What do Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and India have in common? Well for a start, the ZDNet IT Priorities team recently visited all five countries to learn about the different challenges faced by local CIOs.
As expected, buzz words such as Cloud and Green Computing were present in all the discussions, but it was fascinating to hear the same issues being dissected from so many different perspectives — depending on the relative maturity of each country's ICT industry.
For example, in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, panel members were keen to explore cloud computing but they said the country's comms infrastructure was not yet ready to support reliable deployment.
Singapore is a relatively tiny country with a mature comms infrastructure, and although cloud technologies are already being deployed, panel members were very concerned by the increasing costs of running ever more dense and power-hungry datacentres, especially in a tropical climate.
Another interesting point was made by an admin from the Singapore Ministry of Defence, who wanted to explore cloud computing but was held back from experimenting with the technology due to a lack of skills. Singapore imports a large proportion of its workforce, but for an organisation charged with protecting the country's state secrets, foreign contractors are not the preferred solution.
In sunny Sydney, the panel agreed that although they all want to be using "cloud" in some shape or form, defining the technology still causes great confusion.
Panellists in Melbourne suggested that much of this confusion arises from vendor marketing, where companies conveniently use the term "cloud" to sell almost anything in their product portfolio.
This was a flashback to the roundtable in Singapore, where vendors were accused of over-using the term "green", which confuses CIOs when trying to develop an environmentally-friendly chapter to their IT policy.
Next stop was India where, for the vast majority of the population, life is simply about survival. So it was no surprise that panel members were obsessed with saving money and thoroughly discussed the merits of Open Source versus proprietary software. However, a significant portion of the roundtable was spent raving about the financial merits of deploying Google's cloud service.
Last stop on the tour was Taiwan, where the panel was very keen to get its cloud projects up and running. Backed by a top-quality comms infrastructure and strong economy, Taiwanese CIOs were at an advanced stage in planning and testing their cloud projects. If you want to see the cloud in action, keep a close eye on Ilha Formosa.
All five countries hope that eventually their systems will evolve to a similar level of cloud ubiquity, but the speed at which this journey unfolds will depend on the relative maturity of each region's ICT industry.