Verizon Business opened on Monday its new Hong Kong data center in Tsuen Wan to support its growing customer demand for private cloud computing services, bringing Verizon's total number of data centers in Asia to 15.

According to the service provider, the 3,000 square meter-Hong Kong facility offers three cabinet choices: standard cabinets for an optional redundant handoff, premium cabinets for blade servers and high density server stacks, and half cabinets for smaller installations.

Verizon Business has also set up data centers in Singapore, Japan and Australia. According to Andrew Dobbins, the company's Asia Pacific vice president, about 70 percent of the company's current top 50 customers are Asia-based. "Verizon Business is moving from a traditional network operator to a utility-based business model. Storage-as-a-Service will be our next area for business growth," he added.

Enterprise cloud computing users are concerned about data location. "Our offering is explicit with where the data resides. If you opt to host your data here in Hong Kong, then it doesn't move around [between Verizon's data centers]," said Joseph Crawford, Verizon Business' executive director in IT solutions and product management. He added that data storage charges are the same regardless of the data location of the customer's choice, be it in Hong Kong, Amsterdam, London or other locations. "We harmonize the pricing among different locations so customers know what to expect. Same price regardless of data location."

For companies that wish to retain more control over their data and assets, Verizon offers to provide physical servers without hypervisors running on them, alongside with virtual servers, "so customers may keep some physical servers without their data hosted on shared servers," said Crawford.

Growing cloud budget

In a recent Gartner study of 1,587 IT professionals in 40 countries, 39 percent of the responding organisations indicated that they had allocated IT budget to cloud computing as a key initiative for their organization. (The study, titled "User Survey Analysis: Cloud-Computing Budgets Are Growing and Shifting, Traditional IT Services Providers Must Prepare or Perish," was released on 12 August 2010.)

"As more companies in Asia Pacific continue to move their resource-intensive applications to the cloud, the increasing need for in-region advanced data centers is becoming more inherent," said Bon Igou, Gartner's research director.

According to Dobbins, cloud computing adopters usually approach the cloud in three distinct phases, beginning with volume-based applications that cater seasonal spikes like month-ends in the retail sector. Businesses will then move on to back office applications that don't differentiate themselves as a company. Finally, mature cloud computing adopters may consider moving to the cloud applications that differentiate themselves as a company, such as apps that represent the intellectual property of their businesses.