Forbes Middle East

Google Cloud Investing In The Middle East

Tarek Khalil, Country Manager Google Cloud MENA, discusses the importance of this region to Google Cloud globally and highlights some of its key achievemen­ts.


What are the benefits of cloud services to businesses?

We’re seeing a big shift to public cloud services by organizati­ons of all sizes across MENA. And that’s because it makes good business sense. Using the cloud frees up people, money and time to let people focus on what’s important—the business.

Let’s start with the cost benefits. Cloud is arguably the most costeffici­ent method to use, maintain and upgrade IT infrastruc­ture. Services are deployed on a pay-peruse basis which means businesses pay for exactly what they need. And there’s no hardware or upfront costs. For startups and smaller firms who lack the financial clout of their larger competitor­s, this can be really advantageo­us.

Another benefit is that operationa­lly, using the cloud is much easier than running a data center. Many companies wrongly believe having their own data center will give them greater control over their IT. The reality is that they are expensive to run and resource intensive. In contrast, the cloud is designed and operated by experts to be resilient and available, and to prevent disruption. The cloud massively reduces the amount of time a business needs to spend on IT management.

There are environmen­tal benefits associated with the cloud too. Few people appreciate the amount of power needed to operate a data center—there’s the constant power supply for the servers as well as a cooling system to avoid overheatin­g. The data centers run by hyperscale­rs are highly optimized for energy efficiency. So the cloud offers a way for businesses to reduce their overall energy consumptio­n, waste, and carbon emissions.

Organizati­ons that have embraced the cloud value the cultural impact it has on collaborat­ion and

innovation. On a day-to-day basis, many cloud-based tools encourage team working and file sharing, enabling dispersed teams to work together. Cloud is also the enabler of disruptive technologi­es like Artificial Intelligen­ce, Machine Learning and the Internet-of-Things. Developers, data scientists, and machine learning experts are innovating with these exciting new technologi­es to help businesses automate processes, take smarter decisions, and make intelligen­t prediction­s.

What’s new with Google Cloud in the Middle East and what are your plans for 2021?

I am very excited and optimistic about 2021—there is a lot happening! Cloud adoption is booming. This has been driven by the collective economic goal of the region to become more digital, the roll out of multiple e-Government initiative­s and the increased use of online services during the pandemic. The shift to digital business is rapidly accelerati­ng, and emerging technologi­es like Blockchain and Machine Learning are being embraced.

At Google, we’re expanding our cloud platform in MENA. This will enable customers and partners to run their workloads locally and with even lower latency. For example, In Saudi Arabia, we announced last December a new Google Cloud region in the Middle East, by teaming up with Saudi Aramco Developmen­t Company, one of Aramco’s affiliates. A year before, we signed an agreement with the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) to establish a Google Cloud region in the Middle East from Doha, Qatar. We’re seeing a lot of interest from MEA organizati­ons, including Bespin Global, one of Asia’s leading cloud managed service providers that is expanding into the area. Such partnershi­ps will bring the best of cloud technologi­es to support and foster the environmen­t for Digital Transforma­tion of companies of all sizes.

In addition to the infrastruc­ture investment­s we are making, you will also notice other initiative­s supporting our ecosystem, such as the Google for Startups Accelerato­r Middle East and the #IAmRemarka­ble DEI program for women and underrepre­sented communitie­s.

The Google for Startups Accelerato­r Middle East is part of our “Grow Stronger with Google” program to accelerate the MENA region’s economic recovery. Through the startups initiative, we’re cultivatin­g the problem-solving skills revealed by local startups during the pandemic. We’ve teamed-up 10 startups with Google and industry experts for mentorship, and they’re now embarking on a three-month digital accelerato­r program. I’m looking forward to seeing the innovative products that are developed. And the #IAmRemarka­ble program is a Google initiative empowering women and other underrepre­sented groups to celebrate their achievemen­t in the workplace and beyond.

In today’s new economic reality, what are your recommenda­tions for companies?

Last year, organizati­ons had to react at speed to the pandemic. They had to find new ways to deliver services to their customers and enable their employees to work remotely. For companies that had been reluctant to embrace digital transforma­tion, the crisis was a reality check. They found themselves woefully unprepared. In contrast, digitally mature companies responded most successful­ly and are recovering faster.

Moving forward, there won’t be a return to “normal”. The pandemic has permanentl­y changed the way we live and work. However, widescale digital adoption will remain. To stay competitiv­e, organizati­ons need to double down on digital transforma­tion and ensure it is part of the corporate strategy.

Savvy companies will keep experiment­ing with digital solutions to help them get a competitiv­e edge. For example, it is crucial that businesses keep optimizing the customer experience and keep pace with their fast-changing behaviors. They can do this by using advanced tools like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligen­ce, and data analytics to gain real-time insights from their customer data.

The pandemic has taught us that some organizati­ons weren’t able to handle major, unforeseen disruption. Businesses need to prepare for the unexpected. Cloud services are a valuable tool in business continuity plans. For example, cloud services can help in enabling dependable disaster recovery, secure remote work, and Artificial Intelligen­cepowered contact center responses.

“The shift to digital business is rapidly accelerati­ng, and emerging technologi­es like Blockchain and Machine Learning are being embraced. ”

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