By Vaqas Asghar
Imagine having access to all your important data at anytime, anywhere in the world, with no need to constantly back it up. Imagine a fully functional computer with less storage space needed than a flash drive. That is the concept behind cloud computing.
Much to the delight of the tech-savvy, Cybernet unveiled RapidCompute – Pakistan’s first cloud computing service – at a local hotel here on Tuesday.
Breaking down the etymology, the ‘cloud’ refers to the internet, while computing refers to the use of computers for any activity.
Cloud computing is the use of shared resources distributed through a network to achieve economies of scale. For corporate users, this leads to a great reduction in capital expenditure, operating costs, and reduced stress vis-a-vis having to wait for updates and backing up data.
At the unveiling ceremony, Cybernet Corporate Sales Vice President Imran Khan explained that cloud computing leads to an almost immediate reduction in initial and running costs; in installation and management times; while the increased scalability and flexibility makes it ideal for big businesses that want to focus more on their core product and less on server maintenance.
Clearly, cloud computing has a plethora of advantages over traditional hosting.
Khan said cloud computing eliminates the need for a company to maintain its own servers, leaving maintenance, updates, and the addition of server space up to the service provider. The service is essentially disaster-proof as the servers are spread out, slashing expenditure on backing up most information. Also, clouds help avoid obsolescence as the provider handles software and hardware updates, with hardware redundancy built-in.
Although “only a few clicks are needed to set up” a company’s network, clouds are highly fault tolerant, while physical hardware is not.
Cybernet CEO Shahid Ahmed Khan called RapidCompute an important step for Cybernet, and highlighted how the service performs well on PC or iOS systems. “Latency goes down by up to 90%, while databases, email, and other services are fully supported. Local developers and organisations can work on new applications in Pakistan, lending the country potential in becoming a fully-engaged electronic nation.”
Acting Information Technology Secretary Farooq Awan – chief guest of the event – said cloud computing services such as RapidCompute will assist local content development for the Pakistani market. He noted that the availability of such a service was exciting for the IT sector.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Imran Khan highlighted how “many of us already access clouds on a daily basis without noticing any difference,” before listing Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook among just a few high volume tech-related companies that run on clouds.
He also noted that as a Microsoft Service Provider Licensing Partner, RapidCompute allows access to all licensed Microsoft software on monthly schemes; which is useful for smaller developers as they can buy relevant software for however long they need to use it, instead of paying the full price.
He said personalised services for consumers will be made available in a year or so, once they have settled into a corporate market where Karachi’s municipal body and a number of big businesses have already migrated.
Given intermittent power breakdowns in the country, it is pertinent to note that no data is lost in cloud computing in case of an electricity failure. Khan said the operating system will resume from where it was when it shut down, “down to the very last keystroke.”
On the investment climate in Pakistan vis-a-vis new technologies, Cybernet Director Danish Lakhani thanked investors for having confidence in the venture. “How can we stop in investing in our country at a time when it needs it the most? Pakistan is all we know. Pakistan is all we are,” he noted.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2012.