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MENA yet to embrace the cloud: SAP

SAm Alkharrat, MD, SAP MENA

As part of the agenda at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid, Spain yesterday, I had an opportunity to meet with Sam Alkharrat, MD, SAP MENA, and Qais Gharaibeh, MD, SAP UAE.

Following from our last meeting at a media roundtable back in Dubai Alkharrat said that he still believes that large scale  adoptionof cloud computing in the Middle East is still two to three years away. “Although there are a few early adopters of cloud technology in the region, the Middle East is yet to witness mass adoption of cloud computing. Adoption of these next gen technologies will have to wait until more data centres are ratified and we see more fully virtualised infrastructures at both large organisations and SMBs,” he said.

When asked about why he thinks the region is still lacking in cloud adoption as compared to the more developed markets of the world he said, “The way I see it, organisations in this region are more prone to invest in technologies when the road map to implementation is proven and the business benefits of implementation are easily visualised. From the conversations I have had with clients in the region, one of the major reasons for this hesitation is the comparatively expensive infrastructure and bandwidth costs in the region. In addition to which, data storage and security in the cloud are concerns that are yet to be addressed and understood.”

This according to the Gharaibeh is the reason why SAP is yet to launch Business ByDesign in the region.  Gharaibeh added, “We are waiting for the region to hit the tipping point, where we know that our investment in localising ByDesign for this market will be met by significant demand from customers in the region. So we are watching the market closely, working towards educating customers and sharing best practices and rest assured in time we will see increasing numbers of cloud adopters coming from this region.”

Yesterday, SAP also announced that the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) component, would now be powered by the SAP HANA platform, to enable customers to non-disruptively move their databases to the platform.

Addressing this subject and the adoption of SAP HANA in the Middle East region Alkharrat said, “We do have a large pipeline of customers for HANA in the region, particularly after the announcement this morning. The ability to replace the traditional database layer underneath SAP NetWeaver BW with SAP HANA completely transforms the traditional database approach and is an exciting prospect for the entire industry.”

“It not only means reduced infrastructure costs but also means that we can now read huge volumes of both structured and unstructured data and without pre aggregation and replication. Customers can now experience the unbelievable speed and flexibility of SAP HANA to support their businesses, without their existing operations or infrastructure. I am absolutely certain that we will have our first three or four regional HANA customers before the end of the year,” said Alkharrat.

According to both Alkharrat and Gharabieh, the MENA region is of immense strategic importance to SAP. “When Bill visited the region last month, he was truly awed at the pace of development of Middle East infrastructure and organisations and for this reason made a promise to continue to expand our reach and resources within the region,” he said.

Bill McDermott, Co-CEO, SAP last month visited the UAE as part of the MENA leg of the SAP World Tour 2011, during his keynote McDermott said that SAP would double its resources in the region  to cater to the exponential demand for best of breed technologies in the region.

Alkharrat pointed out that over the last 12 months SAP has already hired 100 new employees since August 2010 bringing their total to a 300 strong, in addition to which, the company has opened four new branch offices in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Egypt and KSA.

He also added that SAP has signed 30 new partners in the region that compromise a combination of system integrators, value added distributors and extended business partners. “We are committed to building our partner ecosystem and educating both the partners and customers to enable faster innovation in the region,” said Gharabieh.

Gharabieh pointed out that some of SAP’s top MENA partners come from the region in addition to which two out of the 22 regional universities that form the SAP University Alliance Programme in the region also come out of the UAE.

SAP SAPPHIRE NOW Conference and SAP TechEd continues through today at IFEMA, Feria de Madrid, in Madrid Spain. Pallavi Sharma, sub editor, CNME is reporting live from the event, to follow live tweets from the event search for #sapphirenow and #SAPNOW11.


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