STC sets stage for Saudi Growth
Dr Tarig M Enaya of STC spoke to .GOV about how the telecom operator is supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030
Saudi Arabia has launched its Vision 2030 plan to transform the country, and Saudi telecoms operator STC is already positioned to play an expanding role in helping the public and private sector in the Kingdom to achieve economic diversification and growth.
Dr Tarig M Enaya, SVP of STC Enterprise Business Unit, discussed the company’s plans to support organistions in Saudi to transform into digital entities, to empower new sections of the workforce and to boost efficiency and productivity across the board.
How is STC supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030?
Dr Tarig M Enaya: Digitization is at the core of Vision 2030, essentially meaning we have a key enabling role to play. We own and operate the largest fixed and mobile networks in the Kingdom, meaning we can connect almost any populated location in the Kingdom. We have a 147,000km long fibre optic network tying major cities together, interconnected with metro rings, and reaching smaller towns and villages. We patch cover some areas with microwave and other technologies. Our mobile network covers 96% of populated areas, with 85% of all populated areas having LTE 4G network coverage.
We provide solid connectivity services using these networks, and back our commitment with some very strict service level agreements. But to be honest that is the straightforward part of addressing the needs and requirements of digitization.
More important for Vision 2030 is the integration between ICT services and how integrated services and solutions are delivered and supported. To accelerate the growth of any service, you need good business practices and flawless business automation, a variety of different systems from different government agencies need to be interconnected together, and most important systems have to have very strict SLAs and high up-times.
We already provide government agencies and large corporations with ICT services, which is what they really need to increase their operational efficiencies and accelerate growth.
For us, Vision 2030 means we will continue to do what we have been doing since we merged the operations between our three business-to-business entities, the STC enterprise business unit, STC Solutions, and Bravo, but we will have to work harder and much faster.
Where things have dramatically changed over the past five years is how IT services are delivered, and the introduction of a cloud-based model and managed services methodology. When applied together to address customer needs and requirements, the two can create a very powerful mix. Virtualization is the best way to manage IT hardware resource efficiency, but in its traditional sense, it means all the hardware is in one place, something that only the cloud can address.
How does the cloud address this limitation?
Enaya: Cloud allows users to distribute their virtualized environment across several locations, and deliver the services running on these platforms to people from locations closer to them. This improves the uptime and response time.
With cloud, if for any reason you experience a surge in demand for your services, you can expand resources at will quickly or even re-channel resources from one location to the other. None of this was possible in the old model of buying hardware, and software licenses.
Today, we use five data centres with a total area of 7,500 square meters to provide cloud and managed services to our customers in the government and private sectors. Two of these data centres are certified Tier 4, meaning complete redundancy in all of the hardware, uplinks, chillers, fire systems, everything. No one in the Kingdom can really match the specifications and capacities of these data centres, whether that be raw computing power or connectivity.
How is STC working with government and semi-government organisations to help them digitize operations?
Enaya: We are always interested in supporting and participating in any project or engagement that can contribute to supporting national projects. We recently signed an agreement with the National Information Center for cooperation on the provision of cloud services. Government organisations mostly source their IT requirements and request services through the NIC. They also have a large volume of their infrastructure hosted by the NIC, and as demand for digitization of public services increases, we expect NIC to leverage our data centres and infrastructure to meet demand.