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Penta delivers private cloud, cybersecurity, to Dubai’s DIFC clients

Penta delivers private cloud, cybersecurity, to Dubai’s DIFC clients

Penta services cover startups, SMEs and large multinationals based at DIFC

Penta was cloud before there was cloud.

The technology company, with offices in Geneva and Dubai, began operations in 1996 when cloud computing had not entered the technology lexicon. The company was referred to as an application service provider (ASP) at the time.

“We have been operating a pay-as-you-use model, or SaaS as we know it today, since inception,” explains Farhad Khalilnia, CEO of Penta.

The challenge at that time was to make organisations trust their data could be securely hosted by third parties. “This challenge doesn’t exist anymore because cloud has become ubiquitous,” says Khalilnia.

Khalilnia says Penta occupies a niche space in private cloud services, where it’s not competing with dominant public cloud players such as Amazon or Microsoft. “The customer knows exactly where the data is sitting, not split between datacentres in Europe, Australia and the US,” he says.

Penta started operations at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in 2009. “We were interested in the Gulf region and specifically Dubai’s DIFC because most of our customers are in the financial sector,” says Khalilnia. “We knew that we could bring significant added value to businesses in this region,” he adds.

Khalilnia: “Customers consider us as their internal IT department – we are a one-stop-shop for all their IT needs.”
Penta offers three plans which cover organisations at varying degrees of sophistication, from startups to the large multinationals who call DIFC home, says Khalilnia.

The first is Business Cloud, a turn-key complete IT solution that puts the whole IT department in a secure, private infrastructure. The data remains in-country- in this case, the DIFC data centre-and under the jurisdiction of the country’s data residency laws.

Corporate Cloud on the other hand caters to those businesses that need more control over their IT whether for compliance reasons, complex requirements, or sector-specific applications that need specialist expertise. The IT infrastructure is custom-designed and maintained by Penta or by client’s own IT.

Finally, Penta Azure 365 which brings Penta expertise and assurance to apps in the public clouds operated by Microsoft.

“Customers consider us as their internal IT department. We are a one-stop-shop for all their IT needs,” says Khalilnia.


Regulatory compliance and cybersecurity

Penta’s unique selling proposition (USP) in the security space is based on the audit report ISAE 3402 Type 2, a yearly regulatory compliance report that comprises 19 different controls including cyber security.

This continuum report is written by auditor EY that Penta then passes on to its private cloud customers who can show it to their auditors, the DFSA authority. This constitutes adequate guarantees and peace of mind to customers ensuring their IT is run using industry best practices.

Included in its services, Penta offers cyber security awareness and training sessions to its clients. Additionally, Penta runs penetration tests on its networks, administered by ethical hackers. The result of these reports is also available to clients for auditing purposes, explains Khalilnia.

DIFC has upgraded its data protection laws effective October 1, 2020, matching EU’s stringent GDPR data protection laws. Penta, with its head office in Switzerland, is already well acquainted with EU’s GDPR laws. “Our customers are assured that they are covered under this data protection law,” says Khalilnia.

Covid-19 has forced customers to drastically change the way they work as well as rethink their workplaces. Khalilnia says enabling work-from-home environments has been part of Penta’s business model since the beginning. “Our clients who have been with us before Covid-19 pandemic have not seen any changes in the way they operate or had their productivity affected,” says Khalilnia.

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