Among the cloud providers rushing into the Middle East to meet growing demand, Oracle has been one of the busiest in the region, in just the last two years opening up cloud regions in Jeddah, Dubai, Jerusalem and, most recently, in Abu Dhabi.\n\nThe company doesn't plan to stop there \u2014 among other things, it has said it will open a second cloud region in Saudi Arabia.\n\nIt's all part of Oracle's plan to open a total of 14 cloud regions with new locations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America this year. The company plans to have at least 44 cloud regions by the end of 2022, continuing one of the fastest expansions of any major cloud provider.\n\nThe Oracle Cloud Abu Dhabi Region and the Oracle Cloud Dubai Region are meant to provide customers with stronger business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities. And they will ensure that all customer data remains within the UAE.\n\nWe talked to Oracle SVP Leopoldo Boado Lama to get some details on Oracle's plans for the Middle East, what it is offering businesses in the region, and cloud technology trends.\n\nCIO Middle East: What are the main drivers among your customers in the region for moving to the cloud?\n\nBusinesses, public sector organisations and SMEs in the UAE and wider Middle East understand the several unique benefits of moving to the cloud including higher ROI, ability to explore new avenues of growth, drive innovation, deliver new services, save costs, and ensure robust cyber security. IDC estimates that the adoption of public cloud services in the UAE is accelerating at CAGR of 28% year on year between 2020 and 2025. IDC projects that the growth momentum will continue.\n\nOracle now has two cloud regions live in the United Arab Emirates. The Oracle Cloud Abu Dhabi Region and the Oracle Cloud Dubai Region will provide customers with stronger business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities. Both Oracle Cloud regions in the UAE are built on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), which enable customers to easily migrate existing workloads and data platforms or build new cloud native applications that benefit from superior performance, lower cost, and built-in security capabilities. With our two cloud regions in the UAE, customers now have access to the full suite of Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications, as well as Oracle Autonomous Database, giving them the opportunity and choice to create the architecture that best suits their business needs.\n\nCIO Middle East: After you build your Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia regions, where do you plan on building your next cloud data centres in the MENA area, and when?\n\nThe UAE and Middle East are priority regions for Oracle, and we have made significant investments to enhance our infrastructure, physical presence, partner network, human resources, and other support capabilities in this region.\n\nWe have announced plans to set up four cloud regions in the Middle East. This includes two regions in the UAE and two within Saudi Arabia. With the recent launch of our cloud region in Abu Dhabi, three of these regions are now live, with the other two in Jeddah and Dubai. Additionally, we have recently also announced NEOM as the location of our second cloud region in Saudi Arabia.\n\nOracle Cloud has seen stellar growth over the past few years in the UAE and Middle East, and we have introduced several hundred new cloud services and features and are continuing to see organizations from across the region turn to Oracle Cloud to run their most mission-critical workloads in the cloud. \n\nCIO Middle East: What percentage of your customer base is migrating to the cloud, and of that segment of your customer base, what percentage is moving toward a hybrid or multi-cloud environment?\n\nWe are seeing a rapid transition from on-premises environments to Oracle Cloud in this region. Cloud led digital transformation was already on the rise, the pandemic has accelerated this trend, as organisations were forced to operate remotely, and adjust to a completely new set of customer expectations. This agility of business, remote access, security, and innovation can only be achieved with cloud.\n\nAt Oracle, we have made it easy for our customers to move their Oracle applications to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) \u2014including E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, Siebel, and Hyperion. This transition lowers a business\u2019s TCO, increases agility, and improves their productivity. \n\nMany organisations across various sectors struggle to move to a public cloud \u2014 often for security, control, regulatory, and\/or workload migrations reasons. Businesses want the flexibility to put their workloads wherever makes the most sense according to their business requirements \u2014 whether in a public cloud, an on-premises data center or at the edge.\n\nHybrid cloud is now the go-to IT infrastructure model for business. IDC predicts that by 2022, over 90% of enterprises worldwide will be relying on a mix of on-premises\/dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs.\n\nOracle offers a host of hybrid cloud solutions, and several of our customers in the Middle East are adopting these to meet strategic objectives.\n\nCIO Middle East: Which of your cloud services are the most used, or most requested, so far in the Middle East?\n\nWe are witnessing a rapid adoption of our Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud applications in the UAE and Middle East. We are the clear market leaders in business applications across all key business functions including ERP, EPM, HCM, SCM.\n\nOracle Cloud Applications have been named as leaders for successive times by the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Top businesses in the UAE and wider Middle East have implemented Oracle Cloud Applications for strategic business objectives. These include DP World, Qatar Airways. Saudi Arabia Tourism Development Fund, Miral, Mashreq Bank, Emaar, Arabian Centre Company, Saudi Arabia Mining Company, and many more.\n\nCIO Middle East: How do data sovereignty rules in the Middle East play into your conversations with customers?\n\nOrganisations everywhere are migrating their software applications, databases, and IT infrastructure to public clouds, driven by three fundamental goals:\n\n1. Reduce the cost and complexity of owning and operating on-premises information systems.\n\n2. Accelerate IT delivery by adopting the cloud for specific initiatives.\n\n3. Create versatile business models that disrupt less nimble competitors.\n\nAlthough most of these organisations see the benefits of migrating enterprise workloads to the cloud, some are constrained by business, legislative, and regulatory requirements that require them to keep their data on premises.\n\nOrganisations in the Middle East and everywhere today want to know where their data is stored, and which entities have access to it. For this they need a cloud provider, who not only offers transparency about the location of their data, but who can also provide a variety of in-country offerings combined with robust data security protocols and standards.