Industry-wide use of public cloud platforms in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been restricted by a lack of sufficient data centers in the past – but that's quickly changing. Investment into data center systems in the MENA region is expected to grow 2 percent to a record $5 billion in 2019, according to the latest Gartner report.
Modernization of data centers is gaining ground as organizations around the MENA region begin to work toward a complete digital overhaul. This is reflective of growing global demand for large-scale data centers that can process information on thousands of servers at the same time. According to a Linesight White Paper, global data storage grew exponentially by 40 percent year-on-year in 2018. Data released by the Cisco Global Cloud Index also showed a steady rise in data center growth in the MENA region.
“As the Middle East and North Africa data center spend reaches record highs, CEOs recognize that data centers have moved from a cost center to a profit center. Modernizing data center infrastructure is a top priority in 2019 for organizations to store, secure, and analyze more data than ever before, deliver new digital business models, and scale up as businesses grow,” said Savitha Bhaskar, COO of UAE-based IT infrastructure and information management consultancy Condo Protego.
Cloud computing and storage
Dell EMC ’s hyper-converged infrastructure solutions are picking up strongly in the Middle East as a way to integrate computing, storage, networking, and virtualization in data centers, according to Condo Protego.
“Data center modernization can be a complex undertaking across lines of business. CIOs should work with specialized channel partners to develop digital transformation roadmaps, identify data center solutions that best meet business needs, and reduce risk. Automation solutions can help realize utility for storage, servers, and apps in faster and more efficient business environments,” Savitha Bhaskar said.
Oracle launched its first data center in the Middle East in February 2019, providing cloud services to people across the region from its new Abu Dhabi center. Microsoft already has data center presence with a site each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. SAP has outdone them both with three data center sites in the region – one each in Dubai, Dammam, and Riyadh. Alibaba Cloud, another major global player, also has a data center in Dubai.
Apart from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are the most common cloud investment destinations in the Middle East, Bahrain has also seen its tech industry bloom with market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) setting up three availability zones in the region.
The public cloud services market in the MENA region has doubled its growth since 2016 to a projection of $1.9 billion in 2020, according to data released by Statista. This growth has also been fueled by government regulations requiring sensitive data in industries such as banking to be retained on GCC soil.