Thursday, 7 March 2013

BRIC nations lag in cloud computing: Study

Brazil, Russia, India and China still lag far behind developed countries in policies considered critical for the future of cloud computing, but each made some progress over the past year, a US industry group said.

The Business Software Alliance, which represents US industry heavyweights such as Microsoft, said the BRIC nations all came in at the bottom half of 24 countries surveyed in its second annual cloud computing report.

Brazil moved from final position to 22nd with a tally of 44.1 out of a possible 100 points.

China, India and Russia each also rose two slots with scores of 51.5, 53.1 and 59.1, respectively.

Cloud computing refers to providing software, storage, computing power and other services to customers from remote data centers over the Web.

Demand for cloud-based software is rising rapidly because the approach allows companies to start using new programs faster and at lower cost than traditional products that are installed at a customer's own data center.

"The cloud is really the hot sector of IT right now," and US companies have a big interest in countries harmonizing policies instead of chopping the cloud into pieces, said Robert Holleyman, president of the Business Software Alliance.

At the same time, the aggregation of massive amounts of data in large data centers "creates new and highly tempting targets" for cyber attacks, making it vital that both law enforcement officials and cloud providers have adequate tools to fight the intrusions, the BSA report said.

"Australia, France, Germany, and Japan score extremely highly in the cybercrime section. Canada, China, (South) Korea, Russia, and Vietnam score poorly. The country that shows the most improvement is Brazil, which finally passed cybercrime laws after a long campaign," the report said.

The 24 countries included in the survey represent 80 per cent of the global information and communications technology industry. They were assessed in seven areas, including data privacy, security, free trade, intellectual property protection, infrastructure and support for industry-led standards to promote smooth data flows.

China got a small boost in this year's rating for introducing new data privacy laws, while Russia got credit for reforms made as a result of its entry into the World Trade Organization. India's improved score reflects changes to its copyright laws to bring them in line with international standards, the report said.

Japan came in first again with 84.1 points. It was followed closely by other developed countries, including Australia, the United States, Germany, Singapore, France, Britain and South Korea, which all scored in the upper 70s.

Singapore jumped to fifth place, from tenth last year, after it passed a new data privacy law praised by BSA for its "light touch" and balanced approach.

"They are really taking on digital trade as another way of putting a stake in the ground and to say they are going to be global hub of business," Holleyman said.

The United States finished second in the survey, up from third in the inaugural report, while Germany, France and Britain each slipped a notch and Italy fell four spots.

Holleyman said the European Union was working on data protection regulations that could potentially make it harder to move data across its borders.

"If that happens I think you can continue to see further sliding by the major European countries," Holleyman said.

Talks on a US-EU free trade agreement are expected to start by June, he said.

Cross-border data flows are already a focus in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed regional free trade agreement between the United States and ten other countries in the Asia-Pacific slated for conclusion this year.

One of the TPP countries, Vietnam, finished last in this year's cloud computing scorecard, with a tally of 40.1 points.

Vietnam, Indonesia, China and India have pursued policies that threaten to divide the cloud, either by trying "to wall themselves off or by imposing local requirements that are antithetical to the very underpinning of cloud computing," Holleyman said.


Sunday, 3 March 2013

Govt allows IT SEZs to set up backup centres anywhere in India

The government has allowed IT and ITeS special economic zones to set up disaster recovery centres outside their limits at any part of the country, meeting the long-pending demand of the industry.

Issuing the guidelines for setting up of disaster recovery centres (DRC) and business continuity plan (BCP) for IT/ITeS special economic zones, the Commerce and Industry Ministry said the locations for such facilities will be approved by the respective development commissioner.

"The DRC/BCP location will be approved by the development commissioner (DC) on an application made by the SEZ unit. Such approval will allow the unit to relocate its operations, data and employees to the DRC/BCP location upon the occurrence of a disaster," it said.

However, it said that as this activity is envisaged as a purely internal exercise to be carried out across branches of the same SEZ entity to ensure that business continuity, there will be no commercial activity involved and accordingly, no commercial invoice will be raised in such movement of data, operations and employees.

"It was a long pending demand of the industry. IT/ITeS SEZs need such facilities at the time of any type of disasters. It will certainly help the sector," an official said.

Prevention and creating data back up is an integral part of the sectors' DR/BCP strategy.

"The data are regularly backed up at locations which are isolated from the main business centres to prevent loss in the event of a disaster. This would entail movement of data from SEZ to a DR/BCP location outside the SEZ and movement of storage media back into the zone," it said.

It also said that movement of data from outside the zone would not be treated as exports besides a record of movement of magnetic, storage tapes and devices would be maintained at the tax free enclave.

However, the unit would have to pay necessary duty on the tapes and storage tapes on which the data is being moved.

It said that the back up location where the "devices are moved could be a location under another SEZ or export oriented units i.e. a bonded secured location".

Further, the guidelines have comprehensively defined the term 'disaster' and has classified it into categories - natural and manmade. The manmade disasters include hazardous material spills, infrastructure failure or bio-terrorism.

It has also provided norms for setting up of these centres by a third party client.

The move assumes significance as out of over 160 operational SEZs, about half of them relate to IT/ITeS SEZs.