This surge in offerings has largely been driven by the arrival in the region of Equinix, a provider of carrier-neutral data centres. Equinix essentially builds and operates the physical infrastructure of a data centre, and then sells the space to carriers, cloud providers and managed services vendors, who use the infrastructure to offer cloud services to their own customers, as well as enterprises who wish to use the space to set up their own private cloud.
Equinix operates in 31 strategic markets around the world, and counts 900 carriers amongst its customers. It announced its presence in the Middle East in November last year, when it also revealed an alliance with du, one of the UAE's leading telcos.
The data centre, based in Dubai, officially opened on January 1st 2013, and since then has brought 11 carriers into its "transit zone", which acts as the heart of the data centre. Those carriers include global tier 1 providers bringing large connectivity to the region, as well as Middle East players looking to boost regional distribution.
"It was a good first half-year," says Jeroen Schlosser, Managing Director, Equinix MENA. "We've built up a good team and good momentum in carriers."
Schlosser says he believes Equinix's position as the first carrier-neutral data centre provider in the Middle East is creating an environment where regional cloud companies can be successful.
"That's what we aim to achieve in this region," he says. "We see the demands and we believe that we can create the place for them to grow.
"We see cloud as one of the significant growth drivers of the Internet and of our data centres, so that's what we recognise in the Middle East, and that's one of the reasons why we moved into this hub position because we believe in the UAE we can create, with our international carrier base, a hub position for cloud providers to be successful in this region."
Whilst Equinix provides the necessary tools for regional cloud providers to grow, it is ultimately down to them to capitalise on the market opportunity; an opportunity which has grown even bigger with Middle East cloud business being driven away from the dominating American powerhouses.
Government surveillance is of course not unique to the US. All countries watch Internet traffic, but what varies is how transparent they are about it. Indeed, Middle East entities have historically had little qualms with revealing the extent of their own surveillance.
Furthermore, if enterprises assume their data is accessible by the state in which it is stored, they'll likely feel more comfortable with that being the state where they are based, and which is open about its access.
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