The Troposphere

Jan 7 2011   12:04AM GMT

Asia cloud driven by broadband, poised to grow

CarlBrooks Carl Brooks Profile: CarlBrooks

A new report from the 451 Group paints a picture of cloud computing poised to spread but bound by limits of infrastructure. It’s still a tiny fraction of the IT market but advanced Asian governments are promoting cloud, with government-run data center and technology parks courting cloud development projects in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Communications and local government initiatives are two major forces driving the deployment of clouds in developing Asia, said Agatha Poon, research manager on global cloud computing for 451. Many parts of Asia are very technologically advanced, often well over what anywhere in the Americas can boast — South Korea is the most broadband-connected country in the world — but it’s localized in small pockets around strategic connection hubs.

There’s massive dark (or dim) gaps where communication infrastructure is lacking, underpowered or evolving in weird new directions with mobile communications (like most of India). But, for example, last year Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM opened clouds in Singapore. AWS is (probably) in the giant Equinix facility and IBM in the Chengi Business Park, run by the government’s Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. AWS has an Availability Zone for its cloud there; IBM is doing something mysterious and high concept, naturally. Chinese telecoms are also experimenting with cloud platforms.

Poon says the market is gunning for SMBs who want new services based around cloud infrastructure; the large enterprises there are going to be more conservative, precisely the same pattern cloud is following in the US and Europe. The growth rate looks exponential — the 451 Group predicts $1 million of cloud spending in 2009 to be $17 million by the end of 2011.

That’s small potatoes, but a significant vote of confidence. Poon said that businesses are going to get more options, but local ICT providers should gird their loins: if they don’t catch up or implement something cloud-like, they’ll get absolutely crushed by the big players in the region.

The big telcos in Asia are moving fast in the cloud space, Poon said, either through partnerships and strategic investments. She pointed to South Korean telco KT, which is making an aggressive shift toward offering cloud infrastructure (compute and storage) through a variety of platforms, like Cloud.com and enStratus, and said the tech giants that supply the world with hardware, like Fujitsu and Samsung, were also gearing up to service the cloud market.

Its another interesting demonstration of the way the market for cloud works; it’s organic, demand-based, almost biological. It’s creeping out along the bright communication hubs, where the activity and the cash and electricity-based nutrition is, and avoiding the leaner pastures.

That’s because cloud computing, properly done, minimizes the fears of risky investment. A provider can go where the action is and drop in a little bit. If it works, they can add some more. There’s no need for anybody, provider or user, to stand up a massive data center operation and just hope for the best. They can just take it, or leave it. As long as there’s a big pipe nearby, of course.

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