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Roundtable: Cloud benefits outstrip CIOs' reservations

Ross Milburn | April 3, 2013
CIOs from prominent companies discussed issues raised by cloud technology and BYOD mobility at a recent roundtable in Hong Kong.

Ronald Poon
Photo: Ronald Poon

Afasia is a Hong Kong-based worldwide garment manufacturer with global production facilities and diverse services, ranging from spinning and dyeing of yarns to fashion design. "Customers give us styles and fabric specification and we have to make samples for approval before production," said Ronald Poon, Head of IT, Afasia Group Limited. "For collaboration, our managers need tablets and smartphones to access ERP and other enterprise applications, and I have to strike a balance between flexibility and security."

Andrew Wildblood
Photo: Andrew Wildblood

Another indication of cloud technology's arrival is the explosion in cloud vendors. Telstra's global strategy ranges across the US, Europe and Asia and includes 15 telecoms licences, and facilities to access over 1,400 PoPs in 230 countries. "We operate out of Hong Kong with 12 regional telecom licences, and look after the multinationals in the region," said Andrew Wildblood, sales director, Asia, Telstra Global. "We've made big bets on the cloud, investing US$1.2 billion in the last couple of years."

The cloud is perfect for scalability. "We used to meet our IT budgets OK," said Lee. "Now, when we acquire a new company, our boss may ask us to integrate IT for 5,000 staff in three months. If we build that capacity in-house, there will be a lot of wastage. With the cloud, I buy bandwidth for client devices and then scale it up."

Peter Bullock
Photo: Peter Bullock

Cloud contracts are complex and law firms are increasingly involved. "I came to Hong Kong to practise law in 1997, having been told there were opportunities for technology outsourcing and dispute work," said Peter Bullock, Partner IT, Pinsent Masons. "We offer TMT (Technology, Media & Telecommunications) services across the region. Cloud is 30-40 percent of our work and even the most heavily regulated industries are adopting the cloud and dragging the regulators with them."

Community Cloud
The cloud has risks, but so does in-house IT. "Traditional IT has many hidden costs. If you buy 20 CPUs and only use five, you still have to pay maintenance and software licence fees," said Carl Chan, CTO, Haitong International Securities Group. "The cloud is a way of buying as little or much capacity as you need without upfront investment and that's a benefit."

Carl Chan
Photo: Carl Chan

"As a securities brokerage, we also need to periodically upgrade our trading platform to comply with the securities trading system," continued Chan. "If we could adopt a common platform, but retain the features that provide competitive differentiation of our software, we would benefit."


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