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Cloud resources open the door for emerging economies

Cloud computing is commonplace for First World nations, but has been pie in the sky for other countries. Cloud-based resources could present an opportunity for emerging economies to join the world market.

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Cloud computing is booming in First World nations such as the U.S., but there is an opportunity for countries with limited resources and poor infrastructure to improve their standing in the world market by using cloud-based resources.

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as it sounds in feel-good articles that deem cloud computing as the great equalizer. Cloud computing is a faster and cheaper way to consume technology, but many obstacles exist for emerging markets that stand in the way of effective cloud computing.

Three major roadblocks for cloud computing in emerging markets include infrastructure, understanding and funding.

Building the nonexistent network infrastructure

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In most of these countries, lousy to nonexistent network infrastructure coupled with a lack of access to broadband and data servers, limits the scope of cloud computing.

Access to information could be the shortest path to the world market, but core information systems required to operate new businesses remain out of reach. However, when you have trouble just getting food and medicine, high speed Internet connectivity is the least of your worries.

Cellular networks are the best way to get connectivity in emerging countries, but lower speeds and higher latency of those networks don't support most cloud-based platforms. Cloud providers lack services for countries without bandwidth due to the assumption that bandwidth is cheap and plentiful.

There are two ways to approach this problem.

While Grandma knows how to use Google Drive to store family photos in the United States, people in other countries don't have the same opportunities.

The first option is laying fiber to bring the bandwidth to the emerging nation -- perhaps with government assistance and outside aid. Initially, this may be akin to building six-lane highways for only 20 cars. However, there is no way to understand how quickly a nation will take advantage of fast Internet connectivity.

The other option is to create special cloud services adapted specifically for these markets. The best approach is for international organizations to fund these clouds and offer them at a greatly reduced cost. A few of the major cloud providers -- such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and IBM -- may want to toss in a few dollars for goodwill and potential future market expansion.

Understanding the cloud resources learning curve

Using cloud-based resources is not something that many people outside of First World countries do every day. While Grandma knows how to use Google Drive to store family photos in the United States, people in other countries don't have the same opportunities.

The use of cloud-based resources should be provided with basic training. However, past experience of organizations that work with emerging countries show they are motivated to understand the essence of technology.

Passing the funding to emerging economies

Finally, there is the funding issue. Everyone looks to First World countries to pick up the tab for much of the aforementioned efforts. In reality, the funding and donation of technology will have to come from the larger technology companies.

There is a payback for those companies in eventually opening up new markets. There is also the ability to learn more about their technology by deploying it within developing countries, as well as an opportunity for good public relations.

The first step is to set up a foundation or use one of the existing foundations to drive this work. It will be several years before any impact is felt, but there's no time like the present to get started.

About the author:
David "Dave" S. Linthicum is senior vice president of Cloud Technology Partners and an internationally recognized cloud industry expert and thought leader. He is the author or co-author of 13 books on computing, including the best-selling 
Enterprise Application Integration. Linthicum keynotes at many leading technology conferences on cloud computing, SOA, enterprise application integration and enterprise architecture.

His latest book is Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide. His industry experience includes tenures as chief technology officer and CEO of several successful software companies and upper-level management positions in Fortune 100 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including the University of Virginia, Arizona State University and the University of Wisconsin.

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This was first published in August 2014

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