While it was not the earliest to hop on the cloud computing bandwagon, Asia is arguably one of the strongest adopters of the cloud today. Indeed, data center growth is expected to accelerate in the Asia Pacific (APAC), driven by a new wave of hyperscale data centers designed to power the facilities of cloud giants and meet fast-growing demand in the region.
A multi-cloud future
Within the cloud, businesses are increasingly eyeing hybrid, multi-cloud deployments. The appeal of this approach lies in how it gives organizations the ability to shift workloads across cloud platforms for heightened resilience, while ensuring that they are not held beholden to any one cloud platform.
Multi-cloud deployments aren’t just something for nimble startups or technology-savvy enterprises either, but also for the public sector. For instance, the Singaporean government agency GovTech years ago shared how it is developing a hybrid, multi-cloud architecture.
Businesses in the region are spoilt for choice in terms of rolling out multi-cloud deployments on the public cloud. In Southeast Asia in particular, one can now find multiple cloud regions from the top cloud players such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud, as well as those from Chinese cloud firms such as Alibaba Cloud, Huawei Cloud, and Tencent Cloud.
But for all the enthusiasm for multi-cloud deployments, what is often glossed over is the inherent complexity of a multi-cloud deployment. Fully understanding and leveraging the capabilities of one cloud platform is a demanding enough undertaking all by itself, and is even more challenging when additional cloud platforms are thrown into the mix.
And building cloud-native applications or repurposing existing services to function flawlessly on top of disparate clouds calls not just for cloud know-how but also requires a thorough understanding of their many quirks and differing architectures.
A ‘kingmaker’ of clouds
This is where HashiCorp comes into the picture. The San Francisco-based software company offers a suite of open-source tools designed to support the development and deployment of large-scale cloud computing infrastructure. One of its linchpin products is Terraform, a well-established solution that lets businesses build and modify both cloud and on-premises resources using code.
This ability to manage and provision infrastructure with code instead of manual processes is known as infrastructure as code. Though HashiCorp is hardly the first on the scene, it appeared to have found success as one of the most popular open-source tools for infrastructure automation.
Crucially, its plugin architecture has attracted a massive network of third-party providers that actively build compatible products to significantly broaden its appeal. And, as with other firms that offer open-source products, HashiCorp makes money by charging for the additional operational and collaboration features that enterprises need.
But how does HashiCorp ensure continual support for the top public clouds, considering that they are constantly evolving and updating their features? Grant Orchard, the APJ Field CTO at HashiCorp attributed this compatibility to a joint engineering effort with the cloud providers to minimize any gaps between feature delivery and their availability within Terraform.
And though the various cloud providers have their own infrastructure as code offerings, Orchard says the advantage of going with HashiCorp is that it works across clouds, giving enterprises a single, scalable solution.
The power of infrastructure as code
So, what is it that attracts Asia Pacific (APAC) customers to his company’s suite of products? Orchard highlighted two reasons that he consistently hears from APAC firms that adopt his organization’s products: a broad ecosystem, and the ability to bridge the cloud skills gap.
“With the breadth of technologies in use by our customers across both traditional data center vendors, public clouds, and SaaS providers, they need a vendor whose focus is on the ecosystem. And with over 2,600 providers for Terraform, we fit that bill better than any other vendor in the industry,” he told DCD.
In addition, Orchard says standardization through the HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL) language used to configure its solutions using code can help address the ongoing skills shortage in cloud professionals. Indeed, HCL as used by Terraform was lauded in GitHub’s latest State of the Octoverse report as the fastest-growing language on GitHub.
Though the focus of infrastructure-as-code is on provisioning infrastructure, there are secondary benefits to organizations. Referring to HashiCorp’s managed offering which runs in its cloud, Orchard noted that it allows businesses to audit configuration changes with ease.
“[Another benefit] is providing audit controls through policy-as-code in Terraform Cloud. Requests that fall outside of compliance, and any decision to override them are all captured and logged. This makes the controls easier to implement, and the auditing process itself less arduous and expensive,” he explained.
Quickening cloud adoption in Asia
Multi-cloud deployments are increasing in APAC. According to HashiCorp’s recent State of Cloud Strategy Survey 2022, over eight in 10 APAC respondents choose multi-cloud, with 46 percent already using multi-cloud infrastructures and an additional 38 percent saying they will be within the next 12 months. Financial services as the early adopters in this space, says Orchard, though uptake has also been strong across retail, resource, telecommunications, and the public sector.
One of the organizations that took to the cloud to complement its IT infrastructure in Manila would be the Asia Development Bank (ADB). With the pressing need to establish a new disaster recovery location in APAC, the team turned to Terraform to quickly build up its disaster recovery site on the Azure cloud in the Singapore region.
According to team lead Krista Lozada, HCL was easy to pick up and served as a unifying language between the network and server teams. And defining everything as code meant that the latest configuration is always captured, while changes can be quickly made and pushed out within minutes, instead of days or weeks.
For now, Orchard says organizations that are early adopters of the cloud are less prone to viewing multi-cloud challenges as a top problem. However, industries new to the space and not traditionally tech-savvy, such as the public sector, are experiencing this skills gap much more acutely.
Regardless, hybrid, multi-cloud deployments are the way forward – with infrastructure as code easing the journey. “If you were hesitating three to five years ago, I could argue that was prudence. Today I couldn’t make the same argument,” summed up Orchard.