Local governments in China are scrambling to develop cloud computing parks, yet efforts are being stymied by poor planning, misplaced capital and inefficient infrastructure.
Chairman of China Broadband Capital Edward Tian says initially there was little interest in developing the sector, but enthusiasm has exploded and the place of development has given rise to a number of problems.
According to a report by the China Cloud Computing Technology and Industry Alliance released Jan. 21, some 30 local governments have unveiled plans to develop cloud computing in their jurisdictions, which included providing incentives related to land, tax and funds.
One serious problem, according to An Hui, a director at the China Center for Information Industry Development, is the lack of applications and services in cloud computing, as the industry is still only in its infancy.
Local governments have been slow in pushing their plans and few have delivered tangible results, An said.
One of the reasons behind the lack of progress is that governments have given little thought to market needs and how they are going to generate profit from such projects.
Thoughtless pursuit of cloud computing by local governments, which fail to provide the much needed services, has resulted in these becoming dud investments, An said.
Tian also drew attention to the need for a national plan for cloud computing, which might provide guidelines for the construction of large data centers, the deployment of energy and other strategies.
Figures show that a cloud computing data center with 1 million servers runs up 5 billion yuan (US$803 million) in energy costs a year, potentially a heavy financial burden on local governments.
Furthermore, according to a 2010 report by Accenture, a consulting firm, the government needs to establish standards governing safety, data protection and technology is cloud computing is to have wide application.
There are organizations at home and abroad pushing for standardization in cloud computing, yet conflicting standards have confused local enterprises as well as users, according to An.
Tian also called for better broadband services from local internet operators for cloud computing to develop. The broadband services available in China still lag those in developed countries by a large margin, Tian said.
Tian's view was echoed by the Accenture report, which said that slower broadband speeds had impeded the development of the cloud computing sector.
Despite a wider coverage of broadband internet in China, most users' download speed is 4 megabits per second, far slower than the average 17.4 megabits per second speed in developed countries.