Accelerating Digital Transformation via Hybrid Multicloud in the Middle East

Equinix EMEA President, Eugene Bergen, talks with Andy Ward, Senior Vice President – ICT Products & ICT Business at du, about UAE digital trends

Eugene Bergen

In the Middle East cloud adoption is accelerating the pace of digital transformation. IDC predicts public cloud services spending in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will almost quadruple to an estimated USD411 million in 2022.[i] According to Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC Group Vice President and Regional Managing Director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, “Digital transformation and the adoption of cloud are interwoven and interdependent. As such, the increasing level of cloud adoption in the Middle East bodes well for cementing the region as a global leader in the digital transformation journey.”[ii]

UAE businesses are also rapidly adopting new technologies, such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and the internet of things (IoT), as part of their digital transformation strategy. This is driving up data volumes and network bandwidth requirements, and ultimately the demand for cloud services in the region. To address these needs, Equinix and its partner, du Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Corporation, are helping enterprises bring applications, data processing and clouds closer to regional population centers and users at the digital edge via a portfolio of direct and secure interconnection services. According to a global IT survey by APCO, almost half of global IT decision makers believe private interconnection, which is growing at an annual rate of 51% between 2018 and 2022, is a key facilitator of digital transformation.[iii]

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Digital transformation and the adoption of cloud are interwoven and interdependent. As such, the increasing level of cloud adoption in the Middle East bodes well for cementing the region as a global leader in the digital transformation journey.

Equinix and du discuss trends in the UAE market

Du was the first telecom company to partner with Equinix in the UAE region in 2012, when Equinix acquired a newly built data center in Dubai. This alliance established a world-class, regional hub, bringing interconnection and data center services to the UAE and neighboring regions.

Recently, I spoke with Andrew Ward, Senior Vice President of du Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Products and Solutions, about the trends du is seeing in the UAE market.

Andy Ward, SVP, ICT Products &  ICT Business, du

Andy, please tell us how du is serving its customers in the UAE.

“Du is proud to be contributing to the digital transformation of the UAE region. We deliver mobile and fixed telephony, broadband connectivity and IPTV services to individuals, homes and businesses over the region  ̶  including more than 6.5 million mobile customers, 555,000 fixed line and 180,000 home services subscribers, and over 70,000 businesses. In addition, we offer carrier services, data hub, internet exchange facilities and satellite services for broadcasters. Through these offerings, we are helping organizations build and manage digital platforms that bridge silos of technology innovation and scale up digital transformation.”

How does the alliance with Equinix support du customers?

“Our partnership with Equinix established the first world-class, regional hub in the UAE region, where carriers, enterprise customers, and content, cloud and financial services providers colocate critical data infrastructure and interact in vibrant business ecosystems. This enables our customers to expand their digital footprint at the intersection point of some of the world’s fastest-growing markets. And our datamena platform and service portfolio on Platform Equinix® is a catalyst for the next stage of internet development in the region. This allows international customers to host and distribute content and trade data capacity in a cost-effective way. UAE organizations can gain a competitive advantage from Equinix’s operationally reliable, highly resilient and secure data center facilities and interconnection services.”

The UAE market is transitioning into a diversified international business hub, which is now attracting global players to drive their services and platforms into the market.

What are you hearing from your customers about their digital transformation?

“The UAE market is transitioning into a diversified international business hub, which is now attracting global players to drive their services and platforms into the market. For example, hyperscalers such as Alibaba, AWS, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are launching their cloud platforms in the region to meet the growing customer requirements for local access to cloud services. Also, many customers, such as fintech and e-commerce firms, need to ensure that data is being protected and exchanged securely. Bypassing the public internet can eliminate many of the data security issues that are a constant source of concern for companies, as well as cut latency times and boost infrastructure reliability. This is where private interconnection comes into play – it is the gateway to truly optimized hybrid multicloud solutions and the future of the digital economy.”

Are you seeing a shift toward cloud strategies in the UAE?

“A few years ago, cloud adoption was a low priority for businesses. This has changed dramatically with the potential of the cloud now being realized as a central force driving commercial services and regional economies. The conversation has now moved from whether to deploy with a single cloud service provider, to how to implement a hybrid multicloud strategy that meets emerging customer needs for on-demand services. The integration of disruptive technologies such as 5G, AI, ML, IoT, and blockchain, especially in the government, oil and gas, and financial services industries, is critical to businesses in the UAE region. We need hybrid multicloud access to be able to deliver these innovative digital services and fast and secure connectivity to make all of these things work.”

How does du’s Alliance with Equinix support these trends?

“Today’s internal processes and external ecosystems operate independently, with limited potential for integration. Together, du and Equinix form a global digital platform that includes infrastructure, interconnection, trust and innovation pillars  ̶  all enabled by an intelligent core that allows seamless integration and orchestration of current and emerging digital technologies. Our alliance with Equinix also delivers data center and interconnection services to businesses looking to establish a presence and access cloud and business ecosystems within the UAE market. Our UAE customers, such as Flydubai , can leverage interconnection services to connect with 9,700+ companies, 1,800+ NSPs and 2,900+ CSPs and IT service providers on Platform Equinix worldwide. This brings significant advantages to customers looking to expand their global footprint and acts as a growth accelerator for businesses in the UAE.”

“For example, together we provide a future-proof solution for our customers’ network transformation journey (e.g., 5G, SD-WAN, public internet) with a low-risk investment by supporting them with world class services. This includes managing their network/data/security hubs  ̶  in fact, our network optimization use cases have been driving a majority of our business over the past seven years.”

How does du and Equinix enable their customers to build secure and resilient cloud infrastructures?

“Du and Equinix provide cloud migration and management services to enable a secure transition to the cloud and greater business continuity. Specifically, we offer compliance expertise, reliability and transparency for hybrid multicloud infrastructures. On Platform Equinix, we manage and maintain customers environments in a compliant manner across multiple sites and private and public clouds with direct and secure interconnection. This allows our customers to leverage business continuity, distributed resources and disaster recovery infrastructures to safely fail over to a separate, consistent and reliable environment. Together, Equinix and du are implementing security in multicloud and on-premises data center infrastructures by creating a private layer with hybrid connectivity. We build the security layer by leveraging a multicloud infrastructure with Equinix Performance Hubs at the edge, connecting safely with networks, clouds and users.”

IDC’s CIO Survey shows “digital trust” as a top priority for CIO’s worldwide. What are du and Equinix doing to help their customers combat cyberattacks?[iv]

“In the UAE region, CEOs and CIOs are also consistently reporting security as one of their biggest concerns when it comes to their IT investments. At du, we incorporate TRUST into our DNA. Our mission is to help CIOs and CEO address four key domains: Vulnerability, Identity, Trust and Threat Management, which are interlinked and require continuous review. These are the drivers for our Integrated Digital Trust Platform that helps organizations build digital trustworthiness among their customers and partners by providing outcome-based security, risk management, compliance and privacy from an integrated platform. In partnership with Equinix, and its proven track record worldwide in data center and interconnection security and reliability, we are able to deliver upon our Trust commitment to our customers.”

Over the last seven-years, we have forged a valuable working relationship with du that has contributed to development of the digital infrastructure within the UAE. Together, du and Equinix offer the most carrier- and cloud-dense location in the region, providing  a valuable building block for UAE enterprises and local government in their digital transformation journey. As evidence to the digital growth in the region, the public cloud service provider presence is quickly expanding.[v]

Learn more about how private interconnection is enabling digital business transformation around the world. Read the Global Interconnection Index, Volume 3.

You may also want to read:

10 Stunning Photos of Equinix DX1 and DX2 Data Centers in Dubai

 

[i] NBusiness, “How the cloud will create nearly 32,000 jobs in the UAE,” January, 2019.

[ii] MulticloudME (Middle East), “Transform Your Business with Multicloud,” August, 2019.

[iii] Equinix 2019-2020, “Tech Trends Survey,” 2020.

[iv] CIO.com, “Why Digital Trust is Now a Key Economic Driver for Digital Transformation (DX)?,” April, 2019.

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The conversation has now moved from whether to deploy with a single cloud service provider, to how to implement a hybrid multicloud strategy that meets emerging customer needs for on-demand services.