Myanmar's technology is already sky-high, with consumers zooming to “the cloud” every day through services such as Gmail. But it’s not all sunshine for companies that want to offer and run cloud services, as they face a sceptical market and capacity challenges.
“Cloud” is a tech buzzword representing the idea that information stowed on the internet can be obtained any time, any place – as if plucked from the sky.
“Running on the cloud means you’re [taking out a loan on] someone else’s servers on a server farm instead of setting up your own,” said Ko Yan Naung Oak of Yangon innovation lab Phandeeyar. “It’s analogous to getting electricity from the utility board instead of running your generator at home.”
“It is also democratising in the sense that tech companies don’t need to have staff babysit their own servers any more when you host on the cloud. In that way, I think it enables leapfrogging.”
Consumers and businesses in Myanmar have already rocketed to the cloud, according to tech experts.
Anyone who gets directions through Google Maps or sends files through Dropbox interacts with the nebulous technology. Telenor Myanmar launched an application last year for storing pictures on the cloud.
However, Fairway Technology managing partner Ko Ei Maung said that Myanmar lacks fundamentals required for building cloud infrastructure services.
“We are not ready as we don’t even have basic things yet, such as stable electricity and fast internet,” he said. “Even if we manage that, I think there is not enough market opportunity for local cloud infrastructure service providers and it will be very difficult to compete with already-established, global-scale cloud infrastructure service providers.”
Ko Yan Naung Oak also said the market prospects in Myanmar may be limited.
“I don’t know if there’s a need for Myanmar to have its own cloud service provider, since it’s an economies of scale thing, and global companies have a much bigger competitive edge,” he said.
Zwenexsys managing director Ko Thar Htet said his software and development company and others are using cloud infrastructure from developed countries to serve the Myanmar market, and that local internet service providers could run cloud services if they so chose.
“The readiness is a different story,” he said. “Myanmar needs professionals with knowledge and experience, fibre network infrastructure, international connectivity bandwidth and electrical power to enable the datacentres that will provide cloud infrastructures.”
Meanwhile, an American enterprise resource planning software company, whose solutions can run on the cloud, said “the mindset of the people” toward the technology represented an obstacle.
“The most difficult thing we are trying to change is a perception that cloud is not secure and that cloud is slow,” said Acumatica international operations president Laurent Dedenis.
“The cloud is only getting better everywhere ... If it is usable today for most processes, which is the case in most of the central parts of Myanmar and the main business areas, it’s absolutely possible to think that adoption will become extremely fast in the next year.”