The Asia Pacific market for cloud services is forecast to grow through the medium term, with 83% of companies in the region considering cloud deployments, and 34% actually apportioning 2011 budgets for cloud-related activities. However, the region still faces a handful of hurdles, a big part of which is infrastructure. According to a recent study by AMI Partners (news, site), cloud uptake in the APAC region will be highly dependent on infrastructure.

Infrastructure key to cloud success

In a recent report, AMI Partners said that ICT spending growth in 2011 among small and medium enterprises will involve cloud-based solutions and remote managed IT services. Daniel Sim, AMI's director of strategic engagements in Singapore, says that small and medium enterprises in APAC countries with fast and established Internet infrastructures will benefit most from SaaS-based solutions as well as remote managed IT services.

A good Internet infrastructure is key to rapid adoption of Cloud-based solutions and RMITS. Technology vendors offering cloud-based solutions and RMITS will find it necessary to work with infrastructure service providers even more now than before to explore go-to-market approaches in reaching out to these SMBs," he says.

Sim explains that SMBs usually adopt IT solutions in three stages. First stage is building infrastructure solutions for improving connectivity and communications. Second stage involves adopting technologies that enable connecting one's enterprise for enhanced competitiveness. Third stage involves extending the enterprise, or considering IT's long-run impact on the business. Given these three stages, a strong foundation on infrastructure will be necessary in order to move forward with successful cloud-based initiatives.

However, there is a big disparity in broadband penetration between the developed and emerging economies in APAC. In developing countries, broadband penetration can go as low as 0.7%. Meanwhile, this can go as high as 93% or higher in developed countries like South Korea. This huge gap in quality of service and infrastructure will be one big challenge that businesses will have to hurdle in their aim to move to the cloud.

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Involvement of ISPs in Cloud Deployment

ISP involvement, though, is not limited to providing fast broadband point-to-point access to businesses. For one, IDC predicts that telecommunication providers will find an advantage in offering cloud deployments both to enterprise clients and other service providers. First, these communications firms are in the best position to provide on-premise private cloud deployments, in addition to hybrid private-public clouds. Secondly, network equipment providers will move from offering on-premise products to cloud services.

Given this scenario, telecommunication providers can perhaps take advantage of either commercial or open-source solutions to providing cloud services, such as BroadVision's Clearvale Paasport or OpenStack, which enable telecom service providers to run their own "as-a-service" offerings to end-clients.