Microsoft said that it is pleased with the impact that the data centres had in such a short period of time in the UAE.
The US technology giant opened its hype-scale or elastic data centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in June this year.
“We have seen massive interests in the data centres, surprisingly, and not just from the regulated industries such as the governments, banking and healthcare for data sovereignty but are also seeing an equal interest from other industries for latency, security and performance,” Sayed Hashish, General Manager for Microsoft UAE, told TechRadar Middle East.
Moreover, he said that the third area the company is seeing a lot of interest is from international customers that either have setups in this part of the world or want to be closer to their stakeholders and customers in neighbouring countries.
“They are also very interested to put their solutions and their data on our Middle East data centres in the UAE. It has exceeded our expectations,” he said.
Microsoft’s target is to support 1m small- and medium-sized business in the Middle East in the next three years.
“We are on track with that number,” he said.
Quoting a research firm IDC’s report, he said that 55,000 jobs will be created by 2022 with the opening of the two data centres and the Microsoft ecosystem.
More jobs will be created in medium- to long-term
When asked whether it is feasible to create that many jobs with the current economic situation, Hashish said that there are areas where jobs have changed but in general, “we are seeing that the opportunity and the potential in our market is very large and even if we sometimes get under economic pressure, just like anywhere else in the world, companies are still investing looking at the longer term.”
Microsoft is a good example; he said and added that the company had done a massive investment.
“We were not worried because the fundamentals in the region are quite strong. The aspiration of the country is quite large and we are seeing a lot of steps that are being taken to really continue to differentiate the businesses and encourage more startups that we are seeing out of the UAE, across Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is really encouraging us to invest more, so I am quite optimistic about the creation of jobs in the medium- to long-term,” he said.
Security and privacy top priority
Security is one issue which is forcing many organisations not to move to the cloud but Hashish said that security fears to move to the cloud is becoming less and less every year.
“I think a lot of organisations understand that the level of security that we are able to provide through our data centres is quite far stronger than the level of security that each organization can do on their own because of the massive investment and the massive resources we have in this area,” he said.
He said that Microsoft is investing more than $1b on security every year so “we are very conscious about that”.
However, he said that security is a big issue but privacy is the other one.
“We focus lot privacy and comply with GDPR. We understand that the data of our customers is the data of our customers. We are just hosting that on their behalf and deal with it with good respect and transparency and do not monetise the customers’ data,” he said.
Furthermore, he said that more and more customers are shifting from on-premises to the cloud from this region.
Jyoti Lalchandani, vice-president and regional managing director for research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), said that on-premise [non-cloud] spending is declining quite rapidly and a lot of spending is moving to the cloud as a subscription-based model.
“Speed and agility are the key drivers for the cloud,” he said.
According to IDC, public cloud services in the UAE are seeing a big uptake and it is expected to grow by 35% to $406m in 2020 compared to $299m this year.