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"Cloud is becoming a really hot topic in China," said McGuire, who joined TIG last year after spending the previous 12 years at Dell. "Most companies don’t have their own IT infrastructure, so to build their own private cloud is costly. Public cloud is attracting more interest, because few companies have the hardware and infrastructure expertise."
TIG Cloud will start by launching vertically focused cloud solutions for the education, port authority, and manufacturing and tourism markets. For the initial phase of each project, TIG Cloud will seek funding from the local government. Ultimately, however, the joint venture will generate revenue through a usage-based model that depends on the traffic its apps attract, McGuire said.
"The challenge with cloud computing is coming up with solutions that people can actually use," she said. "In verticals like education, there is a need for teachers, students and parents to collaborate online and become more efficient by sharing knowledge."
TIG Cloud has already identified potential customers who could benefit from its cloud solutions expertise. Jiangyin is a large-scale producer of textiles, chemicals and metals, and TIG plans to target these industries in the next phase of its expansion, said McGuire.
"We will work with the government to offer services to these manufacturers -- if they want to have office automation tools, for example, they can use our cloud," McGuire said.
TIG Cloud is also working on tourism-related cloud apps for the city of Jiangyin. If successful, this model could be applied to other Chinese cities and may represent another future revenue stream, McGuire said.
Cloud computing is not a new concept in China, but the promise of cloud apps is largely unproven. TIG Cloud, as an early mover in cloud development, believes it can be the first to demonstrate that the cloud is about more than just hype -- and can actually be used to transform a business.
"There will always be a need for someone at the solutions level and application level to design something meaningful to customers," TIG's Xu told CRN. "The intellectual piece is what China is trying to catch up on, and that is what we do."