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CIO Workshop 2012: The Cloud and the future of IT

F.Y. Teng | Aug. 6, 2012
Baidu's CIO John Gu on the opportunities and challenges associated with leveraging the cloud and the mobile Internet as platforms for global operations and commerce.

John Gu, CIO, Baidu

On the second leg of this year's CIO Workshop organised by the professional body IT Management Association of Singapore (ITMA) and global management consulting firm Accenture, held in Shanghai (July 19-21, 2012), the CIO of Baidu-known for running the most popular search engine in the Chinese-speaking world-John Gu talked about how his company was going about "Transforming the Future with the Internet." Gu told delegates of the CIO Workshop about the major role the Cloud is playing in Baidu's plans moving forward.

Cloud computing was at the centre of Baidu's search technology, noted Gu, who then cited the kind of volumes and loads his search engine dealt with every day: a total of 100-1,000 petabytes (PB); data processing of 10-100PB; web page counts of 100-1,000 billion; refresh rates of 1-10 billion; and, 1-10 billion queries. Powering all this work is an infrastructure made up of super-large scale server cluster management and operations capabilities-along the lines of 100,000 servers per cluster, and 1,000 PB of data computing capability.

And Baidu Cloud Computing is going to accelerate the growth of the mobile Internet market, Gu said, with its computing and data processing capabilities, data storage services, and constant drive to increase user traffic and numbers. Ultimately, Baidu intends to make enterprise infrastructures and applications, such as corporate intranets, enterprise resource planning and email systems, ready for access and use across the Internet via mobile platforms, he said.

Gu foresees the pervasive use of social channels in the enterprise space, enabling unprecedented levels of knowledge sharing and even empowering organisations with knowledge management capabilities across the Internet. At the same time, enterprise users will see their smart phone, tablets, personal computers and even television sets being powered by infrastructures and applications that run off the cloud, said Gu, who then added that not only devices that run on Apple's operating systems, but also those that run on Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows will be have equal access to the services running off the cloud.

Those are the grand opportunities enterprises should expect to capture, but the challenges facing them as they go about transforming their IT are not to be trifled with, Gu said. For one, they have to do with their IT divisions staying relevant to their respective businesses-which is not a mean task, considering the impact of consumerisation, and the often sticky issues, complexities and sheer labour associated with leveraging utility computing, software as a service and the cloud, and outsourcing.

As they go about their transformation, organisations should always ensure they remain close to their customers, users and partners, maintain the user experience their communities expect and demand, and that whatever projects they set out to do, they do it in Internet time, which Gu said should be a target between three to six months for completion. In the end, it is the value of the systems IT divisions put out that matters most to users, customers and partners, Gu said.


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