This post is the first part of a series exploring the cloud in Asia Pacific. It covers the current cloud situation across the region, how is the cloud being used, what is holding back further adoption, and how the cloud can be used for innovation. It will also examine the cloud in the FSI sector.

The cloud is starting to fizz in Asia Pacific. The big cloud global players are pushing their offerings in Asia with regional datacenters while a host of local and regional players are expanding. While the cloud still lacks adoption and maturity compared to the US and Western Europe, it is starting to grow rapidly. According to IDC’s 5th annual survey of end-users regional CIOs are increasing their spending on public cloud services and technologies in 2013 by 50 percent to US$7.5B. They are also being much more specific about which types of cloud models they will use and the workloads that they will run on the cloud.

So are enterprises no longer worried about moving to the cloud? Yes and no. 

The real answer is that enterprises in Asia are less worried about moving to the cloud. However, misconceptions, fear of losing control and security concerns continue make the cloud story murky. 

The biggest concerns are security and integration. 

Security – busting the cloud fear

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 BIG-IP Application Security Manager ensures applications are protected and optimized for on-premise and cloud infrastructure. As for Service Providers, they are motivated to offer the best security as their own business and reputation is at stake, and often employ dedicated professionals and invest in specific tools that enterprises do not have to invest in.
Lastly, clouds also 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 DDoS attack can essentially bring your organization to the knees.

Essentially, many of these fears stem from the fear of losing control. Cloud service providers can actually 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.   

Integration – overcoming this challenge

Moving to the cloud requires integration and management. For a homogeneous environment, this is simple. In reality, many enterprises have heterogeneous environments that have grown organically over the years as they constantly add applications and services for employees and/or customers. So integrating & managing different environments, including legacy ones, and applications, which may be highly customized, from data centers to the cloud can be a challenge. When not deployed properly adoption of cloud can complicates management and create inconsistent user experiences. A thorough study of one’s own infrastructure and using a phased approach to cloud migration can help to reduce integration anxiety. Using clouds as test beds for integration can also reduce impact on actual business or the production environment. 
Obviously, some Asian enterprises are already addressing these concerns and going past popular misconceptions. It is the reason 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 US, will see its share decline from 56.9% in 2013 to 43.9% in 2017. But it will be a while before cloud adoption numbers reach those seen in the US.