Intelligent CIO caught up with Ahmed Auda, Managing Director, MENA, VMware at GITEX 2017 to talk about the uptake of cloud in the Middle East and how this is changing the company’s priorities for 2018.
Q: What is VMware’s focus for GITEX this year?
A: This is our first participation in GITEX as VMware this year and we’re very proud to be part of this great event and leverage the attention of close to 200,000 visitors.
VMware is keen to bring our key priority to the event, which is the way we can enable organisations and customers to really change and transform the experience of their end users, be it a client, a citizen, a visitor, a tourist and so on.
We have identified and set for ourselves four priorities where we can participate in the digital transformation journey and change and transform the experience of the user. Our first priority is data centre infrastructure modernisation. Second is integration of multi-cloud, the third is empowering the digital workspace and the fourth is transforming network and security.
Through those four priorities, when we engage with our clients, we enable them to transform their infrastructure, to transform the way they address their business agendas and meet their business objectives, and contribute to a more agile organisation, a better quality of service and eventually this reflects on their end user experience too.
Q: Is VMware launching any new products this week?
A: There’s a lot of new stuff that we are happy to share with our clients. Just a few days before coming to GITEX, we announced that we are launching our new office in Saudi Arabia, through which we will be able to expand on our service to our clients later this year.
We also celebrated a key programme that we are running along with a university in Saudi Arabia also to prepare a number of fresh graduates to be able to integrate into the digital space and be able to leverage their sophistication on VMware. As part of our focus on preparing the talent from the local markets to integrate into the workplace as fast as possible with the tools they need and with the knowledge they need on VMware. We are doing similar programmes with other universities in the UAE as well.
When it comes to products and solutions, in line with one of our priorities which is transforming network and security, we are putting some focus on one of our recent announcements in that domain which is AppDefense. Cybersecurity is getting a lot of attention in the region and the majority of organisations are putting security as a top priority for moving forward, and taking it from a discussion within IT or within the data centre, into a discussion with the boardroom. We are making an announcement for a new offering called AppDefense which is integrating a new way of securing applications based on building a track record of the application in its normal state.
You collect data and analyse this data around your application. Then being able to in real time detect any change in the behaviour of the application, and identify what went wrong, and identify also a remedy action and leveraging areas of our technology, we are able to orchestrate very quickly a remedy action and are able to bring back the operation of the application to the normal state.
This is a breakthrough in the way security is working, it’s no longer waiting for the problem to happen and then start to look for a needle in the haystack. It’s more about preventing, proactively addressing any potential issue and making sure it doesn’t happen. There is an element of artificial intelligence of course and the way you analyse data, so this is also a new and interesting exciting announcement within the priority of transforming networks.
We are also combining or building a unified platform to address the digital workspace instead of separately addressing desktop virtualisation and enterprise mobility. We are offering now a solution which combines both elements together. These are exciting offerings that we are very happy about and looking forward to help our customers realise the value of it.
Q: How is VMware helping Middle East and African organisations to embrace digital transformation?
A: I think there is a responsibility on us operating in this market and in this community. The first step is helping the talent get access to opportunities through which they can become more comfortable with the technology and become more aware of the fundamentals of digital transformation. It helps us in delivering the value from our technology much faster if we see that the clients have enough resources and skills.
We are also working towards offering internships as well within VMware help some of this new talent to grow their affinity and comfort level with the technology that we offer in a practical way.
We try to leverage these marketing events and invite many of our clients and potential clients, to benefit and to have an opportunity to be more aware of our technology, as well as some of the digital and social media activities whereby we share some of the elements of the technology. This is a quick reach method and very effective, especially with the younger generation.
Q: What do you believe is the driving force behind the strong adoption of cloud in the ME?
A: I think the adoption of cloud is becoming more and more important to the region. We are not, I would say, isolated from what’s happening around the world. We are very much integrated. Many of the enterprises and organisations that are based here in the Middle East are becoming more and more international and multinational. They are more and more integrated in global economy. Definitely the benefit they see from public and hybrid cloud models elsewhere is acknowledged and is being considered here.
We have recent studies that show the investment in this area is growing. As a way to become more agile and to be able to help improve the experience and maintain an innovative and differentiating way of offering your services, you need to be able to be more agile and to be able to manage your infrastructure to avail new services on.
The priority from our point of view is helping the client get their freedom to enjoy the cloud offerings across Amazon, IBM software or others and maintain the control they need to make sure the security and integrity of the data is not exposed.
Q: What impact do you foresee 5G having on the MENA region?
A: I think 5G is going to be an important platform to facilitate and accelerate improving the end user experience. It will help new business models to flourish and to expand, as well as enabling new levels of innovative services to be offered, leveraging things like augmented reality. The operators here are very much aware of this important technology. They are preparing to adopt this technology and the ecosystem around it as quickly as possible. We see ourselves playing a key role by helping telco operators adopt or prepare their infrastructure and modernise their infrastructure as quickly as possible, to be able to benefit from the 5G technology.
We understand that this will play a major role in improving the services and the end user experience during mega-events, such as the Expo 2020 for the UAE for example. 5G will enable visitors to plan their visit for the Expo 2020 and have a much more pleasant and predictable journey through these services.
Q: What are VMware’s priorities for the next year?
A: I think the four priorities that I mentioned earlier are key, and they build on top of each other. I think the data centre modernisation is key before you start to consider hybrid cloud models, for example. You have to be ready in the on-premise and this is what we experience with our clients now. The majority continue to invest in data centre modernisation, knowing that we have the next step, that we are able to integrate them into multi-clouds once they are ready. Transforming the network and security will always be in parallel with an important part of modernising the data centre for our clients and will also play a role when you start to exchange workloads between your local data centre and your public cloud provider and back and forth and so on. Security will play a major role. Then comes the empowering the digital workplace. This will always be needed across the workplace.