THE CLOUD

Oman 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS: DIGITAL ECONOMY IN THE CLOUDS

Both the government and private companies are looking to develop Oman's cloud services as a means to improve communication and increase customer satisfaction.

Today, cloud services allow public and private institutions to enhance their digital capabilities, allowing them to centralize their storage and applications, having a significant cost-effective impact on their budgets, while managing their internal as well as their external information in one place. This is also true on the customers' side, whose practices to reduce IT costs now involve the use of the cloud-based services and products to store their data, allowing for a faster and easier way to manage and access business and personal information anytime and anywhere.

The success of cloud services in Oman is highly interconnected with the access and reliability of high-speed connectivity offered across the Sultanate. In this regard, Oman's Information Technology Authority (ITA) has signed a fiber-optic contract with Oman Broadband Company to connect all government offices. Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi, CEO of ITA, spoke exclusively to TBY highlighting the importance of the agreement in connecting the current 63 government entities hosted by Oman Government Network (OGN), providing high-speed connectivity and linking them to the National Data Center at ITA. Following this strategy the ITA will be able to provide services 1,000 times faster than the current network in place, allowing the Authority to focus on what Dr. Al Ruzaiqi called ITA's central initiative, its cloud services. By encouraging all government institutions to use cloud-based networks, the ITA supports the introduction of modern and appropriate digital structures that are in line with current security requirements at a lower cost.

As high-speed connectivity and its role in improving user experience has helped cloud services become more attractive to governments, businesses, and the general public alike, mobility is also a variable that needs to be taken into consideration when analyzing any technological development related to the cloud. In Oman, the Sas Center for Mobile Applications Development, which was launched at the beginning of 2016, is the Sultanate's answer to boosting e-content development in the Sultanate, as well as across the GCC. With new mobile applications flooding the digital market every day, the center works as an incubator of young Omani app developers looking to use their knowledge to advance the delivery of public and private services through mobile devices using information hosted in the cloud.

Cloud services also help Oman stay in line with current technological trends that serve as social development tools for the wellbeing of the community. Health, education, as well as other public services are now being offered through cloud-hosts that enable all kind of institutions to access and share patient information and health records, as well as academic courses and evaluations, in an efficient and secure way through mobile apps. As part of the development of Oman's national broadband strategy, Awasr, Oman's first specialized high-speed broadband internet provider, was created in early 2016. With the purpose of not only offering a new mode of connectivity through fiber, but to connect with cloud services and build local content for public services as well as for individuals, Awasr aims to support the move toward a digital society through the creation, storage, and sharing of content through add-on cloud services such as apps that reach all levels of the Omani society.

As users keep demanding faster and friendlier digital services, the constant push of government and private institutions to provide and deliver suitable electronic services faces a challenging but manageable task ahead. On the one hand, Omani private companies are accelerating their digital transformations through the adoption of digital platforms offered by technology heavy weights, such as IBM, whose MobileFirst, and Cloud platforms have been chosen by Bank Sohar to provide advanced mobile services and improve costumers' experience. On the other hand and through the fiber network, the Omani government will be able to standardize its services all across the Sultanate, allowing public organizations to enhance their quality of service, while maintaining customer satisfaction; hence promoting an increasingly organic acceptance of cloud-based services among the population.