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Reliability remains Asia's SMB cloud worry

Small and midsize businesses in region already adopting some cloud-based services, amid growing smartphone and 4G adoption, but concerns about having reliable connection remain a challenge for market segment, notes Parallels exec.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

The lack of reliable Internet connection is still a main obstacle for Asia's small and midsize businesses (SMBs) keen to adopt cloud computing services, says an executive.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Serguei Beloussov, chairman and CEO of Parallels, noted that the extent of cloud computing adoption among SMBs in the Asia-Pacific region is related to the spread of Internet connection. "If you look at Singapore, every SMB has a Web site. However, if you look beyond Singapore to Indonesia, for example, that would not be the case," Beloussov said.

He noted, though, that this will "dramatically change" with the growing adoption of smartphones and 4G wireless connection, allowing users easier access to the Internet. SMBs will then need to establish and grow their online presence, he said, adding that this market presents tremendous opportunity for cloud service providers.

According to Beloussov, adoption of some cloud services are already mainstream in the SMB segment. Aside from Web hosting services, these businesses are either already adopting or keen to adopt cloud-based communication tools such as e-mail and online collaboration tools, he added.

Service availability bigger concern
He noted that cloud-related issues such as security, data ownership and data privacy are less important to SMBs.

Instead, SMBs are more concerned about the availability of services, he said, emphasizing the importance of ensuring reliable Internet connection.

However, Beloussov noted that not all cloud services will see widespread adoption among Asian SMBs in the near future. Hosted services, for instance, will need two to five years before they reach mainstream.

"Today, SMBs [for reason such as] connectivity, privacy and perception, are still more comfortable getting their applications and the infrastructure to be on-premise," he said.

He added that the main opportunity in cloud computing for service providers lies with the SMB market.

"SMBs don't wait for the cloud and are not concerned about the potential problems. [The cloud] is the only chance for SMBs to get sophisticated IT," Beloussov said.

Unlike larger enterprises that are able to afford an in-house IT department, SMBs typically find it too complex to establish full-fledged, sophisticated IT infrastructure, he said. Through cloud computing, SMBs are able to adopt enterprise-level applications and tools, and be competitive, he added.

He noted that some service providers currently do not have a defined strategy for their cloud offerings.

"Cloud is very big and [depending on your customer], there are different ways to market, different ways of pricing, different channels, different services and so on," he said. "You can't do it in the same way."

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