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Enabling Digital Growth By Understanding Culture

by Aron Raj, Journalist

When DSA was given a chance to speak to Duncan Hewett, Senior Vice President and GM, Asia Pacific and Japan, VMware, we couldn’t refrain ourselves from asking him about how VMware is currently training women in technology today in India for free. The program itself was the brainchild of Duncan which he thought of while on a return flight to Singapore from Delhi in the wee hours of the morning.

“45% of IT graduates from universities in India are women. However, what happens in the first five to eight years, 50% of those women leave employment because of other responsibilities, like children. When they leave, they are no longer are current, and they lose confidence. The reason we created the program is for women to become current and confident of returning to the workforce.”


Duncan pointed out that IT is struggling to get enough talent for the amount of work to help organisations transform. And here there is this massive pool of talent, he added, who dropped out but can be trained to return to work. The reason why they started with India was that they had the strongest base of graduated women in IT in the world. Duncan also said the program would be initiated in this region as well in the near future.

Having been in Southeast Asia for some time, we asked Duncan about the technological growth in the region in terms of cloud adoption compared to other regions around the world. To this, Duncan said that every customer in the region is at different stages in growth. Most customers have a legacy of core systems which they are trying to use to get into the next level. But in countries like Myanmar, they do not have legacy systems and looking to leapfrog all the way forward.

“There is no cloud provider in Myanmar, so you still have this problem around latency, cross country boundaries and the problem of laws on what data can be where. We see each region as being on the same long-term strategy but starting at different points and executing slightly differently depending on the constraints of the region.”

With the average age of the population being 30 in the region, Duncan said that we now have a generation that works differently and looking at things differently at enterprises. Enterprises are now having to adapt to this demand quickly because the 2.0 approach of building systems and virtualising them is not fast enough. Enterprises are having to leapfrog forward not just due to external pressure but also because the workforce today is looking for a modern experience.

“I’m particularly bullish about the ASEAN region, which is why I stayed my whole career here. The opportunities and the rate of change is just really impressive. And we see clients looking for help all the time. I was in speaking to a bank in Mumbai a couple of weeks ago on transformation, and they’re asking me what Singapore is doing, what the US is doing, so the world is becoming a much smaller place where everyone is looking for best practices and how to accelerate.”

We then moved the conversation towards VMware’s views on the edge to the core to cloud. Given that 5G is some time away, Duncan highlighted that they already have a customer in the region that is running 200 data centres on the edge and other customers around the world that are up to 1000. According to Duncan, they saw customers struggling having to run a large number of data centres and support. VMware’s strategy was to provide the same infrastructure they run on-premises, on cloud and extend that same paradigm out onto the edge.

“The advantage of doing this is we already have the management tools. You have the same control mechanism you’ve got in the data centre, and we just add the edge as another data centre. This makes it much easier. The traditional way of setting up a new data centre, a new set of operators and such has just changed. Cloud has made that possible and the way we set up managing the cloud, it enables us to change the way we run the edge as well.”

However, Duncan pointed out that the challenge is always about latency and what type of data businesses want to hold at the edge. The easiest way to deliver a service is centralised because businesses can build at once and run it all the way across.

“In the maturing of network and connections, there are still challenges across most of Asia. Countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, with their many islands, don’t always have a consistent connection. 5G will make this connection easier, but currently, we still have clients with a challenge running on platforms with inconsistent connection requiring capacity at the edge.”

Separately, in Duncan’s address at the CIO Forum, he highlighted that VMware brings modern applications and consistently runs them. At the end of the day, what matters most to all businesses beyond culture is the consistency they can have in delivering and being more efficient.

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