Tech geeks have their ‘Head in the Clouds’ in Middle East?

The 'cloud' has been the buzzword of the year in the Middle Eastern (ME) region. From reaping cost savings to increasing agility, businesses are warming up to cloud technologies to enhance data exchanges within networks. Globally, the cloud market is forecasted to exceed USD241 billion in terms of value in 2020 due to exciting innovation and technologies.

In the ME, the cloud is expected to create nearly 55,000 jobs with public spending amounting to AED1.5 billion by 2022. With such optimism in the market, we explore what really constitutes the cloud in UAE, and the trends that will fuel this growth.  


What really is the Cloud?

Defined by Microsoft, cloud computing is “the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.”

A number of leading tech companies are catering to this existing demand and further boosting interest in the cloud by opening data centres in the region – but what are the benefits?


Benefits of the Cloud

  • Lowering costs

Cloud computing eliminates the capital expense utilising hardware and software. Businesses can save costs by moving away from setting up and running on-site data centres, managing servers manually, and maintaining round-the-clock electricity for power and cooling. In addition, the number of IT experts employed purely for managing the infrastructure can be budgeted and reduced.

  • Higher speed and productivity

Most cloud computing services are provided with a self-service option and on demand, so even vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, typically with just a few mouse clicks, giving businesses a lot of flexibility and taking the pressure off capacity planning.

On-site data centres typically require a lot of “racking and stacking”—hardware setup, software patching, and other time-consuming IT management chores. Cloud computing removes the need for many of these tasks, so IT teams can spend time on achieving more important business goals.

  • Overcoming geographical boundaries

The benefits of cloud computing services include the ability to scale elastically. In cloud speak, that means delivering the right amount of IT resources—for example, more or less computing power, storage, bandwidth—right when they’re needed, and from the right geographic location.


Top 3 Cloud providers that you should know?

Amazon’s investments in AI and machine learning services have accelerated in ME. The region is also chasing after an AI infrastructure market that is anticipated to be worth USD50.6 billion by 2025. Amazon’s cloud computing unit’s most recent innovation is its second, more powerful generation of data centre processor chips which will now be cheaper and consume less electricity.

Microsoft has launched two regional cloud services from its new data centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the ME region. These new regions – Microsoft’s first in the Middle East – will empower customers and partners to embrace the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The new cloud regions will join Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure – one of the largest and most secure in the world. They aim to provide organisations, enterprises and developers in the UAE with access to scalable, highly available, and resilient cloud services while maintaining data residency, security and compliance needs. The new UAE locations will also deliver increased performance for Microsoft Cloud services to its Middle Eastern customers and partners. Microsoft's Cloud Society, for instance, has trained more than 150,000 IT professionals in the Middle East and Africa regions.

Google Cloud Platform consists of machine learning to deliver highly personalised product recommendations to customers in ME at scale. This platform dynamically adapts to each customer’s behaviour in real-time to drive improvements in customer engagement and conversions.  

Its Cloud Platform also offers Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, namely Google Cloud IoT. Device data captured by Cloud IoT gets published to the cloud for downstream analytics. Businesses in ME can also derive analysis using Google BigQuery or apply machine learning with Cloud Machine Learning Engine. Businesses can then visualise results with reports and dashboards in Google Data Studio.


Bridging the skills gap within the tech community

With the above benefits in mind, it is without a doubt that talent will be needed to support and sustain this market. Cloud skills today are in high demand across all industries and have been identified by LinkedIn as the top skill that companies need most, for the past four years in a row.

In the ME, there is currently more demand than supply of talent with cloud-computing related expertise. This accentuates the need for up-skilling and re-skilling workers in jobs affected by automation and emerging technologies. Cloud giants like Amazon and Microsoft are also aware of the skills gap and they are kick-starting workshops and training in this region.

Amazon is leading by example by organising its ‘AWS Technical Essentials Training course’. With this, participants will be introduced to the fundamentals of AWS technology and AWS services and learn how to navigate them.

Microsoft Cloud Society is also offering training, certification opportunities and face-to-face engagements with Microsoft cloud experts. In this way, those already in technical fields can learn with the future in mind – and adopt a culture of lifelong learning.


We can help

Cloud development and deployment in the ME is certainly picking up speed due to more funding and investments. Reported by TechTarget, cloud services, software and security will be the top spending areas for 2020 in the region. Its cloud market is also set to become more mature with greater focus on IT automation, cloud migration and monitoring.

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