A cloud appears on the horizon
บทความของ ผอ.เขตอุตสาหกรรมซอฟต์แวร์ประเทศไทย ที่ตีพิมพ์ในหนังสือพิมพ์ Bangkok Post วันที่ 16 กุมภาพันธ์ 2011
When I assumed my role as the director of Software Park Thailand last October, many people wanted to know what my vision and mission were. I always said Software Park had the third generation of directors and the computing world had evolved to a new generation as well. Computing has developed from mainframes to minicomputers, from minicomputers to desktop PCs, from desktop PCs to desktop internet, and now we are in the era of mobile internet.
The new computing age has changed the way people use computers. A mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, will become the major device people will use to connect to the internet. Analysts say that there will be 10 billion of these devices around the world, compared to only one billion PCs. In addition, International Data Corporation, a market research and analysis firm, predicted the number of tablets sold in Thailand will overtake that of PCs in the next two years. We have already observed this change in Thailand where 1.2 million smartphones were sold last year and the boom of iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab adoption among all ages. Social networking also drives demand for mobile internet, where people can connect anytime, anywhere and on any device.
The rise of the mobile internet generation has triggered a change not only of hardware but also software. The web is now a platform and software is now running on web browsers of all flavours or mobile devices. Software is now distributed on the internet where you can download and buy it from any app store. The change in distribution channels leads to a shift of business models where the consumer connects directly to a vendor or a software developer and a distributor becomes less important. More importantly, the software licensing model is also changing to a service model under which you can pay for each use, known as Software as a Service (SaaS).
This major change has had a big impact on the Thai software industry. Tablet and smartphone users can now buy their applications directly from any app store, for example the Apple App Store or the Android Market. Similar app stores are also established for desktop/notebook users, for example the Apple App store for Mac OS users and the Intel App store for Windows OS users. As well, independent software vendors (ISVs) also distributed their software via the Internet where their customers can download software directly rather than the old-fashioned CD/DVD distribution channels.
Although this seems to be an opportunity for Thai software developers to sell their products worldwide, competition is high and there is always a threat for our industry stemming from foreign software companies selling directly to our users. The new computing cycle means new skills for software developers such as mobile platform development, new computer languages and tools. In addition, the technology is moving fast while a barrier to entry is lower so our software industry needs to be very aggressive in order to cope with the change. Some say Thai software developers are good at producing small products requiring less software development and teamwork. So it might be a good opportunity for the local industry to leapfrog in this technological change, but this requires strong support from all sectors – the government, educational institutions and private companies.The mobile internet generation also means more access to any software applications that are usually installed on a large computer server. A software provider needs a massive infrastructure to provide its services to customers worldwide. Therefore, it needs to leverage services from cloud computing providers, especially Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers.
Failing that, it requires large hardware infrastructure investments. Currently, only a few cloud computing providers are available, mostly large international firms such as Amazon, Google or Salesforce.
Although cloud computing is still new to the Thai software industry, it is widely discussed and some companies have started using PaaS/IaaS providers to provide their services. In fact, most Thais are already SaaS users from international cloud providers such as Gmail or Facebook. Many international software vendors are now adopting cloud SaaS, and Thai IT users are buying some of their services, such as mail services, CRM/ERP on demand and antivirus software.
Cloud computing is a top technology trend the software industry must embrace to survive in the new computing generation. Most Thai software firms still have not caught up with this trend, and few local IaaS/PaaS providers are available. For this reason, awareness of and training in cloud technology is very critical for the Thai software industry. Otherwise, we will lose more market share.
Software Park Thailand considers cloud computing and mobile applications the priority for the Thai industry. Many of our activities are now aligned with both technologies such as the Mobile Testing centre, Thai software e-marketplace, cloud computing and mobile training.
We would like to fulfil our mission so that Thai software can make the next leap forward and compete in the new computing generation.