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Vietnam Shines in Our IT Research, Part 2

An Interview with IBM Cloud Labs Spurred My Interest

Yesterday I wrote about how we view Vietnam in a different way than many others do. Vietnam is one of the stars in our rankings, in Asia and globally. Our relative ranking process, which looks at how well a country is developing given its current economic resources, vaults Vietnam above most of its regional peers and above all countries in its income tier.

I first got wind of the winds of change in Vietnam when I interviewed Dr. Tran Viet Huan at the time IBM opened its Cloud Labs Ha Noi. Dr. Huan is CTO of IBM Vietnam and IBM Cloud Labs ASEAN.

This was among the first cloudy activities I'd heard of in Southeast Asia, the part of the world in which I was living at the time. Its development was one of the drivers behind my founding of the Tau Institute in Metro Manila, Philippines.

My initial conversation with him was by cellphone, with me walking around trying to get a strong connection in a small park in my neighborhood on a sultry evening - it's always sultry in the Philippines - and fire ants dancing around working to make my life more miserable. Later, we were able to complete the interview.

At the time, he mentioned getting trust as the main challenge in having customers move to a third-party cloud. In this context, he noted that "they are actively considering to implement their own dynamic infrastructure-virtualization, standardization, self-service provisioning and management automation."

Regarding the opex/capex argument, he said "enhanced utilization of IT assets decreases both IT capital investment and operating costs. Standardization of infrastructure and processes drives down process and system administrative labor costs by decreasing complexity and reducing errors and re-work."

Much Work to Do
Vietnam's relatively dynamic progress aside, more than half of the country's 85 million or so people do not have Internet access, with only 5% having high-speed access, according to the International Telcommunications Union.

An economic reform program enacted in 1986 known as "doi moi" has increased wealth but also an income disparity that ranks with Indonesia and India. (It's still much lower than that of the United States, which now ranks with Cameroon and Jamaica.)

The country does not rank well in Transparency International's Perception of Corruption Index, either, ranking lower than Indonesia and India. I suspect this ranking is largely a function of the Communist government's opacity rather than abject corruption. History will eventually tell and judge.

Quick: name the President of Vietnam. Any American could have done this in 1968, but today Vietnam's rulers are much more circumspect and measured. (The answer is Tro'ư'ng Tấn Sang, by the way, and I originally had to look it up, too.)

Vietnam's relative dynamism in any case has always jibed well with the dynamism I've witnessed in my neighborhood in the Makati business district, as well as the enthusiasm at some early cloud conferences I helped organized in Asia.

Get That Mojo
In originally founding the Tau Institute and putting together a small team for our research, I contrasted these experiences in my mind with other travels I'd been fortunate to make throughout the world. I had found that countries of similar income often had signficantly different zeitgeists and directions. Were things on the upswing, downswing, or just muddling through?

In Europe, for example, Bulgaria still has a fraction of the per-person income of Greece, but is one of the star performers in our research. Greece is not. A few select places throughout Africa are much more dynamic than neighbors with similar raw economic statistics. The same holds true in Latin America. And in the United States, things do finally seem to be picking up, but the US is not a true global leader in IT dynamism.

It's worthy to note that South Korea and Japan are also big Asian stars. South Korea is maintaining incredible dynamism even as one would think economic growth becomes hard to achieve, and Japan is still has one of the more dynamic IT environments on earth, despite its well-documented economic doldrums over the past two decades. Our view is Japan has its mojo back-something which will be the focus of a future story.

For now, Vietnam is still a place we recommend for careful examination.

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Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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