By Jin Ge
There have been several news reports this year that suggest cloud computing centers in China are turning into real estate development projects: local governments and financial investors used the concept to reclaim large pieces of land at low cost, obtain low-interest loans from banks and apply for government subsidy, before they have any plan for software or application. Even for a cynic like me, this sounds too bad to be true, but recently I happened to see some documents from the Chongqing government that aim to invite financial investors for its ambitious 10-square-kilometer Two River Cloud Computing Zone, and these documents appear to be invitation for financial speculation rather than technological innovation.
The first thing people should know about cloud computing in china is that it is again driven by state capitalism. Once the technocratic officials of China become aware of the concept of cloud computing, they immediately see the potential of applying their magic formula of “fixed asset investment+government subsidy+cheap loan” on it, because after all cloud computing does involve some large physical infrastructure. The story is quite similar to what happened to the concept of “Internet of Things”.
In April 2011, the government of Chongqing became the first to announce its plan to invest 40 billion yuan on a cloud computing center that will be the largest in Asia. The plan is called “Yun Duan” (Top of Cloud). Then Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou all followed suit. Shanghai plans to build a “Asia Pacific Cloud Computing Center”, its plan is called “Yun Hai” (Ocean of Cloud), Beijing has a plan called “Xiang Yun” (Cloud of Blessing), Shenzhen has a plan called “Kun Yun” (Cloud of Flying Fish), Guangzhou has a plan called “Tian Yun” (Cloud of Sky), Ningbo has “Xing Yun” (Galaxy Cloud), Wuxi has “Yun Gu” (Cloud Valley), Hangzhou has “Yun Chao Shi” (Cloud Supermarket) ……