Heads in the cloud: AWS offers range of digital options for SMEs
Amazon Web Services (AWS) demonstrated the latest features and functions of its Cloud services and use-case solutions last week at its special event AWS Cloud Day Thailand 2023, which uncovered a range of new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs.
The event brought together business leaders and technology experts to share their experiences with artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML), data analytics, and modern applications, as well as to learn how AWS is assisting developers in Thailand in building on-demand cloud skills.
On the sidelines of the event, the Nation had a chance to chat with Conor McNamara, AWS managing director for Asean, and learn about his ideas for local entrepreneurs to participate in the cloud ecosystem and AWS’ roles to support customers in exploring new ways to advance in their cloud journey.
ASEAN CLOUD ON THE RISE
Digital transformation and technology adoption are increasing in Asian countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, where the transition, particularly cloud adoption, is still in its infancy and has a long way to go.
However, despite the early stage of cloud adoption, McNamara has observed outstanding and successful businesses in countries such as Thailand.
“We are seeing a lot of conglomerates that are traditionally asset-heavy adopting cloud to develop new business models to supplement the way they traditionally run their business," he said.
With many businesses now looking to provide new revenue streams and value to their customers by developing digital-only products and solutions, it’s no surprise that various industries are increasingly adopting cloud and cloud computing.
He named the top five industries that are rapidly adopting cloud as financial services, software and internet, professional services, computing and electronics, and manufacturing.
Meanwhile, 29% of AWS users use AWS to support multiple workloads.
CLOUD TRENDS: COST OPTIMISATION AND SECURITY
Many cloud-related trends have emerged as more businesses embrace the cloud to improve their products and services, McNamara said, adding that people have been keeping an eye on these trends for quite some time.
Many of these cloud trends have been consistent, with some trends becoming more pronounced than others in certain macroeconomic climates.
In this climate, he said, cost optimisation is obviously critical for customers.
“At AWS, we are constantly working to ensure that customers only pay for what they require and use. We have a strong focus on cost optimisation,” he said, adding that cost optimisation is ingrained in AWS DNA for its own business, and it is thus passing those savings on to its customers while also transforming the ways it provides services to be materially more cost-effective.
“We are very focused on earning customers' trust every day, and a big part of that is ensuring that AWS usage is as cost optimised as possible,” he said.
Security is always a top priority because robust security systems and infrastructure increase credibility.
“Whether in healthcare, finance, or government, organisations are increasingly choosing AWS not only for our differentiated security services, but also for the trust that regulators have in AWS, which then translates into ease of use of AWS versus other cloud providers," he said.
THINK GLOBAL, GO LOCAL
To scale up cloud adoption in each country, McNamara believes that harnessing localisation to improve the customer experience is necessary.
"I think one of the advantages of AWS is that we have been able to scale our business so effectively. We provide consistent architecture services globally, but also localise offerings where it makes sense," he said.
This means that while AWS consistently builds infrastructures and develops software and solutions, the company provides excellent innovations and operations that are in sync with the local landscape.
“We know Thailand is not the same as North America, and that we must localise and bring many of these services into the country. So, where it makes sense, we're localising our offerings, investing in local zones to provide single-digit millisecond latency applications to customers across the country," he explained.
Whether it's building a security architecture that's aligned with customers' risk postures and organisations, AWS has security specialists and is happy with experimenting with a new product that clients want to build.
"So, we are very focused on ensuring that we provide local support and local language as close to the customers as possible while also being culturally accommodating to those customers," he said.
VARIOUS CLOUD JOURNEY
With all public and private sectors participating in the cloud journey at different levels, AWS believes that the cloud industry is not a winner-take-all market.
As a result, the company is also very focused on developing a business ecosystem with others. This is to assist its customers at all stages and mindsets in terms of their appetite for cloud service.
“There are those who are really early adopters and those who are a little less aggressive and maybe a little more risk averse,” he pointed out.
Besides, McNamara said that in order to complete the cloud journey, local workforce training is required, as there are still many skill gaps in Thailand and the region.
In this regard, AWS provides training not just for AWS potential cloud customer bases, but also to all potential customer bases, including individuals who have yet to enter the workforce and people who want to access cloud the curriculum remotely in their free time.
GENERATIVE AI INTEGRATION
Machine learning and artificial intelligence have been at the core of Amazon services since 1995 and when it comes to generative AI, AWS is excited about what it is seeing in that space and the capability it offers.
"And, once again, in terms of how we approach the space, we're sticking to our core principles at Amazon, the fundamentals that we believe all customers want and will always want: choice, convenience, and lower prices. So, in terms of options, there has been a lot of discussion about Open AI, ChatGPT, and so on," he said, adding that by providing additional Large Language Model (LLM) options, customers will be able to choose the right LLM to support their specific use case and needs.
Meanwhile, AWS offers a managed service offering that handles the heavy lifting of route management as well as the infrastructure that supports Gen AI capability in accordance with data sovereignty laws.
Apart from providing a comprehensive cloud ecosystem, McNamara pointed out that AWS has become much more focused on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) segment in the last 3 years.
He explained that when he first joined AWS around nine years ago, there was no specific SME strategy in place. However, AWS is well aware that the path that SMEs will take to use AWS differs greatly from the path that a startup will choose.
"Since most startups have in-house developers who create technology, they will use native AWS services. SMEs, for the most part, will not. So, SMEs will turn to technology solutions to meet their specific needs," he said.
As a result, the focus for SMEs is on the solutions that are available, how to build a portfolio of solutions on AWS, and how to effectively market those solutions to SMEs so they can procure AWS at scale, he added.
“Asean and Thailand are exciting regions for AWS to contribute cloud innovation and technology to support each country’s momentum towards transforming into a smart economy, one that has to be smart in terms of gross domestic product,” he concluded.