Read an article today about Safaricom creating a domestic cloud service offering outside Nairobi in Kenya (see Chasing the African Cloud).
But this got me to thinking that cloud services may be just like mobile phones in that developing countries can use it to skip over older technologies like wired phone lines and gain advantages of more recent technology that offers similar services, the mobile phone without the need to bother with the expense and time to build telephone wires across the land.
Leapfrogging IT infrastructure buildout
In the USA, cloud computing, cloud storage, and SAAS services based in the cloud are essentially taking the place of small business IT infrastructure services today. Many small businesses skip over building their own IT infrastructures, absolutely necessary years ago for email, web services, back office processing, etc., and are moving directly to using cloud service providers for these capabilities.
In some cases, it’s even more than just the IT infrastructure, as the application, data and processing services all can be supplied from SAAS providers.
Today, it’s entirely possible to run a complete, very large business without owning a stitch of IT infrastructure (other than desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones) by doing this
Developing countries can show us the way
Developing countries can do much the same for their economic activity. Rather than have their small businesses spend time building out homegrown IT infrastructure just lease it out from one or more domestic (or international) cloud service providers and skip the time, effort and cost of doing it your self.
Given this dynamic, cloud service vendors ought to be focusing more time and money on developing countries. They should adopt such services more rapidly because they don’t have the sunk costs in current, private IT infrastructure and applications.
China moves into the cloud
I probably should have caught on earlier. Earlier this year I was at a vendor analyst meeting, having dinner with a colleague from the China Center for Information Industry Development (CCID) Consulting. He mentioned that Cloud was one of a select set of technologies that China was focusing considerable state and industry resources on. At the time, I just thought this was prudent thinking to keep up with industry trends. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the cloud could be a leap frog technology that would help them avoid a massive IT infrastructure build out in millions of small companies in their nation.
One can see that early adopter nations have understood that with the capabilities of mobile phones they can create a fully functioning telecommunications infrastructure almost overnight. Much the same can be done with cloud computing, storage and services.
Now if they can only get WiMAX up and running to eliminate cabling their cities for internet access.