Why the Middle East is still cautious about cloud
Public cloud adoption has not followed projected growth trajectories, so what is it about cloud that the Middle East hasn’t yet warmed to?
Cloud computing is, by this point, well understood, and organisations across the world have adopted it as and how they see fit. However, despite the concept being well understood in the Middle East, adoption has not yet followed projected growth trajectories. This article seeks to understand what it is about cloud that the Middle East hasn’t yet warmed to, and to work out how cloud adoption will go over the next five years.
“Cloud adoption has been patchy at best. There have been some public cloud adoption of public SaaS based applications, like mail chat, travel apps, and HR apps. However, beyond that nothing much has happened. Private cloud adoption has happened for test dev in bits and pieces (mostly in large enterprises and some government organisations) and that’s it,” explains Biswajeet Mahapatra, research director at Gartner, who paints a bleak picture of cloud adoption in the region. He adds that even claims that private cloud is gaining ground here are often exaggerated.
“Please in mind private cloud is not virtualisation. If you are not doing chargeback, automation and self-service, it is not cloud. Plus private cloud is only preferred by very large enterprises who have a large IT team.”
According to Sudheer Subramanian, IT solutions director at Huawei Enterprise Middle East, there’s a simple reason why cloud adoption hasn’t ramped up in the Middle East as many have predicted: a fear of losing control over data and processes. He points out that small and medium-sized enterprises, largely out of necessity, do indeed offload some of their non-sensitive applications and data to the public cloud, but that most large organisations are opting to keep things the way they are.
“It seems there is a prevalence to move the sensitive applications to their own private cloud platform where the cloud service brokerage will make both public and private cloud services fully transparent to the users with single sign on. There is an on-going debate in the industry in terms of its readiness to move an organisation’s entire infrastructure to the cloud, in particular, a business’s core systems such as sensitive and mission critical data. Enterprises would need to ensure that their data is properly stored and protected from external theft or threats,” he says.
This is slightly at odds with the big projections that have been of cloud over the past couple of years. Analysts and vendors have repeatedly predicted that cloud adoption in the region, like the rest of the world, is set to skyrocket, but that hasn’t yet happened. And while some analysts have revised their predictions based on what is happening on the ground, there are just as many projecting that the cloud revolution is coming to the Middle East – only it’s just around the corner.
But why has the industry so far rejected the idea of pervasive cloud computing? To be sure, there are plenty of organisations in the Middle East that have dabbled in both public and private cloud. Gulf Air, for example, became a trailblazer with its deployment of a hybrid cloud architecture, while the UAE’s GGICO recently deployed Microsoft Dynamics in the Azure cloud. However, these examples are few and far between, with any new development being worthy of note. This means that people tend to over-index on them, mistaking the few examples as a widespread trend.
While admitting that the corporate sector is still largely eschewing cloud for its core applications, Rohan Tejura, assistant vice president at Focus Softnet, insists that SMBs are beginning to drive cloud growth in the region. He also has a good idea about why large enterprises still aren’t convinced by the cloud at the moment.
“Cloud computing is the environment of choice these days for the SMB audiences by and large. The enhanced capabilities of cloud systems coupled with their low costs makes for easy adoption by organisations with conservative budgets who would like to try before they buy,” he says.
“Cloud adoption, especially in the corporate and enterprise sectors, comes laden with barriers such as costs of scale, and customisability of the solution. Middle East businesses operate with fairly unique methods and business processes as compared to various global enterprises, and cloud solutions are rarely regionalised to a great extent. As such, this is an inherent challenge that prohibits enterprises from widespread cloud solution adoption. Moreover, the variety of solutions available in the cloud space are incredibly diverse in nature as well, thereby putting an added strain on skilled resource availability.”