Strong economic growth in the Asian region will drive higher adoption of cloud technology, as will an established ecosystem of application developers who may eventually build the next big search engine or social media platform.
In a phone interview with ZDNet Asia, Microsoft Asia Pacific's regional director for Internet policy, John Galligan, said strong economic activities in this part of the world have seen governments invest heavily in broadband technology, which is a fundamental element for cloud services.
This, together with a keen interest in deriving more efficiency from citizen services and cost savings, will result in a greater cloud adoption, Galligan explained.
While America and Europe are more advanced economies, compared to Asia, he said the current austerity drive is pushing IT to the backseat in those Western regions.
"Europe is going through an economic resizing that Asia isn't going through," he noted. "The slowdown has stifled innovation there, but I'm sure as [European] governments seek to drive more value, they will show great examples of cloud technology leveraging."
In Asia, he said some markets are "evidently" more advanced in cloud adoption, depending on the country's level of ICT maturity, geographical size and broadband penetration. He added that countries with wider cloud deployment will display examples of best practices.
Galligan observed: "Asia economies have pumped in US$55 billion to expand the broadband infrastructure over the last 12 months, this is on top of the massive investment countries have carried out for the past 15 years. This will definitely drive the development of cloud services."
Service priorities to drive cloud in government
Elaborating on cloud adoption in the public sector, the Microsoft executive said governments will move different agencies to the cloud based on the priority of different services.
"Besides portal and Web-based services such as e-registration, we also see lots of excitement and opportunities for developing and incubating innovation. Governments not only lead by building cloud infrastructure, but also by creating an ecosystem where developers are able to come up with applications on the cloud platform," Galligan said.
For the public sector, the journey to the cloud is about consolidating and maximizing the server infrastructure, he noted. As a result, he said most are moving to a data center consolidation model while leveraging on existing ICT infrastructure.
Galligan explained: "For services with low risk [related to] data management and service delivery, agencies can rent a public cloud capacity and turn on infrastructure for a short period of time, [for example, to support] filing of records such as the census and elections, or for periods of a year."
He said governments around the world, not just in Asia, are also adopting this measure for "peak-loading periods".
However, cloud adoption in the public sector faces some challenges, he noted. "We see a lot of slowness because some agencies do not want to give up their infrastructure and be serviced by a [public] cloud," he said. "So there's a lot of dialog and discussion on how to move to a private cloud."
One significant concern regarding cloud technology is the uncertainty over the location where data is stored and how strong data protection is to safeguard against criminal intent.
He reasoned, however, that even legacy systems today will inevitably have security gaps. He advised governments and private sector entities to audit their current IT structure and understand the level of security they currently have.
Galligan said: "It's very interesting when people start to look at reliability, the level of redundancy and individual's access to the system, it can move decision makers to understand that maybe their current infrastructure is not as stable and secure as they think it is."