SINGAPORE: Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, which is optimistic about cloud computing growth in Malaysia, sees a “huge potential” for its business here.
Before the existence of cloud computing, one would have to run applications or programmes only from physical computers or servers. But now, cloud computing allows one to access them through the Internet wherever and whenever, with any sort of device, which results in the rising demand for cloud computing.
“I would say that we see huge growth potential here and we will continue to invest in Malaysia,” Alibaba Cloud Malaysia’s general manager Kenny Tan told The Edge Financial Daily in a recent interview.
“We won’t say it’ll be a spike-kind of growth, but we can see that the market trend and adoption of cloud technology or digital transformation is quite substantial in Malaysia,” Tan added.
The China-based Alibaba Cloud, incorporated in 2009, first established its presence in Malaysia last year, when it set up its data centre to meet the surging demand for scalable and cost-effective cloud computing services among enterprises in Southeast Asia.
According to Alibaba Cloud, it is ranked third globally in terms of revenue among cloud service providers and its global revenue has grown over 100% annually over the last three fiscal years.
Tan said the company sees three areas of potential growth in Malaysia are education, enterprises, and new innovation.
For education, he said, Alibaba Cloud will be leveraging on its Alibaba Cloud Academy to provide training for not only students but working professionals in order for employees to be equipped with up-to-date cloud expertise and skills.
For enterprises — be it a company, a government- or non-government agency, or industry, and regardless of size — Alibaba Cloud wants to provide know-hows and technological solutions to empower the local enterprises in Malaysia.
In terms of innovation, Alibaba Cloud is looking to bring over its artificial intelligence platform, ET Brain, to Malaysia. The platform is capable of data processing, machine learning and real-time processing, and is being positioned as a solution for different industries.
“This is where we are looking to bring this technology or innovation from our headquaters to Malaysia and to localise it,” said Tan.
In January this year, Alibaba Cloud, in collaboration with Malaysia Digital Economy Corp and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), launched the Malaysia City Brain initiative to develop traffic management solutions via big data analytics.
Malaysia City Brain, the first country to adopt the technology out of China, is a localised replication of Alibaba Cloud’s ET City Brain, which was implemented in Xiaoshan District, Hangzhou, in September 2016.
“We appreciate partnerships and collaboration. We are currently working with a few partners and we have identified some new partnerships,” said Tan, but declined to reveal more or how much Alibaba Cloud has or plan to invest in Malaysia. It was reported that Alibaba Group has invested US$100 million (RM410.55 million) in various initiatives in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Tan observed that companies in Malaysia are still adopting a “see first” attitude although many know digital transformation is key for further growth.
“I don’t think this should be the way. If you want to go for digital transformation, then I think ‘believing is seeing’ is the attitude which must be taken by enterprises today,” said Tan, adding that a key challenge that Alibaba Cloud is facing is the “seeing is believing” attitude of companies, which is the opposite of Alibaba Group’s belief of “believing is seeing”.
This means companies should “believe” that something is possible, and then act on that belief in order for them to “see” the end result or creation, he explained.
Tan also believes “data is the natural resources of a country” now. “Leveraging on that data and getting new insights from the data which brings value to the country or enterprise itself is very important,” Tan said.
In that regard, Alibaba Cloud aspires to be an enabler and is ready to provide the platform and cloud computing power which would enable companies to do more scalable and elastic data analysis with the immense amount of data available in the country.
Like any cloud computing service providers, Alibaba Cloud is committed to security being a top priority. On that note, it set up its first cloud-based Anti-DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) Scrubbing Centre in Malaysia just last month, which provides customers with new levels of protection against DDoS attacks.
Still, Tan stressed that cybersecurity is a “shared responsibility” between both users and cloud service providers, which means while Alibaba Cloud complies to the required security standards and regulations, users too have to be security-conscious.
“For instance, if your phone’s password is 1-2-3-4, then you can’t really blame anyone [if you got hacked],” Tan quipped.