In HK, ser­vice providers on ‘cloud’ nine, but firms firm on terra firma

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By OSWALD CHAN in Hong Kong oswald@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Hong Kong is play­ing catch-up to em­brace cloud com­put­ing.

More and more providers of ser­vices are push­ing for cloud so­lu­tions.

But, most Hong Kong busi­nesses and firms are not en­thu­si­as­tic about adopt­ing the tech­nol­ogy.

Alibaba Cloud, the main­land e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba Group’s cloud com­put­ing busi­ness arm, is step­ping up the pace of its in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion with the de­ploy­ment of its own data cen­ters around the world to serve its 2.3 mil­lion cus­tomers from star­tups to large cor­po­ra­tions. Hong Kong is one of the busi­ness hubs for that ex­pan­sion.

The cloud ser­vices provider opened two data cen­ters in Hong Kong in Novem­ber 2015 and May 2014 to pro­vide a spec­trum of 100 cloud com­put­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices, in­clud­ing data stor­age, an­a­lyt­ics ser­vices, artificial in­tel­li­gence, in­ter­net mid­dle­ware and cloud se­cu­rity.

Alibaba Cloud is also reach­ing out to part­ners at the Hong Kong Sci­ence Park, Co­coon and PaperClip to pro­vide cloud com­put­ing ser­vices to fa­cil­i­tate lo­cal in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship.

“We have seen an in­creas­ing num­ber of en­ter­prises in­ter­ested in switch­ing from tra­di­tional in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy to cloud com­put­ing,” Alibaba Cloud’s Hong Kong and Ma­cao gen­eral man­ager Leo Liu told China Daily. “Given its prox­im­ity to the Chi­nese main­land and high de­mand fpr in­for­ma­tion ex­change be­tween the two mar­kets, we see great po­ten­tial in the Hong Kong mar­ket.”

The ma­jor­ity of Hong Kong en­ter­prises, how­ever, are still luke­warm about lever­ag­ing cloud tech­nol­ogy. A sur vey in Jan­uar y by Gart­ner, a global tech­nol­ogy re­search and ad­vi­sor y com­pany, re­vealed that chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cers in Hong Kong ranked cloud com­put­ing as a low pri­or­ity com­pared with their peers in In­dia, South­east Asia and Aus­tralia.

Liu agreed that the real threat to de­vel­op­ing a cloud com­put­ing mil­lion in­dus­try in Hong Kong is how to change the rigid men­tal­ity of lo­cal busi­nesses. “We be­lieve that our real com­pe­ti­tion is how to fur­ther change the tra­di­tional in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy mind­set to em­brace the new data tech­nol­ogy.”

Hong Kong has the in­gre­di­ents to be­come a cloud com­put­ing cen­ter if the rigid busi­ness men­tal­ity can be shaken up. Hong Kong’s busi­ness-friendly en­vi­ron­ment, free flow of in­for­ma­tion, de­vel­oped telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion in­fra­struc­ture, and a thriv­ing startup com­mu­nity are the fac­tors sup­port­ing the growth of the in­dus­try.

In the Cloud Readi­ness In­dex 2016 sur­vey by the Asia Cloud Com­put­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, Hong Kong jumped four spots from the pre­vi­ous re­port in 2015 to be­come the top des­ti­na­tion in cloud readi­ness among 14 Asia Pa­cific coun­tries this year.

Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, Hong Kong’s dras­tic im­prove­ments in data pri­vacy pro­tec­tion pro­pelled the city to the first rank. The city also made sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments in in­ter­na­tional con­nec­tiv­ity and data cen­ter risk man­age­ment.

The fu­ture of cloud com­put­ing in Hong Kong is cer­tainly a bright one as in­vest­ments in cloud com­put­ing are tipped to bal­loon.

Ac­cord­ing to Gart­ner, to­tal in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy spend­ing in Hong Kong in 2017, in­clud­ing data cen­ter sys­tems in­vest­ment, will soar to HK$175 bil­lion ($22.5 bil­lion), a 2.2 per­cent in­crease from 2016.

The world­wide pub­lic cloud ser­vices mar­ket is pro­jected to grow to $204 bil­lion in 2016, the tech­nol­ogy ad­vi­sory firm added.

After the data cen­ters in Hong Kong, Alibaba Cloud will also open another four data cen­ters in the United Arab Emi­rates, Ger­many, Aus­tralia and Ja­pan by the end of this year, boost­ing the to­tal num­ber of Alibaba Cloud’s to­tal data cen­ters to 14.

num­ber of users of Alibaba Group’s cloud com­put­ing busi­ness arm

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