Is Latin America Ready for the Cloud?

Companies are investing heavily in Latin America, in countries including Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia, in hopes of taking advantage of the rapidly growing need for cloud computing.


At the recent LatinComm Conference and Expo, the first event of its kind focused on the burgeoning IP communications industry in Latin America, Wilson Grava, vice president of NetApp Latin America, discussed the state of cloud computing in the panel “Is Latin America Ready for the Cloud?”


Following is a Q&A on some of the Latin American trends and challenges Wilson shared during the conversation in Miami, Florida, on January 30, 2013.


Q: Companies are investing heavily in Latin American countries in hopes of taking advantage of the rapidly growing need for cloud computing. Why? What is the opportunity?

A: There is a lot of contrast between where IT stood five years ago and where it is today in Latin America. In many ways our region has leapfrogged the evolutionary process of corporate IT that many companies in the developed world experienced.  Businesses in our region have essentially gone from proprietary on-premise legacy systems directly to private and public clouds, sidestepping hosting and managed services that were very popular years ago in the U.S.



This is why the cloud has been touted as “the great equalizer,” allowing visionary executives from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and countries all over the region to be on the same competitive level as many global and international corporations. This provides an opportunity at all levels—for technology companies and vendors like NetApp and our partners, who are implementing these technologies; to businesses that are becoming more agile and flexible; to the end users who benefit from better services and products; to the local economies in each country that benefit from healthy and growing industries.



Q: Is Latin America indeed ready for cloud computing?

A: Cloud computing is already a reality in Latin America. There’s a big misconception that our region is lagging behind when it comes to cloud computing. However, according to research from Tata Consultancy Services, cloud applications made up 39% of total corporate software applications in large companies in Latin America compared to 28% in Asia-Pacific, 19% in the United Sates, and only 12% in Europe. I believe that the majority of companies in the region are already in the cloud or are considering it.


Specifically in our region, I see public-sector organizations making amazing investments and doing projects in the cloud, from basic things like making information available to citizens to complex projects including provisioning to a shared environment with thousands of employees. I see the public sector as a “cloud computing champion” in Latin America, moving from very static operations to dynamic and flexible ones.



Q: What are some of the challenges LATAM countries face in taking full advantage of this technology?

A: The region still lags behind the U.S. and Europe when it comes to having a solid legal framework with policies that adapt to the emerging needs of the current IT landscape, especially with regard to data transfer, data collection, and data privacy.



Another challenge I foresee as cloud computing becomes more and more widespread in Latin America is having a skilled IT workforce to manage the new cloud systems. IDC recently estimated that there are 1.7 million cloud-related jobs today and that this number will grow to 7 million by 2015.



Cloud computing is the big driver behind IT spending in Latin America, and, as it continues to grow in the region, the need for this skilled workforce will grow as well.



Q: What should CIOs focus on when considering cloud computing offerings? How does cloud computing impact business? 

A: The least difficult part of moving to the cloud is choosing and implementing the actual technology, because many options are available to meet all needs: Companies can do the implementation themselves, use a cloud broker, or host their applications somewhere else in private clouds, public clouds, or hybrids. However, with a new infrastructure comes the foundation for an entirely new set of standards and service levels. If I were a CIO, I would make sure to first do an internal evaluation of the applications we’d like to move—the type of availability each one would have, the security levels, the management levels, and so on. It’s key to have this internal framework prior to making a move to the cloud.