AWS Bets On Services Portfolio Amidst Increasing APAC Cloud Competition

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The Asia-Pacific cloud market is heating up with players such as Alibaba and Google ramping up their regional data centre footprint, but Amazon Web Services (AWS) believes its "full" portfolio of services and platform maturity will help keep its competitive edge. Backed by more than 165 services ranging from core infrastructure offerings to advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), AWS executives say customers in the region want options as well as operational experience to guide them through their cloud deployments.

The US cloud vendor has been "investing heavily" in the region where it currently operates offices in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines, said Peter DeSantis, AWS' vice president of global infrastructure and customer support, but was unable to reveal how much this entailed or how much Asia-Pacific contributed to the company's' overall revenue and customer base. 

AWS made its Asia-Pacific debut in 2010 when it opened its office in Singapore, which then was its third global cloud region following the US and Europe. Today, it operates 20 such regions worldwide--encompassing 61 availability zones--of which eight are in this region, including Singapore, Beijing, Mumbai, and a new region scheduled to launch soon in Hong Kong. 

Early this month, it also announced plans for a cloud region in Jakarta, Indonesia, slated to be ready in early-2022 with three Availability Zones. 

According to DeSantis, each of its cloud region comprised at least three availability zones, with each zone running separately from the other and its own dedicated infrastructure including power, cooling, fibre, and physical security. This construct, he said, differed from other players in the market that typically erected a single datacentre facility. 

Due to the complexities of building a local footprint with multiple sites, projected operational timelines were more susceptible to changes, he said, when asked about the delay in its Hong Kong cloud region launch, originally scheduled for 2018. He added that new regions were selected based on customer demand, both from international clients asking for access in new markets as well as local cloud demand. 

AWS isn't the only player ramping up their datacentre footprint to meet growing demand in the region. 

Alibaba Cloud, for instance, in January opened a second data centre in Japan and a second data centre in Indonesia, doubling its local capacity in both markets. The Indonesian launch also came 10 months after the Chinese vendor announced its first site in the Asean market last March and part of a network of eight international data centre regions in the Asia-Pacific, including Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia. Alibaba, which first launched its cloud business in China a decade ago in 2009, began expanding internationally in 2015--setting up its international headquarters in Singapore--and pledged to invest US$1 billion towards growing its data centre footprint and partner ecosystem as well as developing new cloud offerings.

Huawei in February also announced a new cloud region in Singapore, with plans to develop the site into "one of its largest" outside its domestic Chinese market. The facility would offer the vendor's full cloud stack and support local customers as well as China-based businesses looking to expand into Asia-Pacific. Huawei currently operates cloud regions in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America, including Hong Kong, Thailand, Russia, South Africa, and three Chinese cities Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing. Worldwide, it has 40 availability zones across 23 regions. 

AWS' US counterpart Google also added a third cloud zone in Singapore last May and currently operates 58 Google Cloud Platform zones worldwide. The internet giant operates six cloud regions in the region, including Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Sydney, with another in Osaka scheduled to go live soon. 

Asked about its competition, AWS' Southeast Asia managing director Nick Walton said enterprises looked for cloud providers that could offer a "full portfolio of services" as well as operational experience and reliable infrastructures. 

DeSantis concurred, noting that AWS also offered organisations the ability to run workloads between their existing infrastructures and AWS' and move data between these platforms and AWS. He said this flexibility also supported enterprises' move towards deploying across multiple cloud environments

Walton added that customers typically would deploy a primary cloud and run a secondary environment to fulfil regulatory requirements or as redundancy, touting AWS' dedicated availability zones buildout as the reason some chose the vendor as their primary and secondary cloud environments. He also pointed to the "breadth and depth" of its service offerings, operational maturity of its platform, and robust partner and support ecosystem.  

According to IDC, by 2022, Asia-Pacific businesses would gravitate towards four main cloud "megaplatforms" that would run 70 percent of all workloads. Vendor lockin would be mitigated through deploying multicloud and cloud-native models, the research firm said, adding that this also would ensure portability. 

It noted that 65 percent of A500 businesses would have a multicloud management strategy by 2022, tapping integrated tools across public and private clouds. 

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