Is the Middle East cloud market set for rapid growth?
Although Gulf countries are known for leading in the world of business growth, there has been some reluctance for businesses in the Middle East to commit to moving from on-premise infrastructure to the cloud.
Decolonising cloud technology
Unsurprisingly, the growth trend in the use of cloud hosting and computing has been consistently on the rise across the globe in recent years. From increased efficiency and flexibility to significant cost savings and scalability, the benefits of embracing the cloud are undeniable.
But in the age of rapid cloud technology development, it seems inapt that the Middle East-Africa (MEA) region is still somewhat behind when it comes to cloud adoption.
Driving digital transformation
Whilst the MEA region is still among the lowest in terms of cloud acceptance, recent initiatives such as the government of Bahrain’s “cloud-first policy“, national strategic visions such as UAE Vision 2021, Saudi Vision 2030 and New Kuwait Vision 2035 and the adoption of emerging technologies are starting to change the cloud landscape.
The coronavirus pandemic has also sparked an uptick of interest in cloud-based technology, with remote working and the growth of online services highlighting the value of robust digital infrastructure. In fact, the Middle East data center market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 7% up until 2024, with end-user demands engaging data center developers such as Equinix to support such growth in the region.
Embracing new technologies
Businesses across the Middle East are rapidly adopting new technologies, such as 5G, artificial intelligence and machine learning as part of their digital transformation strategy.
The UAE has even developed the National AI programme and appointed the world’s first minister for AI to ensure further investment and utilization of artificial intelligence. The adoption of such technologies would simply not be possible at scale without cloud computing as the backbone, enabling large volumes of data to be processed incredibly quickly, on-demand. Because of this, it is estimated that more than 70% of Middle East companies will have multi-cloud environments in place in the next two years.
Overcoming barriers to entry
According to ITP.net, a leading tech website in the Middle East, the adoption of Cloud services in the MEA region is still in the very early stages. So what is fuelling this reluctance, and how can it be alleviated?
- Legacy IT systems
Middle East organizations often find themselves burdened by legacy IT infrastructure, often worth millions, that cannot simply be discarded. In fact, according to the ITP Technology Division annual survey of cloud computing trends, over 36% of enterprises find it difficult to move data, applications or other business elements to a cloud computing environment. Whilst it can be a challenge to strike the balance between maintaining current investments and procuring the right cloud solutions, increasing operational requirements are prompting businesses to migrate from on-premises, server room operations to cloud-based data center services.
- Lack of expertise
Having the right expertise to deliver a successful migration is essential, but hard to find in the MEA region. According to IDC, the Gulf’s lack of IT talent and skills availability is a major challenge for 45% of organizations when it comes to cloud management.
“The people you need in order to migrate to the cloud are few and far between,” says Dr Abdulrahman Alsultan, CEO of Awini, a Saudi Arabia-based provider of app-based, truck-sharing services. “This is because cloud computing is still pretty new here.”
Managed cloud providers can take the pressure off internal technical teams by helping companies modernize their IT infrastructure, from initial design all the way through to migration and continued management.
- Security myths
With advances in technology, most businesses have understood the true potential of the cloud, yet security and privacy concerns continue to be a significant worry. In fact, 68% of respondents in the cloud survey cited security as their top concern. Of course, data protection should be a priority for any business, but the myth that the cloud is not as secure as on-premise infrastructure is exactly that – a myth. This concern largely stems from the fact that the data is not stored on physical servers owned by the business itself, but that does not mean your data is out of your control or not safe. In reality, your data is likely to be better protected in a secure, certified data center, rather than in your office where it could be vulnerable to incidents such as fire or theft.
A cloud-first future
The global pandemic has accelerated the need for businesses to move away from legacy IT infrastructure in favor of pursuing cloud-first strategies. Nowadays, businesses rely on technology to respond to a demanding and fast-paced consumer market. New technologies that once would have taken months or even years to deploy can be accessed almost instantly by customers thanks to the cloud.
While it is clear that the Middle East has some way to go before they unlock the full potential of the cloud, it seems the region is on a steady path to rapid cloud growth in the coming years.
Looking for an expert cloud partner in the MEA region? Contact our global sales team today to discuss your requirements on 1 888 708 5581 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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