STRATEGIC GROWTH AHEAD

Oman 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

Seeking to provide the best IT facilities to its clients, Oman Data Park uses state-of-the-art technology to deliver cutting-edge services with the highest standards of reliability, security, and responsiveness.

Maqbool Al Wahaibi
BIOGRAPHY
Maqbool Al Wahaibi is the CEO of Oman Data Park, the first managed and cloud service provider in Oman, as part of the executive management and founding team to establish ODP. He previously worked with the government of Oman for over 20 years on strategic national IT initiatives and projects in the area of information security, consulting for organizations in the public sector such as the Information Technology Authority (ITA), Royal Oman Police, Ministry of Justice, and others. He holds a master’s degree in computer software engineering from the University of York and a bachelor’s degree in information technology engineering in Staffordshire University.

How have the services you perform changed over the years in reaction to market demands?

Oman Data Park commenced its operations in 2012. We initially focused on core data center services, namely the colocation services that provide space in the data center for corporations to utilize in handling their hardware. Thereafter, we introduced an additional service, namely managed services, because of the market requirements of not only hosting hardware but also managing it on companies' behalf. Over the years, we have seen a demand for localized cloud services and large corporations around the world running cloud services, though none of them were localized. Oman Data Park seized the opportunity to provide cloud services within its data center. Subsequently, we introduced a security operations center that provides corporations with managed security. All these business services were gradually developed based on the demand created either by Oman Data Park or the international market.

What security features do your data centers have that customers are requesting?

There are several diversified security services at Oman Data Park. For example, we have the DMARC service that ensures emails are more secure from various phishing attacks occurring through emails. We also provide DDoS engine to our clients where cleanup of all denials of service attacks that might happen from other parts of the world. We built this engine around a firewall that prevents such denial of service attacks. We also provide internal and external vulnerability assessments on a 24/7 basis. We monitor their infrastructure to ensure it is secure from attacks. We have three data centers, and securing data assets is a critically important function done on a day-to-day basis. In our data centers, we host the data of six banks, oil and gas infrastructure, and other critical service infrastructure, which demonstrates their trust in the investments we made for data security. We also sell services to corporations that do not host their data within Oman Data Park.

What can be changed for the IT sector to promote more international investment?

One of the main aspects of attracting investment is relaxing the regulations here as much as we can. Second, we have to position our value proposition in an aggressive and direct manner. Oman has value propositions as a nation that others do not have. It is also geographically appealing to international submarine cables—many of the world's submarine cables today land in Oman before they go anywhere else. Such value propositions attract giant cloud service providers, and by better positioning these advantages as a nation, we can attract more investors. There still needs to be a strategized roadmap toward attracting investors in a more proactive manner.

What are Oman Data Park's objectives for the next 12 months?

We are extremely established in B2B with our corporate sales and corporate deals with banks and oil and gas companies. We are pushing the cloud services in the same B2B manner, and my intention is to have online cloud services fully automated at the same level as my corporate and B2B divisions. With the launch of our Version 2 cloud services in Duqm in early 2018, the cloud services steps that we have taken so far are automated. We are currently pushing this as the next strategic revenue engine of Oman Data Park in our 2021 plan, where we want to be within the top 10 cloud service providers worldwide. We have established a solid ground locally and are now focusing more on the cloud services that we provide today, which are automated and enhanced. Another angle we are working on is to establish and strengthen the ecosystem around us. A company that wants to leap forward rapidly needs to create an excellent ecosystem around it and engage with large players. We are already doing that and are closely engaged with Cisco and Dell EMC and will soon be with Amazon.