Why Cloud Migration Is Slower in Asia-Pacific
At the end of June, leading IaaS provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced a new cloud region in Hong Kong, which is scheduled to open in 2018. It will mark the latest expansion of public cloud services into the Asia-Pacific (APAC) area, coming hot on the heels of two new Microsoft Azure regions in South Korea, which the rival vendor launched in February this year.
In addition, AWS is due to open a second AWS region in China later this year, underlining the huge investment the two leading cloud vendors are making in the continent. But, despite their rapid growth across Asia-Pacific, market penetration lags significantly behind that of the US.
For example, AWS currently has six APAC regions, just one more than the US. Yet they serve an area of more than ten times the population.
Large-scale enterprises are driving much of the existing demand, where the rate of migration is keeping pace with the rest of the developed world. But wider cloud adoption is a different story, with public sector organisations and SMEs remaining stubbornly slow to embrace the technology.
In this post, we examine five key reasons behind the slower rate of migration and consider ways in which the APAC countries can overcome barriers to adoption in the future.
1. Security Concerns
In 2015, application delivery company F5 Networks surveyed more than 3,000 IT decision makers across Asia-Pacific about their use of application services. According to the research, organisations saw security as the biggest challenge to building applications in the cloud—significantly ahead of availability and performance.
The study highlighted the difference between perceptions about the cloud and the reality. This is because, if anything, the cloud is a more secure IT environment than on-premise systems.
Another cause for concern is the worldwide shortage of cybersecurity skills, where limited availability of expertise could discourage organisations from making a move to the cloud.
2. Compliance Issues
Whereas misconceptions about security are a more general issue affecting the cloud, compliance represents a far greater challenge to APAC countries than it does in the US. Asia-Pacific is a much more fragmented cloud market and suffers from lack of standardisation, where compliance regulations in many countries haven’t kept pace with the new IT landscape of the cloud.
The problem is similar to that in the European Union (EU). By contrast, however, the EU has taken measures to address the issue by bringing in a new law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in 2018. As a result, all EU countries will implement a common set of data privacy standards, paving the way for more migration to the cloud.
3. Limited Regional Coverage
Alongside AWS and Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is pushing hard in the Asia-Pacific area. In June, it launched new regions in Singapore and Sydney. It also recently announced a new Mumbai region, which is due for launch later this year.
Nevertheless, the Asian continent is huge. And all three leading cloud vendors have a long way to go before they reach the same level of geographical coverage as the US.
This currently means that, for some customers, the nearest cloud data centre or CDN edge location could be in a different country thousands of miles away—presenting issues with both application latency and compliance with data privacy laws.
Cloud vendors may also see some APAC countries as unsuitable for infrastructure investment, owing to the high incidence of natural disasters, such as typhoons and earthquakes. But, at the same time, they could prove a lucrative market, as businesses could see the cloud as a safer alternative to local data centres for hosting their workloads.
4. Challenges of Developing Countries
The cloud offers great potential to developing APAC countries, such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. By contrast with organisations in more established economies, which may be held back by legacy systems, those in emerging economies can work from a blank canvas, allowing them to build more efficient born-in-the-cloud applications.
What’s more, the pay-as-you-go model of the cloud lowers the barrier of entry to start-ups, making it particularly appealing to entrepreneurs in countries where capital funding is generally more limited.
However, poor Internet connectivity and broadband speed present a significant obstacle to wider adoption in emerging economies, especially outside urban areas.
5. Cloud Skills Shortage
Not only are cybersecurity skills in short supply, but also IT professionals with specialist cloud knowledge. This can restrict the pace of development and frustrate ambitions for cloud migration.
Limited availability also means cloud skills come at a premium. This may explain why cloud migration amongst public sector organisations and SMEs has been slower in the Asia-Pacific area, as IT budgets are generally lower than in the enterprise sector. What’s more, governmental bodies are also under pressure to remain publicly accountable, which can further reduce their financial ability to attract cloud talent.
Leading the Way
National governments will play a pivotal role in the future growth of cloud computing across the Asia-Pacific region by implementing initiatives to build more business confidence in the cloud.
Leading the way in cloud readiness are countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore, which enjoy stable and reliable internet access, clearly defined data privacy regulations and strong governmental support for the cloud.
This is also backed up by a strong cloud vendor presence in both countries. All three leading providers, AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google, have a region in Singapore. Amazon’s new Hong Kong region is just a few months away while Microsoft Azure already has a region in the former British colony.
In the face of current challenges, hybrid cloud is emerging as a popular way forward for cloud adoption in Asia-Pacific, as it offers a choice of infrastructure depending on application requirements for compliance and security.
However, as vendors increase their cloud footprint across Asia-Pacific and governments adapt their regulatory frameworks to the new IT landscape, the hybrid approach may eventually give way to all-out migration to the cloud.
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