Hong Kong has come out on top in this year’s Cloud Readiness Index (CRI), representing a climb of four places. 2016 also marks the first time that the study has included non-Asian markets for comparative analysis. However, the comparison does not make great reading for Western countries, with the CRI placing the likes of Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia above Germany, the UK and the US.

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The index, compiled by the Asia Cloud Computing Association, suggests that physical infrastructure is one of the key reasons why the Asia Pacific region outperforms other markets. Strong performance in terms of international connectivity, broadband quality, green policies and data centre risk, all contribute to Asia’s heightened cloud readiness.

A cloud divide emerges

The 2016 Cloud Readiness Index does contain some warning signs for the Asian market, however, with a cloud computing divide on the horizon. The difference in scores between lower ranked countries is much more pronounced, with a difference of 12.5 points separating the 8th and 9th placed countries, compared to an average difference of just 2.6 points. When coupled with the fact that the top eight nations remain unchanged since the 2014 report, it suggests that the gap in cloud readiness could widen. Unchecked, this digital divide could have wider economic ramifications for the region, particularly given the increasing importance of cloud computing.

Reasons for this divide are difficult to pin down but could stem from multi-year digitisation programmes that some countries are implementing. These plans include gCloud, broadband and other connectivity rollouts that have seen certain economies rapidly improve there cloud readiness, leaving other markets behind. Hong Kong’s Digital 21 strategy and Singapore’s iN2015 Masterplan are both examples of successful digitisation projects and other nations will need to formulate effective proposals of their own if they are to avoid falling further behind.

The next step

Many of the leading markets in the CRI, however, already have plans in place to further improve their cloud readiness by adapting to changes in the wider digital economy. For example, cybersecurity has become a much greater concern in recent years and the 2016 Cloud Readiness Index includes a new parameter to reflect this. Subsequently, many nations, including Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand have amended their cybercrime legislation.

Further digital development plans are also afoot in countries all over the world and the latest CRI report makes it clear that countries must continue to develop their cloud infrastructure in order to ensure a prosperous future, whether based in the Asia Pacific region or elsewhere.

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“As data becomes the currency of the future digital economy, and as cloud computing continues to mainstream as a technology, ensuring the seamless flow of data through cloud infrastructure becomes central to a country’s cloud readiness,” the report reads. “Countries must be aware of where they stand in preparation for this, and to this end, the Cloud Readiness Index has been developed to provide perspectives which work to ensure that Asia Pacific economies do not lag behind global technology trends.”