Companies in the Middle East are increasingly looking to the "cloud" to boost revenues and store valuable business data online. The use of cloud computing, which lets businesses share files and information at any time as long as they are connected to the Web, is rapidly growing in the region. A recent survey of chief information officers from around the world has found that nearly half -48 percent--investing more money in cloud-based services, which is up from 38 percent a year ago, according to data from CIO, a publication aimed at technology professionals.
Many businesses in the region that have already moved to the cloud and away from sharing data through traditional computer servers and software have managed to save money on equipment and maintenance costs, experts say. A full 27 percent of chief information officers surveyed globally have also said the shift to cloud-based services could further cut expenses because they could shrink their IT staff.
"We believe that this is how enterprises will be purchasing their hardware and software in the long run," says Sami Caracand, chief executive of Cloud Concept, a tech firm based in Dubai. Revenues at Cloud Concept have doubled in the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year. "The growth we have experienced is exponential," adds Mr Caracand.
In September, a three-day conference is to be held in Dubai where technology experts plan to discuss how local businesses can profit from the cloud computing trend. Seminars at the Cloud Congress 2011 are to examine whether enough public infrastructure exists to support local business ambitions for moving more data into virtual environments, and address the various safety concerns business owners have in making sure their information gets properly backed up and can be recovered during a disaster.
Etisalat, the Abu Dhabi-based telecommunications company that is one of the strategic partners behind this year's Cloud Congress, also signed an agreement last month with the global technology firm Huawei to further gain a foothold in this space. Both companies plan to work together to provide more innovative technologies to businesses across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, including cloud computing services, said Nasser bin Obood, the acting chief executive of Etisalat, during the announcement. Other major companies, including HCL Technologies, are also pushing harder into the region with their own cloud-based offerings.
On Monday, Amazon.com opened its annual Start-Up Challenge, allowing businesses from the Middle East for the first time to compete for up to US$100,000 in cash and credit to use for cloud computing services. Start-ups must describe their business plan and how cloud computing services have factored into their strategy to be eligible.
To find out more about how cloud computing is changing the regional market, check out the latest in The Life.