x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Middle East prepares to keep sensitive data closer to home

The data-centre industry in the Middle East should experience major growth next year as countries opt to keep more sensitive digital information within their borders.

The data-centre industry in the Middle East should experience major growth next year as countries opt to keep more sensitive digital information within their borders.

Europe and the US house 70 per cent of the world's computerised data centres, according to The Uptime Institute, a research group. But the Middle East is seeking to be more self-reliant, as DatacenterDynamics, based in the UK, forecasts the region will increase investment in its facilities by 46 per cent in next year to US$2.12bn (Dh 7.78bn).

Telecommunications, and information and communications technology (ICT), and the banking and finance industries in the Middle East are among those spending more on upgrading their existing infrastructure, as well as building new centres.

"The digital economy in the next few years will become more and more part of the economy, and you want it in your own country; you want to be able to control it," said Paul-François Cattier, the global vice president for data solutions at Schneider Electric. "You need to have your own data-centre infrastructure in your own country."

The DatacenterDynamics census last year, which surveyed 5,400 data-centre executives around the world, said the Middle East's total spending on infrastructure, which includes the upgrading of servers, is to increase by 18.6 per cent next year to $630 million.

Further, the research predicted that the number of new data centres in the region next year would increase by 6 per cent to 6,400.

The four sectors with the most data centres are ICT with a 20.5 per cent share, telecommunications with a 13.2 per cent share, the public sector with a 16.8 per cent share, and banking and financial services with a 7.3 per cent share.

"What you're looking at is fairly substantial investment growth and perhaps less spectacular facility growth," said Nick Parfitt, a researcher at DatacenterDynamics.

"But that often happens when organisations are going into their existing facilities and are improving them," he said.

Improvements to infrastructure in the region are increasing data centres' processing power and energy efficiency while reducing actual size compared with those in the West, according to Olivier Delepine, the vice president for UAE and Gulf countries IT business at Schneider Electric.

"We saw in Europe a long journey in the progression of the technology and improvement in the technology. Here there is no journey; we are jumping directly to state-of-the-art," he said. The rapid development of data centres in the Middle East, however, is also part of a global trend of developing countries catching up to developed countries in technical infrastructure.

The DatacenterDynamics survey forecast a 118 per cent increase in investment in South East Asia next year, while Russia is predicted to post a 59 per cent increase next year.

"We see this trend in every new economy," said Mr Cattier. "There is not one country in the world that is not building a data centre right now."

 

gvanzyl@thenational.ae