Cloud computing, though still in its early stage, has been increasingly adopted worldwide. In Vietnam, IBM and Google have stepped up to suport the government in its effort to build capacity with IBM’s first cloud computing data center in Vietnam being launched in May 2008 (more info from their press release), and Google Apps being delivered to universities across the country after a deal between the Ministry of Education and Training and Google sometime last year (link is unavailable). It remains to be seen whether this emerging trend will further penetrate into the business sector.
There are three major challenges that hinder the advancement: online payment, WebApps development expertise, and an understanding of the market.
Online payment. Vietnam is by and large a cash economy in which it’s a common scene that people bring along big bags of money to purchase pricy items. This is certainly inconvenient in many ways. It prevents e-commerce from taking off. And now the same thing applies to cloud computing. Selling SaaS (Software-as-a-service), Utility computing, or other forms of Cloud Computing, to the mass cannot be realized should people still stick with cash.
Webapps development expertise. As discussed earlier, technology companies are focusing on how to make money with social networks (and yet they haven’t figured out how to) rather than putting their efforts in developing web applications for business and individual customers alike. Some think there’s no market for such applications because people don’t have a need for them. For SMEs, driving costs down while remaining competitiveness can be achieved if they outsource their IT-related business processes to more specialised providers. Essentially, cloud computing is out-sourcing and thus is a good thing to have. Maybe BKIS should start thinking about offering online virus scanning for email servers run by Vinagam (Zing Mail) or FPT doing cloud ERP solutions for business, or something like Google Docs/Zoho. Cool stuffs that don’t really take the world by storm. There’s still room for improvement.
Understanding of the market. When we say there’s not a need for something, we don’t understand the market. First, it’s about really listening to the customers and see what they need, then develop web applications accordingly. It’s also about a “bottom-up” approach in which we don’t tell or educate people about SaaS or cloud computing but rather build different things for different needs. It’s equally important that the kind of technology-centric approach should be eliminated. It was exactly the problem I was having while building E-learner Platform 2.0. Start where the needs are and concentrate on it. People just don’t care whether it is some of the coolest technologies out there like Web 2.0 or whatever, but care more about what a specific service can help them with their daily job. Or what a specific skill that can help our children secure a better career in future.
E-commerce has become increasingly fascinating with the launch of several online payment startups (Mobivi, Paynet, etc) or online auctions (chodientu) or other websites of this kind (Rongbay, Muaban or the recent funny launch of Vimua). Hopefully when some of those startups who work on social networking fail (and yes they will fail), people will fish where the fish are.
“It’s tough, but the rewards are pretty good. And only hard-working dreamers should apply” – Dan