Banking on storage

The market for storage solutions particularly in the enterprise sector has continued to grow and mature in the Middle East region with opportunities emerging for solution providers in areas such as big data, high availability, disaster recovery, data sharing, backup, centralised administration, remote support and copy data management.

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Banking on storage
By  Piers Ford Published  June 25, 2014

The market for storage solutions in the Middle East has matured quickly as enterprises come to terms with their strategic role in the IT infrastructure. With trends such as big data and virtualisation dominating the agenda, it has become clear that an informed storage strategy is central to achieving greater efficiencies and cost savings, as well as streamlining business processes and data management.

The opportunities for channel players to exploit this demand and provide a differentiated portfolio of services, remote support and consultancy in a market that once had ‘commodity’ stamped all over it are expanding by the day.

“Investments in storage solutions continue to remain a core element of IT strategies of companies worldwide,” said Taj El-Khayat, managing director, Middle East, Turkey, North, West and Central Africa, at Riverbed Technology. “According to IDC, more than $4bn is being spent on remote office infrastructure and maintenance every year.”

El-Khayat said the distributed nature of much corporate infrastructure has cost and inefficiency implications, as well as exposing the lack of expertise in local branches to maintain and protect data and exploit its value – all areas in which the channel has a key role to play.

“The Middle East has been a high growth business market for storage sellers,” confirmed Renganathan Krishnamurthy, industry analyst, Business and Financial Services Practice at analyst Frost & Sullivan.

“Economic uncertainties in the US and Europe over the past few years have influenced business to focus on other economies, including the Middle East. Simultaneously, many Middle Eastern countries have also tried to reduce their dependence on oil as a revenue stream. This has also contributed partially to the growth of businesses – and in turn, IT solutions.”

Krishnamurthy said that within the EMEA market, the Middle East has seen the highest GB-per-disk shipped. The main technologies driving this growth are cloud and big data.

“For instance, oil firms manage their drilling operations by using real-time data,” he said. “The use of customer data in other sectors such as retail and telecoms is already well known. The KSA and UAE are leading in terms of market share.  In terms of growth, KSA and Qatar are leading the way, followed by the UAE. Government and BFSI sectors are the two leading areas that are leveraging the enterprise storage market.”

Konstantin Ebert, director Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa at vendor NetApp, agreed that big data is pushing CIOs to upgrade to more efficient storage solutions.

“Storage is a key conversation in most businesses regionally, although strategies differ based on the kind of storage requirements individual companies are looking for,” he said. “For example, shared-IT enterprise storage requires data management, virtualisation and cloud integration capabilities, while big data requires high-performance, dedicated storage with data management being performed at the application layer.”

Ebert said cloud and flash storage solutions are leading the way. Organisations in the region are migrating to cloud services and solutions at an unprecedented rate, while flash technologies are gaining popularity in order to drive better performance and greater consolidation of projects.

These trends are opening up a host of opportunities for resellers to provide services and solutions to every size and type of business – particularly where they can explain and promote the benefits of exploiting big data to their customers.

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