As enterprises in the Gulf pick up the pace of cloud adoption, major vendors appear to be opening up data centres as fast as they can. Oracle has just made the latest move, going live with a cloud region in Dubai, and says it will open a second one in the UAE, in Abu Dhabi, by the middle of next year.
The opening of the Dubai data centre follows the debut of an Oracle cloud region in Jeddah earlier this year, and the company plans to launch a second cloud region in Saudi Arabia by the middle of 2021.
Meanwhile, Oracle will be setting up a high-speed network backbone between the Dubai and Abu Dhabi facilities, according to Scott Twaddle, vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) Product Development at Oracle.
“We’ll give our customers very low latency between those regions and that plays into our broader region strategy of offering our customers a true disaster recovery solution within the countries where we build,” Twaddle said. “The reason that we built these two regions in the same country is to truly give (customers) a geographic separation, a threat modelling separation — we are dealing with really large, complex mission critical workloads for these companies and we need them to be able to trust that.”
Oracle Gen 2 cloud enhances performance
The new Middle East regions will support Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud, designed to offer speedier performance compared to its first-generation systems and enhanced security features, including segregation of customer data from the data centre control plane. Network virtualization further enables customer isolation from other cloud tenants and from Oracle personnel, as well as reduced risk from advanced persistent threats, Oracle noted.
The coronavirus pandemic will force Middle East enterprises to hit the brakes on tech spending this year, but enterprise cloud initiatives are a bright spot. Long-term digital transformation projects will be likely put off this year, but cloud initiatives that are already under way and aimed at cost efficiencies are likely to be spared from the chopping block, according to market analysts.
Major cloud providers including Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Oracle and IBM have established cloud data centres across the Middle East over the past year or so. More recently, Google Cloud Platform announced in March this year the signing of a strategic collaboration agreement with the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) to launch their first region in the Middle East.
Regulation changes promote cloud usage
A variety of factors are driving migration to cloud technology, including regulation changes during the pandemic that forced companies to offer online payment capabilities and also removed bans on cloud-based communications services, in order to facilitate remote work. Rules requiring enterprises to keep certain types of data in-country have also had an effect.
“The drive toward data sovereignty has had implications, where governments are trying to protect citizens’ data, and the availability of this type of (cloud) technology with low latency is also a major driver,” noted Twaddle. “It’s given the option of repatriating workloads more weight and led to a rethink of overall IT spend.”
With the opening of Dubai cloud region, Oracle announced a range of major users, including supply chain software vendor and port operator DP World; DAMAC, a luxury property developer; and IT company Tahaluf Al Emarat. The UAE’s Etisalat will be Oracle’s telecom partner for the Dubai cloud region.
Pandemic speeds digital transformation
“UAE-based organizations are prioritizing digital transformation to navigate the current crisis as well as to compete and thrive during the recovery phase,” said Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC’s regional managing director for Middle East, in a recent research report. “In a survey of UAE CIOs from mid and large organizations conducted by IDC in the 2nd quarter of this year, 57% of the respondents said they were accelerating digital transformation in response to new customer and operational needs.”
In its announcement of the new Dubai cloud region, Oracle also noted that it has established what it calls a “digital hub” in Dubai, focused on driving cloud adoption among mid-size businesses. More than 500 cloud sales professionals are dedicated to supporting the digital transformation initiatives of mid-size businesses in the UAE, Oracle said.
In addition, Oracle said it has also established an innovation hub in Dubai to accelerate the implementation of AI. The company is collaborating with UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) to help train 1,000 students in emerging technologies including AI, Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning.