Published on November 9, 2023, 2:50 am

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a real-world test for the advantages of being “cloud-first.” Many companies that had already adopted cloud-based solutions were able to navigate the challenges of the crisis with greater flexibility, agility, and connectivity through cloud-native Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. However, there are still companies contemplating whether to adopt the cloud, and this decision is not an easy one. It becomes even more challenging when factors like technical debt, lack of talent, and limited senior management support come into play.

A roundtable discussion organized by Cxociety with DataStax shed light on various considerations in adopting a cloud-first strategy, particularly in relation to real-time data resilience and growth. One common argument in favor of migrating to the cloud is cost savings. The industry mantra suggests that moving to the cloud allows organizations to shift capital expenditure (CapEx) to operational expenditure (OpEx), paying only for what they use. However, roundtable participants expressed skepticism about these cost assumptions. Benedict Sulaiman, VP for IT at Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare, highlighted that OpEx can negatively impact profit margins and financial performance in comparison to depreciating CapEx over several years.

Other participants echoed Sulaiman’s concerns about calculating costs accurately. Budhi Wibawa, CEO at ICS, warned against assuming that switching from CapEx to OpEx always leads to financial advantages. He emphasized that justifying such decisions can be challenging from a financial performance perspective.

The availability of talent poses another major challenge for companies considering cloud adoption. Yendra Tirta Perdana Go, Head of Data Analytics at Sinar Mas MultiArtha, noted that finding people who can interpret cloud infrastructure needs based on organizational goals is difficult. Djinawi Kristiadji, Head of Digital Business Department at Maybank Finance, added that having the right mindset is also crucial to managing the transition effectively.

However, some participants questioned the need to seek new talent when existing talent may already be proficient with on-premises infrastructure. Sulaiman from Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare suggested that organizations should consider utilizing their current talent rather than searching for cloud-specific expertise.

Niraj Naidu, APJ Head of Field Engineering at DataStax, acknowledged the scarcity of talent across the Asia Pacific region and encouraged companies to upskill their current workforce in new technologies. He also emphasized the importance of solution providers in helping cloud teams clarify their use cases for migration.

Legacy infrastructure and applications have proven to be major obstacles for companies considering cloud adoption. These mission-critical systems are often challenging to migrate due to a lack of expertise in re-platforming or refactoring COBOL applications. As a result, many organizations, like PT Bank Danamon Indonesia, are adopting hybrid cloud approaches as an intermediate step before full migration.

Pambudi Baskara Sudirman, Office Automation and Mobility Head at PT Bank Danamon Indonesia, highlighted their adoption of a hybrid approach due to older infrastructure that requires adaptation while meeting market demands. Gerald Penaflor, Area Vice President for Southeast Asia at DataStax, emphasized that a hybrid approach enables flexibility in choosing infrastructure and providers based on economic efficiency, reliability, security benefits, and compliance with data sovereignty regulations.

The roundtable also highlighted challenges related to technology and data management. Dealing with different data sources and high data volumes is a significant challenge for organizations looking to integrate their data effectively. Data integrity and observability were considered critical aspects by participants like Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare’s Sulaiman and ICS’s Wibawa. They stressed the importance of understanding and managing data health throughout its lifecycle and ensuring real-time data insights through various AI models using different datasets simultaneously.

Naidu emphasized the need for “a single pane of glass” when it comes to comprehensive data integration and visualization. This approach involves examining data generation, maintenance, and movement across different data planes. Additionally, having a single source of truth was highlighted as vital to align different perspectives within an organization.

The roundtable attendees also discussed the importance of addressing data security concerns upfront when developing data and cloud strategies. Rizka Puspitasari, IT Risk Specialist at PT Bank Negara, emphasized that emphasizing security from the start is good risk management practice rather than waiting for a security incident to occur.

Naidu stressed that despite these challenges, it is crucial to keep sight of the big picture and understand that adopting real-time data insights cannot happen overnight. A phased approach with strong alignment between business and technology is recommended. Measuring progress against organizational goals allows companies to pivot or fine-tune their strategies as needed.

In conclusion, becoming cloud-first presents several considerations for organizations. While cost savings are often cited as a significant benefit, participants expressed reservations about financial performance implications. The scarcity of cloud talent adds complexity to the decision-making process, making it important for companies to upskill their existing workforce. Legacy infrastructure and applications also present challenges that may require a hybrid cloud solution before

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