ChinAI #190: Cloud Computing White Paper
Scratching that white paper itch again
Greetings from a world where…
I still don’t understand why yellow Fanta in the U.S. is pineapple-flavored instead of lemon-flavored
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Feature Translation: CAICT Cloud Computing White Paper (2022)
Context: Every 15 issues or so, I like to get down in the weeds with a white paper, usually from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The two most recent white papers covered AI Frameworks and Computing Power. This week, let’s browse a CAICT white paper on cloud computing, published earlier this month.
Key Takeaways: China’s cloud computing market continues to experience rapid growth, increasing by 55% from 2020 to 2021.
The public cloud market is now driving growth, increasing by 70% to 218.1 billion RMB, while the private cloud market only grew by around 30%. Public cloud services are those that are shared among different customers, while private cloud services are restricted to one user.
Important context: U.S. public cloud market was 10x greater than China’s in 2020. From a previous ChinAI issue: “In 2018, American companies have already achieved a cloud adoption rate of over 85%, EU rates are around 70%, while Chinese companies in various industries are only adopting cloud technology at a rate of around 40%.”
China’s cloud computing landscape is evolving as the technology spreads to different types of adopting industries
Early adopters were information industries; next came finance, government affairs, and transportation, which have started to use “cloud-native” techniques like microservices and containers; now, attention has shifted to a “third-tier” of adopters…
The white paper states: “The cloud-based transformation of core systems in the third-tier energy, medical, industrial sectors, and other industries needs to be improved.” In these industries, cloud transformation is “mainly carried out for non-core systems.”
Robyn Mak noted some of these trends in a May 2022 Reuters article:
“Moreover, demand for cloud computing is increasingly driven by industrial, financial and government customers, as opposed to consumer internet companies, benefitting those with close ties to those industries. Telecommunications-equipment maker Huawei, for example, grew its cloud share to 18% last year while Alibaba's fell slightly to 37%, Canalys data show. China Telecom, a government utility which owns the country's largest fixed-line network, is also muscling in.”
We see this reflected in the CAICT data too. Top five players in China’s public cloud IaaS market, in order: Alibaba Cloud, China Telecom Cloud Computing (ctyun), Tencent Cloud, Huawei Cloud, and China Mobile Cloud. Of the three formats of cloud services, infrastructure as a service is the closest to traditional IT (provides backend IT infrastructure like access to storage and virtual services) and makes up almost 3/4 of the overall size of China’s public cloud market.
Important indicator to track: the regional distribution of cloud computing capacity
Currently, the three cloud computing hot spots are regions around Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong-Hong Kong (all the usual suspects). However, based on stats by Tencent Research Institute, cloud computing activity is growing fastest in central and western regions.
This is in line with the “Eastern Data-Western Compute” project, which I’ve covered in previous issues, with implications for narrowing the digital divide.
EXCERPTED TRANSLATION: CAICT Cloud Computing White Paper (2022)
ChinAI Links (Four to Forward)
By Thomas Struett, Adam Zable, and Susan Aaronson, this project maps data governance across some 68 countries and the European Union, building on last year’s mapping effort. See the Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub at GWU for more great resources, including reports on China’s data strategy.
Should-read: The Great Fiction of AI
For The Verge, Josh Dzieza leaps into “the strange world of high-speed semi-automated genre fiction.” Also features some really cool design elements by Kristen Radtke.
One of the main themes of ChinAI is that tech diffusion deserves just as much, if not more, coverage than invention and innovation. This recent CGD working paper, by Charles Kenny and George Yang, updates an important dataset on the global diffusion of technologies over time. H/t to Eric Lawrence for sharing with me.
Fascinating NSR Forum conversation featuring some leading AI scholars in China, including Professor Zhou Zhi-hua and Professor Tienu Tan on the similarities and differences between AI and human intelligence.
Thank you for reading and engaging.
These are Jeff Ding's (sometimes) weekly translations of Chinese-language musings on AI and related topics. Jeff is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation, sponsored by Stanford's Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.
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