but it’s also access to our security architects, professional services teams and industry experts,” he said.

AWS has doubled down on its investments in ASEAN in recent years, since it opened its Singapore cloud region over a decade ago. In December 2021, it launched the Jakarta region, and it’s also planning a Bangkok region. Local Zones are also in the works for two other Southeast Asian capital cities, Manila and Hanoi.

“Today, less than 10% of IT spending is in the cloud, and I believe that in Southeast Asia it’s probably closer to 5%, so the opportunity ahead of us is immense,” said McNamara.

AWS the frontrunner

According to market data from Synergy Research Group, AWS remains the frontrunner in four of the five Asia-Pacific sub-regions, putting it well ahead of its regional rivals.

But despite its successes, many organisations have reported that the AWS portfolio is large and complex to navigate, according to a Gartner report on Amazon.

“AWS services and interfaces generally work well for technologists, including developers and architects, but the broad collection of offerings can be complex for IT infrastructure and operations leaders, as well as non-technical buyers,” the analyst firm said.

Under its current CEO, Adam Selipsky, AWS has started to focus more on business solutions and value, a noted shift from previous AWS narratives.

“Rather than just having an IT-centric conversation, we’re having more line-of-business conversations,” said McNamara. “If you look at the investments we’re making and how we organise our teams, we’re more and more organised by industry verticals.”

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