Posts tagged ‘MENA’

Security and SLAs limiting cloud uptake in MENA, IT head says #cloudmena

Source: Business Cloud News

Despite strong projected growth, cloud services uptake in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) could be hampered by the speed at which local cloud service providers adopt new security controls, Emirates Investment Authority (EIA) IT head Furqan Ahmed Hashmi tells BCN.

The EIA, the sovereign wealth fund of the federal government of the United Arab Emirates set up in 2007 with the intention of investing in businesses and encouraging economic diversity.

Hashmi said that the organisation recently moved its disaster recovery site into a private cloud after it virtualised the majority of its production environment, which is hosted on-premise.

“We moved from bare-metal to virtualised workloads to save on opex and capex; we saved lots of money in hardware, power and cooling costs, and it definitely gives you better admin and control,” he says. “It also makes DR easier.”

The organisation moved over some of the physical hardware it saved by virtualising its production estate to its DR site to support the private cloud implementation, which is hosted by one of the local telcos.

“We have our own infrastructure, our own network links – but of course security is still the main concern,” he says.

Hashmi explains that the organisation may see a role for the cloud when it comes to non-critical applications currently in production, but he says it would be limited at best.

“There are some limitations and security capabilities need to be built up. If we look at major cyber attacks that have happened over the last couple of years, and the solutions that can be used to combat these attacks, most cloud providers in the Middle East are still implementing these controls. Many say that they are abiding by ISO 270001, but in practical terms they aren’t.”

Analysts have found reason to be more optimistic. Gartner this week said the public cloud services market in the MENA region is likely to grow 17.1 per cent in 2015 to reach $851m, up from an estimated $727m in 2014.

Software as a service revenue alone is expected to grow 25 per cent in 2015 to $205.7m, and the firm estimates that by 2018, total public cloud services spending in MENA region will rise to $1.5bn, with SaaS accounting for 28.3 per cent of the total market and infrastructure as a service accounting for 10.7 per cent.

Still, Hashmi is bullish, and suggests that while Middle Eastern cloud providers are starting to catch up to European and American providers in terms of security sophistication, it will take much longer until we see the kind of growth rates witnessed in either Europe or the US.

“If we’re talking about public cloud, the two main challenges are security and the SLA,” he says. “If someone has a production environment in the public cloud, they need to check the network and the availability of a telco line, whether an MPLS or other kind, plus the infrastructure and underlying storage – will it be sufficient? Will the OS performance be up to scratch? The app performance? Will the underlying storage be sufficient? These are all really important features of that agreement.”

“It’s going to take more time for consumers to build confidence in locally provisioned cloud services,” he adds.

Join Speaker Furqan Ahmed Hashmi, IT Architect at Emirates Investment Authority in Dubai at the Cloud MENA Forum, on 12-14 April 2015.

Registration is free of charge for telecom operators and enterprises.
Free exhibition open to all!

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Cloud to help Arab Open University provide more support to students and staff, CIO says #cloudmena

Cloud to help Arab Open University provide more support to students and staff, CIO says | Business Cloud News

Written by Business Cloud News

Abid-Butt-jpegArab Open University (AOU), a non-profit, private regional university spanning seven countries is looking to take more of its applications to the cloud in a bid to improve how the organisation supports staff and students in the region, according to the university’s chief information officer Abid Butt.

The AOU, which is affiliated with the Open University in the UK, was set up in 2003 with funding from the Arab Gulf Fund to provide education to working professional in the Gulf region. It’s headquartered in Kuwait with campuses in Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman and Saudi Arabia, but the organisation hopes to eventually cover 22 countries in the region, from Oman to Morocco.

Similarly to the UK Open University, the AOU is not a traditional brick and mortar school and relies heavily on digital platforms to reach a wide audience, which is one of the reasons the AOU is slowly moving its applications and platforms – both student and faculty facing – into the cloud.

“Students should be able to access knowledge and education through any media, anywhere, but when the university started it wasn’t carrying this thinking through to the technology being used,” Butt says. “The eight campuses in the Gulf were doing a lot of redundant work because they weren’t viewing the environment holistically.”

The organisation relies on three core application groups: financial systems (i.e. payroll), human resources systems, and student lifecycle management –including campus management applications and a learning management application, which resembles a Coursera-type model.

But instead of delivering the applications from multiple datacentres in the region, the AOU has for the past year started implementing its roadmap to deliver many of them from the cloud, partly in a bid to cope with spikes in application traffic during certain periods of the academic year, and partly to reduce costs.

The IT department at the AOU is fairly small, with little budget to fund technical support operations for its datacentres.

Click here to view the full interview.

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“Cloud services reached half a billion in MENA this year” – Gartner

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Proving that not even intense heat can withstand the spread of Cloud…

 

Famous IT research and advisory firm Gartner Inc recently revealed that there’s been a 24%  increase in spending on cloud services in the Middle-East and North Africa Region.

“The public cloud services market continues robust growth in MENA through the forecast period of 2011 through 2017,” said Ed Anderson, research director at Gartner.

“While BPaaS dominates as the largest cloud segment, the high growth rates of infrastructure as a service [IaaS], platform as a service [PaaS] and cloud management and security services make them important markets to watch.”

For those particularly interested in all things Cloud in MENA, there is an event rather fittingly entitled: Cloud World Forum MENA 2014 taking place next year…

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