The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman. Photo credit: Ben Mack
In July, we reported on Omantel and Equinix teaming up to deliver data centre and interconnection services to customers in the Middle East through the development of a new network-dense data centre in Oman - and whether such a move meant Oman was becoming the Next Big Thing when it comes to data centres. Now, Sohail Qadir, vice president of Wholesale at Omantel Wholesale, discusses what comes next - not just for Omantel and data centres in Oman, but data centres around the world.
CommsMEA: Following your deal with Equinix, are there plans for more data centres?
Sohail Qadir: Today, we are focused on working with Equinix to develop our joint venture and build a world-class interconnection hub in Oman. This is our primary goal in addition to all of the infrastructure development we are involved with locally and around the world. As an increasing number of regional and global businesses recognise the advantages of having presence in Oman, we will look at developing new data centre spaces in Oman.
There are a number of reasons why Oman is a great location for a data centre hub. First off, Oman has one of the most friendly and open business cultures in the Middle East. We enjoy working with businesses from across the Middle East and the world. They come to Oman and see how unique our culture is and how welcoming our people are.
We are also blessed with unique geography that places ideally between Asia, Africa, Europe and the rest of the Middle East. This means that businesses that use our data centre and network infrastructure have ultra-low latency access to key global markets. Ultra-low latency is critical to the deployment of global Cloud, Content and Next-Gen Communications solutions. It enables an optimised user experience, which is critical to the growth of these services on a global scale.
What makes Oman an ideal place to open data centres?
For many of the reasons I mentioned but also the connectivity options. Omantel Wholesale has investments in 20 subsea cable systems globally and terrestrial infrastructure connecting it to its neighbours in the Middle East. Our global network can connect you to China, East Africa and onward to hubs like Marseille in France.
When a service provider or enterprise chooses to have presence in Oman, they have an ultra-low latency jumping off point for rolling out services globally. We’re removing barriers to the adoption of truly global Cloud services and making rapidly developing markets accessible from one place.
I’m very excited about building a data centre in Oman because more global businesses will be able to experience and benefit from all that Oman has to offer.
What are some specific challenges for running data centres in Oman? I imagine the heat/power usage is a challenge?
For us, it was important to find the right partner. Equinix is a world-leader in data centres globally and has a proven track record of understanding local needs. The team at Equinix has experience in the Middle East and across the globe so we felt like together we could bring this vision to life. In terms of cooling and power usage, these are always challenges no matter where you operate. When you launch a project like this you have to look at each unique circumstance and create a plan that will meet challenges and ultimately deliver for end users. That’s what really matters.
What is the importance of data centres in the world today?
At Omantel, we see an opportunity to host more Cloud, Content and Next-Gen Communication solutions in Oman and give local end users the best possible experience. That is critical to us. We are developing world-class infrastructure in Oman to give end users world-class experience.
The second part is to support the growth of global ICT services and enable apps and services to be hosted and connected with one seamless infrastructure. We have built an impressive global network that connects both developed and high-growth markets. The addition of world-class data centre infrastructure to our offerings means that we can simplify and accelerate how our customers can connect at home and abroad.
In a way you can say, we’re connecting and optimising your apps and services at home and work. It’s that simple.
What do you see as the future of data centres?
We come from the connectivity and services side of telecoms so we’re very comfortable in the networking world. Data centres are increasingly looking to develop their connectivity options and become connectivity hubs. Equinix is doing this as are other data centre operators across the world. It is no longer a real estate business. Data centres are becoming connected hubs that offer more than rack space. That is being driven by the Cloud and it will only accelerate. There will be more partnerships between data centre operators and network-centric businesses and that will benefit global businesses.
If there’s one thing you’d like people to know about data centres, what would it be?
It is very simple. World-class data centre infrastructure enables a world-class end user experience. These kinds of developments enable the apps and services of the future and are the lifeblood of global ICT.