Mike Azevedo, Chief Executive Officer, Clustrix
Today, the APAC region boasts of some of the world’s leading multinational organizations, and you can find some of them in the tech sector dominating our increasingly digital economy. Alibaba and Rakuten are e-commerce giants, InfoSys and Tata Consulting are two of the many recognizable Asia-based IT services organizations and MakeMyTrip is a powerful online travel stalwart, to name a few.
And these organizations are the tip of the iceberg. As other countries in the region develop their economies to rival those of China, India and Australia, we’ll see many more global corporate powers emerging from Asia Pacific very soon.
This is indeed a good time to “grow up” as a company, from a computing standpoint. Although maintaining an IT infrastructure for a growing organization is always challenging, CIOs of these up-and-coming superstars have many options at their disposal to keep their companies nimble within a reasonable cost structure—the Holy Grail of both operational and financial flexibility.
Flexibility wasn’t always a choice
It wasn’t always this way. As information technology was permeating the workplace in the 1990s and early 2000s, Global 1,000 companies had few choices for applications that catered to millions of people and the underlying hardware that kept them humming with no setbacks. Longtime global-economy powerhouses developing their IT infrastructures and emerging players that hit the “big time” had no choice but to enter into onerous long-term contracts for proprietary technologies from Oracle, IBM, Informix or another fellow Global 1,000 company meeting its swelling quarterly revenue projections.
Yes, the products and services were state-of-the-art, and they were up to the task of meeting the consumers expectations in an Internet-driven world. However, many of these vendors acquired reputations for leveling numerous upcharges anytime their clients’ technology stacks required changes to evolve with their business needs. If you didn’t like it, the penalties for breaking these multi-year agreements were harsh. And even if a company was willing to swallow the monetary hit, the few alternatives that could meet the industry’s highest performance requirements didn’t offer any more flexibility.
However, today many forces are conspiring to unleash the grip of proprietary lock-in. Perhaps the last gift of Moore’s Law, advances in networking have put the costs of increasingly powerful bandwidth and processing power within everyone’s reach, while the Cloud now offers a new way to deliver storage, database and app development without the burden of maintaining your own infrastructure.
For example, in the database realm, companies that have outgrown the cost-effective-but-lower-grade MySQL relational database don’t have to turn to Oracle anymore to handle the highest volumes of concurrent transactions seen by the likes of the aforementioned leaders. Other options can now handle millions of simultaneous transactions that demand ACID compliance seen by retailers on Cyber Monday; ad tech companies putting billions of ads in front of consumers every day; marketers running contests, promotions and sweepstakes via social media; and gaming companies releasing popular hits like Pokémon Go.
Instead, companies can now achieve this scalability and pay only for the capacity they use (i.e., adding extra database capability when they need it). And when high traffic volumes are here to stay, alternatives exist that will deliver this high performance without requiring a long-term contract.
And although it’s fair to say the Cloud is a big part in making IT (and by extension, your organization) nimble, senior IT executives need to be careful about how they utilize it. First, there’s a debate as to whether some cloud vendors are really breaking the lock-in cycle. Regardless, if organizations lean on the right partners and vendors, they can have software development and database operations in both the data center and cloud. Some apps are better off in one more than the other, and it shouldn’t be too cumbersome or cost an arm and a leg to maintain both options.
Quick adjustments to rapid change
Achieving this flexibility is more important than ever. With the world becoming “mobilized”—more users now use handheld devices to perform tasks instead of desktops—the needs of business change more rapidly than ever. Where long-established organizations still sometimes struggle to quickly adjust to sudden shifts in their respective landscapes because of their legacy infrastructures—meeting voluminous Cyber Monday demand or handling the unexpected skyrocketing popularity of the latest video game, for example—Asia’s new leaders aren’t necessarily faced with the same burden. They can architect solutions that allow them to pivot quickly in a way long-standing multinationals simply cannot, thanks to the choices the latter were forced to make two decades ago.