Friday, February 5, 2010

The People's Republic of Cloud Computing

I just got back from an action packed week of meetings in Shanghai, China. Shanghai is one of the more exciting cities I've visited recently as they prepare for the World Expo in May as well as the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities. As a city Shanghai is a bustling modern metropolis. A city that in a little over thirty years has gone from a small village to mega city of more then 30 million people. In talking with the people I met in Shanghai I quickly came to realize that like myself, most people in Shanghai were not originally from there, most had recently moved there from other areas of China for "economic opportunities" the city now offers. Looking around the city you'll notice a level of wealth on par or better than most western cities. In a nutshell the reason I found myself in Shanghai was for the very reason the Chinese are now pouring into the the city, the opportunity to capitalize on the new Chinese dream.

As many of you know I've been a big proponent of Cloud Computing in the PRC for quite some time. Not withstanding that China is among the fast growing and largest economies on the globe, China has a significant data center hosting ecosystem made up of a small group of very large state sponsored telecom organizations which makes selling [hosted] Cloud services in this market a challenge to say the least. Fortunately for me their overwhelming need to equip a new and rapidly growing underlying network infrastructure is a huge opportunity, something that myself and Enomaly seem uniquely qualified to offer.

Unlike other markets around the globe the Chinese hosting business lacks any sort of small or middle tier of hosting providers, yet the country has upwards of 40 million small businesses. In my discussions with several of the largest Chinese telecom providers the opportunity is simple, to help a equip these emerging small businesses to become part of the larger global information / internet environment. Yet another driver for the use of cloud based infrastructure in China is the the rapid development found in the data center real estate market. Like the booming real-estate market itself, data center space and capacity is growing at an exponential rate. All this new space means new capacity, capacity that needs to be managed in an adaptive, energy efficient and continually evolving way. Something that cloud computing is ideal for. Also, with the development of a country wide wireless Internet infrastructure, it seems that cloud computing will play a major role in how people access applications and information in China.

How do you say Cloud Computing in Chinese you ask? 雲計算 yún jì suàn -- The reason I mention this is because to do business in China today, you must first understand the way the Chinese do business. Culture is an extremely important part of all aspects of the business environment. As for Enomaly in China. We now count several of the largest Chinese Banks, Power/Energy utilities, Regional Telecoms and even a local police force as ECP customers. What is interesting is we seem to have found ourselves a sought after niche in the Chinese market. A particular niche that has been overlooked by most in the technology world -- that of cloud enablement. Some of the reasons are simple others are more complex but it mostly comes down to market access. Things like culture, language and relationships play a hugh role in how business is done here.

To be honest, we were extremely lucky in that we found a major partner in Intel who provided us with on the ground support and introductions to some of the largest players in China. Without the know how and help of the Intel China team I doubt we would have had the opportunities that we now enjoy as a small company in this very large market. So my suggestion to any upstart trying to gain a foot hold in the Chinese market is to first find an established player with a local team. And second, do not build you're own data centers, local IT policies really don't make running your own data center a reasonable option. Of those who have tried they typically do so under the rationale of "Disaster Recovery" which limits your ability to act as a production hosting facility.

In closing, when it comes to doing business in the PRC, the sky is the limit, keep watching you'll see some exciting Enomaly related news in the very near future.

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