Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
Inside the Caribbean, Digicel Group estimates that cloud computing services is potentially worth US$100 million.
In four years, the telecom said it has rolled out the services across all of its 30 markets in and outside the region, and that its aim is to eventually grow business to levels that are internationally competitive.
For now, its current rival regionally is Columbus Business Solutions (CBS), a division of cable company Columbus Commu-nications, which trades as Flow.
New survey findings this year from TheInfoPro Wave 5 Cloud Computing Study estimates that the cloud market will grow at an annual rate of 36 per cent, reaching a market size of US$19.5 billion by 2016.
Demand in the region and globally is expected to be driven primarily by SMEs which have less security concerns than larger firms.
Digicel rolled out its cloud unit in 2009 and since then has invested close to J$700 million in a Tier 3 data centre sited in Jamaica.
"While Columbus Business Solutions provides cloud services, we consider our main competitors to be foreign based, for example, Amazon Web Services and Rackspace," said Ative Ennis, head of enterprise solutions at Digicel.
"It augurs well however for clients to secure world-class cloud services locally as data services attained in foreign countries are often times accessible by state entities."
To put Digicel's ambitions in context, Venturebeat.com estimates that Amazon has one third of the global cloud market and will bring home some US$3.2 billion in revenue from the segment in 2013.
Digicel Group's annual worldwide sales, the majority of which is from mobile phone service, is US$2.78 billion.
Columbus Communications vice-president in charge of CBS, John Clear, says his company offers a more complete package of cloud services, and is unmatched by rivals.
"CBS is the only B2B technology brand in the region equipped to offer end-to-end solutions to organisations of any size, in any industry," Clear told Wednesday Business.
"There are other service providers as well as global and regional providers in the market but no other company can match CBS's range of cloud services, combined with the fibre connectivity and the local, as well as regional, expertise to serve customers in Jamaica and across the Caribbean," he said.
Ennis and Clear both declined to share sales information, but said cloud services was the fastest growing segment of Digicel Business and CBS.
Cloud services are also offered by LIME.
CBS says the service is increasingly in demand by SMEs.
"In 2013, we saw a significant increase in interest and adoption in the use and value of cloud services from our customers, especially in the medium-size sector," said Clear. "Next year, we expect to see an even greater growth in this area," he said.
suite of service
CBS offers networking, telephony, IT security, servers, data storage and recovery, business continuity, desktop and mobile computing, video conferencing, and its suite of services now include next generation connectivity and IT solutions for SMEs.
"Columbus is providing an eco-system and not merely individual products," Clear told Wednesday Business, due to the company's investments in its data centres, network security and "24x7x365" support teams.
"Customers can even choose which legal jurisdictions they wish their data to be held in," he said.
Digicel offers hosted email, managed BlackBerry Enterprise Server, cloud telephony, cloud backup solutions and server virtualisation, and its local clients are mainly "financial institutions across Jamaica", as well as beverage manufacturer Wisynco, VIP Attractions, among others, said Ennis.
The service is based on an OPEX model, in which the customer pays a monthly recurring cost and has little to no upfront set-up costs, he said.
"In the current economic climate, business customers do not readily have cash to spend on IT needs, therefore this model can be quite attractive," Ennis said.
"In addition, Digicel Business has the only Tier 3 certified data centre in Jamaica which is the foundation for our cloud services. This means that Digicel is certified to provide the most reliable, scalable, flexible and secure disaster recovery cloud services locally," he said.
Last week, Digicel Business also announced a new product 'Desktop as a Service', which it says offers its subscribers a cloud-hosted desktop environment to deliver business applications across multiple devices, including Microsoft Office.
Digicel has partnered with Citrix, Cisco and Microsoft on the rollout of the new cloud service.
CBS' markets are in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, Curacao, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Puerto Rico, and it is "launching soon" in Barbados.
Columbus' Tier 3 data centre and ecommerce park is located in Curacao.