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Dubai Customs opts for Dell Technologies’ data protection solutions to drive global trade and future innovation

Dubai Customs opts for Dell Technologies’ data protection solutions to drive global trade and future innovation

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Facilitating global trade requires a robust digital infrastructure supported by a thorough understanding of the value of data. Younis Othman, Director of Information Technology Department, Dubai Customs, talks to Intelligent CISO’s Alix Pressley about how Dell Technologies’ suite of data protection solutions meet the organisation’s constantly evolving data protection needs and help the customer to continue facilitating trade movement in Dubai.

Dubai Customs, one of the leading customs administration departments globally, has implemented Dell Technologies’ suite of data protection solutions to accelerate its Digital Transformation agenda.

Dubai Customs chose a combination of Dell’s next-generation data protection and backup solutions to meet the organisation’s constantly evolving data protection needs. The new solutions will enable Dubai Customs to save time and resources and allow staff to manage and use data insights to facilitate trade movement in Dubai while providing customer services.

The technologies in use include the Dell PowerProtect DP4400 which is an integrated appliance that offers backup, replication, recovery and cloud readiness. It also offers comprehensive data protection with broad application ecosystem support and seamless integration and automation across the entire protection stack. This makes it easy and cost-effective to scale up to protect more physical and virtual machines with high efficiency. The solution is also helping Dubai Customs to prevent end-user data loss, reduce operational overheads and allow more than 2,500 users in 17 Customs centres in Dubai to operate in a secure, hybrid environment.

As the region’s leading Customs administration and Dubai’s first government department, Dubai Customs has been among the first entities to embrace digitisation to promote ease of doing business. In 2020, according to Dubai Customs data, Dubai’s foreign trade reached a total of 100 million tons of goods valued at AED 1.182 trillion, traded via air, sea and land. These covered imports, exports and re-exports through Dubai, including direct, free zone and customs warehouse trade.

The COVID-19 pandemic propelled new ways of working that required rapid responses and transformation to deal with the situation. Dubai Customs was able to adapt quickly due to its technology adoption, including a virtual computing environment, data protection solutions and backup solutions from Dell, which were used to transfer users’ data from computers located in the offices to their remote devices, through desktop virtualisation, without any need for physical employee presence.

Facilitating global trade requires a robust digital infrastructure supported by a thorough understanding of the value of data. Its collection, storage and analysis will prove crucial in ensuring business growth and longevity.

“Dell Technologies’ data protection solutions and virtual desktop infrastructure technologies strengthen our capabilities in taking our valued services to ultimate levels of protection,” said Younis Othman, Director of Information Technology Department, Dubai Customs. “This reinforces our role in serving Dubai and the wider national economy by providing services that enable users to improve their businesses in Dubai.”

Walid Yehia, Senior Director and General Manager – UAE, at Dell Technologies, said: “Dubai Customs’ Digital Transformation strategy is underpinned by a strong technology foundation that will help foster global trade and drive a new era of global connectivity. As part of our collaboration, we have developed an agile, software defined data protection platform that provides flexible data management and compliance across applications, while safeguarding critical data. As Dubai Customs drives its digitisation agenda forward, we are committed to providing cutting-edge technologies that will help Dubai Customs achieve its goal of transforming Dubai into a global trading hub of the future.”

We caught up with Younis Othman, Director of Information Technology Department, Dubai Customs, who tells us more about the work with Dell Technologies and the benefits this has provided.

Younis Othman, Director of Information Technology Department, Dubai Customs

How do you expect Dell Technologies’ suite of data protection solutions to accelerate Dubai Customs’ Digital Transformation agenda?

Our Digital Transformation strategy aims to use a robust ICT framework to promote trade and connectivity on a global scale, reinforcing Dubai’s position as a global trading hub of the future. In recent years, using the latest advanced IT applications has enabled us to respond quickly to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Data protection has been a key priority along this journey. To that end, Dubai Customs has collaborated with key market players including Dell Technologies, to implement a suite of data protection solutions to enhance our security infrastructure. The agile, software-driven approach gives us comprehensive data protection with broad application ecosystem support, as well as seamless integration and automation across the entire protection stack. This makes it easy and cost-effective to scale up to data protection for more physical and virtual machines with high efficiency.

The adoption of data-driven technology solutions also facilitates access to data from anywhere, any time, meaning optimal operational efficiency and our objectives realised at record speed.

Can you tell us about some of the cybersecurity trends you’re seeing across the region and how this impacts your strategic approach?

With citizens, governments and businesses becoming more dependent than ever on digital connectivity, one of the most pressing sectoral issues for this decade is cybersecurity. In recent months we’ve seen an unprecedented policy focus on the threat of cyberattacks and digital resilience though prominence in WEF’s Global Risk Report for 2022, and the G7 communique that saw a formal agreement for governments ‘to work together to share expertise and minimise cyber-risks’. It’s now more important than ever that public sector infrastructure empowers business resilience to help identify, protect, detect, respond and recover from a cyberattack and enable a rapid return to fully functioning operations. Even with strong cyberdefences in place, it is impossible for companies to avoid all cyber disasters and their resultant, adverse impacts upon data, privacy and trust.

Therefore, the key objective should be developing a cyber-resilience strategy that can anticipate and quickly recover from significant disruption. The real test should be how quickly and seamlessly organisations can return to ‘business as usual’. As such, sophisticated data backup, replication, recovery and cloud-ready platforms are key priorities we see across the regional landscape. These capabilities are even more important as the pandemic propelled new ways of working and opened new virtual computing environments.

As a leading government department, how important is data protection and how stringent does your cybersecurity protocol need to be?

Our role as a global leader in customs administration is to provide the national economy with valued services and facilitate the improvement of their businesses. We see data protection as an essential building block as we keep pace with Dubai’s continuous progress and Smart City ambitions. In accordance with this, the most stringent levels of data protection must be upheld. The data protection platforms we have recently deployed underline our commitment to data management compliance and protecting vital data.

How does having a robust and secure digital infrastructure allow Dubai Customs to continue facilitating global trade?

The design of our digital infrastructure takes into consideration our objectives as facilitators of global trade and the increasing volume of data that is now a critical part of our operations. We have deployed cutting-edge technologies that have proven enormously beneficial to our employees and our customers. In this case, integrated data protection solutions from Dell Technologies’ helps simplify the work of Dubai Customs’ employees by facilitating access to data from anywhere, while also streamlining customer services that drive our own operational efficiencies. By advancing the automation process, simplifying our daily operations through smart infrastructure and keeping pace with the latest technologies while ensuring the highest safety standards, we strengthen our role in keeping pace with Dubai’s continuous progress and Smart City ambitions. With cost savings amounting to AED1.816 million from 2019 until the first half of 2022, we’ve consolidated our high rank in customs administrations around the world, a result of increased efficiency in backup and recovery activities and continuous development of our technology capabilities.

What long-term capabilities will the safeguarding of critical data provide you with?

Dubai has been a global front runner in the area of Digital Transformation and building systems infrastructure in all sectors, including the customs sector. The achievements in the advancement of customs work, including the safeguarding of critical data, propel us towards the next phase of growth in line with the five-year plan, which seeks to boost Dubai’s foreign trade to AED 2 trillion by 2026. 

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