The cloud storage market is fairly new, but a thriving one in Turkey. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), Turkey’s cloud services market is expected to reach $79.49 million in 2014, a doubling of cloud spending in 2012. IDC also expects spending on cloud services in Turkey to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 37.4% over the 2012-2017 forecast period.
SMEs in Turkey have embraced cloud applications much more quickly than big corporations, often because their organisations are more flexible, and their IT and human resources infrastructures are more limited. For that reason cloud services can be an opportunity for SMEs to access high quality IT services with a relatively low investment.
That said, unless an SME produces large amounts of complex data and needs lots of CPU power, cloud storage is still often more expensive than running in-house servers.
Concerns over cloud services
There are, however, concerns about cloud storage and services in Turkey. In addition to generally-held worries over cloud storage such as privacy, latency, scalability and security, three other points concerns are often raised in Turkey: The future of the local IT services sector; constraining yet insufficient regulation, and; the deficiencies of IT infrastructure in the country.
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The first of these arises from the fact that the Turkish IT sector is still heavily about hardware, with the services side yet to reach a mature stage. The worry among IT professionals is that IT services is being dominated by specialised international companies and that this will stifle the growth of a homegrown Turkish IT services sector as well as causing IT departments to shrink in Turkey-based businesses.
Meanwhile, worries about the regulatory environment in Turkey have two aspects.
On the one hand there are the regulations and geographical limitations imposed by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) and Information and Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK). Legislation enforced by these institutions restricts the retention of customer data in banking and telecommunications to within the country. So, companies must use datacentres that are physically located in Turkey should they wish to employ cloud storage services.
On the other hand, there are almost no regulations that provide IT managers with guidance about managing data storage. Also, the legal framework around privacy and data security is almost non-existent in Turkey. This has been particularly problematic, and has caused Turkey to be classified as a non-secure third party country by the EU.
This, in addition to the recent revelation of surveillance by the NSA’s PRISM programme have fuelled deep concerns over data privacy and security among IT managers and CIOs in Turkey.
The third major factor is the scarcity of fast internet connectivity throughout the country. The speed of internet connections generally is still relatively poor compared to many European countries.
Also, the bill that brought in heightened surveillance and censorship of the internet – Law 5651; Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Suppression of Crimes Committed by means of Such Publication – last February resulted in a further slowing of internet services. Such poor bandwidth means that primary or nearline cloud data storage services are often an unrealistic option for Turkish businesses.
Turkish organisations and cloud storage
Airties is a Turkish wireless equipment company that develops its own software and hardware. It operates in five countries, including the UK. By 2006, Airties decided to move some of its data and applications to the cloud, using Google Apps and Salesforce.com. This was due to pressure on compute performance as well as increasing volume and complexity of data collected from customer devices in the field.
Melih Ozhan, IT manager at Istanbul-based Airties, said, “As a company operating worldwide, we require data to be accessible constantly. Retaining data in-house might be important for some companies, under any conditions, but we don’t have to worry about server management and client management while the compatibility of the interface is not a concern either.”
For storage, Airties uses a hybrid cloud setup, where data is staged to disk at its sites and some is then shipped off to the cloud. Ozhan said sensitive data such as R&D information is kept on-site while other operational data is largely sent to the cloud.
So, Airties gets around difficulties with latency and concerns over privacy by retaining key data on-site.
Meanwhile, Serdar Susuz is director of Inspark, a consultancy company for cloud solutions in Istanbul that decided to move all its data to cloud storage in 2006.
Susuz said that enabled a small business like Inspark – which uses Salesforce.com’s office productivity apps – to get the same quality of IT services as a large corporation.
He said, “We don’t have to employ an IT department to work out server management or disaster recovery. Any complications related to those would be solved by cloud providers in no time before we even noticed.”
Cloud providers in Turkey
Most of the key players in the global cloud storage and services market – such as Google, IBM and HP – are present in Turkey. There are also some local and regional providers. These include IT and network services group Koç Sistem, network provider Med-Nautilus and Anadolu IT Services plus recently-launched services from telecom operators like Turkcell and Turk Telekom.
Prospects for cloud storage in Turkey
In the last five years there has been a huge leap in the cloud storage and services market in Turkey. While large businesses are still sceptical about moving their data to cloud, SMEs are more open to the idea.
Where there is reluctance it is often because cloud services can be more expensive than in-house operations. But, with an expected increase in levels of competition to provide cloud services the result should be lower prices, and increased cloud usage.
In addition, there is an urgent need to adjust the legal and regulatory framework surrounding data storage so that concerns over security and privacy are met.