Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cloud computing and cloud economy

BANGLADESH continues to solely focus on cheap labour. Apart from agriculture, the economy is based on remittance from expatriates and export of garments; both are largely dependent on cheap labour. The current policy of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ is an attempt to improve connectivity, access to information and literacy.
Bangladesh can make a real difference by modifying the “Digital Bangladesh” plan for real economic development with updated technologies rather relying heavily on cheap labour. A good idea is using cloud computing for cloud economy. Many nations around the world are taking advantage of cloud computing. It refers to both the applications delivered as services over the Internet and the hardware and systems software in the data centers that provide those services. Cloud computing is commoditization and globalization of computing resources and electronic services.
Cloud provision will enable small enterprises to outsource some of IT skills that they would otherwise have to provide internally. Companies can benefit from greater storage and computing capacity as well as the expertise of cloud service providers in areas such as IT management and security.
Bangladesh is now using internet service provided by some local internet service providers. These service providers do not have commitment or agreement with users for security and privacy of information. Cloud service providers ensure security and privacy of data. Gmail, Yahoo etc are simple example of cloud computing services. The service can also be used for web-commerce. Some mobile phone with android software can also provide clouding services.
Cloud computing also provides services like computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. The cloud service has three categories – infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS). The cloud service provider’s processing, storage, networks and other fundamental computing resources allow the cloud customers to deploy and run software. They provide infrastructure and customers can use those only with a computer with connectivity network. This facilitates use of advanced and update technology with minimum investment and with minimum knowledge about the system. Users don’t need software and hardware service personnel in own office or contract to maintain the infrastructure and software. Cloud computing shifts these costs to remote data centers that benefit from significant economies of scale and scope.
UNCTAD in its ‘The Information Economy Report 2013′ has spelled out a concept of cloud economy ‘ecosystem’. This ecosystem refers to complex sets of relationship between technology and business, government and innovation, production and consumption. It creates a wider information economy.
A recent study shows that cloud technology will develop over the next two decades with major implications for markets, economies and societies. By 2025, most IT and web applications and services could be cloud delivered or cloud enabled.
Bangladesh cannot afford to stay out of global communication system as cloud computing is not only about information technology but also about overall economic growth. Bangladesh is already exporting software services. Cloud computing will increase this potential exponentially.
Most of the cloud service providers are in the West particularly in the US. There is not a single cloud provider in developing countries. Among the Asian countries, Japan and Singapore have their own companies. Bangladesh can dream of developing their own cloud companies in future. Japan has developed a nation-wide “Kasumigaseki Cloud” that is being developed to enable various ministries to collaborate and at the local level, the “Jichitai Cloud” is being built to provide interoperability among local governments.
Although there is no harmonized international privacy framework regulating data transfers across borders, the implementation of strong domestic privacy regimes could benefit developing countries. About 99 countries of the world have data-privacy laws till 2013. Out of those Mexico has most updated cloud-specific provision for data protection. Bangladesh may consider new law or update the existing ICT act to make data secure as we are in service business of data processing and computing for the customers in developed countries. The key reform areas include privacy, data protection, information security and cyber crime.
We need policy and legal reform to avail the technology for improvement of export oriented service sectors like data processing, software etc through a new idea of cloud computing ecosystem. We should upgrade our ‘Digital Bangladesh’ policy incorporating cloud computing for a cloud economy.

The writer is Legal Economist and pursuing PhD in Open University, Malaysia. E-mail: shah@banglachemical.com