Middle East data centres on Google’s radar

After the opening of data centres by Microsoft, Alibaba, SAP, Amazon Web Services and Oracle in the Gulf region, Google could be the next as it is the only main player left in the industry to do so.

Tarek Khalil, country manager for Google Cloud Middle East and North Africa, told TechRadar Middle East on the sidelines of the Google Cloud Day 2019, that Google has 20 data centres globally across 61 zones.

Every data centre is three zones and is considered as a region.

“We could have data centres in the Middle East,” he said.

When asked will it happen next year, he said: “could be”.

He said that Google has invested $47b in three years globally in cloud infrastructure and is allocating an additional $15b for projects and initiatives this year.

Google has announced more than 130 new products this year in security, infrastructure modernisation, application development, data management, smart analytics and AI, productivity and collaboration.

(Image credit: Future)

Regional data centres offered by cloud providers 

Big tech companies have shown interest in the Middle East, especially in the UAE, to open data centres. Amazon Web Services has a cluster of data centres in Bahrain and the UAE.

Oracle already opened its first data centre in the UAE this year in Abu Dhabi and plans to open one more data centre in the UAE, likely in Dubai, and two in Saudi Arabia by next year while Microsoft opened its data centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi recently.

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has already invested in one data centre in the UAE while SAP opened its data centres in UAE and Saudi Arabia last year.

In Asia, Goggle has data centres in Singapore, Taiwan and India.

Manish Ranjan, research firm International Data Corporation’s program manager for software and cloud in the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, said that looking at the Middle East in isolation, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the biggest spenders on the public cloud services, with growth rates exceeding the market average.

“There are a lot of opportunities for the cloud in the region and Saudi Arabia is the right place for any cloud provider looking to tap into them. Under the Kingdom’s proposed data regulations, vendors that have their own in-country data centres would certainly have the upper hand from a compliance and governance standpoint, particularly when it comes to serving the government, healthcare, and banking sectors,” he said.

For the same reason, he added that local telecom operators are better placed than their international counterparts as they are able to deliver software solutions, infrastructure, and development platforms as a service from in-country data centres.

“As such, local telecom operators across the region are investing heavily in local data centres to meet growing cloud demand,” he said.

Rise in public cloud services spending

Total spending on public cloud services in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is expected to reach $2.65 billion next year, up from $2.04 billion in 2019.

“Over the longer term, we expect the spending on public cloud services in the region to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.2% for the 2018-2023 period,” Ranjan said.

Another industry expert said that it is high time that Google opens data centres in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries as the cloud adoption is gaining traction in the region.

“Google needs to have local data centres to cater to governments, financial and banking sectors for data residency regulations and that is why big players have opened data centres in the region,” he said.

According to IDC, the public cloud market in the UAE is expected to grow by 35% to $406m in 2020 compared to $299m this year and two-thirds of the organisations will approach the cloud through a hybrid model.

The research firm is seeing a decline in on-premise [non-cloud] spending and a lot of spending is moving to the cloud as a subscription-based model to cut costs.

Google’s Khalil said that cloud adoption is gaining in the region and it has 15,000 customers in the Middle East, the biggest regions are in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“We are witnessing the digital transformation of businesses, governments and societies.  Part of the transformation is in cloud computing as it provides access to unlimited technology resources.

“At Google Cloud, we have a vision and that is to help our customers on their transformation journey. We do have a global scale distributed infrastructure, digital transformation platform and industry solutions for digital transformation,” he said.

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