Companies in Arabian Gulf build private clouds for data storage

70 to 80 per cent of companies in the region using cloud have gone private.

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Companies in the region are bucking global trends and building private clouds because of government restrictions and security breaches such as the iCloud saga that left a number of Hollywood starlets red-faced.
Cloud computing has become a popular term to describe the storage of data on the internet. Services such as Dropbox and Apple's iCloud are known as public clouds. A private cloud is built in-house, with only a company's employees able to access and store data on it.
In Europe and the US, companies prefer to use the public cloud to host their data, as it is cheaper.
In the UAE and some other GCC states, it is against the law to host government data outside the country, so many quasi-governmental organisations such as Etisalat and Emirates Airline have opted to build private clouds.
"Most companies will always err on the side of caution," said Aaron White, the general manger of Middle East and Pakistan at Hitachi Data Systems. "There are many types of data. If it is less important, then they can be stored publicly, but if it's financial or human-resources data, they don't go anywhere."
The consultancy Gartner said that of companies in the region that have adopted cloud storage, 70 to 80 per cent have chosen the private cloud route.
In the long run, experts believe that restrictions surrounding the movement of data are likely to result in more home-grown and local companies offering cloud computing services, from data centres to data storage software, which could tip the balance in favour of public clouds.
"It's a question of time," said Tony Reid, the chief operating officer of emerging Europe, the Middle East and Africa markets at Hitachi Data Systems. "Private cloud is still favoured in large businesses, but there are organisations now that are starting to get more mature in the way they identify the data that they allow into a public cloud."
Last week, hackers targeted Apple's iCloud and published intimate pictures from some celebrity accounts. While Apple has claimed that the hack was not the result of a vulnerability on its side but the result of targeted attacks using malware and social engineering, the breach has raised the issue of cloud security once again.
"This week has been a wake-up call to many that hackers target individuals and businesses alike," said Gary Newe, a senior systems engineering manager at the Dubai software security company F5 Networks. "What we must learn from it is that we are all responsible for our own data, and we must all do what we can to secure it."
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