As Middle East internet usage soars to 187 million users in 2012, the IT sector continues to grow at a rapid rate, but cloud adoption and expansion will far outpace traditional IT growth.
New applications are constantly hitting the market to enable seamless real-time collaboration, locally or remotely, as organisations hunt for holistic solutions to cover a whole host of enterprise interfaces, including smartphones and other mobile devices.
"Early indications are that corporate IT budgets will increase substantially year-on-year as businesses worldwide embrace the attributes of Cloud Computing," says Altaf Alimohamed, Managing Director of UAE-based Media Solutions
"The uptake of cloud-based IT services looks set to grow four times faster than the traditional IT market. This is no surprise as cloud-based services offer lower operating costs meaning that organisations of all shapes and sizes can swiftly slash the cost-per-user, as well as become more efficient at information sharing and such like."
Alimohamed cautions that, somewhere in the Middle East, an average hard drive fails every 0.2 seconds and confirmed that applications must be in place to restore data should a device be misplaced or put at risk during a system failure.
Turning to individual use across the region, Alimohamed said that many markets are showing a healthy appetite for mobile use of the internet.
"The growth potential among corporations is encouraging but in tandem so it the uptake by individual users. Although users might not yet realise it, many online activities take place on the Cloud meaning they are fast becoming cloud-savvy and thus ready to help influence the transition of the companies they work for," Alimohamed concludes.
Mideast business focus on flexibility
Investment into cloud-based solutions is on track to top $72bn in 2015, up from $21.5b in 2010, meanwhile the IT services and solutions sector as a whole is predicted to grow at just 6.7% annually.
While an ailing economy is slowing down business investment overseas, particularly in Europe, Middle East businesses are concerned less about reducing costs but boosting mobility.
"Continental Europe and the Middle East are behaving differently," says Philippe Elie, Riverbed's Director of Operations in EMEA. "Europe is struggling and most decision makers are focusing on cost reduction, which is important to Middle East businesses, but to a lesser extent."
"What we discovered in a survey was that businesses in this region are focusing more on agility with IT as a whole, because they see IT as a tool to be more competitive. If they can do this while reducing costs, then they are happy, but this is not a first priority," Elie told AMEinfo.com.
There are a combination of factors here. The Middle East is so scattered that the notion of distance is more prevalent and CIOs in this region suffer more from what Elie calls 'bottleneck' issues, that slow down the deployment of new applications.
Subsequently, the appetite for cloud is strong, though Riverbed's recent survey of more than 300 CIOs found that 78% felt that security was the main reason holding them back from embracing cloud technology. Of that number, 30 CIOs were Middle East decision makers, indicating that while the desire is strong, security is another complicating factor.