CLOUD COVER

UAE, Abu Dhabi 2014 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ibrahim Mohamed Lari, CEO of Injazat, on trends in the IT sector, involvement with the defense sector, and Abu Dhabi as an ICT hub.

How has the ICT sector in Abu Dhabi developed since Injazat's conception in 2005?

In 2005, we were leading the industry in terms of setting the pace and the scene. At that time, the market was young and difficult to penetrate; it has evolved dramatically since then, spurred on by a greater understanding and appreciation of IT outsourcing and the value of managed service providers in particular. Abu Dhabi's ICT sector has witnessed tremendous growth over the past years due to its central role in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 (Abu Dhabi 2030). The Abu Dhabi government is on a quest to establish a genuine digital society on its way to becoming one of the world's top governments in the coming years, and so a lot of focus and effort is being directed toward ICT capabilities.

How did Injazat revise its strategies during the economic downturn?

We were in the right place at the right time during the downturn. When times were really tough, capital investment, in particular start-up costs, was considered a daunting challenge. Companies that were hit by the financial crisis were looking for someone to provide them with services at a better cost. The shift toward outsourcing their IT services provided a substantial reduction in their operating costs. A unique element characterizing Injazat's portfolio of IT services is its exceptional flexibility toward customers with regards to service selection. Based on their business requirements, customers can either elect for a single managed service or choose the full gamut. This kind of adaptability has served us in good stead during the downturn.

“We uniquely combine our local specialized experts with our extensive global partnership network."

Which of your services had the most demand during this period?

Our services have been generally met with good demand during this period. Enterprises have been embracing managed services and outsourcing not only to reduce their operating costs, but also to transform business models to compete more effectively, a trend that will definitely continue to gain momentum. At Injazat, we uniquely combine our local specialized experts with our extensive global partnership network to respond to any corporate IT challenge.

How important is the IDEX exhibition, and what opportunities does Injazat see in the defense sector?

Since IDEX was established almost 15 years ago, it has grown to become one of the leading defense events in the region. IDEX 2013 was very successful for us as we partnered with several entities to deliver IT, data center, and security services that put us in a primary position in the defense field. We already provide business, consultancy, and technology-related services to several defense entities; we are working with HP and many other partners in order to deliver even more key services to the sector. We are currently planning further expansions to our defense-related technology skill sets to better support the UAE's defense initiatives, in cognizance of the dramatic growth of the defense industry.

What services are you providing to du?

We consider du as a strategic and important partner. In order for du to deliver services to its clients, it needs the 100% availability of its services, which we can provide. Under the terms of our renewed agreement, our Tier IV data center will continue to support Managed Colocation services for du's mission-critical systems. The center will incorporate standards from the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a set of IT service management practices that aligns IT services with business requirements to provide reliable, secure, and high-value 24/7 managed IT services. We are honored by the opportunity to continue hosting du's mission-critical systems via the Middle East's first Tier IV data center. We will ensure that we have the technology and the expertise to keep du online while it delivers vital telecommunications services to its customers. This partnership helps maintain a high standard of excellence in the UAE's telecommunications sector.

What trends are you seeing in the market in terms of demand for services?

Among the current trends to watch out for are big data, cloud computing, and virtualization. Big data is changing IT frameworks around the world. In 2012, 2.5 exabytes (quintillion bytes) of data were created every day; the world's technological per capita capacity to store information is estimated to have doubled every 40 months since the 1980s. The interest around the cloud, especially the private cloud, has led to large-scale virtualization adoption across the UAE. Given the affordability of virtualizing enterprise IT infrastructure, 2013 is expected to witness huge growth in the virtualization segment. In 2011, total market spending around cloud delivery (public, virtual private, and private) in the UAE stood at $15.5 million. Cloud computing will definitely continue to be a driving force for industry in the coming months. Among the things that set Injazat apart from other service providers in terms of these trends is our ability to deliver secure end-to-end services to our clients.

How does Injazat work with the education sector in the UAE?

Education and health care are very important for the UAE, and we happen to be active in both of those sectors. Injazat already has a contract with the UAE's Ministry of Education to deliver IT Helpdesk Support services to the Ministry's headquarters and the educational zones of Dubai and the northern Emirates. Apart from delivering services to the education sector, Injazat believes in the importance of instilling the value of technology and its influence on society at an early age. We engage in various initiatives that emphasize the important link between technology and the UAE's social and economic development. Injazat regularly extends training, sponsorship, and partnership programs to leading local universities in this regard. For instance, this year we were actively involved in a conference on big data systems in cooperation with New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi Institute and the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. We also work closely in collaboration with Zayed University and Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) to host their students at our company and sponsor their technology-related events.

How can Abu Dhabi develop itself as a regional hub for ICT?

The UAE has been quite successful in positioning itself as a business and knowledge hub in recent years. As a result, the country has witnessed an increase in global organizations expanding their footprint in the region and selecting the UAE as their regional headquarters. The government has played a crucial role in supporting new initiatives to help foster innovation and entrepreneurship to support the knowledge-based economy to complement the UAE Vision 2021 and Abu Dhabi 2030 plans. From an IT perspective, the UAE has emerged as a very attractive IT market in the region, with local and multinational service providers here offering high-quality services with adequate support for local and global customers. Managed services and data center services in particular are on the rise, as we have also observed organizations from neighboring countries utilizing UAE-based data center providers for their infrastructure hosting and disaster recovery requirements. Injazat is well positioned to both respond to an increasingly competitive business landscape and the expanding IT needs of an evolving government. Our unique blend of local expertise and global partnerships allows us to develop and deploy solutions that are timely, cutting edge, and customer-centric. We have earned a respected place in local industry that we intend to take further into the regional and international arenas.

How can e-government contribute to more efficient services?

Abu Dhabi has a strong commitment to developing an e-enabled, service-oriented government. In its e-government vision, the Abu Dhabi government's ambition is to become a “high-performance government delivering world-class services to the benefits of all its customers." This vision translates into various focus and design themes for the e-government strategy, including a focus on end users and efficiency and a comprehensive and cross-government design. Injazat is currently working with many governmental entities to build sharing services. That is another area that can improve services in a more efficient way. In this regard, Injazat has raised the benchmark for all IT services providers and intends to continue playing a vital role in the evolution of the region's dynamic IT services sector.

© The Business Year - July 2013