Managed services companies in the region have found an apparent lack of awareness to be a major challenge. “I think in the Middle East we are still at an early stage in terms of adopting data centre models so most of the challenges are dealing with the mindset of doing things internally rather than outsourcing,” Yasser Zeineldin, CEO, eHosting DataFort, tells AMEinfo.com. “Although the notion of outsourcing is happening in other fields, it’s just developing now in the datacenter space,” he adds.
The most common found model in a business in the Middle East currently is to employ an IT manager or Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) who then deals with technology services internally, but Zeineldin believes there are other more suited options. “Data centre providers and the managed service providers are new to the region or fairly new, so customers are used to doing things themselves. So the level of awareness I think is not there and IT is pretty much left to the IT managers and CIOs who are quite experienced at running operations themselves, but do not necessarily think of other models as a possibility,” he says.
Outsourcing IT services
Other firms in the region are finding similar obstacles. “We face the same challenges as the rest of the market in terms of whether clients are willing to adopt an outsourcing or managed service module. In the US and large parts of Europe, this has been normal practice for 10-20 years. There was no outsourcing market here to speak of until we started,” explains George Pawlyszyn, executive director of strategy and business development, Injazat Data Systems.
While the Middle East may be behind in its attitudes, the companies here offering these services are clear that the benefits apply just as much in this region as they do elsewhere. “If you do [employ these services] then you free up a lot of your budget to do things that are more valuable to the business. About 70% of the IT spend goes towards a thankless job; maintaining the status quo of the infrastructure, and 30% goes to investing in new applications and procuring new equipment and so forth,” Zeineldin states. “The 30% is the part with the business value and we are saying if you can take the 70% and save on it, then you can redeploy money to other areas by freeing up cash through IT,” he adds.
Full range of IT offerings
Pawlyszyn believes that companies offering managed services need to counter the lack of awareness and experience of using their product, by offering a full range of services to clients. “It is important that we offer the full range of options – for clients to keep machines on their sites for example, we can do that. If they then want to move into our data centre they can do that, so it is giving them options,” he comments.
Injazat Data Systems, a joint venture involving Hewlett Packard, is now targeting specific sectors in the Middle East in order to grow further. “Government is a huge sector for us, there is a lot of scope for our services there. We also have Dolphin Energy as one of our clients so oil and gas is another area we are very interested in,” reveals Pawlyszyn. The firm is also looking to break into the telecoms market through partnerships with companies in the sector.