China a long way from cloud computing

By Wang Zhiyong
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, November 9, 2010
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China may have built the world's fastest supercomputer, but it lags far behind the pack on the buzzword of the moment – cloud computing. In a Nov 9 speech to the 4th U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum in Beijing, Dr. He Baohong of the China Academy of Telecommunications Research set out four leaps China must make to reach the clouds.

Speed up construction of a broadband network

Cloud computing relies heavily on high-speed broadband. But Internet bandwidth in China is still very limited. According to a 2009 report by Akamai, the average rate of data transfer is just 857 kbps – less than a tenth of the 9.2 Mbps common in developed countries.

Scale up data centers, improve service quality

Internet Data Centers (IDC) are the basic platforms for cloud computing. But China's IDCs are mostly small-scale, energy-thirsty facilities that provide poor service. China's IDC market amounted to 6.39 billion yuan in 2009, just 5 percent of the Asian market. More than 90 percent of China's IDCs occupy less than 400 square meters.

Switch IT focus from products to services

China's IT industry is still transitioning from a self-sufficient "natural economy" to a professional, service-based "commodity economy," according to Dr. He.

The industry's current products, including servers, storage units and routers, are not fit for purpose for building cloud computing platforms. Some ISPs have resorted to customizing equipment for their cloud computing offerings, but in the longer run operators need to be able to buy fully functional products directly from the market.

Build the customer market

Cloud computing has great market potential to the 42 million Chinese SMEs with inadequate IT facilities. But the market will not grow of its own accord.

Management mindsets need to change from buying physical products to buying services. IT department heads must be convinced that having computers on the premises is not the key to servicing the business. Better auditing of physical assets may encourage state-owned enterprises and government departments to make the switch to cloud computing services, according to Dr. He.

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