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Safely propelling Malaysian SMEs into the global arena

AvantiKumar | Feb. 15, 2013
Even in an uncertain economic climate, Malaysian SMEs can carefully walk the business tightrope using virtualisation and cloud technologies, says VMware Malaysia's country head.

In a recent interview with Computerworld Malaysia, which followed the launch of two new offerings - VMware vSphere with Operations Management and VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced, VMware Malaysia's country manager Laurence Si outlines how Malaysian small and medium enterprises/businesses [SMEs/SMBs] can expand into overseas markets while contributing to the nation's GDP growth from the current 32 percent to 42 percent by 2020.

Laurence Si - VMware Malaysia
Photo - Laurence Si, Country Manager, VMware Malaysia.

Given the continuing uncertain global economic climate, how can Malaysian SMBs - and SMEs - grow both locally and globally?

An uncertain economic climate is often more difficult for SMBs than for enterprise companies. SMBs often walk a resource tightrope, making it difficult for them to maintain pace with the virtualisation, desktop delivery, and cloud initiatives that could help them improve the way their business delivers IT.

However, the Small & Medium Industries (SMI) Association of Malaysia has indicated that SMEs' contribution to the country's gross domestic product [GDP] is expected to grow from the current 32 percent to 42 percent by 2020. The government is also leading the way by making provisions for SMEs under Budget 2013 to take better advantage of access to financing and to leverage cloud computing

Virtualisation and cloud can help them to expand their capabilities on a global level without a corresponding linear expansion of expenditure or effort. As IT departments become more responsive to the needs of the business, they can also be seen as an innovator that is driving new business initiatives rather than simply assisting the existing operations.

How is VMware helping local SMEs realise soft and hard returns on investment [ROIs]?

The core demands on modern IT are the same regardless of the size of any business. Yet SMEs face the unique challenge of achieving the same targets without the budgets of much larger IT organisations.

Hard ROI targets include lowering overall costs, while softer ROI targets include balancing IT supply with IT demand and responding quickly to business needs to enable greater speed to market.

As a global leader in virtualisation and cloud infrastructure, VMware's portfolio of solutions enable SMEs to stay ahead of their competition and achieve business transformation through IT transformation.

The initial impact of VMware virtualisation can have a stunning effect-consolidating multiple application workloads on fewer physical hosts can immediately reduce hardware, electrical and cooling costs and enable greater efficiency. Built on the industry's most proven and reliable hypervisor architecture, VMware vSphere delivers application performance and availability for the most demanding business-critical applications.

On 12 Feb 2013, we also introduced two new offerings to help customers further leverage their investments in VMware vSphere - VMware vSphere with Operations Management and VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced.

SMEs can also provide end users with greater flexibility and access to resources from multiple devices with our End User Computing solutions such as VMware View and VMware Mirage. This means that mobile information workers are no longer restrained by desktop-centric email solutions with limited offline capabilities and IT can main central control over sensitive corporate data.

It's also worth mentioning that improving disaster preparedness is a somewhat "hidden" benefit, especially among SMEs. In 2013, VMware expects companies to continue to put strong emphasis on virtualisation and cloud computing for disaster recovery. VMware's solutions such as Site Recovery Manager make enterprise-class business continuity and management accessible by reducing the complexity of deploying, operating and securing these systems.

What success stories can VMware share of SMEs from around the world that have adopted cloud-driven or virtualised services?

From the VMware Cloud Index 2012 study, 52 percent of the SME respondents have already leveraged virtualisation technologies, and 89 percent have leveraged Cloud technologies for more than 6 months with 80 percent stating their IT is successfully managing the usage of cloud services within the organisation, which has helped reduce the job complexity of employees (72 percent).

VMware makes IT simpler to manage and use, highly reliable, and a lot less costly - for tens of thousands of small and midsized companies enabling them to stay focused on managing and growing their business. Specific examples of how VMware has enabled SMEs can be found below:

BancVue is a mid-sized financial services company in the US that helps community financial institutions better serve their consumers. BancVue offers everything from online account opening and mobile web portals to online marketing tools and consumer-facing websites. Ultimately, BancVue helps community financial institutions attract new consumers with offerings that rival those of a megabank.

Feeding resources to millions of bank consumers requires an agile, high-performing IT environment to keep every piece in place and running smoothly. Whether it's one or one million consumers using BancVue-delivered services and applications, consumers should never notice a difference and the performance must stay the same. For BancVue, uptime is more than just an IT goal; it's a business requirement. Banks and their consumers around the country require access to financial applications 24/7.

Internally, BancVue had implemented a competitor's solution for its virtualization needs. Instead of implementing this solution on its hosted side, BancVue decided to switch from to VMware and unify internal IT and datacentre departments on a common system. One of the features that attracted BancVue to vSphere was its agnostic support for operating systems, including Linux, Red Hat and Debian.

BancVue saw immediate results from virtualization with VMware vSphere in terms of:

- Reduction in server costs
- Reductions in hosting and energy costs by 45 percent
- Greater uptime and improved reliability

Myron Steves
Myron F. Steves and Company, an insurance wholesaler serving some 3,000 independent agencies, based in Houston, Texas, had invested considerable thought into its own disaster preparedness.

Some years previously, the company had outsourced its IT disaster recovery. In the event of a datacentre outage, Myron Steves' IT infrastructure was supposed to fail over to the vendor's offsite servers. But Moudry and William Chambers, the company's IT operations manager, had major concerns about whether they could trust the provider's services.

Myron Steves got lucky: it escaped the third-most expensive hurricane in U.S. history with nothing worse than a three-day power outage. But the near-miss spurred the company to reevaluate its disaster recovery strategy. The company needed to replace its expensive and unreliable disaster recovery outsourcing service with something that it could trust in the event of a datacentre outage.

The insurer virtualized its server infrastructure on VMware vSphere, and implemented VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager to fail over its production systems to a backup location. A VMware View virtual desktop environment ensures that employees can also work even if they are evacuated or cannot work from the company offices.

As a result of the VMware technology implementation, Myron Steve saw positive results such as:

-Business can fail over to backup servers within hours, instead of days
-Server failover is now reliable
-Third-party disaster recovery service costing US$400,000 per year was eliminated
-Future server sprawl was avoided, saving US$200,000 in payroll costs and US$150,000 in maintenance costs annually

What would be the top priorities for Malaysian SMEs when considering ICT implementations?

Three priorities for SMEs to consider when implementing virtualisation and cloud solutions to their business include:

a) Simplify and save on IT
-Simplify their IT with intuitive Web-based management that keeps technology out of their way while putting it at their service
-Simplify their IT footprint by centralizing management and transforming their servers into a shared storage resource
-Save on hardware and operating costs by consolidating workloads

b) Empower their employees
-Deliver flexible access to business applications to end users, anywhere, from the devices they choose
-Improve productivity for their end users with collaboration, including integration or mash- ups with other applications, to streamline workflow.

c) Protect their business i.e.
-Get high availability for their existing applications, using the hardware they already have
-Enable secure delivery of data, applications, and desktop environments to end users anywhere, from any device
-Strengthen security with automated patch management and state-aware, virtualized security policies

Last but not least - virtualisation is certainly a necessary tool, but it is more than that-it changes how you think, and out of that, companies find ways to innovate. This change of mindset that virtualisation engenders is what makes the technology truly transformative.


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