Chal­lenges must be over­come to adopt cloud ser­vices in China

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By VIN­CENT FU

The pub­lic cloud mar­ket is evolv­ing quickly in China. En­cour­aged by the suc­cess of Ama­zon Web Ser­vices, Chi­nese In­ter­net gi­ants are be­gin­ning to en­ter the cloud mar­ket in earnest

Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd and other do­mes­tic play­ers are in­vest­ing heav­ily in cloud in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices, which is shap­ing the early com­pet­i­tive pat­tern.

How­ever, China’s cloud mar­ket is fac­ing chal­lenges, in­clud­ing reg­u­la­tory is­sues and lim­ited in­fra­struc­ture. Th­ese re­strict en­ter­prises from gain­ing value from cloud adop­tion and de­value the ben­e­fits that cloud ser­vices can pro­vide. Th­ese is­sues must be ad­dressed be­fore main­stream cloud adop­tion ar­rives in the next two to three years.

First and fore­most, com­plex reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments pro­long cloud pro­vi­sion time, push­ing IT lead­ers to plan ahead. China’s reg­u­la­tions don’t al­low global play­ers to of­fer cloud ser­vices alone. They must part­ner with lo­cal com­pa­nies to ob­tain the nec­es­sary li­censes. In ad­di­tion, cloud ser­vice pro­vi­sion and daily oper­a­tions need to be con­ducted by the lo­cal part­ners.

Global cloud providers such as Ama­zon Web Ser­vices and Mi­crosoft also phys­i­cally sep­a­rate their Chi­nese cloud im­ple­men­ta­tion from their global cloud plat­form due to se­cu­rity con­cerns from both the Chi­nese and US gov­ern­ments. This sep­a­ra­tion makes it im­pos­si­ble to im­ple­ment inter-re­gion mi­gra­tion and data repli­ca­tion.

Chi­nese en­ter­prises and multi­na­tional com­pa­nies in China have en­coun­tered chal­lenges to plan their cloud mi­gra­tion when they adopt for­eign cloud ser­vice providers. They ei­ther choose a sep­a­rate Chi­nese cloud with lim­ited shar­ing fea­tures with a global sys­tem, or adopt cloud in­fra­struc­ture out of China with some­what-long la­tency.

An­other is­sue is the “cloud­wash­ing” phe­nom­e­non, which re­quires IT lead­ers to scru­ti­nize ven­dors’ of­fer­ings and prod­uct roadmaps. “Cloud­wash­ing” means en­ter­prises some­times ob­fus­cate and make un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims about their cloud of­fer­ings.

There are many cloud-like prod­ucts and ser­vices in China’s mar­ket, such as vir­tual pri­vate servers. Th­ese play­ers claim en­ter­prises can enjoy scal­able IT re­sources that are sim­i­lar to the pub­lic cloud but in a more con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment. They also prom­ise to of­fer cus­tom­ized so­lu­tions to en­ter­prises that have com­plex IT ap­pli­ca­tions and many com­pli­ance re­quire­ments, es­pe­cially large en­ter­prises that are more cau­tious about cloud adop­tion.

How­ever, such ser­vices may be un­likely to live up to their claims. Busi­nesses would not re­ceive the ex­pected ben­e­fits in terms of scal­a­bil­ity, elas­tic­ity, self-ser­vice and a high de­gree of au­to­ma­tion.

The in­ca­pa­bil­ity of Chi­nese cloud ser­vice providers makes the sit­u­a­tion worse. China’s cloud mar­ket is im­ma­ture, al­though it is un­der rapid de­vel­op­ment.

To­day, many Chi­nese cloud ser­vice providers only of­fer ba­sic cloud fea­tures such as elas­tic com­put­ing and stor­age. They lack rich and deep cloud func­tion­al­ity and fea­tures as well as ecosys­tem part­ners to ad­dress busi­nesses’ re­quire­ments. The im­ma­ture na­ture of cloud prod­ucts and ser­vices hold back busi­nesses, es­pe­cially large en­ter­prises, on their per­cep­tion of the value of cloud ser­vices in China.

The au­thor is prin­ci­ple an­a­lyst at Gart­ner Inc.

Vin­cent Fu

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