Weighing up outsourcing

While outsourcing enterprise datacentres can prove to be highly beneficial to firms, there are some key points that they need to keep in mind, and follow diligently, in order to attain the most from their choice.

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Weighing up outsourcing Regional service providers are quickly adopting the concepts and processes associated with managed service delivery. - Samer Shaar, enterprise regional managing director, Middle East and Africa at Juniper Networks.
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By  NME Staff Writer Published  January 11, 2010 Network Middle East Logo

Datacentre service providers are not new to the Middle East, and over the last few years they have garnered increasing interest among mid-to-large enterprises in the region.

Part of the growing interest can be attributed to the obvious and rather enormous advantages of having a third-party host an enterprise datacentre – advantages that service providers and datacentre vendors are quick to point out.

“There is cost reduction, risk mitigation and increased control and efficiency to name just a few,” says Sachin Bhardwaj, head of marketing and business development at eHosting DataFort (eHDF).

“Outsourcing datacentre operations offer an attractive financial model, converts capex to opex and enables firms to focus on their core business. It allows firms to leverage best in class technologies, provides scalability advantages, access to IT best practices and mitigates risks via support for comprehensive disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) planning,” says Fatima Mohsin, senior director, product marketing at Etisalat

Another reason for the expanding clientele base is the increasing competency of the region’s service providers.

“Industry standards of service providers in the region are definitely giving western countries a run for their money. We are amongst one of the few service providers in the world to have obtained three ISO certifications i.e. ISO9001, ISO20000, ISO27001 - a formal recognition that our services in assurance, best practice and data security meet the international benchmarks of the IT industry. Also having a successful track record of serving medium to large organisations, like Emirates Airlines, Panasonic, Arcelor Mittal, Dubai eGovernment, and Dubai Financial Market is a demonstration of the same,” says Bhardwaj.

Mohsin adds, “The requirements of mission critical systems remain the same, whether hosted with datacentre providers in the Middle East or the West. Economies of scale in the West have facilitated substantial investments into R&D and with Middle Eastern infrastructure outsourcing on a high growth trajectory, we expect major investments in a regional context.”

Samer Shaar, enterprise regional managing director, Middle East and Africa at Juniper Networks states: “Regional service providers are quickly adopting the concepts and processes associated with managed service delivery. As a market, the Middle East is still maturing to the managed service model but it is well placed to, and is already, adopting some of the leading technologies and best practices from other parts of the world where such services are more mature.”

Path not taken

The circle of increasing technology and competency, and the growth in client interest, has fuelled many providers in the region to up their datacentre tiers from two to three, and sometimes even four. Nevertheless, challenges remain writ large for any enterprise looking to tap into the benefits of outsourced datacentres.

“Challenges faced by Middle East enterprises has more to do with strategy, mindset and management of  systems not in close physical proximity. Strategy is related to what to outsource and what not to; mindset is linked to the sense of losing control when critical systems are hosted elsewhere and systems management is related to attuning business processes to capitalise on the gains of outsourcing. This is sometimes seen to take longer with first time clients than with those who have already extracted gains from the model,” points out Mohsin.

Bhardwaj states: “One major challenge is ensuring that the provider is aligned to the service objectives of the company and completely understands the nature of an organisation’s business.”

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