Will Clouds Work In Pakistan?

These days its hard not to notice the increase in popularity of cloud computing. Amazon can be credited for taking this technical concept to a mainstream level. Now HP and other giants want a slice of this.

Cloud computing can be thought of an extension of software as a service but with an interesting twist that it is within the reach of start-ups and the pricing has dropped to almost nominal levels. All you need is connectivity and the infrastructure is yours. Great thing is that you don’t need to know much technical details – freedom from reliance on system admins using Internet technologies to multiple external customers. Just in case you are not familiar with the concept or want more technical details, see this article. There are plenty of issues associated with clouds – the disruptions to services is the main one and it has happened a few times already. Usability is another one.
For emerging markets such as Pakistan where always-on connectivity is a premium and infrastructure is lousy, can clouds become useful and popular as elsewhere? I doubt it but I will ask the readers to answer this question. I am interested in hearing from any Pakistani start-ups who have considered it. I promise to compile the answers and post an update.

Facebook comments:


  • I dont know the exact difference between cloud computing and SaaS – the articles didnt really help either – Babar could you explain a bit more?

  • SaaS was meant for businesses. Need CRM? Use salesforce for $100/user/year.

    Cloud is for you and me to try out that great idea for which you need servers/storage but don’t want any strings attached.

    As the WIRED article says:
    ” Key in your Amazon ID and password and behold: a data center’s worth of computing power carved into megabyte-sized chunks and wired straight to your desktop. Clones of that HP tower cost 10 cents per hour — 10 cents! “

  • I didn’t understand your question, so apologies if this reply is completely out of whack..

    so cloud computing is hot these days, we have been looking into the Amazon services for our venture. The biggest issue with setting up a cloud service in Pakistan is unreliability, simply there are too many risk factors involved that would make the cost very high to provide quality service.

  • Ah – so its more like infrastructure-as-a-service…. but that would make this similar to any regular hosting provider, except that the model is cents per hour?

  • Bhatti, you made it sound too easy!

    I ran a feasibility of a service similar to Amazon’s S3 in Pakistan and cost of the infrastructure, research, development and finally marketing made ROI a distant dream.

    Only issue in Pakistan not instability of things but also why would international clientele consider my service based in Pakistan to how will I convince Pakistan’s very few small high tech ventures to move to my services!

  • Cloud computing would be a great oppurtunity in both of the sence. Rather you are a subscriber (Consumer) like grabing some space from their Data Center. At the same time you can be provider.

    Let’s take an example of CubeXs Weatherly, if i am not wrong, they are the only few tier 4 data center in Pakistan, and they even hosted services for AT&T, and many other local & foriegn enterprises.

    So its a great deal in both of the cases.

  • ‏‏Mohsin Hijazee

    As far as penetration of cloud computing is concerned, it will not be for the masses for now considering the telecom infrastructure in Pakistan.

    However, we’re working on an interesting piece of software which can be an essential component for cloud computing. Our solution lets you store your data in a structured form.

    We’re working on an online flexible but structured information storage engine which can be accessed via a simple REST API. Its same way as Amazon S3 but the concept is different.
    The engine is called Dedomenon and the development work is at http://www.dedomenon.org. This is being used at a production site also at http://www.myowndb.com
    Yet we are working so its a work in progress and we’re hopeful that it will be an awesome component for a cloud computing environment

  • Won’t work. Idea is good though.

  • UJMi, Cloud computing can have a positive ROI in a place like Pakistan if built on cheap hardware but effective parallelization (sort of how google initially started). What kind of hardware were you assuming in your feasibility?

    Osama, the difference between conventional hosting and cloud hosting is scalability. Even the most powerful dedicated host will crash if your website goes from a 100 users to a million users overnight. A cloud can automatically adjust for traffic spikes by allocating parallel hardware resources to a website.

  • Amazon made it work because a)it had to do it for its own business and b)it had the scale and c)cleverness.

    I was thinking that startups in Pakistan can use this for quick ramp up. The service can be anywhere — as long as the connectivity speed and reliability is there.

    From a business point of view — its more tricky to do it inside Pakistan. However someone in Dubai or Mumbai could do it and serve the Asian market.

  • Wajahat. CubeXs Weatherly is a venture of Weatherly group of USA. I am sure they can go on with such risky ventures any time. And after all they already have the prime sector in hosted data services on their client list, namely the banks.

    Yasser. Well about the Google model of using normal PCs to do all the work can surely work, paying for even high ended servers is not a problem. One of the easiest thing to do would be to buy or rent second hand server equipment from some American company (like Canvas). But point is ROI doesn’t stay comfortable when you look at the side of expenses.

    For just one example, if we get a power outage, which we will (6 hour in Islamabad and I heard 10-12 hours in Karachi) we are talking about using power backup for that time. On power backup imagine using a generator which is supposed to run complete building Air conditioning, network equipment along with building maintenance system on 80+ Rupees per liter Petrol or ~60 Rs Diesel! This small thing will make monthly expenses go sky rocket, which will require offsetting by a thick business pipeline which sadly at least I don’t see in Pakistan at the moment or even 2 year down the line at least.

    Babar. Actually Amazon with its S3 has only given the redundant datacenter facilities they had to the clients. So its like maximizing profits from even the skin of goat.

    Since now we are not talking about such a business in Pakistan, I think Pakistani startups can stick with S3 without worrying about the stress on pocket.

    About having it in Dubai. Network cost in Dubai prohibits such ventures.

  • Well, I believe Cloud exist in pakistan and working successfully.
    we can see rozee.pk and pakwheels.com as Saas cloud .

  • Cloud Computing or Cloud Services I can’t say much about. However, SaaS is quite a possibility. I have been with a number of companies in Pakistan who had good communications infrastructure through which they were connecting.

    @Corona: Working out feasibilities on paper is good and all, but in my experience, those are too generic. Basic rule of thumb, if you haven’t tried it, don’t derail other people’s efforts/attempts.

    @Babar: It’s interesting how everyone quotes Amazon, but they forget the key part of Amazon business. When they were in the initial investment phase, their business plan clearly stated that they will go in a loss for the first 10 years. That means what to an investor? Would you invest in a company who does that.

  • We are using Amazon S3, EC2, EBS and other amazon services for our website http://bismillah.com (Unique Email Service)

    It won’t be possible to provide such service at a cheaper rate (at this time) for any company in Pakistani market.
    $50 a month (windows 2008 server) is the cheapest for any dedicated server with all the possibilities of scaling easily and rapidly. And thats what amazon provide at this time. Plus documentation and community support is amazing. Linux server are much more cheaper.

  • most of the hosting companies doesn’t support VP environment because of the security issues and Amazon has inhouse developed their solutions to tackle these issues.

  • Hi, i am just starting my IT career from a good IT company. Can anyone guide me how can i pursue my career in COULD COMPUTING in Pakistan or abroad?

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