AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Some Cloud Adoption Observations from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” — Marcel Proust

I recently returned from a 24-day tour through Asia. A few weeks prior to that I was also fortunate enough to spend some time in Australia. Throughout these travels I had the opportunity to speak to many companies, executives, and IT professionals who are at various stages of their cloud adoption journeyand advancing their careers and their companies forward. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with so many smart people from all these different places.

While it was a long time to be away from my family who I missed dearly (thank you Skype), it was quite an educational experience and gave me additional confidence that cloud is changing the way technology is consumed everywhere, and that I’m in the right place. I’ve now spoken to executives from all industries in four continents. If the company they represent is not already using the cloud in a big way, they’re looking to start.

Before I get to some of the nuances from the places I was lucky enough to visit, I thought it would be useful to consider what is the same across the globe. Everywhere I’ve been we spend much more time talking about how, rather than why. A few years ago the conversations I had with my peers gravitated toward why they should care about cloud. Today it’s much more centered around how they should decide where to start and how they can move faster. How should we get started in a business like ours? What should move first? How can we responsibly implement hybrid and still make use of our existing assets? How do we think about migrating entire data centers? What will happen to the roles in my organization as this evolves? These are the types of conversations that are leading to real changes, and ushering in cloud as the new normal. It is exciting to see so many companies feel good about the progress they’re making as they become more innovative and focused on their business.

In addition to talking to dozens of executives about how to make the most out of the cloud, here are some observations from each of the countries I visited:

Australia (Sydney) — Financial service firms in Australia are moving aggressively to the cloud. Many of the major banks are making big investments in their cloud expertise, as are the smaller financial service firms across several sub sectors (insurance, depository, retail banking). Australian companies pride themselves on running lean, which one could argue has afforded them less bureaucracy and made the shift easier — but also means that cloud is all the more important. With less resources it’s harder to tolerate inefficiency and remain competitive if you’re focusing on things that don’t improve your business.

Favorite food: Wagyu steak — yes, I know, Wagyu hails from Japan, but I had some delicious local Australian Wagyu. Yum.

Singapore — Many global corporations have their Asia headquarters domiciled in Singapore. In some cases this has allowed them to adopt cloud strategies from their regional counterparts, and in some cases they are driving their own. We had more than 3,000 people either in attendance or on the live stream for the AWS Singapore Summit keynote, which included several customers talking about their journey and the benefits they’ve seen. Most notable for enterprises was Brendan O’Neil from Seaco talking about the 90% savings and agility they achieved from moving their SAP system to AWS, Marcelo Wesseler, the CEO of Singpost Ecommerce talking about an entirely new business the Singapore Post created on AWS, and Ernest Cu, the CEO of Globe Telecom, talking about how their cloud-first strategy is lowering the company’s costs, increasing agility and making way for their innovate-or-die strategy. I was fortunate enough to spend time learning about each of these leaders and their business and am optimistic for their continued success. I also met with several Telcos and partners who are growing substantial cloud businesses through direct connect, improving the margins on their hosting platforms through cloud adoption, and creating new business around migration and cloud operations centers.

Favorite food: Laksa, though I also had some very good and very spicy Szechuan food there as well.

Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) — Like all areas I’ve visited, in Kuala Lumpur AWS is the default choice for startups. MyTeksi gave a great session on how they’re using many AWS services to power Malaysia’s leading Taxi hailing app that regularly hits 7 bookings per second. There was a lot of interest from the region’s enterprises and SMBs, which was well represented by KTC — a 77 year young manufacturing and distribution company — who spoke about their journey to become cloud-first and how they’re able to focus more of their efforts on their core business. Like Singapore, there was a lot of interest brewing from the partner and Telco community, and it seemed to me like cloud is just about to pop.

Favorite food: Crab bee hoon. Spicy and delicious.

Hong Kong — Like Singapore there is a strong contingent of multi-national companies with a large presence in Hong Kong. I spent most of my time there talking to financial services and media companies, all of whom are either aggressively moving toward the cloud or working through their data governance strategies so they can.

Favorite food: steamed pork belly dumplings. Perhaps a bit boring, since you can get them in NY, but delicious nonetheless.

Taiwan (Taipei) — IoT, IoT, IoT. There are several device and semiconductor manufacturers all in and around Taipei who are all racing to innovate toward a connected world. I knew that we weren’t far off from having everything connected to the internet, but based on what I saw it’s closer than I had imagined. The amount of data that is going to be generated through this evolution will make what we call big data today seem like a single strand of hair. Everyone I spoke to understands that the cloud is well positioned to be the backend, data store, and analytics engine to make it happen and create value from all of that data.

Favorite food: Spicy hot pot. Not for the faint of tongue. This was about as spicy as I’ve eaten food while it still had flavor. Super yum.

Japan (Tokyo) — Japan is one of AWS’s biggest markets outside of the U.S. There are many companies of all sizes and industries who are cloud-first, and a growing partner ecosystem to help them. The AWS Tokyo Summit was the largest summit (that doesn’t include re:invent) that we’ve ever done with over 10,000 attendees over 2 days. There were several dozen customers who presented, and I was humbled by a lot of the conversations I had and how well some of the companies embrace Kaizen and use the cloud to remain competitive. A lot of focus on mobile and IoT, globally expanding IT footprints, and large scale cloud adoption.

Side note: As an American it was an incredible learning experience to ceremoniously exchange cards and communicate through a translator for presentations, panels, and meetings. I must say that while the amount of words used during a meetings and presentations is cut in half, the long pauses between prose force you to think carefully about what you say and forces you to be crisp. Makes me think we should embrace more silence in western business, and strengthens my belief that Amazon has it right by distilling the way we communicate and make decisions into writing.

Favorite food: toss-up between the best sushi I’ve ever had at Tsukiji market and Yakitori — a delicious selection of skewered meats (beef tongue may have been my favorite).
Keep building,

Stephen Orban

Stephen Orban

Stephen is the GM (General Manager) of a new AWS service under development, and author of the book “Ahead in the Cloud: Best Practices for Navigating the Future of Enterprise IT” Stephen spent his first three-and-a-half years with Amazon as the Global Head of Enterprise Strategy, where he oversaw AWS’s enterprise go-to-market strategy, invented and built AWS’s Migration Acceleration Program (MAP), and helped executives from hundreds of the world’s largest companies envision, develop, and mature their IT operating model using the cloud. Stephen authored Ahead in the Cloud so customers might benefit from many of the best practices Stephen observed working with customers in this role. Prior to joining AWS, Stephen was the CIO of Dow Jones, where he introduced modern software development methodologies and reduced costs while implementing a cloud-first strategy. These transformational changes accelerated product development cycles and increased productivity across all lines of business, including The Wall Street Journal,, Dow Jones Newswires, and Factiva. Stephen also spent 11 years at Bloomberg LP, holding a variety of leadership positions across their equity and messaging platforms, before founding Bloomberg Sports in 2008, where he served as CTO. Stephen earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from State University of New York College at Fredonia.