They say finding a needle in a haystack is hard, but have you tried finding clouds in Saudi Arabia?
While it's true that cloud adoption in Saudi Arabia is not as widespread as it is in some other countries, the Saudi market has paid close attention to global cloud trends and developments, resulting in a more mature market than one might expect, filled with unique opportunities and challenges for businesses looking to embrace the cloud.
Because Saudi Arabia is relatively late to the cloud race, it has the unique advantage of being able to learn from other countries that have already adopted cloud technology. Therefore, Saudi Arabia is in an excellent position to catch up quickly, building off the knowledge and experience of other nations rather than having to start from scratch.
Cloud Revolution: Where Saudi Arabia Stands Today
Saudi Arabia is actively promoting the adoption of cloud computing, and those efforts are showing results. The cloud computing market in Saudi Arabia has been steadily growing, with annual spending on public cloud services projected to reach $2.5 billion by 2026, a CAGR of 25%.
In 2019, the Saudi Arabian government launched the Saudi Cloud Strategy to promote the use of cloud computing. The strategy aims to expedite the adoption of cloud computing in both public and private sectors, enhance cybersecurity, and create new employment opportunities. The Saudi Cloud Strategy aligns with Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020, aiming to revolutionize the Kingdom's economy and society.
On April 14, 2023, "H.R.H"., the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, launched the Cloud Computing Special Economic Zone to align with Saudi Vision 2030's goals of improving the ICT and innovation infrastructure in Saudi Arabia to position the Kingdom as a regional tech hub.
Saudi Arabia's forward-thinking regulatory policies – such as CST's Cloud Computing Regulatory Framework (CCRF) , KSA Cloud First Policy by MCIT and the National Cybersecurity Authority's Cloud Cybersecurity Controls (CCC) – are paving the way for more widespread cloud adoption.
Exciting trends have emerged due to these policy-making efforts, such as:
- The announcement of a $18 billion (USD) data center strategic plan by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT).
- The establishment of new cloud regions into Saudi Arabia by cloud service providers like Oracle, Google Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, and SAP.
- The introduction of incentives by the KSA aimed at encouraging cloud service providers to invest in the country and establish the nation as an operational hub.
Race to the Clouds: Saudi Arabia's Growing Cloud Market
The Saudi Arabia cloud services market is highly competitive, with major players like Google, AWS, Microsoft, and Oracle competing for market share. These companies are investing heavily in research and development, product innovation, strategic partnerships, and acquisitions to maintain their competitive edge. They strive to offer customers lower latency and enable them to store their data in the country.
Alongside the major cloud service providers, several local ones have emerged in Saudi Arabia, such as STC Cloud, Zain Cloud, and Mobily Cloud. Currently, 21 service providers ranging from Class A to C are listed on the Communications, Space & Technology Commission website. Moreover, nine more cloud providers are in the process of meeting the necessary qualifications to offer cloud services in the Kingdom.
Some of the cloud providers and partnerships fuelling Saudi Arabia's cloud transformation include:
- Oracle's hyperscale data center in the Neom Smart city.
- Google's partnership with Saudi Aramco to bring Google Cloud Services to the country.
- SAP and MCIT's agreement to explore the usage of SAP cloud services and software.
- Alibaba Cloud and Saudi Telecom Company’s partnership in 2020 to provide cloud services in Saudi Arabia.
- Microsoft's announcement this year to expand cloud regions through the creation of the Saudi Arabia Data Center.
Fortifying the Cloud: Security Measures for the Digital Future
Cloud security is critical to any cloud transformation journey. To safeguard critical infrastructure from cyber threats, Saudi Arabia passed the Cybersecurity Law in 2019. This law requires all cloud service providers to meet security and compliance certifications. While cybersecurity threats remain, Saudi Arabia maintains its focus on staying ahead of the curve by focusing on cloud security.
At the onset of the global pandemic, cybersecurity threats surged globally and in Saudi Arabia. Due to the limitation of on-premise IT systems, many organizations focused on migrating to the cloud but overlooked critical cybersecurity measures in the rush to adapt. Organizations are once again prioritizing cybersecurity, and the market value of cloud services is expected to increase significantly with cloud security programs becoming more efficient at mitigating threats. The predicted growth indicates a strong trend towards cloud adoption in the coming years.
Clouds on the Horizon: A Cloud-Driven Future
Many factors are driving cloud growth in Saudi Arabia, including the need for digital transformation, cost reduction, and increased efficiency. Between support from the Saudi government and the introduction of major global players into the market, Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to benefit from the many advantages of the cloud.
The emergence of local cloud providers alongside global players offers businesses within the Kingdom increased competition and consumer choice. As more options become available, these service providers must maintain their commitment to cloud security.
As part of an ongoing commitment to driving cloud adoption in Saudi Arabia, Wipro intends to set up a Cloud Center of Excellence in the region. The center will be equipped with the latest tools and cloud technologies and staffed by highly skilled cloud experts. The goal is to provide a platform for Saudi Arabian businesses to access world-class cloud computing services and expertise, thus enabling them to accelerate their digital transformation journey.
Wipro is also investing in bringing the Topcoder platform to Saudi Arabia. Topcoder is a crowdsourcing platform for training and equipping local talent with the skills required for emerging technologies, including cloud transformation. By tapping into the local talent pool, Wipro aims to play a vital role in developing a robust cloud ecosystem in Saudi Arabia and fostering a culture of innovation and technology.
The future of the cloud looks bright in Saudi Arabia. From investments by the Saudi Arabian government to commitments from major and local cloud service providers, it’s an incredible time filled with opportunities to invest in Saudi Arabia’s cloud infrastructure.
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