What did we actually learn at Cloud Asia Expo last week?

Cloud Expo Asia has cemented itself now as the premier cloud computing event in the Asia Pacific region. Coming from humble beginnings in 2013 with a relatively small number of sponsors and delegates limping in, the 2015 event last week in Singapore was one of the most impressive IT events of the calendar year.

Datapipe had a fairly large presence at this year’s event, but shameless plugs aside (and below) here are the three most important things that happened at Cloud Expo Asia:

1. The Multi-Cloud Awakening.

IT vendors have largely adopted the Highlander approach to cloud computing since it became cool/profitable to cloud. “There can be only one!” However, the market has not responded well to this approach and most customers use a variety of cloud services and providers across IaaS, PaaS and SaaS to do what they need to do.

Rather than providing customers with what they want, vendors have spent significant resources trying to convince customers of the benefits of cloud consolidation and putting everything into the one cloud. The problem with this strategy is that not all workloads are the same and thus have differing compute,storage, virtualization, and security requirements.

To try and appear market leading, some vendors have developed half-baked hybrid cloud solutions that in reality are not very useful. Not only that, as market leading providers like AWS and Azure spend millions of dollars each year innovating and building additional capability and services on their platforms, traditional vendors do not. Eventually we see legacy cloud products phased out as vendors cannot justify the build cost.This year marks a distinct turnaround.

Vendors are becoming savvier to their customers’ needs and are finally realizing that it’s smarter to listen to the market than push legacy cloud products that promise the world but deliver a rock.This was very apparent at Cloud Expo Asia. Each vendor made attempts at selling the partner story, and casually name-dropped marketing leading public cloud vendors like AWS and Microsoft as if they were best friends since high school.It’s uncertain what this public cloud standardization will mean for the market. Will it create a public cloud monopoly? Will it turn the private cloud market into a price war? Unlikely, but it will mean the market will become more efficient and operating as a comparative advantage surely is a positive outcome.

Shameless Plug: Datapipe has been managing AWS since 2010…just saying.

2. Complaining about public cloud security is soooooooooo 2008.

Rob Alexander, CIO at Capital One told the audience at AWS re:Invent last month that they “can operate more securely on AWS than in our own data centers.” For a multi-billion-dollar financial institution to say that is remarkable!

The investments public cloud providers have been making into their platforms have resulted in an exponential increase in public cloud security. Providers were aware of the significant barrier to entry security posed to enterprises, and they have addressed it head on.

AWS made significant inroads in cloud security over the past few years. This year, they announced two groundbreaking services:

Amazon Inspector is an automated security assessment service that finds security or compliance issues on applications deployed in AWS. It looks at an application and monitors how it operates in terms of network, processes and data. It  is able to cross reference this information with the ****load of other information AWS has (network traffic and configuration, user details etc) and produces reports listing potential security issues.

Inspector spits out this information into a report, with issues grouped by severity so you know what to look at first. Inspector also give you suggestions on how to fix the issues within the report. How insane is that? AWS knows when you may have flaws in your security and tells you how to fix them.

AWS Config Rules is designed to make compliance a breeze. Users  set up rules for specific AWS resources and then set actions that run when the rules are broken. The triggers can range from producing a report to shutting down a whole compute environment. Developers can fire up and shut down storage, processing, and networking resources as needed on AWS.  Config Rules is helpful for organizations that need to meet strict compliance guidelines such as Financial Institutions in Singapore who must adhere to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Technology Risk Guidelines (TRM).

Microsoft has also been sprucing up security on its Azure platform. Azure Roles-Based Access Control(RBAC) is out of beta and is now available. As its name suggests, Azure Roles-Based Access Control allows administrators to selectively grant their users access to cloud services and production workloads without having to handover full control.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for a reason not to move into a public cloud environment, security is not it.

Shameless plug: Datapipe was one the first companies globally to launch access control modules for AWS. Find out more here.

3. “No one gets fired for hiring IBM.”

Someone recently told me this old adage. Oh how times are changing.

Traditional vendors have had control of the market for so long because it’s been led by technology and not by demand. They have the size and resources to dominate and dictate what the market needs, how they need it, and their leadership is intimidating.

“It’s no use buying the best ingredients if you don’t know how to cook.” I also heard this much more favorable saying at Cloud Expo Asia.

Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are creating some great products (ingredients) and the niche partner organizations are popping up offering value-add services to help organizations ensure their cloud deployment is successful. That means access to a lot more cooks now who specialize in different recipes.They have the knowledge and expertise to really make a difference, and because they are small, they care a lot more about your business.

This provides an extra layer of credibility and trust. There are firms focused purely on moving Oracle databases onto AWS platforms or ensuring you have the right analytics and reports for your Azure environment. There are even businesses training your IT team to better understand and use cloud services. Wherever you look, there is someone offering a service you need and because they specialize in that service, you know they are experts.

Organizations are finally in a good position to hand over the challenges of cloud and hybrid environment design, integration and management to someone else – a better cook.

Props to the CloserStill Media team for really caring about and delivering a strong event.

Thoughts? Queries? Concerns? Get in touch with me if you like. You can often find me lurking around cloud and cat events – but never at the same time.

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