AWS dreaming big for Vietnam’s cloud aspirations

April 19, 2023 | 14:00
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Amazon Web Services is expanding in Vietnam to tap into growing demands for cloud computing. Conor McNamara, managing director for ASEAN at AWS, talked to VIR’s Bich Thuy about the future of the market.

AWS has launched two edge locations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. What benefits have local businesses gained?

AWS’s Cloud Day in Hanoi earlier this month demonstrated the wide uses of cloud adoption
Conor McNamara, managing director for ASEAN at AWS

Cloudfront Edge locations are AWS data centres that deliver services with the lowest latency possible. Amazon has dozens of these data centres spread across the world and they are connected to the AWS region through the AWS network backbone. They’re typically closer to users than regions, often in major cities, so responses can be fast and snappy.

Industries that benefit from these edge locations are typically those that have to render or distribute dynamic media content, such as images and videos, to their users. Many businesses in Vietnam have benefited. For example Amanotes, VNG games, and even VTV have ultra-low latency content requirements that they want to get to developers or any sort of content consumers quickly, and edge locations are the solution for that. So, that’s why we built those because we are seeing a lot of demand in Vietnam.

I think the country has one of the highest penetration rates for smartphones in Southeast Asia. That is the reason we build edge locations. We’ve already preannounced an AWS local zone that will launch in Hanoi soon, which will provide customers the ability to access AWS services with single-digit millisecond latency.

Which economic sectors now have the best opportunity to adopt cloud technology?

First of all, we all know that in Vietnam or across Southeast Asia, over 95 per cent of businesses are small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and over 40 per cent of the GDP stems from them. We know that SMEs are not specifically focusing or resourced to build solutions from scratch but they’re going to be consuming cloud solutions.

Hence we have a solution-centric approach to digitalising this segment of the economy by working with service providers like SmartPay or TNEX that focus on developing cloud-based solutions for micro SMEs to help get them online.

If you look across all industries, AWS is not just about providing the broadest and deepest set of native services, but also important for us to create an environment where we have solutions for enterprises of all sizes and stages of their cloud adoption journey.

AWS dreaming big for Vietnam’s cloud aspirations
AWS’s Cloud Day in Hanoi earlier this month demonstrated the wide uses of cloud adoption

For example, if you’re an enterprise and you want a call centre solution, you can choose from Amazon Connect as a native solution or you can use a third-party solution such as Genesys. If you’re an SME and you need a cloud-based point of sale solution, you can build it or you can buy it, and that’s how we’re aiming to support the broad base of SME customers on their cloud adoption journey.

On industry-specific sectors, every vertical is aggressively embracing the cloud. The case for change is strong here as the ambition is strong. If we look at the financial services industry, for example, we see that the only real way for some organisations in Vietnam to support their growth aspirations is through a cloud-centric operating model.

As you can see in our recent announcement with VPBank or the work we’ve done with Techcombank, the cloud is not just another data centre but they’re using the cloud to transform the way their organisations operate. They are migrating traditional applications and moving core banking to the cloud to support increasing transaction volumes, building new digital frontends to connect with an increasing digital-centric and mobile customer base, and building a new innovative culture to respond to the unknowns of the future.

We see the biggest opportunities where business leaders see the cloud as a way to transform their whole operating model, from reskilling to driving cultural transformation and creating an innovation DNA.

While the financial services industry is our largest and most progressed vertical right now in Vietnam, we’re seeing accelerated momentum across all industries. In healthcare and life sciences, for example, we’ve seen a huge growth in services such as telemedicine in response to the pandemic and we’re supporting the digital transformation of large hospitals across Southeast Asia, including working with organisations involved in public-private collaborations such as digitalising healthcare records.

Even in retail, we work with Grove Group, a logistics and distribution company that also operates their own a retail chain, on top of retail solution providers such as Boost and Merchize.

In line with this diversified growth, globally, we now have specific competencies by industry vertical such as Thought Machine, our financial services competency partner; and Amdocs, our telco competency partner. Locally, we’re focused on specialising our field organisation’s competencies into industry vertical expertise as customers seek more domain expertise.

Human resource training is now more important than ever amid the acceleration of digital transformation. How can AWS help to tackle this challenge?

Vietnam produces 80,000 IT graduates every year. This depth of fast-growing tech talents presents a huge potential in the market for upskilling and reskilling. Our approach to training is multifaceted and we adopt a working backwards approach.

In terms of training the next generation of technologists in Vietnam, AWS Academy is probably at its best where we embed AWS curriculum into higher education programmes. And we have around 23 higher education institutions in Vietnam that have signed up to AWS Academy.

We also have the AWS re/Start programme, which is a 12-week, skills-based training programme covering fundamental cloud skills and practical career tips, including interviewing and resume writing. Through real-world, scenario-based exercises, labs, and coursework, students with no prior experience in cloud computing learn Linux, Python, networking, security, and relational database skills.

We also provide them with access to potential employers, and that’s been successful. In Vietnam, one of our partners, Cloud Kinetics, has hired a number of graduates, and we’re definitely seeing a lot of momentum in that initiative, both in Vietnam and also across the region.

The pace of adoption in Vietnam has been beyond our expectations over the last few years with diversified growth, and so we are thinking about investing across multiple pillars. The local team that we invest in is not just salespeople, but individuals with cross-functional skills to support customers and partners on their journey.

Cloud transformation is a multi-year, multidimensional journey, and it requires lots of orchestration from the board and the chief strategy officer to the chief finance officer and beyond. As developers, it is a complex transformation journey. If you do not have a team on the ground that is willing to go on that journey, you will struggle.

We have over 7,000 partners in ASEAN and over 100,000 partners globally. If you look at organisations like Renova Cloud and TechX, whose migration competency is certified now, there is this whole network of born in the cloud partners in Vietnam that we’re investing in.

We’re very excited, and we’ll continue to invest in our partner community. We’re investing in infrastructure, service localisation, and training curriculum. Furthermore, we have launched over 60 courses which have been localised for Vietnamese. Being part of the local agenda is a massive part of our team’s mission, whether it is local teams, partners, training, certification, infrastructure, or services.

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By Bich Thuy

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