The potential for cloud services reselling is somewhat untapped in the region, but more and more businesses are turning to these services as they look at ways of cutting their IT expenditure, Piers Ford reports.

There is no doubt about the scale of interest in cloud computing at the moment, as businesses in the Middle East relax their traditional approach to ownership of their IT infrastructure and engage with the possibility of outsourcing elements to third party service providers.

Major vendors are responding by moving cloud delivery architectures into the region. Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Siemens, EMC, NEC are all recent entrants to the cloud services market. Virtustream has forged a relationship with Etihad and Etisalat to provide cloud services across the Middle East. And Huawei has established a mobile cloud centre in Dubai.

Boby Joseph - StorIT

Even in areas where early adopters have been thin on the ground, the market is now steadily on the rise. In Saudi Arabia, for example, analyst IDC expects the cloud computing market to grow annually by almost 50% into 2016.

Systems integrators are already in a prime position to manage the deployment of multiple cloud services purchased through multiple vendors, while value-added resellers can take advantage of demand to sell, install and maintain cloud appliances on customer premises.

However, despite the on-going buzz around the cloud computing model, the channel is being slow to capitalise on the potential of reselling cloud services in the region. Rarely has a market been so ready for lift off.

“Cloud is the next big IT disruption to happen after the PC and Internet era,” said Boby Joseph, CEO at value-added distributor StorIT. “The total scenario is not yet very clear but is in the same stages as when the Internet or PC started gaining momentum.

“But compared to these past disruptions, cloud brings in a total change in how platforms and applications are delivered to the end-user. And this will add up to new pressures in the channel.

“Businesses that are adopting cloud at the moment are those that need to use applications which are difficult to maintain and upgrade, with a lower security significance where the data is of a very temporary nature.”

Joseph cited email and CRM as examples, followed by file and content sharing applications. Business applications such as spread sheets, word processing and document sharing are also catching up, but other applications are still slow in the cloud sector – matching the relatively slow speed of private cloud adoption.

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