At the recently held Cloud Asia Forum there was a session titled “Food for thought discussion: Innovate or Die – Business models and disruptive technologies”. It was during this session that it was predicted that the number of companies embracing cloud computing in the next five years would double. SMEs sitting among the audience must have felt the pressure to change and to do so quickly.
Cloud computing and cloud computing technology seem to be a natural fit for SMEs. They have the potential to be a great equaliser as they allow SMEs access to the latest enterprise grade tools on a pay-per use basis from anywhere and at any time – and levels the playing field with big business using the empowering nature of the Internet.
SMEs predominate in Asia and 90% of Asian businesses are classified as SMEs. Staff at many Asian SMEs work remotely via their mobile devices and bring-their-own devices to work, an ideal fit for cloud computing. In 2014 these companies contributed $10.9 trillion to their economies and accounted for about 49% of GDP. However, estimated sales of cloud products to SMEs in Asia-Pacific was $2 billion with the growth rate at 42%. This indicates there remains much market potential.
The Asian cloud journey has not been an easy one. A relatively stable and sophisticated IT infrastructure at national level is important for cloud but still wanting in a number of emerging APAC economies. Price and flexibility is an issue in less developed countries, infrastructure reliability remains an issue and IT skills sometimes fall short. Finally cloud pricing is complicated, vendors are using a wide range of models and sometimes vendor prices are not even published. This is in addition to other concerns such as data portability, security, reliability of the system in the face of outages and the fear of loss of control.
Before making the leap it is essential to understand the cloud solutions / service provider’s ability to meet current and future needs. Probably top of the list is the acceptable range of risks associated with the use of cloud services and willingness to accept the risk and terms of provision. Another key area is data protection / ownership. It is important to know the location and jurisdiction of data and access and whether there are security procedures in light of differences in legal and regulatory compliance.
Also important to consider are meaningful service level agreements that look at compensation for business impacting outages, loss of data, exit strategy and termination procedure which allows for the transfer of data back to the company. Not least, there should also be interoperability across environments and flexibility to support different workloads.
Also during the event, Rajnesh Singh, Director of the Internet Society’s Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau, led a discussion on ‘China and the Internet’. The session covered the current state of the Chinese Internet market and challenges and opportunities for both companies looking at entering the Chinese market, and Chinese companies moving into external markets. Panelists included Charles Mok, Legislative Councillor for Information Technology, Hong Kong and Edmon Chung, CEO of DotAsia.