3 hacks to achieve multi-cloud and hybrid cloud excellence

By Red Hat

As Malaysia ramps up its digital government ambitions, how can Malaysian government agencies embark on a successful multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategy? Tammy Tan, country manager for Red Hat Malaysia, a leading provider of enterprise open source solutions, shares three tips.

Malaysian government agencies can go multi-cloud and hybrid cloud with enterprise open source technology. Image: Canva

Multi-cloud and hybrid adoption is the hottest trend for Malaysian IT systems today. Forrester’s The State of Cloud in Malaysia 2023 report found that 65 per cent of enterprise cloud decision-makers use at least two cloud deployment models, including the hybrid cloud and the public cloud. Of those using the public cloud, 84 per cent use a multi-cloud strategy to tap on the unique advantages of each cloud provider, noted the report.


And the government is no exception. The Malaysian Government’s hybrid cloud model, which combines access to the government’s private cloud with multiple public cloud environments, will be a critical enabler for public sector digitalisation, said Fahmi bin Mohamed Fadzil, Minister of Communications and Digital of Malaysia at a recent GovInsider conference.


As hyperscalers and cloud computing begin to play a greater role in the country’s digital economy and digital government – the Department of Statistics Malaysia plans to fully migrate 70 per cent of its systems to the public cloud by 2025 – how can government agencies successfully enact a multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategy? Tammy Tan, country manager for Red Hat Malaysia, a leading provider of open source, shares three tips for doing so.

1. Can’t move the mountain? Move the hill


First, Tan shares that government agencies can start small and migrate individual projects as they embark on their cloud strategy.


“It’s not an overnight thing to actually migrate to the cloud. I always advise our public sector customers to start with small projects. You can’t move the mountain but you can likely move the hill. If you spin off a project that you can then integrate with legacy systems, that’s already a first step towards the hybrid cloud,” she says.

Tammy Tan, Country Manager, Red Hat Malaysia. Image: Red Hat

She suggests that agencies can start by working with one cloud provider and learning the lessons from that project. Once agencies have become comfortable working with the public cloud environment, they can then start working with more cloud providers.


Agencies may wish to plan for a multi-cloud strategy early on, so that they are well positioned to leverage on more cloud environments when they are ready to take that step. 


Alternatively, agencies can begin with a multi-cloud strategy from the get-go by running different services on different cloud platforms. That way, even if there is downtime on one cloud, the other services are still accessible to the nation, she explains.


Open source providers like Red Hat can play a critical role in helping agencies develop minimum viable products and kickstart their hybrid or multi-cloud strategies, she says.


The Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint earmarked the increased adoption of cloud technologies by the government as a key strategic initiative to optimise government resources and enable remote work options for civil servants. 

2. Keep the “rogue data” on-prem


Next, agencies can save on cloud computing costs while benefiting from the advanced applications on the cloud by keeping data on-premises, says Tan.

“It’s always about balancing innovation against cost,” she says. Cloud computing costs can spiral out of control if an agency migrates all its data to the cloud without discernment, she explains. 


Certain kinds of high quality data can benefit from applications offered by cloud computing services, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning programmes. But the majority of data an agency holds might be “rogue data” – data that are outdated, inaccurate, inconsistent, or simply duplicates. 


The sheer volume of “rogue data” an agency might be holding onto means that this data may be better left on-premises to mitigate the cost of cloud computing, she says. 


In addition, agencies may wish to store sensitive data on-premises while integrating cloud systems and applications into their overall hybrid IT infrastructure, she explains. Agencies can access advanced applications on the cloud and connect these apps to data stored on-premises through a secure connection to get the best of both worlds.


“Use the features and applications of cloud computing, create the outcome that you want, but remember to protect your crown jewels by keeping such data on-premises,” she says.

3. Tupperware for software


Finally, agencies can place applications in containers – or isolated packages of code – to remain flexible. She uses the analogy of a Tupperware container to explain the value of containerising applications:

“Imagine a Tupperware in front of you. Perhaps Cloud A can provide an AI function that you want to tap on, while Cloud B gives you access to a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) product that I also really like. How do I bring these capabilities to my government service?

Could a tupperware container be the secret weapon to application modernisation? Image: Canva

If I place my government service in this Tupperware, I can fit this container into Cloud A to leverage on the AI service. If I don’t like it, I can plug this Tupperware into Cloud B instead. Even though the core functionality remains the same, I can tap on additional features without having to revamp the application to fit each new cloud environment,” she says.


One way agencies can containerise existing government applications is through OpenShift, Red Hat’s cloud agnostic platform-as-a-service product, which developers can use to modernise and deploy their applications to run on any cloud infrastructure, both public and private.


“Year over year, we see a lot more innovation emerging from many new cloud providers. You want to have the ability to choose whether you run your applications on Cloud A, Cloud B, private cloud, or public cloud when the time comes. OpenShift is able to give that key to the user to not be locked into one provider, but to unlock many options across the cloud and on-prem,” says Tan.


Application containerisation can also help developers focus on developing the best applications one time and moving on, rather than having to develop applications custom-fit for various cloud environments, she adds. This is particularly important given the cloud talent shortage. 


Red Hat is ready to support the Malaysian government in sharing best practices for app modernisation, she says. The company plays an active role in the Malaysian DevOps and open source communities, and actively works with universities to nurture cloud talent to meet Malaysia’s ambitions to become an Asian digital tiger.