US must stay ahead in cloud computing against Chinese competition, expert says
Update: August 28, 2021 13:19 STI
Washington [US], Aug. 28 (ANI): US policymakers should recognize that cloud computing is strategically important and should stay ahead because it has an advantage over China.
Jonathan E Hillman, director of the Reconnecting Asia project, one of the most comprehensive open source tracking databases for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) writes in Politico, said cloud computing is the next frontier in Beijing’s quest to dominate the information supply chain. , from portable devices to data servers.
Cloud providers in China have thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Huawei more than doubled its share of the global infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, market. Unless U.S. policymakers make cloud computing a strategic priority, this acronym could become as familiar to them as 5G.
“The flow of information guides the flow of technology, capital and talent,” Chinese President Xi Jinping explained in 2014. “The amount of information controlled has become an important indicator of soft power and competitiveness of a country.
The cloud is essential because this is where it all comes together. It powers email, databases and storage, as well as artificial intelligence and big data applications that require mountains of computing power. Like other digital infrastructure and services that modern societies increasingly depend on, it’s everywhere, but also out of sight – and for many policymakers, out of mind, Hillman said.
What’s more, the major cloud providers in China do more than just sell services. Alibaba Cloud recently unveiled a billion dollar effort in Asia, where it promises to train 100,000 developers and invest in 100,000 startups over the next three years. It is even teaming up with foreign universities to design courses in artificial intelligence, Politico reported.
Chinese cloud providers are also effectively integrating services with investments in hardware infrastructure, which the world desperately needs. Huawei has dozens of foreign governments among its customers for cloud infrastructure and e-government services.
China’s cloud ambitions are not limited to Asia. Huawei has partnered with federal data centers and IT vendors in Mexico and Brazil, positioning itself to handle even more sensitive government data for years to come. It also invests in Chile and Argentina. The strategy, explained Huawei regional president Xiao Fei, is to “form a giant triangle of improved coverage and better connectivity in Latin America.”
Meanwhile, the major US vendors – Amazon, Microsoft, Google – have a huge first-come advantage. But, if China’s cloud ambitions are unchallenged, the developing world will prioritize affordability over security, Hillman said.
After acquiring Chinese data centers and signing service contracts with Chinese suppliers, foreign governments and companies may find it difficult to switch suppliers later. In addition to the normal expense of migrating from one cloud to another, they may also face Chinese economic coercion, Politico reported.
The good news is that the United States has top quality service. But it also means that Chinese cloud providers are effectively selling a weaker product, just as Huawei did during its rise as a provider of telecommunications equipment. “Huawei’s products may not be the best, but so what? What is core competitiveness? Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei once asked his employees. “It’s choosing me and not choosing you!”
For starters, US policymakers should recognize that cloud computing is strategically important. Competing with China is not just about catching up in areas where the United States has fallen behind. Equally important, if not more, is to stay ahead in areas like cloud computing where the United States has an advantage. This will require doing more in developing markets, Hillman said.
Encouragingly, the G-7’s recently announced “Rebuild a Better World” partnership includes digital infrastructure among its four pillars. As the G-7 partners strive to launch this effort, they should focus on cloud computing.
The United States should also continue to fight against the localization of data abroad. The main allies and partners, including the European Union and India, are far from aligned with American preferences. Another promising avenue for U.S. leadership is to strike digital trade deals with countries at various stages of development, Hillman advised. (ANI)