Marcopolis presents the Saudi Arabia Report focused on the investments, doing business, economy and other topics featuring interviews with key executives. The sectors under review in this issue are industry, real-estate, ICT, investments, banking sector, telecom sector and many more.
Over the past couple of years the words “data centre” have begun to permeate the general lexicon and particularly after the mass adoption of mobile devices the general public has been introduced to the terminology, and given some idea of the purpose they serve, but let us start by defining what a data centre is and how businesses and individuals are serviced by them.
Wikipedia says the following - a data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression) and security devices.
Businessdictionary.com - a computer facility designed for continuous use by several users, and well equipped with hardware, software, peripherals, power conditioning and backup, communication equipment, security systems, etc.
So what do they do for us?
The short answer is that we are totally dependent on data centres.In fact “modern life” as we know it would cease if we were to switch them all off. Put simply as we become more dependent on technology, data centres will sit at the heart of everything we do. Moreover cloud services will become the norm, with domestic users utilising public clouds for all manner of data, whilst business users will continue to use a combination of in-house and 3rd party systems and solutions. Cloud computing could also be one of the keys that will help realise a smarter and more efficient Saudi Arabia.
Indeed The International Data Corporation (IDC) forecast that spending on private cloud services in Saudi Arabia to be growing at a year-on-year rate of 64%. Predicting that spending on public cloud services in the Kingdom will escalate exponentially as businesses see the benefits of scalability, ease of use, low management overheads, and low upfront licensing investment required to run the customer relationship management, collaboration tools and office productivity applications that many international companies are increasingly offering.
Although the Saudi authorities recognise that any plans for cloud technology need to be balanced with their national security concerns.
With the State’s reluctance to consider international data storage presenting the domestic ICT sector with a vast potential opportunity to work with the public sector to provide bespoke storage solutions.
As Amjad Abdel Hafez, CEO of the ICT company Nournet told us, “there needs to be rules in place to support localisation of data to build an protect local data ecosystems an to prevent them from going to global clouds like those of Microsoft and Google.” In light of the indispensability of data centres NourNet, who have over ten years experience in the Saudi Arabian Internet and data space, have recently rolled-out its own 4,000-sq-metre data centre facility in Riyadh and sees their business expanding to potentially serve the wider region.
Amjad Hafez added, “Saudi Arabia is 70% of the Middle Eastern market, so just by satisfying the local market you are in a good position to satisfy the rest of the region.”
State-of-the-art in terms of its network connectivity and infrastructure design they are now offering hosting and collocation services in both Riyadh & Dammam. NourNet, cognizant of the mission-critical factors that virtually all modern businesses now live & die upon being the foundation stone of the resilience and robustness of their IT infrastructure, have taken their expertise and focused on the core elements of agility, competitiveness and cost optimization in their data centres facilities. Setting out to construct the leading-edge data hosting and co-location facilities in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
As Amjad Hafez explained their overall strategy, “there are many players in the datacentre segment, but our story is different because we are pushing for a carrier neutral datacentre. Not all customers want an operator datacentre, some want to have the liberty to get services from all of the other operators. Nournet is trying to be the leader in carrier neutral set-up in Saudi Arabia.”
With a track record of zero-downtime over the past three years since operations began and benchmarked upon international industry best practices, clearly defined maintenance and incident management protocols, 24x7x365 monitoring and with connection to all 3 leading Telco operators in the country. NourNet are now in a position to offer some of the most cost-effective co-location and data centre services in the KSA.
“The datacentre business is very competitive but we consider it as a vehicle for our business model because we consider it the cusp of all of the other services that we are going to offer including the managed IT, the public & private clouds, the internet services and the managed connectivity services.”
The primary consideration in NourNet’s approach being robustness and impregnability, built on the 4 core elements of reliability, power density, security and, if absolutely necessary, recovery. “By offering this, it gives the customers the liberty to go and make the best decision on the best available infrastructure and that comes as a big advantage to the end-user and the customer themselves,” explains Amjad Hafez.
The facilities themselves having been designed to anti-seismic specifications, served by power from two separate sub-stations, protected by multi-layer physical security and housed within a fully anonymous building exterior. They are in short the data equivalent of Fort-Knox.
Within the data centres themselves the watchword is security. Having been designed to provide multiple features such as secured closed cages and secured full and shared cabinets. Featuring direct access to the data distribution system to allow for quick reaction and all with highly deployable interconnections.
NourNet’s technicians are also on-hand to recommend the optimum configuration of cages and suites to meet specific requirements and for client’s physical security. Offering a fully enclosed and customizable data infrastructure. Thus allowing clients to directly connect within the data centre and to other NourNet internal exchanges. Particularly well suited to provide quick, direct access to partners and cloud providers and especially financial and other network ecosystems.
As well as by offering an ultra-high-security access control. Including biometric & alarmed access, fire retardant, 24X7 CCTV surveillance, a fully backed-up archival system, and motion detection sensors. Clients can even request to monitor their personal data cabinets remotely via CCTV coverage.
Whilst back-up power supply is ensured via a dual generator and dual modular power systems fed from two different substations. Thereby ensuring that each cabinet or collocated equipment is powered by two independent power sources.
As Nournet’s CEO Amjad Hafez outlined, “Security plays a big role so if you want to reach your hosting space you have to pass through at least five levels of security. We also have a business continuity set-up for customers to utilise in case of a disaster and the most important asset we have is that all operators are there in that neutral carrier set up.”
For further client piece-of-mind there is a comprehensive and fully integrated data centre monitoring system. Continually tracking critical environmental and atmospheric conditions such as; temperature, humidity, liquid water presence, power, intrusion and smoke. All underpinned by a comprehensive multi-point data center Incident management process and overseen by highly skilled technicians.
So what are some of the benefits of outsourcing and colocation?
NourNet offers a purpose-built facility for enterprises to place their business- critical IT equipment. They have built their facilities to ensure 100% uptime, security and reliability. Whilst offering a turnkey, cost-effective, safe & permanent solution to businesses of almost all sizes and with a vastly reduced IT infrastructure & management cost.
Amjad Hafez put forward Nournet’s overall aims as they seek to, “transition from offering basic infrastructure services to being a fully managed ICT player. The company considers the datacentre to be on the cusp of these connectivity services.”