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Cloud computing to unleash jobs flood

What does a cloud ambassador do? That was the question Enky Chan regularly faced when he decided to defer his third-year bachelor’s degree in computer science studies at the University of Hong Kong to work for technology giant Microsoft last year. 

Chan sees the job of cloud ambassador as a golden opportunity to learn about cloud computing. “I attended career talks hosted by Microsoft and was convinced that [it] is the future of the information technology sector. This is not something I could have learned at school. There are plenty of openings for a computer student like me to write software but the chance to work with cloud computing is not easy to come by, so I embraced the opportunity offered by Microsoft,” he says.

A cloud ambassador’s chief job is to introduce products to clients and offer them technical support. “I provide clients with IT solutions using cloud technology. I need to know the IT market and have some business sense. It is a great learning experience for me. I received training from Microsoft and developed my business sense through interaction with clients,” says Chan.

He has also acted as a consultant to businesses from different sectors on how to use cloud computing. “I have served commercial firms, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and NGOs,” he says. “I’m very happy to be able to help charity groups save on IT costs. Since cloud technology charges are based on flexible usage rate, it is of great help to organisations with limited budgets.”

Joelle Woo, Microsoft’s Hong Kong director of marketing and operations, says flexible charges are an attractive advantage of cloud computing and that it is gaining popularity in Asia.

“Asian companies are willing to accept new things, especially SMEs with limited IT budgets. Some SMEs report saving up to 30 per cent on IT infrastructure using cloud, enabling them to save on investment, as a server is unnecessary. This frees up IT resources for the management of business intelligence. This is definitely a plus for businesses,” says Woo.

To stay updated, Chan constantly looks up news on cloud computing and visits the Web to find out what people think. “Cloud is completely new so there are frequent  updates. As an ambassador, you must be eager to find out more on your own. I do not see myself as a salesman. Instead, I found out as much as possible about the pros and cons of cloud and helped my clients make  the most  of it,” says Chan.

Chan’s faith in cloud computing’s future seems well-founded. Leading market research firm IDC predicts that it will create 6.75 million jobs in China and India by 2015. Communications and media, education and government will experience most demand.

A common misconception about cloud computing is that it is a job eliminator. But in fact, it is a major job creator, according to IDC’s chief researcher officer and senior vice-president, John F Gantz.

“Job growth will occur across continents and throughout organisations of all sizes because emerging markets, small cities and small businesses have the same access to cloud benefits as large enterprises or developed nations. Cloud computing is able to free up more resources for investment in IT innovation, as well as employing more talent for product sales, financial management, productivity and marketing,” he says.

Currently, there are 53,000 partners using Microsoft’s cloud service in Hong Kong, and the number is expected to rise. “We believe there is unlimited potential as the market demand for cloud-based services has kept growing at a fast pace. The surging growth of cloud computing is expected to bring even more development opportunities, sales revenue and job-creation,” says Microsoft Hong Kong general manager Peter Yeung.