Complex charging scheme tops worst CIO cloud experiences

Panelists at the Cloud Tech Forum 2017 discussed digital transformationAs businesses usher themselves along the digital transformation journey, they show stronger appetite for new IT delivery models to enhance their IT infrastructure, such as the adoption of cloud computing.

At the Cloud Tech Forum 2017 held in September, senior IT executives at a panel discussion shared their nicest and worst experiences they had with cloud vendors, and how the use of cloud has been supporting their latest business transformation initiatives.

Self-study charging scheme

"There are quite a number of very good cloud service providers in the market," said Ted Suen (pictured, second from left), head of IT at MTR. "In general, all the cloud service providers have been improving, and have been providing better services to their customers."

For Suen, the worst experience with cloud vendors concerned service licensing fees for on-demand resources provisioning. "One of the worst experiences that I encountered with a cloud vendor was they gave me a website and asked me to read through them to understand their charging scheme. I had to click on so many buttons in order to fully understand it. And I didn't think the local sales fully understood the charging scheme either."

At the MTR, the railway provider has adopted cloud technologies to support its internal and external engagement initiatives. Internally, MTR uses use cloud-based technologies to improve its operation efficiency and to provide better services for employees. Externally, MTR uses cloud pervasively, in particular, to serve its customer engagement needs.

"For those who have downloaded our MTR mobile apps, the service messages that you receive is supported by a cloud service," Suen said. He added that the MTR adopts a lot of course services within its IT infrastructure, including cybersecurity.

Suen advised when one deals with a cloud service provider, be sure to understand the charging scheme. Otherwise one might be charged "a fortune" when one deploys a cloud services and found he or she needed to provision more services on-demand later, such as storage.

Not even the salespeople understood

Similarly, for Wayne Moy (pictured, second from right), IT director at advertising company DDB Group Hong Kong, his worst experience with cloud vendors concerned complex pay structure.

"The worst experience for me was that even salespeople didn't understand their own structure of pay. This was because their charging scheme always changed, or they had a very strange and weird way of charging people such that even the salespeople didn't understand," Moy said.

For the past few years, DDB Group has been transitioning from creating traditional advertising like TV and radio commercials, to developing business apps for clients and maintaining their social media presence.

"Cloud is enabling all those things that we are doing for our clients," said Moy. "Because we are in advertising, we act like a first-mover in many things." As early as six years ago, DDB Group migrated their email system to the cloud by adopting Microsoft Office 365.

Not long ago, DDB Group started to migrate its unstructured data to a private cloud. "Our [digital] assets have kept growing, and it has been costing us more to store them. So we adopted cloud storage."

Recently, DDB Group explored the possibility to adopt cloud-based business continuity planning. "We'll put snapshots of our virtual machines and storage into a cloud. If any emergency occurs, we can restart it from the cloud."

Data format matters

Other than sharing their cloud experiences, the panelists noted that one must pay attention to the data format adopted by cloud vendors, in order to ease cloud migration.

"Whenever cloud vendors ask you to migrate your data to their cloud services, definitely they'll say they can provide you with all the data migration tools. But you also need to make sure you won't be locked in, that there is a way to retrieve your data back from the new cloud vendor, and to put them in another cloud service," Suen advised.

AXA Asia Chief of Staff Ash Shah (pictured, first from right) added that one should make sure they can retrieve data back out in a suitable format, in order to pour them back into another cloud service. "This is quite important issue. We have faced such a situation yet, but we know it's very hard to export data from a cloud service."

"Insurance companies over the last few years have become digital, and AXA has been successful in maintaining its digital presence," said Shah. Specifically, AXA has adopted cloud solutions to support its customer servicing initiatives and to enhance its IT infrastructure with cloud computing.

"With our mobile apps, our clients can notify us of a loss claim by taking a picture of their loss, then submit it online," said Shah. "We are also looking into adopting a cloud-first strategy when we consider making future investments in our IT infrastructure."