Microsoft exec: Lebanon needs wider broadband

Microsoft exec: Lebanon needs wider broadband
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Published February 12th, 2015 - 08:19 GMT via

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Over 1 billion people and 20 million businesses use our cloud services in more than 76 markets worldwide
Over 1 billion people and 20 million businesses use our cloud services in more than 76 markets worldwide

Despite a remarkable improvement in Internet connectivity, Lebanon is still in need of more broadband capacity to enable the country to become a hub for cloud computing, a senior Microsoft executive said. “Lebanon has a good business opportunity of becoming a hub for cloud computing, enabling it to cater this service to other countries in the future,” said Charbel Fakhoury, Microsoft’s vice president of Enterprise Services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“We need more broadband to be able to achieve this,” he told The Daily Star in an exclusive interview.

Charbel Fakhoury was appointed three months ago as Microsoft’s Vice President of Enterprise Services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, leading a team of 4,000 professionals across 54 countries and six areas covering U.K., France, Germany, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa.

In his new role, Charbel is responsible for the operational execution of the Enterprise Services business and building organizational capabilities, which include the Microsoft Premier Support and Consulting Services for the EMEA region.

Fakhoury said that commercial enterprises in the region have been using cloud computing for the past three to four years.

Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing resources – everything from applications to data centers – over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis.

Fakhoury explained that cloud computing allows clients with big enterprises to store their huge amount of data on big servers around the world.

“This way companies won’t have to invest in buying hard disks to store their data but they can do it in a safe and cost efficient way using servers located anywhere in the world,” he explained.

Microsoft has years of experience in operating cloud data centers and delivering more than 200 public cloud services, such as Xbox Live,, Office365 and Bing.

“Over 1 billion people and 20 million businesses use our cloud services in more than 76 markets worldwide,” said Fakhoury.

As demand grows for online and cloud services, Microsoft is anticipating growth in its cloud infrastructure and it is continuously exploring new potential data centerlocations across the world as part of its regular business operations.

Fakhoury emphasized the importance of expanding the use of cloud technology in Lebanon because it helps small and medium enterprises in becoming more productive at a lower cost.

“Cloud is a big opportunity for SMEs to get enterprise quality software and services without really putting major capital expenditures at the beginning,” he said.

Lebanon remains an important market for Microsoft despite the fact that it is a small country mired by political and security problems.

“Lebanon proved to be resilient and Lebanese IT companies have been successful in taking their services not only to the Gulf and Africa but also to Europe in many cases,” he said.

“I can see a lot of innovative projects taking place in Lebanon and SMEs are thriving and reacting quickly in creating new products and services using advanced technology,” he added.

Fakhoury said that Microsoft has been very active in assisting entrepreneurs who have good ideas but who are short on cash by providing them with programs such as Microsoft BizSpark.

BizSpark is a startup program that gives software entrepreneurs three-year access to Microsoft software development tools, marketing visibility to help promote their business and a connection to the BizSpark ecosystem, giving them access to investors, advisors and mentors.

“Entrepreneurs may use our software but when they become commercial they start paying for our services,” he said.

Moreover, Microsoft has multiple programs for addressing the youths such as the Imagine Cup, which is an annual competition bringing together young technologists worldwide to help resolve some of the world’s toughest challenges. The Imagine Cup comprises five major technology competitions, including Software Design, and four other challenges.

Fakhoury said Microsoft is keen on working with the government to raise awareness about the importance of intellectual property rights. “Some companies do not even know that they are buying counterfeit products in some cases,” he said.

“We need to drive this awareness by using our channels, which are our value added resellers in the country who go educate companies about the value of original software and updates,” he added.

He said that Microsoft was undertaking a lot of campaigns in this aspect to educate university students. “We also give high discounts to students to help them in accessing our products more easily,” he said.

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