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IBM Drives Cloud Computing Development in Vietnam

Exclusive Interview with Dr. Tran Viet Huan, CTO of IBM Vietnam

Cloud Computing is a global phenomenon. Unlike many IT breakthroughs of the past--such as personal computers, the World Wide Web, and SOA--which saw their initial growth in the developed markets of North America and Western Europe, Cloud Computing is seemingly billowing up simultaneously throughout the world.

One of the most dynamic markets in the developing world is found in Vietnam, where IBM has established a major presence with its global Cloud Labs and HIPODS (High Performance on Demand Solutions) initiatives.

We were able to get ahold of Dr. Tran Viet Huan, CTO of IBM Vietnam, to answer a few questions about Cloud Computing and IBM in his country.

This is how it went.

1. When was the IBM Cloud Lab in Vietnam created? How large is it, in terms of number of systems, square meters, and number of employees?

The IBM Cloud Lab in Vietnam--originally called the Cloud Computing Center at Vietnam--was opened on September 24th, 2008. IBM has partnered with other industry innovators and dedicated more than 200 full-time researchers to this effort and more than $100 million over the three-year period from 2009 to 2012.

2. What is the Lab's primary function? That is, does it serve primarily to test customer concepts, or does it conduct independent performance tests as well?

The IBM Cloud Labs is an elite group within Software Group Strategy & Technology. We are an exceptional organization with deep skills, customer expertise, and the ability to rapidly collaborate as one virtual team. We work on a cross-brand level, developing first of a kind solutions for our clients that leverage the entire IBM portfolio.

Through a worldwide team of experts in cloud computing, the IBM Cloud Labs engages with clients to help solve challenges and achieve specific goals. The IBM Cloud Labs provides briefings and hands-on workshops to help clients understand the benefits of cloud computing. The IBM Cloud Labs are fully equipped with cloud computing infrastructures and deep skills so that clients can design, test and deploy clouds through proofs of concept.

3. Is the lab in Vietnam similar to the other IBM Cloud Labs around the world? If not, how does it differ?

The Cloud Lab in Vietnam is similar to the other Cloud Labs around the world. From our experience with local market, banking, government and telecom service providers are early adopters today. Therefore our Cloud Lab is assisting clients in these industries in getting started with cloud. We work with them to discuss their challenges and relate how others are using cloud in the current environment to meet their challenges and help them to develop their cloud strategy and adoption roadmap.

4. I have a theory that Enterprise Cloud Computing will be very important throughout the developing economies of Southeast Asia, because it eliminates the high capital expenditures associated with on-site data centers. Do you think this is an important factor in Southeast Asia? In general, is the appeal of Enterprise Cloud Computing the same in Southeast Asia as in the rest of the world, or does it differ?

The starting point for cloud adoption will be determined by the size of particular organization and its industry dynamics. Most of Vietnamese enterprises are small and medium sized businesses having little or no IT skills. Cloud computing holds tremendous potential for those companies. It will enable them to have access to enterprise-level IT at affordable price points and do not have to worry about the database, back-up, upgrades, and patches.

Many local large enterprises in banking and government sectors are now starting to invest in sophisticated enterprise IT systems. They can get to the benefits of cloud from the start in adopting a cloud architecture and service model and leapfrogging the traditional investment in enterprise IT.

However, trust is the main challenge for them to adopt the public cloud services. They are actively considering to implement their own dynamic infrastructure (virtualization, standardization, self-service provisioning and management automation). Enhanced utilization of IT assets decreases both IT capital investment and operating costs. Standardization of infrastructure and processes drives down process and system administrative labor costs by decreasing complexity and reducing errors and re-work.

5. Is there an iterative learning process at work in your Lab, that is, are you gaining knowledge of best practices based on the experiences of your customers with the Lab?

Yes absolutely. With all of our labs, our hands-on work directly with our clients allows us to harvest an incredible amount of knowledge and best practices. Each client has different requirements, different key focus areas and different considerations. We are also seeing that these requirements differ between geographies.

6. I know that much of the Lab's work is confidential. But can you provide a general idea of your customers, that is, "government agency, "retailer," "financial services institution," etc.

We see great potential for Cloud Computing in the local market, especially in the telecommunications industry as well as the government sector. These industries are leaders in utilizing new technology to become more innovative in offering new services to compete with global players, especially once the government opens the local telecommunications market.

On October 15, 2008, Vietnam Technology and Telecommunications Joint Stock Company (VNTT) and IBM announced an agreement to build a cloud computing environment for VNTT using IBM software, services and hardware. It is the first cloud computing infrastructure for the technology and telecommunications industry in the fast growing Vietnamese market.

In December 2009, Quang Trung Software City (QTSC) chose IBM to build a new cloud platform to consolidate all of the Ho Chi Minh City Government data in view of the city's rapid growth and social engagement. By collaborating with IBM on the new cloud platform, QTSC enables Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee to provide an easy access system for all government agencies to better support its citizen. The cloud platform improves service delivery by applying engineering discipline and economies of scale in an Internet inspired architecture. It also allows HCMC citizens to gain access to the resources and information.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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