Lack of internal expertise and reluctance to embrace new IT offerings are stopping small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in Singapore from jumping on to the cloud computing bandwagon despite initiatives to boost adoption, industry watchers noted.
According to John Ong, Check Point Software Technologies' regional director for South Asia, one of the main reasons why SMBs are not utilizing cloud computing is because they do not have the required IT expertise to manage such a deployment.
SMBs, in general, are looking out for in cloud offerings are "control, simplicity and flexibility", but some of the current products in the market can be too complicated for SMBs to adopt, he said in his e-mail.
For instance, Ong cited the example of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and how it has a "very advance cloud computing architecture" which requires the appropriate technical skill set to know how to configure for implementation. This is despite AWS's APIs (application programming interfaces) are openly available, he added in his e-mail.
The executive also pointed out that SMBs do not have the budgets to keep large IT teams, which makes attracting and retaining talent that much more difficult.
"The lack of expertise, coupled with something as esoteric as cloud computing, which is not as well-articulated to non-IT people compared to e-mail or Web browsing, mean SMBs will hesitate to adopt it," said Ong.
SMBs in 'survival mode'
Another industry insider, Sophia Yong, agreed with Ong on how financial constraints, coupled with an aversion to new technology, have played a part in hampering cloud adoption among Singapore SMBs.
The business solutions director of PeopleSearch said that some SMBs are not refreshing their IT resources as not all companies are out of the "survival mode" necessitated by the 2009 recession.
"These companies may have a misconception that implementing new technology will eat into their bottom line," she explained.
Others, though, may be doing well and see no need for change, she added.
Chris Wong, a local IT administrator, illustrated this mindset when he shared that his company's stance towards IT is "if it's not broken, don't fix it".
"While the company has been making profits, the few managers running the business have been less than enthusiastic about renewing IT operations. Even suggestions for e-mail migration are cast aside as they are uncomfortable with the idea of letting others handle our data," he elaborated.
Furthermore, the IT team, which comprise of three other colleagues besides him, would spend most of its time maintaining existing operations and have little spare time to look into cloud migration, Wong admitted.
Cloud education needed
To address some of these barriers to cloud adoption, Ong called for more cloud education--not just to impart expertise to IT professionals but also for companies to learn more about current technology trends.
"Some hosted e-mail providers use Amazon's cloud to provide backend redundancy for hosted email. To a SMB, they may not even know they are using cloud computing, just that their e-mail service provided by these hosted email providers work well, and are cost-efficient," he observed.
On the local government's end, it has been hard at work to ease companies' journies to the cloud, Yong pointed out.
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF), for example, are currently in the midst of preparing a cloud computing standards that is aimed to address key issues such as security and service level agreements, she noted.