Aiming For The Sky: Multi-Cloud On The Rise

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While many are familiar with the cloud, not many realise that information communication technology has already evolved beyond conventional cloud solutions towards hybrid and multi-cloud platforms.

The definition of “hybrid” and “multi-cloud” has yet to be standardised within the industry, though Chief Technology Officer of Dimension Data Asia Pacific Andy Cocks shares that the former can be thought of as the synthesis between on-premise, private cloud and third-party, public cloud.

Meanwhile, he notes, multi-cloud can be thought of as hybrid platforms incorporating a range of public cloud offerings, often utilising a supporting range of services, software and applications in a single heterogenous architecture.

Does More Mean Better?

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Andy Cocks

“Becoming a technology company is about data and data management, and when you’ve got assets across disparate platforms, you’ll want to extract as much as you can from as many points possible. However, the question then becomes how you network and secure your data,” says Cocks, noting that volume of data gathered today translates directly into client and market insights, helping differentiate products and services.

Security in particular is an ever-present concern due to the nature of cloud storage, with the Ismaning, Germany-based NTT Security’s 2018 Global Threat Intelligence Report finding a 350% increase in ransomware detections in 2017 from the previous year, with the finance (26%), education (18%), technology (16%) and retail (15%) sectors hit hardest.

Data sovereignty issues further cloud the issue – no pun intended – with some nations regulating control of personal data relating to their data subjects. In Malaysia, the relevant legislation include provisions under the MSC Policy, the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP) 2006, as well as the Personal Data Protection Act 2010.

“Quite often, you have agile developers creating applications and chucking them over to network infrastructures, and the role of chief security officers is to put their foot down and say, ‘No. You can’t do that,’ with accompanying delays in re-engineering and delivery,” says General Manager of Security Solutions at Dimension Data Asia Pacific, Neville Burdan.

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Neville Burdan

“I’m happy to say that multi-cloud platforms tend to be secure by design, with security considerations baked into the process from development all the way through to operations. So it’s apparent that even if you’ve got agile infrastructures, you sometimes have to change your organisational approach to utilise them effectively.”

Moving Towards The Future

While multi-cloud solutions initially evolved as a safety measure against downtime or data loss due to micro-failures in the cloud, they have since evolved as organisations navigate data sovereignty issues or leverage on the strengths of providers in a given geographic area.

Despite its benefits, uptake of the approach has ample room to improve in Malaysia, particularly given the country’s reluctance to jump onboard the digital train, with Dell’s 2018 DT Index finding only 21% of Malaysian businesses having clear digital plans, and an even lower occurrence of digital leaders (3%) among them.

Factors behind this reluctance are multifaceted, according to Dimension Data Malaysia Head of BU & Alliances Sandy Woo, and range from lack of awareness and shortcomings in the talent base needed to foster multi-cloud ecosystems to restrictions on data governance.

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Sandy Woo

“To catalyse multi-cloud uptake in the region, it would be good to have closer collaboration between nations with regard to data sovereignty. For example, Australia and New Zealand have the Closer Economic Relations pact, with data sovereignty agreements between the two. It would be lovely to see something like that between Malaysia and Singapore,” concludes Burdan.

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