Tengku Zafrul: Google Cloud will enable Malaysia to move forward digitally

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz

KUALA LUMPUR: The setting up of Google Cloud's new region in Malaysia is a sign the private-public sector partnership approach is attracting the right high-quality investments in digital infrastructure, says Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

He said this would enable the country to move forward with cloud as one of the key enablers to empower every Malaysian digitally.

"We see cloud technology enabling the development of next-generation citizen-centric services to meet the expectations of the rakyat for digitalised public sector engagements and experiences.

"This would match those of the digital native businesses that frequently interact via Google Cloud with its scalable, cost-efficient, sustainable infrastructure and services.

"It would help us play a key role in moving 80% of government systems onto the cloud by the end of 2022. And to enable Malaysians to always access personalised, simple and secure public services through their personal devices,” he said as he welcomed the setting up of Google Cloud region in the country.

He added that with the public sector already taking the lead to a cloud-first strategy, traditional businesses like retail, manufacturing, media, entertainment, education and healthcare should capitalise on enablers such as Google Cloud to improve operational efficiencies.

Capital A Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, who was also present at the event, said all of the company’s office tools have been using Google workspace since 2014.

"Basically, when we moved from Microsoft office, the decision was unpopular at the time. I wanted collaboration and felt email was an old fashion way of communication, and wanted to switch to Chat.

"We wanted to build a company that collaborated better as we were growing bigger and needed tools to collaborate. While very early on there were some issues but it was the right decision, and no one complains about it now,” he said.

Fernandes also spoke about how as a digital company when they started 21 years ago with Air Asia, they saw the Internet as a tool and created a booking engine.

He said they used a cloud reservation system which is still in use 21 years later.

"After hearing about cloud, I made a trip to California and spoke about our interests. We wanted to make our digital services much more than an airline as we have amazing data.

"But we did not have the skill set to monetise it, so asked how Google Cloud would like to be part of this journey. So, this was the start of our adventure,” he said.

He said the switch was made to move everything from premise to cloud, which was painful for some but it was a revolution for Air Asia.

When Covid-19 came along Fernandes said it was timely to reinvigorate and re-strategise everything.

Google Cloud announced it was bringing its first cloud region to Malaysia to meet the growing demand for cloud services locally and around the world.

The Malaysia cloud region will join Google Cloud’s 11 existing regions across Asia Pacific and Japan, including two in Southeast Asia - in Singapore and Jakarta.

Google Cloud South East Asia managing director Ruma Balasubramaniam said Malaysia was a strategic market which had been gaining mindshare and market share with large enterprises operating in regulated industries.

"Malaysia’s digital economy is set to be worth US$35bil by 2025. Digital transformation, if leveraged fully, could create up to US$61.3bil in annual economic value in Malaysia by 2030 - the equivalent of 17% of local GDP in 2020,” she said.

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