Do IT yourself

When Emcredit’s CIO Emad Khatib decided it was time for the company to embrace cloud, he considered his options carefully. With the rest of the world still reeling from the impact of the credit crunch and subsequent global recession, he made a bold decision.

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Do IT yourself KHATIB: Having a strong internal IT department is key to being able to manage risk.
By  Ben Furfie Published  November 22, 2010

When Emcredit’s CIO Emad Khatib decided it was time for the company to embrace cloud, he considered his options carefully. With the rest of the world still reeling from the impact of the credit crunch and subsequent global recession, he made a bold decision. The company would build its own private cloud.

Few companies can claim to have implemented a cloud solution, never mind done it in house, but that is precisely what Dubai-based credit bureau Emcredit has achieved. And all despite recessionary pressures that have seen it eschew the usual channel of hiring a vendor partner to come in and implement a full solution.

However, despite the daunting challenge that faced the company’s CIO Emad Khatib, he feels that the result of handling the process in house has paid dividends, not just in terms of the money the policy has saved the company, but also in terms of the knowledge his staff have gained.

“In all honesty, because of the current economic situation, we’ve done the majority of work internally in order to minimise and control our costs,” reveals Khatib. In terms of exact figures, he says it is hard to estimate, but that by handling it in-house he knows Emcredit has saved a substantial amount. “In terms of the infrastructure alone, we would have had to rent it through the cloud. So rather than go straight out and spend money on an external solution, we looked at the hardware we had as redundancy and came to the conclusion that we should look at building a private cloud.

“We pushed the staff and finally – when we had acquired the knowledge and understanding of how to do it – we went ahead and built one. So when you look at it, all of the hardware were already capital assets of the company, and because we eschewed bringing in external consultants, we saved on costs there too. So really, it was a saving of 100% over the alternative.”

The risk, of course, when handling a project of the scale and complexity of a cloud deployment, is that it could go wrong and end up costing the company more down the line. However, Khatib is adamant that his approach of carefully and methodically handling the implementation in house allowed him and his team to spot potential issues far more effectively than relying on a vendor or a systems integrator would have.

“I personally oversaw the project, managing the risk in terms of doing things step-by-step, “he reveals. “A vendor or systems integrator could have done the project in maybe half the time, but by handling it in house and taking our time to implement it, we managed to not only save money, but came up with a system that we feel that is much more stable and suitable for purpose, because we carefully managed the risk.

“In addition, the staff had to educate themselves and put a proper plan in place,” he says. “I think we benefited a lot from this approach, if I’m honest. It has taught the staff that they need to be independent, as well as aggressive to find ways of cutting costs. It forced them to become innovative in terms of how they can come up with solutions internally.

“Finally, it told them how to manage risk, how to predict it and how to mitigate any potential risks during a project ahead of time and therefore remove any potential issues later on,” he adds.

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