Injazat Data Systems, a joint venture between Hewlett-Packard and Mubadala Development, plans to spend as much as US$160 million (Dh587.6m) during the next four years as it expands its data centre operations from Abu Dhabi. The company will build one data centre in Al Ain, while it is working with the telecommunications firm du to construct another in Dubai, said Ibrahim Mohamed Lari, the chief executive.
It is also negotiating with partners for joint ventures in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. "This was always our plan, to build first our capability at home," Mr Lari said. "At this moment, we're leading studies in the Saudi and Qatari market to see the areas we can work and deliver service." Plans to expand outside the UAE would be finalised by the first quarter of next year and an announcement would be made soon, Mr Lari said.
Each new data centre takes three years and costs about $40m to build, he said. Injazat's expansion efforts reflect the success it enjoyed during the past year, after the economic downturn led companies to cut expenses by outsourcing information technology (IT) duties to the firm. Company revenues rose as much as 25 per cent as a result, Mr Lari said. The IT services market in the Emirates, of which outsourcing is in the top third of activity, was worth $1.02 billion last year, a recent report by the technology consultancy IDC said.
Injazat has also developed a robust virtualisation programme in its data centre operations, taking its capacity from 9,000 physical servers to more than 5 million. Virtualisation is the rapidly growing technology service that uses software to maximise unused computing power and create virtual processors that can be operated alongside their physical counterparts. Injazat, which counts Etihad, du, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and several government departments as clients, was founded in 2004. Mubadala owns 60 per cent of the company while Hewlett-Packard, which acquired Injazat's original joint venture partner EDS last year, owns the remainder.
The company's strong position in the UAE and its investment in the first Middle East Tier IV data centre - an international certification that indicates the highest reliability level - will give Injazat an edge over its competitors, said Margaret Adam, the IDC services research manager for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. "Certainly there is opportunity for outsourcing in other Gulf markets, but there will be some hurdles to overcome in terms of a willingness to outsource in some of these countries," said Ms Adam.
One possible partnership for Injazat could be with a major technology company such as Google or Microsoft to provide IT support to accommodate growing internet usage in the Middle East. As more people in the region become connected to high-speed broadband, the demand for mature IT products and services is likely to increase in kind. The potential for growth in the region is immense. Only one person in eight in the Middle East has online access at present, said Mohammed Gawdat, the Google emerging markets managing director.
While Google does not disclose its data centre spending, the internet giant plans on making the Middle East one of its top three regions for IT services investment over the next three years, Mr Gawdat said. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org