As Microsoft starts revving up cloud engine capabilities in Indonesia - spearheaded by the upcoming launch of a first in-country data centre region - the channel is in fast pursuit, pressing down hard on the accelerator as customer migration plans kick into gear.
The landmark move from Redmond - revealed to the market in February - is motivated by a desire to deliver cloud services locally, aligned to in-country data security and privacy laws.
Central to such efforts will be an ecosystem of channel partners delivering innovation on the frontline, continuing to overcome COVID-19 challenges to fast-track cloud deployments across both public and private sectors.
Forming part of the Berdayakan Ekonomi Digital Indonesia initiative - which is tasked with driving digital transformation growth nationwide - Microsoft is also aiming to up-skill an additional three million Indonesians within the next 12 months, reaching a target of 24 million by the end of 2021.
“This will definitely accelerate the digital transformation process in Indonesia,” outlined Alfonsus Bram, founder and CEO of ViBiCloud. “More importantly, this will act as a driving force in keeping the country’s economy moving forward from a technology perspective.
“We expect the launch to open more conversations in relation to how modern IT will work and help place more focus on what actually matters. Data will no longer move in or out of our country which opens more possibilities for customers regarding data regulation and residency.”
Leading with a local cloud
In examining the government-led digital initiatives rolled out in recent years, Untag Pranata - speaking as co-founder and managing director of Unzyp Software - acknowledged increased ecosystem appetite to turn digital ambitions into market realities.
“Most organisations have shifted business processes from paper-based to digital and are now seeking to migrate infrastructure to the cloud, largely due to maintenance costs which is cheaper than on-premises,” he said. “Microsoft has studied this movement and now is the time for them to play a huge role in driving this initiative.”
Specific to regulation - cited more as a leading rather than contributing factor in the decision to launch - Pranata documented the unrivalled advantage of providing public cloud within the boundaries of Indonesia, motivated by a desire for customers to gain more control over where data resides.
“The idea of the government storing sensitive data in public clouds outside of Indonesia was rather ironic and played into the stigma of ‘trusting outsiders with our data’,” he added. “This investment will break that stigma and help boost the local perception of how government is handling sensitive data.”
For Sjafril Effendi - speaking as president director of Mitra Integrasi Informatika (MII) - addressing data sovereignty concerns will benefit customers in financial services especially, as detailed by the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and data localisation law (GR71).
“Businesses can now consume Azure to speed up digital transformation projects, supported by services in local currency to protect against market volatility and enhanced network connection levels,” Effendi stated.
“This will lower capital expenditure with a local data centre region making it possible to run hybrid implementations due to the high quality of connection. Outside of the enterprise, this also stands to benefits small to medium-sized businesses [SMBs] and start-ups.”
In addition to meeting regulatory requirements, Lee Chong-Win - CEO of Logicalis Asia - emphasised the importance of providing heightened levels of connectivity to deliver on the promise of cloud at an enterprise level.
“By having a data centre in Indonesia, Microsoft can provide better assurance, performance and experience to local cloud customers,” he said. “We believe this launch is going to fuel Indonesia’s digital acceleration and the path towards transforming itself into one of the leading digital economies in Southeast Asia.
Noting that Indonesia “highly respects” security and compliance of how data and technology infrastructures are managed, Louise Co - regional alliances manager across Asia Pacific at NTT - also highlighted the potential for local organisations to leverage public cloud rather than building in-house capabilities.
“This will enhance local development and innovation raising more opportunities to build local talent and resources, leading to the digital transformation and economic growth of Indonesia,” Co explained. “We will see tremendous growth in the market and these new Azure services will help accelerate the digital transformation, innovation and growth of local businesses.”
Customer adoption spike ahead
As co-founder and CEO of one the leading independent software vendors (ISVs) within the Microsoft ecosystem in the form of AvePoint - born in Singapore and recently listed on the Nasdaq - Tianyi Jiang forecasts a sharp rise in software-as-a-service (SaaS) adoption in response to the launch, mirroring previous Microsoft data centre deployments.
“This is massive,” he documented. “Every time Microsoft launches an in-country cloud data centre, we see a spike in SaaS cloud adoption and then a corresponding increase in that country’s demand for SaaS data management. It’s a win-win-win - this is good for business, good for customers’ business and good for partners.”
In the current anti-globalisation climate, Tianyi Jiang observed that an increasing number of nations are seeking in-country cloud data centres to help ease data sovereignty and security concerns.
“This will allow local businesses to jump onto the Microsoft Cloud platform much faster with no more red tape and fewer regulatory constraints,” he added. “This is also a reflection of the importance of the Indonesian market."
With more than $1 trillion in GDP and a high percentage of the population in the young working demographic, Indonesia represents an immediate growth market for Microsoft partners, according to Andy Waroma, co-managing director of Cloud Comrade.
“There are probably two parts to this," he said. "One is a real technical improvement in terms of latency and perhaps customer service. The other one is perhaps a more perceived reason which is hosting data in-country.
"Indonesia's current legislation allows many companies to host their data overseas but legislation can change and that can cause some hesitation with certain companies."
Rising tide lifts all boats
The launch sees Microsoft enter an increasingly competitive cloud race in Indonesia, following the unveiling of a Google Cloud Platform (GCP) region in Jakarta in June 2020, in addition to AWS ambitions to establish an infrastructure region by early 2022.
While an all-out war to secure cloud supremacy in Indonesia appears some time in the making - after all, market-leader AWS is yet to launch - perhaps the collective hyperscaler battle is simply centred around cementing public cloud as the default choice of the enterprise.
For the channel, the gloves-off street brawl can wait, winning public cloud market mindshare must be the collective core priority.
“Promoting competition is a good way to promoting consumer well-being,” acknowledged Chong-Win of Logicalis. “Having all the major cloud providers operating in Indonesia will increase public cloud adoption rate and consumer confidence.”
As outlined by Chong-Win, each hyperscaler has pros and cons from a features standpoint, with Azure viewed as a natural option for customers already investing in core Microsoft solutions such as Windows Server, SQL Server and Office 365.
At a local level, Packet System Indonesia (PSI) - a Logicalis company - has moved to position Microsoft as a key strategic partner, working in parallel to help businesses define cloud objectives to “future-proof” company operations.
“In terms of solutions and services, PSI is offering cloud adoption and assessment workshops,” Chong-Win added. “This is alongside migration assessment services, a production-ready cloud platform and application modernisation and DevOps capabilities.”
Delving deeper, Waroma of Cloud Comrade said the launch will benefit all three market-leading vendors, alluding to the theory that a rising tide lifts all boats.
“Aside from the unicorns, cloud adoption in Indonesia has been spotty at best,” he explained. “With all three leading platform providers offering a local choice and increased marketing, the message will cascade down to more organisations."
Maximising market longevity
From an engagement standpoint, Microsoft undoubtedly operates as a more localised vendor compared to AWS and Google Cloud, evident through launching Indonesian operations more than 26 years ago.
Having originally having started working with AWS and GCP in Singapore, Cloud Comrade was often asked to support deployment in other countries before a local presence was established.
“I believe Microsoft works slightly differently,” he acknowledged. “The relationships have to be initiated and cultivated on the local level.
"We have more than 50 Azure certifications and can certainly assist Indonesian organisations having been a cloud MSP in-market since 2016. However, all our success with Azure has been in Singapore. With the new region, we are hoping to change that.”
According to Sjafril Effendi of MII, multi-cloud deployments are already underway across the country, reflective of a nation seeking to maximise the full benefits of competing platforms.
“They are maximising best of breed practice from each provider,” he outlined. “For example, if the customer is a heavy user of Microsoft and has a programmatic licensing program, they can leverage the hybrid benefits of Azure which can save spending on running certain Microsoft licensing on Azure."
Headquartered in Jakarta, MII goes to market as a leading technology provider with deep expertise across the Microsoft stack, recognised as Indonesia Partner of the Year in July 2020.
Specific to technology, the business operates as a licensing solution provider (LSP), cloud solution provider (CSP) and value-added reseller, with cloud expertise in SAP migration, big data and DevOps, supported by modern workplace and back-up and disaster recovery capabilities.
Another award-winning local Microsoft specialist is ViBiCloud, handed Indonesia Partner of the Year honours in 2019. As a seasoned hosting provider, ViBiCloud goes to market as experts within the key market segments of virtual data centres, Azure Stack and disaster recovery, backed by unique IP in the form of ViBiBank.
“Going multi-cloud is always an option and it has its own benefits such as avoiding a single point of failure,” added Bram of ViBiCloud. “Although it may introduce additional challenges in managing and operating the environment, current technology has made it possible to put a single-pane management view for all resources in multi-cloud environments."
Going all-in on Microsoft
Since first partnering with Microsoft in 2018, Unzyp Software is pressing ahead with plans to build solutions on top of the Azure platform, leveraging infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) enhancements through a deepened focus on business intelligence, data warehouse, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) feature sets.
“This will certainly provide options for private and government institutions to carry out digital transformation programs,” said Pranata of Unzyp Software. “Microsoft has been operating in Indonesia for 26 years so far, and it seems difficult to remove Microsoft's image from Indonesians.
“With the prices and services offered by Microsoft that are attractive for the long run, this will undoubtedly create a picture of a ‘price war’ between cloud providers. But what is happening now, every cloud provider will benefit by involving partners who have solutions built on top of Microsoft products.”
For Co of NTT - acknowledged globally as a Microsoft Azure Expert MSP - customers now have the opportunity to host applications and workloads via any cloud provider, with each environment unique in meeting end-user requirements.
“In Indonesia, we have invested heavily in making sure our teams are certified on Microsoft technologies, especially around cloud productivity, cloud platform and security,” Co said. "Multi-cloud and distributed cloud are definitely options. Each client environment is unique and each of the cloud providers also have their value proposition that would suit the requirements of each client.”
Meanwhile, AvePoint currently services the Indonesian market via a channel model, striking alliances with local system integrators housing strong Microsoft practices such as Xapiens Teknologi of the Indika Group.
Through this partnership, the ISV offers Indonesian customers the “best of both worlds”, local services and support alongside an enterprise grade SaaS data management platform.
“Our customers are realising the concept of collaboration security and governance is essential to their operations and business continuity,” added Tianyi Jiang of AvePoint. “There is a strong interest from organisations to become more productive, compliant and secure across a multi-faceted cloud collaboration service that cuts across multiple traditional software workloads such as email, file shares, enterprise chats, video conference calls, intranets, and more.”
In short, this is what the AvePoint channel is currently offering Indonesian customers - instead of traditional data security focused solely on applications, data or endpoints, the priority is end-to-end collaboration security.
“This helps ensure our customers can achieve fast, real-time collaboration but still have the peace of mind that everything is secure and compliant in our increasingly remote everything world,” he stated.
Acknowledged as Indonesian Distributor of the Year in 2020, Rhipe is another Microsoft specialist “fully vested” in growing the Indonesian cloud market.
“We are excited about Microsoft’s recent announcement on its data centre infrastructure investment in Southeast Asia’s largest economy,” said Patara Yongvanich, general manager of Products and Programs at Rhipe.
“Our market leadership in the private cloud space with Microsoft SPLA and public cloud space with Microsoft CSP, puts us in a great position to enable the next level of business transformation for Indonesian service providers, system integrators, and independent software vendors.”