Mon, Dec 13, 2010 - Page 11 News List

Cloud computing on the rise

BroadVision founder Chen Pehong, left, and Wang Pu, founder of Alliance PKU Management Consultants, shake hands at a Sina.com forum in Beijing in March last year.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BROADVISION

Taipei Times (TT): Potential corporate adopters of any cloud -computing-oriented platforms, including your Clearvale (明晰谷), are highly concerned with security issues before allowing their confidential data to be stored and processed online. How do you address their security concerns? Is it the biggest hurdle keeping companies from using your platform?

Chen Pehong (陳丕宏): Yes, it is. But I think the security concern is overdone. The fundamental aspect to the cloud computing concept lies in its operation of a data center. Having professionals managing your data centers are like depositing your money with banks, which is just as safe and professional.

Especially when your company is a multinational with employees scattered across regions, storing and processing your data up in the clouds will be more efficient — another contribution by cloud computing.

So, unless you yourself are an expert in database security, leaving the management of your data centers to professionals is naturally the best choice. Many telecoms operators such as Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) or Softbank [in Japan] are accredited with top-notch quality assurance and certainly do a good job in managing your data centers.

So, security is a groundless concern and excuse to me. Instead, I think corporate culture poses the biggest hurdle when it comes to the application of cloud computing services.

Companies are traditionally accustomed to managing themselves via their Web sites or intranets in a one-to-many fashion. Whereas, the biggest revolution that social [networking] technology has brought about is transforming the one-to-many way of communication to a new many-to-many approach, that is, everyone can participate, contribute and has a say. Having been with the [Web commerce] industry for 18 years, I’ve seen many companies spending a fortune to set up Web sites, which end up with few feedbacks because the sites are seen merely as a [top-to-down] content publishing medium, in a web 1.0 format.

My PhD dissertation was about KM, or knowledge management, which many joked should stand for “knowledge morgue” because much of the knowledge we managed [in classic Web 1.0 days] was mostly stocked in a morgue unused.

Now [moving into the Web 2.0 format], a bigger emphasis is put on [free] flows of knowledge, by which, people learn to innovate or share different levels of ideas through networking medium like Twitter or Wikipedia.

However, there’s nothing risk-free [in the Web commerce world]. But with some form of governance and firewalls to safeguard not-to-be-shared information, the benefits [of adopting cloud computing-based platforms] could actually outweigh the harm of the risk.

TT: How does an enterprise social networking platform (ESN) help improve work efficiency if everyone is allowed to have a say in a decision-making process?

Chen: With networks of networks in place, a lot of our work can be accomplished very efficiently at one click. For example, our marketing staff can upload press releases at one click to the network, shared only by journalists.

By further resorting to cloud computing services, a company’s IT capital expenditures [CAPEX] can be curtailed since it no longer needs to allocate a big budget for hardware such as servers and [memory] storage devices.

So there are three big characteristics and benefits — virtualizing, mobilizing and socializing — after companies are serviced over the clouds. Virtualization allows companies to save IT CAPEX, while mobilization, which means access to information can be attained everywhere at any time through portable devices such as smartphones, allows companies to save operational expenditures.

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