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As businesses in the Middle East and Africa consider software as a service (SaaS) rather than the traditional on-premise model, the market segment is poised for growth.
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According to recent BMI Research, demand for cloud computing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is forecast to grow by 18.2% a year from 2016 to 2020, with total spend reaching AED1.52bn (£322m) in 2020.
BMI said SaaS was the largest segment of the cloud computing market, accounting for 59% of total cloud computing spending, when compared with infrastructure as a service (IaaS) at 28% and platform as a service (PaaS) at 13%.
But Fahad Al Hassawi, chief commercial officer at Dubai-headquartered telco Du, said adoption of cloud computing was still in the early stages in the Middle East, compared with the developed regions of Europe and North America.
Al Hassawi said the cloud computing market was growing rapidly in the UAE, fuelled by smart government initiatives and the digital transformation currently underway in the country, both in the public and private sectors.
“At Du, we have witnessed an increasing appetite to consume software as a service rather than the traditional on-premise model,” he said. “Multiple factors have contributed to this rapid growth as organisations are now more interested in focusing on their core business rather than IT and infrastructure needs.”
Al Hassawi said SaaS allowed organisations to reduce their total cost of ownership, increase return of investment, improve security and provide continuous availability to customers.
He said that although SaaS has existed almost for a decade and has been promoted for a faster implementation of software changes, there are several challenges that every SaaS provider needs to be aware of and have answers to. “Factoring in the lack of technical and contractual expertise for SaaS implementations, it’s difficult to freely switch from one provider to another,” he said.
Al Hassawi said the way a provider deals with the whole service delivery was critical for success in the SaaS market. “When it comes to service delivery management, it is all about service level agreements,” he said. “Understanding the criticality of the infrastructure, software, security and high availability, and providing and meeting extensive service level agreements is vital.”
Fahad Al Hassawi, Du
To this end, Du has invested in a dedicated network operation centre (NOC) and a security operations centre (SOC), which help in monitoring service quality and provide both proactive and reactive support to ensure least interruption of services to customers of all sizes.
“In the recent past, we have gained significant SaaS traction and have seen an increase in interest levels and adoption,” he said. “This is a trend that we believe will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. It is beyond doubt that SaaS is here to stay, and the sooner companies adopt this early wave, the better placed they will be to tackle the next wave.”
Al Hassawi said as a recognised regional business hub, the UAE was well-poised to take advantage of the SaaS market, since it was a sought-after destination for technology professionals. “This makes it easier to tap into the available knowledge and resource, which keeps getting stronger,” he said.