Roaming clouds: Malaysian connectivity issues

Last week I was in Kuala Lumpur for a few days, moderating the first IT Priorities Roundtable discussion.
Written by Munir Kotadia, Contributor

Last week I was in Kuala Lumpur for a few days, moderating the first IT Priorities Roundtable discussion.


(Credit: Munir Kotadia/ZDNet Australia)

During a chat with one of the panellists, Chris Cheong, the regional IT director of Lowe & Partners, the conversation turned to cloud computing.

Cheong explained that although the cloud has many benefits, he was weary of implementing cloud projects in Malaysia (and a few other countries in the region) because internet connectivity just wasn't reliable enough.

Cloud computing is "a trend that we should look at seriously in efforts to save money and go green, but I still have some concerns in countries like Malaysia where bandwidth can be problematic", he said.

Unsurprisingly, he was worried about his corporate executives being left without access to critical information.

I got a personal taste of this the very next day, when the otherwise reliable internet connection in the hotel went down for about five hours.

As I rely heavily on Gmail and Google Docs, being without a connection, at any time, is ... well, it's a bit of a nightmare really.

For over a year now, I have taken it for granted that the internet would always be available. If the corporate network, or even my home connection, should fail, I could simply tether my laptop to the 3G connection on my mobile phone.

In KL, my initial reaction would have been to reach for the iPhone but I didn't have a local SIM card and was still roaming on the 3 network. Although that arrangement provides me with a monthly 2GB of relatively cheap data in Sydney, it would cost me $20 per megabyte (yes, megabyte) when in Malaysia.

Now in the past I have achieved 3G download speeds at hundreds of kilobits per second — if I had replicated that for a few hours while roaming in Malaysia, I dread to think what my next phone bill would have been.

Suddenly Chris' concerns about the region's problematic bandwidth seemed very sensible indeed.

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