The Hybrid Cloud Advantage for SMEs

By Lancelot Guo, President, Ecosystem and Sales Operations, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence and
Michael Tsang, Senior Director, Partner Account Management, Equinix Asia-Pacific

While we are still grappling with many uncertainties in businesses and lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear — organizations large and small have crossed the Cloud Rubicon. Retail brands with a purely physical play are now online to keep up with the digital consumer. Meanwhile, Food and Beverage stalls and hawkers are embracing online channels to maintain their already razor-thin margins.

This is further reinforced by the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s amendment to its Cloud First Policy to promote cloud computing as the preferred technology for government administration and the delivery of government services in the Philippines. In our increasingly digital world, it will only become more critical for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to keep their momentum going into the hybrid cloud to recover and grow.

Why not both?

Beyond the immediate concern to continue business-as-usual with a remote workforce, SMEs are now focused on enhancing their employees’ digital experience. Hybrid cloud is a major building block in these digital infrastructures and IT decision makers (ITDMs) are quickly realizing this. A recent Equinix survey showed that nearly three-quarters (71%) of ITDMs want to move more IT functions to the cloud and two-thirds are hoping to accomplish this within the next 12 months.

On top of providing staff with the necessary digital tools to access company apps and services outside of the office’s network, SMEs have to strategize how to deploy business-critical information to make timely decisions, manage supply chains, and serve the changing needs of customers.

As a single, central touchpoint to manage data how and where they want it, hybrid cloud allows SMEs to house and scale their workloads based on compliance, policy, and security requirements and replicate business-critical data to the cloud. This not only helps them back up key data but also accommodate fluctuating computing demands — whether to meet surging workload in online platforms or maintain a seamless and secure digital employee experience.

In the Philippines, 74% of local businesses see that hybrid cloud solutions are pivotal to their disaster recovery and business continuity efforts, as these solutions capture the public cloud’s highly elastic, extensible, and accessible advantages while underpinning the needs of private cloud users, according to Alibaba Cloud’s findings.

Keeping costs low

Keeping overheads low is always a priority for SMEs in a pre- and post-pandemic world. With hybrid cloud requiring lower capital expenditure upfront but arming SMEs with the option of buying IT resources when they need to, SMEs can remain nimble and responsive while dancing around roadblocks that they cannot just stride over as bigger companies can. An IDC study notes that organizations reported a 69% lower migration cost in the hybrid cloud compared to the public cloud. This is a result of its ability to consume resources on-demand and when needed.

Where scalability and performance may come at the expense of higher capital and operating expenditures in other cloud models, hybrid cloud is the best option to protect and preserve SMEs’ bottom lines while providing the flexibility to migrate data and apps at any given time.

One less uncertainty to cope with in a world of uncertainties

In terms of modernizing and moving legacy, a monolith system is a major roadblock in any SME’s cloud journey. Yet another key advantage of the hybrid cloud approach is that it saves time and resources needed to adapt to new architectures and frameworks. With hybrid cloud models that are capable of seamlessly integrating local software to the public cloud, enterprises can enjoy the advantages of the public cloud without rearchitecting their familiar on-premise work environment and succumbing to disruptions on network and security.

For SMEs embarking and pivoting their journeys — instead of building another layer of complexity to slow down their transition — the jump to the hybrid cloud should be as speedy and as painless as possible. This is particularly critical as going online becomes a make-or-break situation.

As employees adapt to new efficiencies in remote working, hybrid cloud fundamentally protects their time in having to cope with IT changes or even learn a new digital workspace system from scratch. This also gives employees peace of mind in not having to struggle with yet another uncertainty, resulting in a happier and more productive workforce.

The perfect union

At the end of the day, SMEs not only need a hybrid cloud infrastructure but also a proper hybrid cloud strategy to truly recover and grow. SMEs need a cloud solution that can deliver high performance, secure cloud workloads, provide consistent operations and access to vibrant business ecosystems like that of Equinix’s, and support business innovation and growth without the worry of costs and an incompatible existing infrastructure.

SMEs should also understand that businesses are on their own personal cloud journeys and no journey is identical. They need to select the right public cloud service provider that is able to bridge their business operation needs without sacrificing security.

As SMEs bound forward toward an increasingly digital world, they should look to hybrid cloud to protect their business-critical applications and reduce operational expenses while seamlessly ensuring a smooth working experience for employees at home or at the office.

As the Vice President of Alibaba Group, Lancelot Guo leads the sales management and ecosystem services for Alibaba Cloud. He is also responsible for the development of enterprise-level capabilities that integrate Alibaba Cloud’s technologies to enable the digital transformation of governments and enterprises globally.

Michael Tsang is the Senior Director of Partner Account Management at Equinix Asia-Pacific. He joined Equinix in 2019 and is currently responsible for partner programs in the region, working with key partners to deliver value-added solutions to help businesses achieve success in their digital journey.