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Cloud in the Middle East: Dark skies ahead?

Tom Paye | Sept. 4, 2013
With the controversy surrounding PRISM continuing to rage, coming up with a good cloud strategy just got that much harder.

Even the big, American corporations have to admit that local cloud service providers look a little more attractive these days. But according to Ahmad Muammar, Systems Engineer Manager, Gulf, EMC, this isn't just down to concerns over privacy. What's more, larger customers might still want to go for the bigger providers.

"I believe that local service providers, or global ones with a strong local presence, are the ones who will win more business in the enterprise sector, and this is not specific only to the Middle East," he says. "For SMBs, the market will split between local CSPs who are more attractive due to data privacy and regulations, and others who will go to global providers who give them a cost advantage due to the scale of economy."

Cost isn't the only advantage that comes from dealing with a large cloud provider, according to Louay Dahmash, Head of Middle East, Autodesk. He believes that companies looking to pursue a cloud strategy should be more concerned about technical knowhow than data privacy. Sure, the NSA might potentially have access to your data, but — as we wrote earlier this year — that shouldn't be an issue if you have nothing to hide.

"Businesses in the Middle East realise that, to reap the benefits of cloud technologies, it is important to work with providers with a high level of sophistication and knowhow with regards to the technology," he says. "Local controversies will have a short-term impact on businesses, but eventually, for the benefit of the customer, businesses will have to partner with the best, some of which are organisations from mature economies."

Kaspersky, a big advocate of data privacy, admits that "the Middle East isn't a leader in software development, so Gulf companies need to use solutions from international vendors."

What's more, Kaspersky believes that cloud computing will still continue to be adopted more widely, simply because businesses can save on costs using it. Indeed, there's no doubting that cloud services make up a compelling prospect to the average SMB owner, says Rajesh Abrahim, Director of Product Development, eHosting DataFort.

"Not many enterprises bought into the idea straight away but the hype is now turning into reality and we are seeing increased uptake. We see a higher uptake for non-critical workloads and more and more small businesses adopting the public cloud because of benefits such as access to latest technology, monthly subscription fees and low total cost of ownership," he says.

EMC's Muammar says that businesses shouldn't look at cloud differently because of the PRISM allegations. Instead, they should be looking at how the cloud can help them cut costs and become more agile. If businesses align their cloud strategies to their business objectives, the prospect of adopting cloud becomes too good to ignore, he believes.


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