By 2018, nearly half (46.9 percent) of the cities in Asia would have adopted cloud computing to a moderate or extensive degree as part of their plans to become smart cities.
This was one of the findings from a joint study by Microsoft Asia Pacific and CityNet, titled "City Cloud: Cloud Adoption for Asia's Cities", that polled 38 senior city officials from 37 cities of various sizes across the region.
Population growth is said to be a major driver of cloud adoption by Asian city governments, said Stefan Sjöström, Vice President for Public Sector of Asia at Microsoft, in an exclusive interview. "Populations in Asia's cities are growing at an unprecedented pace - more than 100,000 people per day. To improve the operating efficiency of city infrastructure and the living environment of citizens, we foresee that cities in Asia will increasing look to the cloud for the benefits that it will bring."
Sjöström added that cloud could help governments improve citizen engagement, ICT ecosystem development, and city administration; lower operating costs; and enhance revenue streams. "Take citizen engagement for example - with the cloud cities can expand their reach and improve citizen participation in municipal affairs. Using the cloud, online resources can provide citizens with virtually anytime, anywhere access to information and services," he said.
Lagging cloud adoption
Despite the expected growth in cloud adoption, the figure pales in comparison to adoption rates amongst medium to large enterprises in the region. According to Microsoft, 71 percent of the 291 IT decision makers across 10 markets in Asia Pacific polled claimed to have prioritised investments in the cloud.
The study revealed that that the main reasons for the slow cloud adoption rate in Asian cities include upfront costs, lack of a strong value proposition, riskiness of the cloud, and internal resistance. "These findings point to the high levels of misinformation about the cloud being perpetuated amongst Asia's city leaders," commented Sjöström.
Clarifying the misconceptions, Sjöström explained that cloud can be much cheaper to implement than on-premise solution as it utilises a pay-as-you-go model and does away with physical infrastructure costs. Also, cloud can at times be more reliable than using a local data centre. "Some cloud providers are even willing to back the reliability of their cloud services with financially backed service level agreements," he said.
Silver lining for cloud
It was encouraging that over 80 percent of the respondents acknowledged the potential benefits of cloud. Senior city officials agreed that cloud could help lower labour costs, improve disaster recovery, enhance interaction amongst city departments, as well as increase the speed of adoption of new technologies and deployment of e-government applications.
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