Last-Mover Advantage Puts Asia-Pacific-Japan Ahead in Cloud

Technology experts in the APJ explain why companies in the region are reaping the benefits of a patient approach to the public cloud.

By Tom Mangan

By Tom Mangan September 17, 2021

Enterprises across the Asia-Pacific-Japan (APJ) region are enjoying a last-mover advantage in their cloud journeys, according to technology experts working in the region. Standing by and observing the ups and downs of companies in other regions of the world, could prove to be the right strategy for APJ companies. It could save them time and money, and set them on a path to a future where enterprise computing resources appear in a matter of seconds.

In a conference call with reporters covering observations about APJ, three Nutanix executives explained why a cautious, take-it-slow approach to the cloud is paying off for APJ enterprises. These companies now have options and a better understanding from watching the outcomes of first movers, especially those who moved swiftly to a public cloud. Many late movers aren’t going straight to a single public cloud and instead are building hybrid multicloud IT operations. 

Companies across the region are trying to find the best way forward by building out systems that meet their particular needs, said Matt Young, Nutanix’s senior vice president and general manager for APJ.

“But the race is definitely not straight to public cloud,” he said. 

Newer technologies that bridge company-operated data centers with public cloud services are evolving quickly, and they’re helping these late movers dive directly into a hybrid multicloud IT approach. Young and his team at Nutanix see more enterprise customers in the region make their IT systems function like hyperscale cloud companies then blend their private systems with a variety of public cloud computing resources to meet various needs. This is quickly becoming the IT strategy of choice for many companies around the world, with 86% of IT decision-makers citing the hybrid multicloud as their ideal model, according to the third annual Enterperise Cloud Index report.


Enterprises in Asia-Pacific-Japan Lean into Hybrid Cloud and Multicloud

“We’re cloud-first now” was a common refrain of early enthusiasts of hyperscale cloud services in the Americas and Europe — until the full costs became more apparent, according to Jeff Smith, head of Nutanix systems engineering in APJ. He described how an Indian enterprise discovered the economic reality of relying solely on public cloud services to power IT needs.

“One of our large banking customers did some work trying to figure out how they can move to public cloud,” Smith said. “The CIO had arranged for 30 databases to be tested in the cloud, got sufficient budget for it, spun up one of his databases, and burned through 30% of his budget with just that one out of 30 databases.”

This anecdote encapsulates the complexities of seeking agility and scale in the public cloud, where customers pay for all the processing, storage and bandwidth they consume. As cloud resource consumption climbs, cloud expenses can pile up quickly. Balancing cost vs. convenience is crucial.

“We see countries that have been slower to adopt public cloud technology specifically here in APJ are really reaping the benefits of taking a wait-and-see approach and learning these lessons ahead of time so they can make smart decisions,” said Justin Hurst, Nutanix’s field CTO for APJ. “They're not jumping in with both feet and saying, ‘the public cloud is a panacea.’ They're saying, ‘This is a fantastic tool to enable certain types of systems and workloads’.’’

The Back Story on Last-Mover Advantage in APJ

The familiar theory of first-mover advantage holds that getting a strong early start gives companies a long-range competitive edge. But there’s something to be said for last-mover advantage, where firms learn from the early arrivals’ troubles or disrupt legacy industries. Airbnb’s shakeup of the hospitality industry is a high-profile example.


Framework for Choosing Private, Public and Hybrid Cloud IT

Questions of cloud security, governance and the physical locations of digital assets confront every country, culture or market in different ways. Geographies ranging from Japan to the Philippines to Australia to India multiply the complexities. But the COVID-19 pandemic gave all these nations the same challenge: using flexible cloud computing capabilities to enable remote work and address public health risks. Like their peers worldwide, many APJ companies learned how to move fast during the health crisis.

Learning from first-movers, APJ companies now have a chance to leapfrog into positions of strength, using hybrid multicloud technologies to get the best mix of tools for their various needs. The last-mover surge is real. IDG Connect reported that cloud usage among APJ companies surged in the first quarter of 2021, moving well ahead of Europe and the Americas.

“Infrastructure, Software and Platform-as-a-service are absolutely exploding,” Steve Hall of the research group ISG told IDG Connect.

Witnessing the Growth of Last-Mover Advantage

Smith is seeing the last-mover advantage unfold in real time as new customers in emerging markets turn to Nutanix’s cloud platform software to build out their hybrid multicloud IT operations. He gave a few examples, including how Toyota of Japan implemented virtual desktop architecture to stream CAD/CAM technologies to approximately 1,000 devices for designers who needed to get their work done from home during the pandemic lockdown.

“The response from the designers was that it was seamless,” said Smith. “They were able to get the same performance and continue their work” compared to the systems they once relied on inside the company offices.


Life Insurance Leader in Japan Shifts to Hybrid and Multicloud Future

Computime of Hong Kong is a manufacturer that relies heavily on SAP HANA database systems. Smith said Nutanix’s HCI software helped Computime more easily scale their data center resources and optimize workloads. 

“Managing that infrastructure at an increased performance level has allowed them to deploy a private cloud, which is very database-driven,” Smith said.

NTUC is a Singapore chain/co-op that includes grocery stores, coffee shops and pharmacies. Smith said they needed hybrid and multicloud capabilities for logistics and services like food delivery. Now that they’ve modernized their IT using HCI, NTUC can move workloads to their public cloud provider or in their private cloud system. 

Many of these companies learned by watching the digital transformation of other companies around the world.

“You can't just jump into the public cloud without first modernizing your data center,” Smith cautioned. Modernizing an IT operation requires implementing automation and using tools like containers, microservices, APIs and data-driven business intelligence. These companies have learned that virtualizing their data center with HCI streamlines the entire process.

What’s Next for APJ Enterprises

APJ companies’ better-late-than-never outlook is paying off in other ways. For instance, the Wall Street Journal reported that competitors are giving hyperscale cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure a strong run for their money.  APJ enterprises stand to benefit from competition driving prices lower.

Nutanix’s APJ experts noted a few more technology trends likely to pick up speed in the quarters to come, including edge computing and remote work. Hurst said cloud technologies are driving intelligence to end users at the network edge. Putting technology to work on location can solve problems and bring new value. He said this can be seen in new retail shopping experiences, healthcare services, manufacturing operations and other areas. 

“We're seeing all of these use cases come around where practical business problems are bringing this intelligent edge technology to bear,” Hurst said. These new technology applications increase the appeal of having a hybrid multicloud IT operation to effectively and efficiently manage computing resources.

Hurst said APJ companies are also looking for sustainable ways to support work-from-home without sacrificing security and privacy. 

“It’s another really interesting development around how this future of work goes from being reactionary — we need to get people working from home and enabled — to how can this become a strategic part of how we attract talent, how we retain talent, and how we think about what productivity means in this hybrid of the office and the at-home, flexible working environment.”

Ultimately, the last-mover advantage is about companies being patient, diligent and deliberate when it comes to modernizing and optimizing their IT operations. The freedom to choose private and a variety of public cloud services is now seen as essential, according to Hurst.

“Customers are saying to us: We don't want to get locked into a single stack,” Hurst explained. “Choosing a cloud provider shouldn’t mean we’re stuck with whatever they choose to do going forward strategically. We want to keep our options open, and we want a platform that allows us to move our data and our applications between these various clouds where and when it makes sense.”

Tom Mangan is a contributing writer. He is a veteran B2B technology writer and editor, specializing in cloud computing and digital transformation. Contact him on his website or LinkedIn.

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