Cloudera recently appointed a Cloud Director for Asia Pacific (APAC), Stevie Walsh, to help drive our hybrid and multi-cloud offerings in the region, supporting our customers in accelerating their digital transformation journey. We’ve asked her to share her cloud vision for Cloudera in APAC and the exciting plans that she has in her new position.
What drew you to work in the cloud space?
I studied Commerce majoring in Economics at university and when I first started in the software industry, cloud was a much less ubiquitous term than it is today but the economics of using cloud, reducing inefficient spend, removing the barrier for innovation and agility, and the flexibility it gives organisations made so much sense to me.
It’s been twelve years – my whole career really – and I’ve enjoyed every minute of engaging with customers on their cloud journey.
That’s so interesting! So, what do you like most about the cloud? What motivates you to continue in this industry?
The cloud space is exciting and fast evolving. It seems like there’s always something new to look out for every day, be it new use cases, technology or ways that organizations can benefit. In fact, the definition of ‘cloud’ has changed so much over the years. And yet, we are only barely scratching the surface of what we can do with newer spaces like Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and Machine Learning (ML)/Artificial Intelligence (AI) which are enabled by cloud. Just think of all the potential that it could offer for business and society as a whole. It keeps me going.
I’m passionate about finding effective ways to adopt new technology and removing obstacles. Retirement of legacy tech and migration to new services can be challenging for any business, but greater for enterprises. The larger an organization is, the more on-premise applications and complex environments. This makes it tougher to understand the app dependencies and accurately assess for feasibility, costs, implementation and ultimately generate ROI. And yet I know that cloud adoption, particularly a hybrid multi-cloud model, is the way forward in navigating headwinds like global supply chain disruptions, Covid lockdowns and giving businesses a competitive edge to propel them to unimagined levels.
So when I got wind of this opportunity with Cloudera, I was really excited and thought it’d make a wonderful change! Data is now one of the biggest assets an organisation holds and reducing silos allows faster and more effective decision making. Cloudera has been at the forefront of enterprise data for years. The solution across any cloud or data centre from edge to AI solves this challenge and is truly unique in the market.
That’s great to hear, and welcome onboard! Let’s talk about those changes. Where do you want to start?
Oh wow, that’s a good question. There have been so many changes, where do I even start? Since I’ve joined, Cloudera has rolled out a slew of announcements that highlight our commitment to cloud – we announced our new storage certification for Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) Private Cloud, our ISO 27001 certification for CDP Public cloud, our two newly acquired SaaS companies, Datacoral and Cazena, and last but not least, our partnership with Alibaba Cloud in Greater China. Each of these announcements mark a significant milestone for Cloudera as we continue to execute our strategic plan to build a leader in the hybrid cloud space. (Learn more about our announcements by visiting the Cloudera Newsroom)
In APAC, we’ve made a number of important cloud hires, including Daniel Hand – Field CTO, APAC; Go Harada – Cloud Lead, Japan; Manoj Prabhakar Ramachandran – Cloud Alliance Lead, APAC and myself. We’re gearing up our cloud activities, with a laser focus on helping our customers in the region successfully accelerate their digital transformation efforts. We are placing greater emphasis on growing cloud adoption in the APAC region and have a dedicated team to drive this. The team will be looking at our go-to-market strategy, how to better support our sales, tech and customer success teams, and also initiatives to enable our customers to succeed in their cloud journey. Cloudera is accelerating its plans for the cloud, and with the acquisition of the two SaaS companies, we can only expect and look forward to exciting times ahead!
What are some key cloud trends that you’re seeing in APAC?
Today, most businesses across industries are already leveraging cloud computing. According to Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud report, 99% of respondents are using at least one public or private cloud, in other words, a hybrid cloud approach. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these cloud plans and adoption, with 90% saying that cloud usage is higher than initially planned as a result of the extra capacity needed for current cloud-based applications to meet increased demand as online usage grows. Other organizations may accelerate migration from data centers to cloud in response to reduced headcount, difficulties in accessing data center facilities and delays in hardware supply chains.
In truth, it’s not surprising to see the rise of the multi-cloud. For enterprises in particular, a multi-cloud strategy utilizing both public and private clouds presents an enticing option to diversify risk, increase security and maximise innovation. What is interesting is the continued acceleration of public cloud adoption and its expected growth. In the past, businesses tended to hesitate to move critical workloads or sensitive data to the cloud, especially to the public cloud. That is changing now. Businesses have come to realize that employing multi-cloud or hybrid cloud need not be mutually exclusive and many are shifting to a mindset of being more secure in the cloud. Cloud-enabled use cases like IoT and ML/AI are being used at scale by customers across APAC.
Those enterprises who have successfully completed cloud migration face a different challenge. Now that their workloads have shifted to the clouds, and are working faster and more efficiently, the problem lies in that their applications are often siloed on different clouds, and so is the data. Enterprises now need to implement yet another architecture that can be secured and governed while allowing them to aggregate and integrate the data from these siloed, disparate sources.
That sounds painful! How much of these trends is universal, and how much is unique to APAC?
Organizations are turning to the cloud to transform and also gain an edge over the competition. I’d say the main differences lie in the individual market and industry nuances. The APAC region is a highly diverse market with businesses at various stages of cloud maturity, infrastructures and strategies, and some industries accelerating faster than the others. That said, cloud needs are often more consistent within the same industry or business type, compared to individual markets.
While many are considering the cloud to drive innovation and change, it is also important to identify the stage of cloud adoption the organization is at. Companies need to be aware that cloud adoption is a journey and it will take some time for the benefits to manifest. There also needs to be a cloud-first strategy that should have buy-in from upper management. More importantly, a company’s data strategy should drive its cloud strategy so that they are aligned and fulfill both business and IT needs. The strategy should also be understood and embraced by the entire organization. If the ongoing pandemic has taught us anything, it was the importance of agility to businesses, and the ability to innovate – those kinds of things that cloud is an enabler for. Thus, I think businesses in the region have already started moving from cloud as a fundamental cost play to more of a business enabler today, which is heartening to see.
Back to Cloudera – where do you see Cloudera coming in?
I touched on some of the challenges earlier – migration and its complexity, faster ROI and all. With a remit to move to the cloud, it is easy for organizations to lose sight of the initial motivation. What I hear all too often is that “We are going cloud; why are we doing this again?”. The strategic objective for moving to the cloud should also be focused on driving more insight from data at the same time. Data is a strategic asset and therefore demands its own strategy, namely an Enterprise Data Strategy. Cloud is ultimately just a vehicle. As such, early public cloud adopters have found themselves in a cocktail of data and analytics siloes that were harder to manage and more costly to operate. This is where Cloudera comes in. As mentioned earlier, an enterprise data strategy can help companies do more with their data, which outlines the need for a cloud-native hybrid data architecture (known as enterprise data cloud) that is able to leverage data in this heterogeneous landscape. An enterprise data cloud, like Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) gives organizations the flexibility and agility to deploy their data and analytics as guided by their enterprise data strategy in the best way possible.
Cloud adoption is a journey, and no two problems that customers face are ever the same. Therefore, customers are increasingly looking for a trusted advisor that can help them strategize and plan their unique approach, as well as navigate the nuts and bolts of the execution process in every step of the journey. At Cloudera, we have been helping companies with their hybrid and multi-cloud journey to achieve the level of integration that allows applications and data to move seamlessly across the disparate infrastructures and the management of any environment holistically and securely. Globally, we work with customers who are leaders in their own industries in Financial Services and Insurance, Telecommunications, and Manufacturing and more. I am confident that Cloudera can help our customers get to their desired checkpoints on their journey.
What are some of the initiatives or projects that you’ve been working on? How did you decide which initiatives to focus on first?
One particular initiative that I am actively looking at right now is raising the visibility in the market for how compelling and cloud orientated Cloudera’s offering is for customers. This is a multifaceted approach that includes interacting more with market movers, enablement programs for our internal teams and channel as well as with our customer base.
What’s next for you and the team at Cloudera APAC? What are you most looking forward to doing?
I see us moving more quickly to cloud and cloud services, ramping up our scalability to serve even more customers across the region. At the same time, we will also accelerate our product roadmap for CDP, and extend the Cloudera platform to a SaaS delivery model.
We are looking forward to welcoming more customers who are keen to start their data journey with cloud, at the same time deepening relationships with our existing customers to expand the use cases leveraging our data platform and building upon our existing partnerships to serve more enterprises across the region.