The state of cloud in Hong Kong: F5 Networks interview

Nurdianah Md Nur

Charles Chong of f5 networks
Charles Chong, regional solution architect of Asia Pacific & Japan at F5 Networks

Despite the known benefits of the cloud, there is still some resistance to it. Charles Chong, regional solution architect of Asia Pacific & Japan at F5 Networks, shares with Computerworld Singapore the barriers to cloud adoption and provides advice on how enterprises should overcome them.

Q: Much has been discussed about cloud in 2013 and more vendors are including related services in their portfolio. Is it right to say that enterprises, especially in Hong Kong, are no longer worried about moving to the cloud?
Chong: Yes and no. The real answer is that enterprises in Hong Kong are less worried about moving to the cloud. However, misconceptions, fear of losing control and security concerns continue make the cloud story murky.

What is evident is that enterprises understand the initial benefits of clouds: better business agility, improved operational efficiency and increased cost savings. However, they continue to be cautious. One of the biggest concerns is security, which also remains one of the biggest misconceptions.

The truth is that security needs to be rethought for cloud. Protecting an internal infrastructure behind layers of firewalls is no longer sensible. Enterprises need to have a hard look at their current infrastructure before migrating to the cloud. Security also needs to be relooked from an application-centric perspective. For example, Web Application Firewalls can help to protect Web services in ways traditional firewalls can't. In addition, using solutions like F5 BIG-IP Application Security Manager ensures applications are protected and optimised for on-premise and cloud infrastructure. Service providers are motivated to offer the best security too as their own business and reputation is at stake. Thus, they often employ dedicated professionals and invest in specific tools that enterprises do not have to invest in.

Lastly, clouds transform a company's infrastructure to become more application-centric. That means multi-layered attacks should be considered when designing a cloud infrastructure or subscribing to a cloud service. A simple distributed denial-of-service  (DDoS) attack can essentially bring your organisation to the knees.

Essentially, many of these fears stem from the fear of losing control. Cloud service providers can bolster security by offering global knowledge, best practices, and expertise whenever needed. By leaving administration in the hands of the experts, enterprises can refocus their IT teams on core or value-driving activities.   

Many enterprises in Hong Kong and Asia are already addressing these concerns and going past popular misconceptions. This is why IDC predicts Asia Pacific, along with Western Europe and Latin America will increase their share of the IT Cloud services market, while the largest public IT cloud services market, the U.S., will see its share decline from 56.9 percent in 2013 to 43.9 percent in 2017. But it will be a while before cloud adoption numbers in Asia reach those seen in the U.S.

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