SINGAPORE: Cloud computing is expected to be the infrastructure upon which Singapore builds a Smart Nation. Through various initiatives, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has been encouraging firms to adopt cloud computing solutions.
Cloud computing is a virtual IT framework, giving users more flexibility than the traditional hardware-based systems. Singapore is one of the biggest adopters of cloud technology in the Asia-Pacific.
Dynasty Travel is a Singapore firm that has decided to move into cloud computing, albeit with small steps. The travel agency recently migrated its email service to the cloud, allowing employees to respond to customers on the go. It said this has led to a 40 per cent improvement in productivity. While this has led to higher productivity, a key factor was cost.
Mr Desmond Neo, director of e-commerce and information technology at Dynasty Travel, said: "Cloud services do offer you this customisation to get what you need. So it is much cheaper, it also cuts down on the hardware required so you do not have to get or maintain the servers, buy licences for the software, so all these are costs that can be saved when you move to cloud computing.
"Because our IT department is pretty small, so due to the manpower issues, without the need to sort of maintain servers, it actually cuts down a lot on the manpower required.”
Dynasty Travel said that after this initial success, it plans to look into moving other functions onto the cloud.
However, it is new companies that have embraced it more readily, while older companies are taking longer to come on board.
"The mid-market companies are the strongest skeptics of any technology adoption. They do not have to be at the bleeding edge of technology, and they would rather see the proof of the pudding established before they go and adopt the technology,” said Mr Mayur Sahni, senior research manager of the cloud research group at IDC Asia Pacific.
“Those companies, what we see is them taking a piecemeal approach. They are more of the ad-hoc, opportunistic stage in terms of their maturity of adoption. The kinds of workloads they are looking to get on board are basic storage and computer from third-party cloud environment, looking for more back-end and collaborative applications," he added.
As more businesses eventually migrate services and business functions onto cloud, the platform could level the playing field for smaller companies.
"Traditionally, if you have a large IT budget, you will have access to the best resources, but in the cloud, everyone is leveraging the same platform, an SME has the same resources as a big enterprise. That levelling of the playing field becomes a competitive differentiator,” said Mr Richard Harshman, head of ASEAN at Amazon Web Services.
Cloud computing is seen as an integral cog in Singapore's Smart Nation plan. IDA has already launched a Cloud Service Provider Registry to help enterprises understand what different providers offer. This was aimed at creating more transparency in the cloud industry and facilitate adoption.
According to research firm IDC, the cloud computing market in Singapore is forecast to grow to about US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) by 2017.