Players Join Forces To Address Asia's Cloud Computing Challenges

Asia Cloud Computing Association's founding members include a number of heavyweight global vendors and service providers.

hidden November 23, 2010 12:48:16 IST
Players Join Forces To Address Asia's Cloud Computing Challenges

Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems, EMC Corporation, Microsoft, NetApp, Nokia Siemens Networks, PLDT/Smart, Rackspace, REACH, Telenor, and Verizon, have formed the Asia Cloud Computing Association (Asia Cloud), an open collaboration forum based in the Asia Pacific region.

The non-profit, vendor-neutral organisation will address regional issues and challenges to adoption of cloud computing in Asia including privacy and security concerns, compliance and regulatory mandates, licensing models, service levels, and other market risks.

Commenting on the association, Mike Sapien, Principal Analyst & Claudio Castelli, Senior Analyst say, “The non-profit and vendor-neutral organisation has been formed to promote collaboration among cloud computing stakeholders to accelerate market growth in Asia, which is expected to evolve faster than other regions as a result of the expected stronger economic growth. However, this growth is tempered by the region’s unique and varied regulatory, policy, regional requirements, and increased security concerns. This growth may be accelerated by different initiatives such as standardising nomenclature, addressing security standards, uniting on public policy, and validating regulatory positions, as well as educating the market on the benefits of the cloud, where a collective voice is more likely to succeed.”

The organisation’s founding members include a number of heavyweight global vendors and service providers, but all the leading regional cloud computing telcos are noticeably missing. Asia Cloud’s founding members are Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, EMC, Microsoft, NetApp, Nokia Siemens Networks, The Philippines’ PLDT/Smart, Rackspace, REACH, Telenor Group, and Verizon. “This seems to be a party for those who want to enter the region but not necessarily the region stakeholders themselves. In addition to telcos, hardware and software developers, the association offers specific forums for all stakeholders including policy makers, researchers, and enterprise users. Its success will depend on its capacity to attract a significant number of regulators and regional enterprises to the discussion,” add Sapien and Castelli.

“Cloud adoption in the Asia Pacific region has yet to reach its full potential. The regulatory landscape and varying market maturity levels have fragmented the adoption of cloud computing in the region,” noted Asia Cloud Chairman and REACH Chief Information Officer, Sundi Balu. “Organisations in Asia have voiced several concerns, particularly around security, service levels, and regulatory positions. There is a strong sense of urgency to have these concerns resolved by an open industry collaboration focused on the actual market realities and conditions in Asia. With Asia Cloud as a platform, key stakeholders can collaborate on issues specific to Asia and enable faster and more efficient adoption of cloud computing.”

The Ovum analysts go on to say that Asia Pacific is one of the most complex regions for companies seeking regulatory compliance and market entry by outsiders. Some of these members are even offering professional services to support customers on this challenge; for example, Verizon Business has recently introduced a portfolio of professional services to help its customers comply with regulations in the multiple countries where they operate. In the region, China continues to present one of the most challenging regulatory environments. Foreign service providers cannot directly offer telecoms services within China. Joint ventures and partnerships are allowed, but direct investment is tightly restricted. It is still very unclear whether infrastructure or data can be shared outside China, which creates unique design challenges for cloud services or the ability to even back up services outside the country.

The organisation will evaluate global cloud standards produced by other industry associations and determine which can be adapted or advocated regionally. Initial working groups include those for public policy and regulatory issues, security, taxonomy, and carrier-grade applications. Anticipated deliverables for 2011 include best practices, a cloud-readiness index, development of a taxonomy, and the establishment of formal relationships with other organisations in cloud computing.

“The association will need to be engaging policy makers, service providers, and especially early users of cloud computing within the region to promote, sponsor, identify and share some standard messages with the stakeholders (including regulators). This will also include sharing best practices within the region, as well as setting achievable goals that will reduce barriers to cloud adoption. It is likely that a prioritised list of issues, starting with a few countries and focusing on a few barriers, will be more successful than having broad and general goals across too many complex issues and countries,” conclude Sapien and Castelli.

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