Cloud is taking our talent offshore

In cloud computing, the issue of outsourcing is as great as it is in call centres, tech support and similar spheres.

In cloud computing, the issue of outsourcing is as great as it is in call centres, tech support and similar spheres.

Rackspace is a big Texas company gone global, and is a larger version of Auckland-based Revera, which also operates in Australia. Despite having customers in Australia, Rackspace prefers to keep the work in America .

IBM is building a huge datacentre in Auckland, due to open next year, but typically the US mindset is: "We're going to bring it all back here."

Microsoft, which hosts its cloud in Singapore, told me that such regional or globally-based services means it gains economies of scale and can offer all kinds of wonderful things at a great price, even to smaller organisations in Australia or New Zealand.

Yet, the more work the cloud giants can draw from here, the more intellectual property they capture and the more IT professionals they'll attract. And if there's less to work on here, why stick around?

We do not want our best and brightest heading to Singapore, Texas or wherever, in even greater numbers than they currently do. It could be a real issue for both Australia and New Zealand. It's also a security issue, because it means less control.

Perhaps the local cloud presents a happy compromise.

The call centre world has just revealed the limitations of offshoring. Kiwi company Greenstone Energy announced the return of its call centre back to New Zealand, using local call centre outsourcer Telnet.

As well as having "Kiwis talking to Kiwis", the Greenstone-Telnet deal will bring significant savings in IT and telephony costs.

Telnet founder and chief executive John Chetwynd said about 70 per cent of input cost in the contact centre industry was labour, and from an economic perspective, "that is a very strong driver to outsource offshore".

"But what we are doing in New Zealand is that we are using technology in a smarter way, specifically in the way we capture information and build knowledge bases from the type of calls the customers are making and the queries they have," said Chetwynd.

"We are really looking pragmatically at what is happening and then using technology to service customers better and faster. The benefit corporates get from this balances the effect of labour cost when decisions are made."

Perhaps there might be similar advantages to keeping our clouds in the country.