Cloud computing has been a reoccurring theme at the ZDNet IT Priorities Roundtable discussions, and in Taiwan, the panellists were more keen than most to locate their corporate data somewhere it could be easily accessed, regardless of its geographic location.
With a highly advanced telecommunications infrastructure, the only real question was whether to outsource, or create their own cloud, according to Alan Tsao, a senior research manager for enterprise computing at IDC Taiwan.
"In Taiwan, compared to other countries, IT infrastructure and telecom infrastructure we are more mature — probably better than Malaysia and better than India," Tsao said.
Johnson Lin, a security expert and ZDNet Taiwan columnist, agreed.
"A private cloud is the first choice for large companies and I think I remember Gartner saying that the private cloud is the way to the public cloud, which I think is a very interesting roadmap," he said.
Yet the costs involved in building a corporate cloud are still too high, according to Ryan Hsieh, CIO of Wayi International Digital Entertainment.
"The existing price model is not cost-effective enough for big-usage users who are willing to throw their weight behind the cloud service," he said.
Panel members were concerned that the technology for in-house was not yet mature enough to guarantee security, especially Professor Ya-Li Sun from the National Taiwan University, who said administrators need to consider many risks before proceeding.
"If you have an application to be deployed, how much hardware is needed? What security concerns should you consider before deploying the service/application? When your business grows, what kind of hardware or software can be immediately put in place ... these are the kind of values a cloud service provider can provide to enterprises," she said.
IDC's Tsao highlighted risk management as a very serious consideration.
"Security and availability is a must for people to leverage cloud computing because that is the foundation of the business operation. If you lose security, if you lose availability, you can't do nothing — so that is a 'must' for people to implement cloud computing technology," he said.
Lin also cited security as a major barrier to cloud deployment.
"Most [vendors] are talking about their bandwidth, their availability and their performance. Most of them have forgotten about security. If you are thinking about cloud services, you have to think about security first because without security, they are nothing," he added.
However, the biggest barrier between Taiwan's CIOs and full cloud deployment seems to be a subject shared by the entire IT community — how to modify legacy applications for this new delivery method.
This is one area that Professor Sun believes vendors can provide an invaluable service.
"When an enterprise runs an application on their machine and now they want to move it to the cloud, some things have got to be modified. The cloud provider has to sell not just the virtual machine or the storage, they have to provide a consultation service to the enterprise to tell them what needs to be modified and enhanced so the application can run better," she added.
Before this event, it was obvious that cloud computing was a topic that Taiwan's CIOs had already spent a great deal of time considering. Their enthusiasm for the subject was clearly demonstrated when, even after the official roundtable had concluded, they stayed behind for an extra hour to continue the discussion.
Wayi International's Ryan concluded that ubiquitous cloud computing in Taiwan is simply a matter of time.
"I'm confident the cloud service has a future in Taiwan, but it still needs some time to mature before people accept it," he added.