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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Contributed Content, Singapore
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Jason Solis

Neutral infrastructure: unlocking business potential in Singapore through open technologies

BY JASON SOLIS

Ever wondered why some people turn down the thought of living abroad, even if it meant a chance at bigger opportunities, wider networks and, potentially, a brighter future? After all, leaving behind a life that they’ve built may simply be too big a sacrifice for many to make. That feeling of apprehension and fear is what it’s like for 85% of organisations that have yet to unlock the real business value of cloud.

Having built technology stacks on private, hybrid and public clouds for different applications and security requirements, many companies in Singapore are now attempting to distribute their cloud capabilities beyond the confines of their existing ecosystems – but the stakes have become too high to migrate.

A key driver of the distributed cloud is the internet of things (IoT). According to Statista, the global IoT market is expected to be worth over $2.3t in 2019, which is almost 5 times Singapore’s gross domestic product last year. 5G mobile networks – which are 20 times faster than their 4G counterparts – will accelerate IoT connectivity to billions of physical devices like sensors gathering data on all activities within their environment.

An organisation’s cloud infrastructure must have the agility and reach to effectively tap into these new networks.

For this reason, ‘multi-cloud’ has become more than just a buzzword. Businesses are increasingly adopting different cloud providers for specific needs - such as Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for their AI and big data capabilities, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) for access to a mature and comprehensive infrastructure and ecosystem. Additionally, there are geographic considerations where a localised cloud service provider must be used. This is why a clear multi-cloud strategy is increasingly vital, especially for any organisation that operates across multiple regions.

Multi-cloud requires neutral technologies comprising an open, interoperable platform that companies can be used with little to no compatibility issues across different cloud footprints.

Open source technologies
Open source technologies have tremendously democratised the software industry, granting developers free rein to modify and redistribute their source code based on the organisation’s needs. In Singapore, as elsewhere, the adoption of open technologies is becoming the norm for organisations.

Use of open source technologies in software development mean that applications made by different vendors can work seamlessly together. Organisations can use these tools across multiple cloud environments. Open technologies are promoted by communities through foundations like the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), Continuous Delivery Foundation, and the Service Mesh Interoperability Foundation. Closer to home, not-for-profit communities like Engineers.SG have been acting as a catalyst for the adoption of such technology in Singapore.

Using open technologies requires knowledge of architecture to fashion each disparate technology into a coherent platform. There is also an expectation to contribute back to the community. For example, in the spirit of knowledge sharing, companies like Google track the usage of their open source products and share this data with the community to help them drive better business decisions.

Containers
Containers are exactly what they sound like. They carry everything required for software to operate. They have the potential to deliver capabilities for the organisation wherever needed. Containers give businesses the ability to migrate applications from cloud to cloud, eliminating the risk of being locked into any one cloud ecosystem. To this end, organisations are increasingly relying on open source technology like Google’s Kubernetes – which is now maintained by the CNCF – for containerised applications. Containers are key to a neutral platform that works across distributed cloud.

Moving towards adopting containers does not always mean that organisations have an immediate need to tap on multiple cloud ecosystems. Companies should adopt technologies through gradual shifts with the ultimate goal of becoming cloud neutral over a period of time. For example, timing this to effectively take advantage of Singapore’s 5G networks as they roll out. This agile approach is also crucial for collaboration with technology vendors, who may all be operating on different proprietary software frameworks.

Navigating neutrality
Now that the necessary tools and framework have been established, there are still several considerations to ensuring neutrality is smooth sailing. For instance, the myriad of choices available can make ICT vendor selection very challenging to match the organisation’s development needs. Additionally, with open technologies, the decision on how to contribute back to the community should be considered early in the adoption process, adding on to the pressures of getting the vendor selection right.

For organisations to improve their success with flexible cloud strategies, they must consider a trial and learn approach, backed by clearly defined goals and open technologies for neutrality.

Just like our first example of people living abroad, it is in experiencing things first-hand that people ease into new surroundings. Start small and develop routines and activities that aid with this transition.

Who knows? It might just be the best decision you ever made. 

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Jason Solis

Jason Solis

Jason is the CEO of Biqmind. He has over 20 years of experience as a business developer and entrepreneur across technology, financial services and marketing solutions. 

Beginning his career in sales and marketing for Xerox and Verizon, Jason ventured into the start-up world when he founded and served as CEO for an international UK-based telecommunications provider, serving global brands such as American Express and Microsoft. The company achieved profitability within 3 years and was subsequently sold to an organisation which later listed on the London Stock Exchange. His other career highlights include starting an Asia-based business incubation project from scratch, which at the end of 4 years was delivering significant annual recurring revenue and high margin profitability with customers across Asia.

Jason holds a Master of Business Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

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