The growth of data centres in the Middle East
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The growth of data centres in the Middle East

The growth of data centres in the Middle East

The pandemic has highlighted the critical role of data centres in ensuring that IT companies not only function well, but are also ready to embrace a digital future

Gulf Business

The Middle East is on the path of rapid cloud growth in the coming years. Various governmental initiatives across the region reinforce how promising the cloud landscape in the Middle East will likely be in the foreseeable future. Initiatives include New Kuwait 2035’s nationwide digital roadmap and the UAE Vision 2021 towards a fully digitalised society, Bahrain’s Cloud First utilising cloud computing services and the $18bn plan to build a network of large-Scale data centres across Saudi Arabia.

Location matters

Businesses must consider what they need from a data centre and incorporate those requirements into their data centre location strategy. Various data centres in the Middle East are being developed in prominent locations, especially within the GCC countries. Rapid development in network connectivity, government support, and growth in the adoption of cloud, big data, and IoT services have been strong drivers for the growth of the UAE data centre industry. As data centres strive to deliver efficiency that can bring value to clients, one of the most challenging tasks in a hot and dry environment such as in the UAE, is cooling. The more advanced and efficient cooling technology is, the lower the power bill and the more environmentally friendly the data centre will be.

In cold climates such as Northern Europe and some parts of the US, data centre providers rely on fresh air as the main source of cooling or have free cooling with chillers to compensate during the summer season. However, here in the Middle East it is quite the opposite, with most data centres relying on the chiller almost 100 per cent of the time.

Modern indirect evaporative technologies require only one third of the water supply compared to traditional economisers. They are available as single units without the need for mechanical cooling. The Middle East is fully capable of providing secure and resilient infrastructures to ensure minimum risks and maximum uptime.

Regulatory and legislative frameworks

Cloud computing involves the distribution of data across servers located anywhere in the world. The way the cloud surpasses national boundaries creates potential risks by moving data into, or allowing access to data from, countries with restrictive data privacy and protection laws. There is no international consensus on data sovereignty, so countries are entitled to create privacy and data-hosting laws as lenient or as strict as they like. Thus, businesses must comply with several different legal systems if they wish to transfer personal data across borders. While some countries in the GCC have successfully established comprehensive cloud computing frameworks that regulate the issues pertaining to data gathering, data utilisation, and data sharing on the state and interstate levels, others still have no effective regulations to tackle these issues.

The UAE government banks on Abu Dhabi Digital Authority and Dubai Digital Authority to accelerate technological advancement and adopt the latest ICT initiatives to support social and economic prosperity of businesses and individuals, as well as boost the value of the digital economy. With the right local knowledge, as well as the tools and partners inclined to walk the path of digital transformation together, enterprises in the Middle East can be ready to fully embrace a digital future.

Hasan Al Naqbi is the CEO at Khazna Data Center

Read: Improving data centre power consumption and energy efficiency

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