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Public cloud almost three years away, warn experts

Key figures from SAP, eHosting Datafort, and Orange Business Services all reveal challenges facing the technology in the Middle East

Public cloud almost three years away, warn experts
SAP MENA managing director is one of the experts who this month warned that public cloud computing faces an uphill struggle for adoption.

Several high profile IT executives have raised concerns that cloud computing is at least two to three years away from reality, at least in the Middle East, Arabian Computer News can reveal.

Senior figures from SAP, eHosting Datafort and Orange Business Services have all said that the challenges facing the Middle East technology and communications infrastructure - as well as concerns over the legal status of data stored there - will prevent most enterprises from adopting cloud computing until 2013 at the earliest.

According to Sam Alkharrat, managing director of SAP in the Middle East and North Africa, the region is in a catch-22 when it comes to the development of public cloud computing.

"For public cloud computing to come to the region, it will have to be in a way that enterprises will be happy with - i.e. the data is stored within the enterprise's own judisdiction. However, the only way that will make commercial sense is if the big players jump in, and in the Middle East, many of the big players are the public sector. It shouldn't really come as a surprise that they won't be too comfortable with the idea of any of their data - sensitive or not - being stored in a location where a foreign government has the ability to peek at it at will," Alkharrat said.

However, some companies are seeing this as a chance for local providers to fill the space left by the big global players like Amazon, Google, and Rackspace. "I think we will see an increase in the usage of cloud, but it is going to be driven by managed service providers like ourselves, rather than Google and Rackspace," stated Yasser Zeineldin, chief executive officer of eHosting Datafort.

"It is a combination of local companies wanting a local partner, as well as them not having the relevant infrastructure in place locally," he added. "However, most enterprises in the region are still at a testing phase," added Zeineldin. "I think we're a couple of years away from mass adoption of the technology."

Most of adoption will be based on technical and cost issues, Alkharrat added. "The larger enterprises, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia's conglomerates might be more willing to adopt it, but it will depend on the cost models."

The technical side will be pushed by vendors, added Rudolf Sarah, regional cloud director EMEA at Orange. "There will be network-led components, such as hosting on a cloud base, and software-as-a-service," said "By 2012 [the region] will reach the tipping point, and we can just look at how Europe and the US are doing now."

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