How cloud computing will let loose the Asian dragon

chinese dragonAsia’s unique combination of large numbers of entrepreneurs and software developers offers tremendous opportunities for dynamic cloud growth, while European and Australian companies continue to lag in the shadow of the US.

That’s the view of Nigel Beighton, VP of technology and product, for managed hosting-cum-open cloud company Rackspace, who was in Hong Kong this week to discuss how the “sleeping software giant” of Asia will soon awake.

He argued that European and Australian firms are 18 months to 2 years behind their US rivals and suffer from the same issues around legacy infrastructure.

“Asia is fascinating because it doesn’t track what happens in the US. It has its own culture and personality and if you think about software development in Asia it’s different. Even the code they write looks different. The way people think about mathematics and structure and architecture is different,” he said.

“Cloud enables business to be agile and Asia is very good at that – at being entrepreneurial. At the same time it’s cool to be a software developer here and cloud is enabling software developers to do what they want to do immediately.”

The US market, while it still has a “degree of creativity”, is very much in a phase of consolidation at the moment, dealing with legacy infrastructure and looking at changing business models, Beighton argued.

To an extent, Europe and Australian firms are in a similar boat – held back by a large legacy application estate going back 10-15 years which makes it difficult to scale vertically in the cloud, he added.

However, there aren’t many examples of cutting edge cloud innovation in the region – he gave China’s indigenous search engine companies led by Baidu as one – because it’s still early days. As a result, education remains an important part of the cloud provider’s role.

It’s worth bearing in mind here that even though it now has a successful enterprise business, Rackspace began life serving entrepreneurial SMB-type companies, which is why the firm is always keen to enthuse about this end of the market. It’s also part of the reason why it located a regional datacentre in Hong Kong rather than rival IT hub of Singapore which is geared more towards servicing larger financial organisations, according to Beighton.

“For us the entrepreneurial aspect of Hong Kong was really interesting, and how that would work in conjunction with China,” he said, adding that public cloud capabilities from the datacentre would be available in Q4 this year.

Rackspace is not the only cloud provider waxing lyrical about the huge potential in the Asia region. EMC Greater China president Denis Yip argued at a conference in Hong Kong last summer that China is actually trumping the US and the rest of the world at the cutting edge of cloud computing deployments.

However, despite huge building projects by local government in China, there is a real risk datacentre capacity will lie idle because not enough thought has gone into working out what to use it all for and how to generate profits once the infrastructure is completed.

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