The region must prepare for the coming cloud storm
Cloud computing may very well end up being forced upon the industry, whether we like it or not
Looking at the big IT trends this year — things like software-defined networking, the Internet of Things, and smart cities — it’s easy to forget that we’re still struggling with some of the big trends of a few years ago.
Cloud computing is a perfect example of this. The topic is a little 2011, and despite the concept being well understood in the Middle East, adoption has not yet followed projected growth trajectories. The fact that cloud hasn’t exploded over the Middle East is slightly at odds with the big projections 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.
Indeed, Cisco’s last Global Cloud Index said that the MEA region will post the world’s highest cloud growth from 2013 to 2018. By 2018, the report says, cloud will have grown eight-fold from 2013 levels.
Yes, there are problems with cloud. Security is a big one. Organisations in this region just aren’t that comfortable outsourcing large chunks of their infrastructure or their core applications to a third party, because that also means outsourcing chunks of their security processes and protocols. But the fact is that, because cloud providers make a living securely hosting their customers’ data, it’s likely that they can provide greater levels of security than any single organisations can hope to achieve.
Data location is a big problem, too. In the UAE, it’s well known that organisations with links to the government or finance industry cannot legally host their data outside of the country. That puts services like Microsoft Azure, or the Oracle Cloud, way out of bounds. Even for organisations not bound by the international hosting law, there’s a general aversion to having your data hosted outside of the country. What good is a data centre in The Netherlands in the event of an outage?
These issues are being ironed out, however, by the fact that more local data centres are being built. Some companies offer infrastructures and platforms as a service, with the option for their customers to simply host their own applications on a UAE-based cloud. They’re also partnering with vendors to deliver software as a service from the UAE, and while this process has been slow, there’s no denying that things are picking up speed.
Perhaps the biggest push for cloud computing, however, will come in the way that vendors deliver their services. The big vendors are all moving towards cloud, and encouraging their customers to take subscription licences. You can see the motivation here — having your revenue coming in from subscription billing, rather than one-off, large-scale projects, makes for a much more stable business model. They’ll be more aggressive in pushing out cloud licensing models. Some believe that, eventually, you’ll have to take business applications through the cloud whether you like it or not.
If that’s the case, the Middle East needs to begin exploring cloud at an increased rate. Start with non-core applications, and build from there. Many companies are already at this stage, and for them, the smart money is on having the confidence to take cloud further. After all, these small tests could end up being a blueprint for a trend that is forced upon the industry – whether the industry wants it or not.
320 days ago
Considering the region's mood cloud is gaining acceptability in core and non-core business areas. And the graph should be on upward trajectory in next 9 - 18 months