The Chinese Dragon And Cloud Computing

The Chinese Dragon

In an earlier article, I speculated on the possible emergence of India as a cloud computing superpower on the strength of its millions of IT professionals. Now, it is unlikely that China, the other half, and dare I say, the stronger half, of the two nations many say will dominate this century, would sit still and let India take the lead.

China may not have India’s expertise in software, but it does have expertise in the other half of the cloud computing equation – hardware. With a state-controlled economy that determines whether the nation’s resources are to be directed, it is not surprising that China will dedicate itself towards its area of expertise – manufacturing – and proceed towards building a “city-sized” cloud computing complex in the Hebei province in northern China.

This center is planned to cover 6.2 million square feet when completed, inclusive of a 640,000 square feet data center space. In spite of its impressive size, this data center area will be a distant second behind the Lakeside Technology Center in Chicago that spans a massive 1.1 million square feet. This unique project, which will bring developers and technology under the same roof (or roofs, as per early designs), will rival the Pentagon in size.

IBM and China-based Range Technology are collaborating on this multibillion dollar project that is expected to be completed in 2016. While government departments are supposed to be the primary consumers for its services, it will also be open to banks and private enterprises. will also be open to banks and private enterprises. “This initiative plays a critical role in the economic development of China in light of the pressing demand for managed hosting in the areas of cloud computing and mobile devices,” said Range Technology chairman Zhou Chaonan. According to IBM, the complex is expected to employ between 60,000 and 80,000 people.

Now, China is a country that believes in state control over every aspect of human activity, including the Internet. In the past, it has imprisoned several of its citizens on charges of treason for criticizing the Communist Party and the state of affairs in China. In this light, cloud computing, with its distributed nature, presents a threat to China’s desire for control. Then why is it investing in the technology?

I believe it’s an outcome of the “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” syndrome. By centralizing cloud computing development in the country, the government can exert greater control than by allowing its development in isolated areas or through foreign technologies. In other words, the Chinese dragon will continue to maintain strict vigilance over its citizens’ use of technology, cloud computing and otherwise.

Also, everything considered, there’s no denying the efficiencies in time and money that cloud computing can provide a growing economy like China. In this light, this development is not unexpected.

To add to this, there is the Cloud Computing China Congress 2011 scheduled next month that is expected to promote cloud computing in the country. As per its website, the event is “specially designed for senior IT and line of business executives evaluating and making purchasing decisions in the areas of on-demand infrastructure and software services.” Several delegates from across the world are expected to attend this event starting 24 March in Beijing.

As is clearly evident, China is on the fast track to cloud computing. This decade will decide which of the three countries – India, China or the US – end up the dominant player in this field.

By Sourya Biswas

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