Connecting with the cloud

Adoption of cloud computing in the Middle East is finally taking off, as organisations look to private cloud projects based on the foundations of virtualised infrastructure

Tags: Cloud computingDell CorporationInternational Data CorporationOptimus Technology and TelecomVMware IncorporatedVirtualisationeHosting DataFort
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Connecting with the cloud Private cloud deployments, where organisations create internal cloud resources for use solely by their own users are increasing.
By  Keri Allan Published  May 16, 2013

Adoption of cloud computing in the Middle East is finally taking off, as organisations look to private cloud projects based on the foundations of virtualised infrastructure to deliver more flexible and more efficient computing resources to their business users.

When it comes to cloud technology, the landscape is changing across the Middle East. Organisations all over the GCC are seeing the significant inroads cloud is making globally, and are beginning to embrace it, with analysts expecting heavy uptake to take place over the next four years.

“Private cloud solutions will show strong growth driven by the benefits of cost and scalability,” says Rajesh Abraham, director, Product Development, eHosting DataFort. “According to industry research, in 2013, cloud services in MENA are expected to grow rapidly in some countries, specifically Saudi Arabia (43%) and UAE (40%).”

For many enterprises, the solutions they’re focusing on are around private cloud; in part due to a lack of public cloud providers but also security and data privacy concerns. Plus, with the fact that many enterprises in the Middle East have already embraced IT infrastructure virtualisation, they are well positioned to deploy private cloud.

“Companies are increasingly aware that private cloud technology goes beyond virtualisation, hence the adoption is starting to increase rapidly. The uptake of private cloud in the Middle East is ‘patchy’ however, which means that in each industry – such as oil and gas, healthcare, or finance - there are some organisations completely adopting private cloud technology, while others are still evaluating whether it is the best fit for them,” notes Kevin Harris, enterprise technologist, Cloud Computing, at Dell EMEA Emerging Markets.

“This growing interest in cloud, especially private cloud, has contributed to the large-scale adoption of virtualisation we’ve seen across the UAE,” adds Sony John, research manager for IT services at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “However, only a handful of organisations have gone the full distance in terms of converting these highly virtualised environments to fully-fledged private cloud deployments. This is due to a variety of factors, including general misconceptions around the two concepts, and a lack of clarity on the benefits of going for a fully automated, fully metered private cloud.”

Indeed there is some confusion as to what exactly a private cloud solution is, as Meera Kaul, managing director of Optimus highlights. Here she explains what a true private cloud environment should entail.

“There is no actual data [on private cloud uptake] except claims by vendors that they have sold cloud solutions into the regional market. These are mostly instances of on-premise implementations of virtualised environments,” she says.

“A virtual environment is not a cloud implementation unless it caters to a resource orchestration and automation layer on top of the virtualised environment. Most times, instances of cloud washing are claimed as instances of private cloud. However, these are mostly just highly architected virtualised environments that are not essentially cloud as they only cater to one specific characteristic of a private cloud infrastructure, vis scalability and high levels of utilisation.

“Self-provisioning by users, infinite capacity on demand, shared resources and pooled capacity and ability to pay for use with no commitment may not be present. In absence of these features, these deployments may not be classified as private cloud environments,” she states.

Vendors will always aim to offer a variety of solutions in order to meet wider industry needs, so what are some of the main private cloud solutions on the market right now?

“GBM offers a private cloud solution based on IBM SmartCloud Foundation, which is a family of technologies designed to help organisations quickly adopt private cloud,” says Pappu Rao TS & technical support services director, Gulf Business Machines.

“It enables virtualisation, consolidation, automation and management of service delivery. IBM dynamic scheduling and provisioning capabilities can deploy dozens of virtual machines in a few minutes. GBM also offers a private cloud solution based on VMware vCloud Suite. VMware vCloud Director leverages vSphere technology to deliver cloud computing. It supports a multi-tenant environment and provides a self-service portal to provision virtual resources including server, storage and networking.”

eHosting DataFort’s (eHDF) managed private cloud solutions are targeted towards medium to large enterprises looking at enhanced and dynamic utilisation of existing infrastructure/applications in terms of scalability, elasticity and faster time to market.

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