Virtualization, security holding back Asia cloud rollout

The number of virtualized systems in Asia is still very low and needs to ramp up in order for cloud to be more widely adopted in the region, concerns also have held back adoption, though businesses are now starting to realize the benefits of moving to the cloud are too great to ignore.

In an interview with ZDNet, Dimension Data Asia-Pacific CEO Bill Padfield pointed to industry stats that put the adoption of virtualization in Asia-Pacific at between 18 percent and 25 percent. The region is under-virtualized, compared to markets such as Australia where the level of virtualized systems clocked at 85 percent.

As the underlying infrastructure and enabler of cloud computing, basic virtualization needs to be deployed before companies can adopt cloud services, Padfield noted.

An "obsession" about security had also held Asian businesses back from cloud, he said, adding that the various data regulatory requirements further complicated matters. He noted that laws governing cloud data and services are still evolving and trying to keep pace with technology advancements in this space.

Because cloud computing typically cuts across multiple countries, and therefore jurisdictions, it is highly complicated and difficult to identify which data should be governed under which jurisdiction.

A company based in Vietnam, for instance, can be accessing a cloud service that’s delivered from Hong Kong but routing data through another system in Indonesia. Amid this complicated cloud network, regulators will need to figure out how to identify and track the targeted data.

It’s easy to see and audit physical assets, but the same can’t be said for cloud data, Padfield said. The obsession about security had held companies back from moving to the cloud, he said, but noted that this has been slowly dissipating over the past few years.

"Now it’s less about security and more about how to move to the cloud faster," he said. "They want to be able to test on the cloud as fast as possible and get their applications to the cloud."

Businesses that had started transitioning have realized the model works and are now building their apps on the cloud, he added, pointing to retailer Kathmandu, as an example. The New Zealand apparel maker deployed its ERP application on Dimension Data’s public compute-as-a-service offering, allowing them to access higher capacity on a pay-per-use model and run new applications in a test environment based on live data.

According to Padfield, cloud is the vendor’s fastest growing business in the Asia-Pacific region, where Dimension Data is pushing a 700 percent annual growth rate. The systems integrator had begun driving its cloud agenda three years ago after acquiring companies such as BlueFire in Australia and OpSource in the United States, he said.

The acquisitions enabled the company to offer standardized hardware for public, private, and hosted cloud infrastructures, and provided capabilities in automation, metering, and billing, he added. "They gave us the platforms to be cloud operator for the first time," he said.

Dimension Data delivers its cloud services through a network of Managed Cloud Platform (MCP) locations worldiwde, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Amsterdam, and London, as well as its One Cloud Alliance community comprising service providers such as BSNL in India, Indosat in Indonesia, and Hitachi in Japan.

With the exception of India, where it partnered BSNL to build six data centers to meet the local regulatory requirements, Dimension Data does not operate its own data centers. Its parent company, NTT Communications, owns most of such physical assets.

Cisco Systems last month said it will roll out Dimension Data’s public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) as one of two hybrid cloud choices on its Intercloud architecture, along with its own UCS Director. The two companies will also partner on another IaaS platform that will be bundled with other Cisco technology and SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications, including Microsoft SQL Server and SharePoint.


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