Cloud computing making headway in Thailand

Joint-programme aims to groom Thai software developers to work in the Internet-based computing environment

Thai software houses will take a lead in the development of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) through a cloud computing collaboration between Software Park and True Internet Data Centre (True IDC).

The 24x7 operation at True IDC, where cloud computing will become the company’s core business in the future.

The joint-programme, ''Software Development Training'', has a goal to groom the software developers to perfectly work in the cloud computing environment.

True IDC has offered facilities by providing Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) free of charge for the entire nine-month project and it is expected that there will be some 20 solutions running on cloud computing by this year.

According to Technology Management Centre director Chatchanat Theb-taranonth, cloud computing worldwide is expected to grow by 300 percent in 2013 and thus companies can no longer survive unless they prepare themselves for the cloud.

Cloud computing has proved to save huge costs in managing information in enterprises as users need not make major investments in software and hardware nor need to hire staff to take care the IT system. Consequently small companies can access IT in the same way as large enterprises, but at a low cost. ''Software infringement is likely to decrease as well due to this new approach,'' Chatchanat said, adding that Thai software developers must adjust themselves to this trend so that they are able to catch up with the global trend.

At present, only a limited number of local software houses have been utilising SaaS and expanding their services abroad. During the past year, the Industrial Promotion Department and Software Park have promoted SaaS through the ''Enhancing Competitiveness Through ICT'' (ECIT) programme. So far nine companies have participated, and the programme aims to have 15 companies by this year.

Danupol Siamwalla

An obstacle to cloud computing in Thailand for software houses is that they must have knowledge of software adaptation and business process in SaaS. This requires human resources and operation costs in terms of planning and software architecture. The key problem at this moment is that software adaptation calls for the cloud computing from data centre provider. However, not many organisations have invested in cloud computing and thus the progress of software development on the cloud has been slow.

The collaboration of Software Park, True IDC and other organisations such as Kasetsart University (KU), CP Group, Trend Micro, Power-All Networks, WWC and Nectec will leapfrog the software houses to the development of cloud computing. Kasetsart, under Dr Puchong Uthayopas helps the project by providing basic knowledge and consulting to companies to develop the software architecture on the cloud.

Software Park director Suwipa Wanasathop said that Software Park has an agenda for cloud computing readiness based on three approaches: create the right understanding and expertise for the software entrepreneurs about cloud computing in order to promptly transfer experience to the industry by which the software entrepreneurs can access information; provide a cloud computing testing system and expertise for consulting; and extend the collaboration to other cloud computing providers so that there will be variety of cloud computing channels without depending on one or either provider.

Janewit Kraprayoon

The target groups for this year's programme are the incubatees of the incubation centre and software entrepreneurs who are in the network of Software Park. Those who are ready will be driven to the cloud computing instantly. The other group is the enterprises who want to adjust the system for enhancing the efficiency of IT resources utilisation by which Software Park will accelerate providing knowledge and expertise for them.

The joint-programme between Software Park and True IDC ran from March to December 2009 and some 20 solutions are expected to run on the cloud technology of True IDC by this year.

According to TIDC general manager Janewit Kraprayoon, True IDC has supported the virtual server on cloud, virtual storage on cloud and virtual security on cloud which is free of charge for the nine-month cooperative programme with Software Park. This will be very beneficial for software houses in developing the software as they can work on the virtual servers and storage on the cloud computing at the IaaS and they need not to invest in their own hardware of servers, storage, data centre and network system. ''What they need to do is make their software comply to be able to run on the system,'' he said, noting that True also has experts to advise the participants.

The budget for the raining programme for developers is around 300,000 baht, out of a total cost of more than four million baht of True IDC infrastructure and Power-All Networks.

Apirak Chiangcharoen

''We believe that the supply and demand for cloud computing will tremendously increase and boost the ecosystem of ICT including returns to True IDC in the long term,'' the general manager said, adding that True strongly believed that cloud computing is a must because in the future it may replace the IDC, which is the core business of True at present.

True has jumped on to the stage as the first mover, as the company realises that it's a question of survival. ''If we don't do it today, Thai customers will turn to other countries like Malaysia and Vietnam, that will make Thailand lose equity, so we would not like to miss the trend,'' Janewit said, adding that the next step for True IDC is moving toward Green IDC.

Currently, there are both customers who try using the cloud computing service by True IDC free of charge, and some who are confident about the infrastructure and pay for the service. The service can be charged on a daily or weekly basis, with the cheapest basic package costing 20 baht per day.

Suwipa noted that the business model will be in place once software houses have adjusted their systems to be able to run on IaaS and then integrate with True IDC. ''They will sell the software plus infrastructure to their customers who pay per use and from now on, all will be counted as a service and charged the same as utilities,'' she said.

Santipat Arunthani

TIDC Technology deputy director Chai Suthasa said that all of the current 20 solutions do not only run on True's infrastructure, but on any infrastructure. ''Partnership with Power-All Networks have the API that allows programmers to integrate their applications running on the infrastructure and this will be the complete SaaS,'' he said, adding that developers will learn how to develop the program for cloud, and they can also adjust their programs to run on other cloud providers.

Chai pointed out that the public cloud will be take place here before private cloud, with the adoption of public cloud by SMEs, while enterprises will create their own private clouds. ''We try to integrate the public and private clouds for organisations who use both and they can transfer the resources to each other,'' he said.

PTT ICT Solution provides services and data centre infrastructure to subsidiaries of the PTT Group. The company has tested the infrastructure with True IDC for a couple months by testing the open source CRM at the speed test with concurrent users.

Santipat Arunthani, PTT ICT Solution's chief technology officer, said that if the company can develop this application, it has a plan to offer on the cloud for the PTT Group. ''We will try offering content management on the cloud,'' he said, adding that it's impossible to bring everything as a public cloud for the Group.

PTT ICT Solution is now studying SaaS and IaaS with True IDC.

The applications that may be offered by PTT on the cloud may be ERP, not the core ERP, but those involved with ERP and some small apps such as Employees as a Service (EaaS). By the year's end, it may have a small application of PTT ICT offered on the cloud.

Apirak Chiangcharoen, Double M business development director, said that the company offered ERP based on client server technology before moving to web services and is now ready to go with cloud computing.

With some 13 customers in jewellery and auto parts, Double M aims to have more than 10 clients by this year and Apirak said the company will provide them all through the cloud technology.

''The Internet will become normal for users. Over the next two years, the Internet speed will be very stable, the allocated bandwidth should perfectly support those applications on the cloud,'' he said.

Ice Solutions, an open source software house which provides virtualisation, communications and sales management systems, has run an internal test for cloud computing for its holding company, Siamwalla.

Ice Solutions managing director Danupol Siamwalla said that the test has proved that the technology is worthwhile for the business, as they can more efficiently manage the resources of the organisation.

Danupol noted that trust is the biggest obstacle. In the past, hosting and application service providers (ASP) took time to build up trust, however, users have better response with the trust.

Computer service is the big thing that is changing in the industry, he said, noting that Thai software is not yet ready, while the IaaS is now ready and it has broken a barrier. The move by True IDC has lead software houses to see the opportunities.

''When IaaS was launched, everyone wanted to join because the market for software developers is now open. The question is whether the users will take to it or not,'' Danupol said. He believes the users will start with ''non-critical'' usage and then when they trust the infrastructure and software, they will bring critical concerns on the cloud.

He pointed out that this technology will eliminate the complication of software implementation. ''I think it's now on the road toward the cloud, but it will take three years. The starting point is now and from now on, software houses will come in.''

Ice Solutions will adjust all software in a package such as applications of document management and offering like a 50 baht per day package, as the managing director said that processing for package sales is easy for the company and users.

''The company will adjust our software by working with ERP because ours are special such as collaboration, email, document management _ all those have to based on ERP.

''The other interesting market is the software developer market, it's a huge market but the problem is the hardware as the developers require hardware to develop and test, so the company is now starting the concept of 'Condominium Module' for any developers to use, as they can rent the facility for a performance test. This market, meanwhile, will develop toward the solutions on the cloud.

''If this ecology can work, I think within a few years Thailand will be one of the first movers to have many developments on the cloud,'' Danupol said.