Can developing economies reap the benefits of cloud computing?

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Much has been written and discussed about cloud computing and its benefits. While this may be considered normal in a developed economy, it’s not necessarily the case in the developing world.

Cloud in developing countriesThe vast majority of data centers are located in developed countries. This has deprived developing nations from acquiring the infrastructure they need to sustain swift and stable connectivity, extensive memory banks and quick broadband speeds. It has also prevented them from achieving the same level of technological maturity as developed countries. Now, the cloud has presented an opportunity for these nations to embrace computing technology, as individuals and organizations no longer have to build new, complex and costly infrastructures or upgrade their existing infrastructures to access data and computing resources.

With cloud computing, individuals can become more empowered by using mobile phones to harness powerful applications for their personal or business needs. To cite an example, the MOTECH Suite in the public health sector is a set of scalable and readily-deployable applications running on an open source platform that delivers services such as maternal and child healthcare or tuberculosis and HIV regimen adherence. It helps health workers on the ground through low-end mobile phones across India and several African nations—all without the necessity of a local information technology infrastructure in place.

The benefits of cloud computing cannot be denied. However, there are still some issues facing developing economies that have to be addressed. These areas of concern are mostly associated with security and privacy.

While there seems to be strict compliance with regulatory compliance measures in developed countries, this is often overlooked. Compliance is enforced at various degrees, starting from being nonexistent. This puts the individuals and organizations relying on a service provider’s data repository at risk. There is additional risk if the service provider’s data center has been the target of unauthorized access (whether by outsiders of the service provider or for other purposes).

(Related: Is cloud computing secure?)

Authentication and authorization of the actual data is another concern; a weak verification mechanism adds additional risk. On another note, laws governing the transfer of data across borders can hamper the free flow of information, trade and the integration into cross-country solutions—not to mention the cost of the communications. Last but not least in this non-exhaustive list is the risk of a vendor lock-in or monopoly in markets where there are few players (which is often the case in developing nations).

While many developing nations are struggling with a host of technological issues, the advent of cloud computing—despite its challenges and risks—is still being harnessed for the huge potential and opportunities it presents. But only time will tell to what extent this has narrowed the digital divide.

So, what do you think? What other challenges might developing economies face as they try to reap the benefits of cloud computing? Please check out the IBM Cloud Computing website and write your comments below to start the conversation!

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