A battle for the remotely stored data and software services market, known as "cloud" computing, is raging across the Middle East with the UAE becoming the prime focus.
Major communications companies such as IBM, Cisco and Oracle are circling the region intent on winning a share of the market not only in cloud services but also the vast computer banks needed to support them.
Cloud providers host remote data centres that allow companies to access them and pay for IT only as they need it. Despite this form of cloud computing having been created in the United States, developing economies are adopting the new technology at a faster rate than the West.
According to Alastair Edwards, a principal analyst at the research firm Canalys: "The cloud is now being adopted more quickly in developing regions such as the Asia-Pacific region."
But there is doubt as to whether cloud computing will spread across the entire Middle Eastern region or whether it will be initially confined to more developed countries such as the UAE.
"Many organisations in the Middle East may be wary of using the cloud in case of an internet crackdown following political unrest. This and technical considerations such as bandwidth supply mean some Middle Eastern countries may lag behind more advanced locations such as the UAE," adds Mr Edwards.
Increasing IT spending across the region is a major factor in attracting communications companies anxious to provide cloud services and infrastructure. One example of this is government, where the region's authorities are investing in increased IT spending in order to streamline their services to the public, a process known as "eGovernment".
According to Summer Hamad, an analyst at the international research company Forrester: "The UAE leads eGovernment adoption in the Middle East. The UAE, which started its eGovernment journey a decade ago, has the most highly developed eGovernment system in the region."
He adds: "The UAE and South Korea were the only countries to receive a score of 100 per cent from the United Nations on their governments' ability to incorporate citizens' views into its decision-making."
But there is a growing debate in the IT industry as to what cloud computing actually is as it could be taken to refer to almost any digital service.
According to Mr Edwards: "What the industry needs is a clearer definition of cloud computing. At the moment, many companies, eager to impress their shareholders with their success in entering a new market, are referring to all IT delivered as a service as 'the cloud'."
According to Canalys, cloud providers such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services supply software or infrastructure as services over the Web from remote data centres, allowing companies to pay for IT on a usage basis, or set fee. This allows them to deploy software far faster than if they were to run it internally.
"For example, an online retailer might see a 60 per cent rise in IT capacity over the Christmas period but have little need for the additional infrastructure for the rest of the year. The seasonal shortfall in IT backup can be made up from a cloud service provider, a strategy referred to as 'cloudbursting', says Mr Edwards.
But, while remote hosting of mission critical services might appeal to small and medium-sized businesses, bigger organisations are often wary of relinquishing control of their operations to third parties.
"They also prefer to maintain control of their own software applications and data in-house for reasons of security and access," says Mr Edwards.
The technology of supplying IT as a remote service is being adopted by many large organisations to run their internal services rather than outsource them to a service provider.
"Ironically, many big organisations are reversing the outsourcing trend of the last 20 years and 'insourcing' it," says Mr Edwards. "This effectively means building a data centre and creating a private 'mini-cloud' on the premises in order to run their own applications in-house."
The largest slice of today's cloud computing market is, reports Canalys, not going straight to the cloud services companies but to the IT giants supplying the hardware.
"The biggest commercial opportunity for IT vendors like IBM, HP and Cisco is still supplying the hardware and infrastructure for cloud-based services, both to cloud providers and enterprises that want to deliver IT as a service internally to their employees," says Mr Edwards.
Canalys reports that the global IT industry was worth more than US$2 trillion (Dh7.34tn) last year and the cloud accounted for just 7 per cent of this.
Public cloud services - those delivered by the likes of Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, Microsoft, Google and others - accounted for just 4 per cent.
These percentages are now set to grow quickly as more organisations in the UAE and elsewhere use the cloud to increase their IT capacity.
According to Mr Edwards: "Pure cloud services are growing fast but starting from a much smaller base than infrastructure sales."