A host of trouble

Many a service provider in the region is still lacking in basic security standards certification and sometimes do not even offer disaster recovery provisions, making data outsourcing still a prospect for most IT managers to fear.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  March 2, 2008

Many a service provider in the region is still lacking in basic security standards certification and sometimes do not even offer disaster recovery provisions, making data outsourcing still a prospect for most IT managers to fear.

Outsourcing is one of the fastest growing markets in the Middle East. While the market is nowhere close to the level of maturity displayed by Western countries, an increasing number of enterprises are opting to have service providers host all or part of their information outside the firm's premises.

Datacentres are quite process driven; processes are a very critical factor. Datacentres are less about technology and more about processes.

A large number of enterprises from governments, banks, financial institutions, airlines, electronics and manufacturing industry are already hosting their applications in an external datacentre provided by a service provider," says Sachin Bhardwaj, marketing manager from e-Hosting Datafort (EHDF).

However, this trend is still hampered by the majority of IT managers in the region who fear for the safety of the data that resides on third party servers and sometimes rightly so.

To counter this notion, the larger service providers in the region have put in place multiple levels of physical and logical security to protect customer data. Nevertheless, ensuring effective security of information might lie as much with the enterprise in question, as with the outsourcing provider, in ensuring that proper policies and procedures are adhered to.

The onion peel perspective

"There are three types of security infrastructure that is required. One is physical security - so you don't have untested equipment in datacentres. Second is logical security - which means that it is isolated from the rest of the apps and third is security from the perspective of applications," says Amir Rashid, director of product marketing at Etisalat.

Etisalat itself prides itself on offering seven layers of physical security at its datacentres. The minimum layer four includes physical guards and smart cards but the firm also offers highly secure infrastructure options.

"At the highest layers we have biometric based retinal scanners. We even have options where two people would need to take the biometric scan simultaneously within a specified period of time. Additionally, if a customer is hosting and managing equipment himself, he can choose to have his own security requirements in place," he adds.

Etisalat, which currently operates four datacentres in the UAE and will open two more in Dubai in one month, ensures logical security by keeping each customer's equipment and network separate from the other. Injazat, another well-established service provider based in Abu Dhabi, has also established a stringent security setup for its customers.

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