AWS and Melco: Transformation through the cloud.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the world’s most comprehensive and widely utilised cloud platforms, as Senior Business Development Manager Eva Wong explains: “After building and running a massive ecommerce platform for over a decade, our parent company Amazon realised that it had developed a core competency in operating large scale technology infrastructure. To that was added a much broader mission of serving a new customer set, and that's how AWS was born.”
AWS is at the forefront of cloud computing, which has revolutionised the world, not least in a business context. “Cloud computing means on-demand delivery of IT resources via the internet,” says Wong. “AWS manages and operates a technology infrastructure in a secure environment. Businesses can access these resources through the internet to develop and run their applications. Capacity can grow and shrink very quickly according to your needs, with customers only paying for what they use.” Those capabilities allow for a much increased pace of innovation, with Wong seeing more and more enterprises undergoing cloud adoption for their own purposes.
She sees one of the differentiators that sets AWS apart from competitors is its culture. “The way we work emphasises working backwards and being customer obsessed. We focus relentlessly on innovation and taking into account customer feedback to incorporate into our technology roadmap. It’s a different kind of culture that our customers really appreciate. We focus on building relationships with customers that are for the long-term.”
That spirit is evident in its collaboration with Melco Resorts & Entertainment. “Melco started using the AWS platform to build their applications four years ago. With AWS scalability, agility and global presence, Melco is able to expand their applications globally in weeks, compared to months in traditional on-premise data centres.” Aside from the scale, Melco is also able to deliver bespoke customer experiences to guests via the MelSuite, the Smart-in-Room-Management-System built on AWS by Melco’s DX Team. “With over 175 services currently available on the AWS platform, Melco can be experimental and innovative,” says Wong. “They can test and try out new ideas with minimal upfront costs, and compute resources are readily available to them as they require.”
Powering the collaboration effort has been a close working relationship between AWS and what Wong calls Melco’s “visionary” leadership team. “The fundamental part of any successful partnership is understanding the customer’s vision and how you can best support them to execute that vision. That’s why we always listen to our customer feedback - 90% of our roadmap and features are a direct result of that.”
Wong sees the close working relationship as resilient going into the future, evolving alongside key trends such as know-your-customer initiatives. “The extension of customer experience is interacting with your guests digitally. We are seeing more interest in interactive video services - live streaming solutions that are quick and easy to set up and ideal for creating interactive video experiences for customers. With the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s becoming a key focus as companies look for ways to keep the customer up to date, create a great customer experience and ultimately drive customer loyalty.”
Why Alibaba Cloud is doubling down in Southeast Asia
Alibaba has announced expansion of its cloud business within Southeast Asia, with the introduction of a digital upskilling programme for locals alongside acceleration of its data centre openings.
This doubling down of its cloud business in Southeast Asia comes as the company faces stiff competition at home in China from rivals including Pinduoduo Inc and Tencent and seeks to up its game in a region considered to be the fastest-growing in cloud adoption to compete with leading global cloud providers AWS, Google and Microsoft.
Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and second biggest revenue driver after its core e-commerce business, finally turned profitable for the first time in the December 2020 following 11 years of operation, thanks largely to the pandemic which has spurred businesses and consumers to get online.
Southeast Asia growing demand for cloud
In 2020, there was a noticeable increase in interest towards cloud in SE Asia, with the population embracing digital transformation during the pandemic and SMEs across the region showing increased demand for cloud computing.
Such demand has led to the expectation that Southeast Asia is now the fastest-growing adopter of cloud computing with the cloud market expected to reach US$40.32bn in Southeast Asia by 2025 according to IDC.
And there are plenty of players vying for a slice of the cloud pie. While AWS, the cloud arm of Amazon, is the leading player in Southeast Asia (and across all of APAC apart from China), Microsoft and Google are the next two most dominant players in Southeast Asia with Alibaba coming in fourth.
“There is no doubt that during the past year we have seen the acceleration of digital transformation efforts across all industries,” explains Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia. “Asia now accounts for 60% of the world’s growth and is leading the global recovery with the digitalization of business models and economies. Cloud will continue to be a core foundation empowering the realization of Asia’s ambitions, enabling co-innovation across industries, government and community, to drive inclusive societal progress.”
Alibaba’s commitment to Southeast Asia
At its annual Alibaba Cloud Summit, the Chinese company announced Project AsiaForward, an initiative designed to upskill local developers, small-to-medium-sized companies and connect businesses with venture capital. Alibaba said it would set aside US$1bn over the next three years to develop digital skills in the region, with the aim of helping to develop 100,000 developers and to help grow 100,000 tech startups.
But that’s not all. The company, which recently opened its third data centre in Indonesia, serving customers with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services, also announced it would unveil its first data centre in the Philippines by the end of 2021.
Furthermore, that it would establish its first international innovation centre, located in Malaysia, offering a one-stop shop platform for Malaysian SMEs, startups and developers to innovate in emerging technologies.
“We are seeing a strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from e-commerce and logistics platforms to FinTech and online entertainment. As the leading cloud service provider and trusted partner in APAC, we are committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure,” says Jeff Zhang, President, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
What other cloud providers are pledging in the region
This pledge by Alibaba to upskill both individuals and businesses follows Microsoft’s announcement in April that it was planning to upskill Malaysia’s population and would invest US$1bn over the next five years to build a new data centre centre in Malaysia.
This is the latest in a long line of pledges to the region by the US tech giant, which is fast accelerating the growth of its cloud datacenter footprint in Asia, expanding form seven 11 markets, and recently adding three new markets across Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. Back in February, it announced plans to establish its first datacenter region in Indonesia and to skill an additional 3 million Indonesians to achieve its goal of empowering over 24 million Indonesians by the end of 2021.
And recent research by IDC shows that Microsoft’s most recent datacenter expansions in Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan alone are set to generate more than US$21bn in new revenues and will create 100,000 new jobs in the next four years.
Also last month, Tencent announced it has launched internet data centres in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo to add to its second availability zone opened in Korea last year and plans to add an internet data center in Indonesia, and Google has also been pushing into the enterprise space in Southeast Asia for several years now.
Expanding data centers allows cloud providers to boost their capacity in certain countries or regions.