Since the term “cloud computing” was coined in 2006, it has grown from concept to reality and has begun to make a major difference for businesses by powering productivity, cutting costs and freeing up IT staff to focus on more mission-critical work. IDC estimates that more than US$400 billion revenue was generated around the world in 2010 by the flourishing of this technology.
China, as the world’s second largest economy and fastest growing major economy, is now beginning to see the potential of cloud computing. Its 12th Five-Year Plan is closely tied to the cloud computing agenda, including vast investments in cloud initiatives. According to KPMG Hong Kong, an investment of RMB 1.1 trillion is planned for the development of key cloud computing hubs, and Forrester Research also reported that the Mainland government plans to build 20 new cloud computing centers across the country, adding to the five cloud hubs already set up in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Wuxi.
With the huge business space that cloud computing has the potential to create in mind, the entire ICT world, from start-ups and entrepreneurs to major enterprises, is trying every means possible to successfully enter this arena, including searching for potential partners, exploring collaboration opportunities and attempting to lead new trends. Asia Cloud Computing Association’s Cloud Readiness Index stated that Hong Kong is the second largest user of cloud technologies in Asia, and with more and more cloud service providers locating data centres in the territory, is fast becoming North Asia’s data hub. Its excellent international connectivity, coupled with good governance, provides a strong platform for cloud development. Most importantly, Hong Kong’s established advantage as a window to the international and mainland markets has made it much more competitive than other countries in the region. The question Hong Kong ICT entrepreneurs face now is how to seize potential business opportunities ahead of the crowd.
While the elegance of cloud computing is widely recognised, no standard for moving data between different clouds has yet been established, although some cloud certification programs and benchmarks have been developed. This lack of standardization impedes scalability, one of the major advantages of cloud computing. As cloud computing rises in prevalence, industry players are discussing how to develop a set of cloud computing standards that will properly address the potential issues that may arise during its development, to simplify work procedures and maximize efficiency. Standardization in general, apart from interoperability, is now at the forefront of the cloud computing agenda, and it is predicted that cloud computing standardization will impact cloud computing in various ways. However, a concern remains that any cloud computing policies and standards that result from these discussions may not be implemented effectively on the mainland.
To take advantage of Hong Kong’s access to the international and mainland markets, as well as the potential business opportunities arising from the construction of new data centers in the near future, it is crucial for ICT entrepreneurs and start-ups to be well-prepared and well-equipped to enter the Mainland market, which includes having a sound understanding of these policies and standards.
To facilitate the process in and discussion on cloud computing standardization, as well as to enhance the industry’s awareness of the topic, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer of Hong Kong (OGCIO) has recently announced to form a cloud expert group, officially named “Expert Group on Cloud Computing Services Architecture and Standards”, with the aim to help driving the development of cloud computing standards and best practices within the Hong Kong government. Cyberport will be one of the members of the group, together with other IT professionals including OGCIO staff, representatives from Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, and other specialists from different sectors that have rich experience in cloud computing.
Cyberport, with a mission to become a leading ICT hub for the APAC region, provides support for ICT start-ups and industry players through collaborative opportunities with ICT authorities of major cities that create opportunities for talent from both sides to work together, providing aid to cloud-based applications developers via its Incubation Program, and hosting seminars on visionary ICT topics. Cyberport has also recently allied with five local ICT associations to form “Hong Kong Cloud Standards Alliance” to effectively tackle the needs and concerns of cloud computing standardization. And at the latest Next Generation Information Technology Standard Symposium (30 March) hosted by Cyberport and OGCIO, ICT leaders from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangdong, together with many other experts in the region, gathered and shared insights on the potential of cloud computing and the vital role standardization and other policies will play in shaping the future of cloud computing on the mainland.
As ICT practitioners in the industry, we are all here to witness the cloud computing journey!
By Herman Lam, CEO of Cyberport
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