The Asia-Pacific region sees a wide disparity in terms of business adoption of cloud services. Use differs among markets, but the common denominator is that businesses are increasingly using, or planning to use, cloud services to help minimize costs and improve access to services and applications.

A recent study by Springboard Research indicates that about 83% of companies in the region consider cloud services as relevant, which is a 100% growth from just a year and a half ago. With 6,953 companies polled across seven countries, the study has found firms in Japan to be the most interested in cloud services, with 92% of respondents finding it relevant.

In terms of the actual use of cloud services, Japan and Australia are leading, at 36% and 31%, respectively. Meanwhile, Indian and Chinese firms are leading in terms of their plans to move to the cloud, with 43% and 39% of businesses responding affirmatively.

Differences in Cloud Usage

Springboard notes that most respondents to the study consider IT-as-a-service a major component of their business operations. "These companies are looking for vendors and consultants that can help them enjoy serviced-based IT, particularly in the areas of cloud infrastructure and management," says Michael Barnes, Springboard’s vice president of software.

Even with an increased uptake, different markets show different areas of interest in cloud services. About 60% of businesses in the region that use cloud services cite scalability as the main benefit, while the rest cite reduced infrastructure costs. The bigger companies are the ones more keen on investing in cloud services as a long-term strategy, while small businesses cite cost savings as their number one concern.

Security, Reliability and Accessibility Concerns

Among business concerns on cloud services in the Asia Pacific Region, integration and security are cited as major concerns. The same study by Springboard counts 46% of respondents as worried about the security and integrity of their data while online. Meanwhile, some companies, like Sony, are calling for international rules or standards to arrive at a balance between security and convenience.

Learning Opportunities

Speaking at a recent APEC forum for telecommunications and information technology ministers in Okinawa, Japan, Sony Vice Chairman Ryoji Chubachi notes that cloud computing services are a boon to the economy, but also come with challenges. "Easier building regulations on data centers can be an incentive (for the promotion of cloud computing). But competition (over sites for data centers) without caring much about measures to counter earthquakes and fires is something that will require a lot of attention," he adds.

In the same APEC technical discussion, telecoms and IT ministers from the region have adopted a declaration that aims to improve ICT infrastructure in the region to boost economic and social activity. “We reaffirm that information and communications technologies are crucial to drive further development of a robust and innovative global economy and ICT is a key to realizing the APEC Leaders' Growth Strategy,” the declaration states.

The general goal is for all Asia-Pacific countries to have access to next-generation high-speed broadband technology by 2020. The forum participants note the disparity in access to broadband Internet access in the Region, from low points in Indonesia (0.7%) and Peru (2.8) to a high in the US (27.1%) and Japan (24.9%).

Cloud services are potentially beneficial both to large-scale enterprises and small businesses. However, successful implementation of cloud solutions will require adequate infrastructure, particularly in terms of high-speed Internet access. This is a challenge that Asia-Pacific economies are poised to overcome, given the differences in broadband availability in the region.