The majority of countries in Asia-Pacific are inadequately prepared to support cloud computing, mainly due to gaps in legal and regulatory environments. This means that these markets cannot yet reap the full socioeconomic benefits that cloud implementation brings, according to a new report from the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
The first BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard, released Wednesday, found Japan and Australia as the top two countries in the world with the highest level of "cloud-readiness", with Japan scoring 83.3 and Australia, 79.2. Germany, the United States, and France made up the top five, while South Korea and Singapore were the other Asian markets in the top 10, taking eighth and tenth spot, respectively.
The Scorecard ranked 24 countries--accounting for 80 percent of the global ICT market--based on seven categories that measure how prepared a country was in supporting cloud computing. These categories were ICT infrastructure and broadband deployment; data privacy; IT security management, cybercrime laws; intellectual property (IP) enforcement; promotion of free trade; and support for industry-led standards to ensure data portability across the globe.
Commissioned by BSA, the study was conducted by Galexia throughout 2011 and the scores were finalized in January this year.
Developing Asian economies least cloud-ready
The study showed that the region's developing economies constituted the majority among the least cloud-ready countries. India, Indonesia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam were five of the bottom six countries that had a score of 50.0 and below, with Brazil coming in last at 35.1, it revealed.
On why Asian markets ranked so lowly in cloud-preparedness, Roger Somerville, senior director of government and policy, BSA Asia-Pacific, explained that besides ICT and broadband, legal and regulatory frameworks are equally relevant. This is because regulations such as privacy legislation, IP law protections, and prohibitions of data offshoring, all play a part in supporting--or stalling--cloud technology and traction, he said in an e-mail.
For instance, users will accept and adopt cloud only if they are "confident that private information stored in the cloud, wherever in the world, will not be used or disclosed by the cloud provider in unexpected ways", he said. However, countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Singapore do not yet have "substantial" data protection laws in place, the director noted.
Sommerville added that he expects the region's cloud-readiness to increase within the next few years because governments here are fully aware that "cloud will be a new engine of the global economy".
As such, there is the urgency among governments to lay down the proper legal and regulatory framework to support it, he stated. This is especially so since cloud presents a two-fold opportunity. It equalizes access to technology, opening the door to improved productivity and competitiveness for a country's businesses in the global marketplace. This, in turn, encourages economic growth, sustainable job creation, higher wages and standards of living, he pointed out.
Backing Somerville's observations, the study highlighted that the sharp divide between advanced and developing economies in cloud-readiness was noteworthy because the full social and economic benefits of cloud can only be realized with effective laws and regulations. Economies gain and grow the most when they have the "full power of cloud at their fingertips" and this will require significant legal and regulatory policy reforms--which can be modeled after those in top ranking countries, it stated.
The findings from BSA's Scorecard had similarities with those in a separate report by the Asia Cloud Computing Association's Cloud Computing Readiness Index 2011 last September. In that study, Japan was found to be the most prepared for cloud computing, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Australia.