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China is racing past US, rest of world - and into the Cloud

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China has finally stepped out from the shadow of the United States and is leading the world at the cutting edge of cloud computing deployments, according to EMC.

Speaking at the storage giant’s EMC Forum 2012 event in Hong Kong last Friday, president of Greater China, Denis Yip, argued that mainland customers are often unencumbered by complex legacy systems, making them more agile and willing to take the leap to cloud.

“China is leading the way, which is strange because this is normally what happens with the US and then China follows – it has been like that for the past 20 years,” he said.

“They are leading because there is no burden. They don’t need to care about old apps because they have none, so they’re building from scratch.”

To highlight the rapid pace of cloud adoption in China, Yip pointed to five major projects EMC has undertaken with regional governments in China.

These ‘City Clouds’ are being built in Qingdao, Zhenjiang and three other as-yet undisclosed locations.

EMC general manager of commercial and global accounts, Alan Chan, told The Reg that the projects vary from one to another – for example, some focus more on energy and the environment, others on healthcare – but all are led from the top down by local government with the aim of bringing together siloed departments.

Furthermore, these customers want the latest EMC technologies based around the VMAX and VPLEX family of virtualisation and private cloud products and the VNX unified storage line-up.

“They’re building from scratch because they don’t have 50 or 60 years of legacy systems like in the US and Europe,” said Chan. “China can jump-start to the latest technologies.”

IDC analyst Janice Chan told El Reg that while China still had some way to go it was maturing fast on the world stage, driven by the fact that “end users are more willing to try things there”.

"Hong Kong on the other hand is so conservative, it’s just not willing to take risks in cloud deployments,” she added.

China's credentials as a hotbed of tech creativity and innovation may not quite yet be well established - even the government admitted as much in a recent report urging faster progress.

However, EMC is certainly reaping the rewards, with nearly 3,000 staff employed in the country of which around half work in R&D.

"The old school idea was to get R&D done in China because it was cheaper, but now you actually get better R&D done there," global marketing CTO Chuck Hollis told The Reg.

"I'd guess more of our R&D gets done in China now than in traditional settings." ®

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