Sammy Zoghlami, the Senior Vice President for EMEA at Nutanix, speaks about the cloud trends in the MEA region
What is the current state of hybrid cloud adoption worldwide and what cloud trends are you seeing in the Middle East and Africa region?
As per the global findings of Nutanix’s fifth global Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) survey and research report, the majority (60%) of IT teams leverage more than one IT infrastructure, whether it is a mix of private and public clouds, multiple public clouds, or an on-premises datacenter along with a hosted datacenter. That number is expected to grow to nearly three quarters (74%) in the near future. However, this leads to challenges and 94% say they’d benefit from having a single place to manage applications and data across diverse environments.
In the Middle East and Africa region, there is certainly growing momentum in the cloud space. According to Business Market Insights’ research, the Middle East and Africa cloud computing market was valued at $17,813.65 million in 2022 and is expected to reach $54,235.27 million by 2028, registering an annual growth rate of 20.4% from 2022 to 2028. Countries in the GCC are setting their cloud policies on a government and national level, keen to make their infrastructures and services digital to create Smart Cities.
When it comes to hybrid cloud adoption in the MEA region, although there are no research figures for the overall region, Nutanix’s Saudi findings from its latest Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) survey throw up some interesting facts that might represent the larger region. Less than half of Saudi companies (45%) currently use multiple IT modes. This is substantially lower than the global average (60%). The figures indicate that enterprises in the country are in the nascent phases of their digital transformation and cloud-migration journeys. However, they plan to boost their mixed-IT usage to 71% within three years, just a bit short of the expected global levels for the same time frame.
There are certain factors driving the trend toward hybrid cloud adoption. One of the main ones is the need for businesses to have a more flexible and scalable IT infrastructure that can handle the increasing amounts of data being generated, especially in the era of the hybrid workplace. Our customers continue to recognize the benefits of the hybrid cloud in terms of its scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.
Will businesses that avoid moving to a Hybrid Cloud strategy struggle to remain competitive and why?
The bottom line is that businesses that do not adopt hybrid cloud strategies will be slower in their digital transformation journey – which in turn, slows their ability to scale and be agile. A hybrid cloud allows businesses to scale up or down based on their business demands. And do it quickly. If companies are still operating in a 3-Tier infrastructure, they have reduced agility.
They are unable to respond as quickly to market changes, which is crucial in order to remain competitive. Hybrid Cloud also enables businesses to deploy new applications and services quickly, especially in industries that are more ‘digital-first’ such as smart cities, or banking (although today most industries are moving towards digital-first as a response to consumer behaviours).
Cost is something to consider as well. A hybrid cloud strategy can help businesses optimize their computing resources and reduce costs. Without a hybrid cloud strategy, businesses may find themselves spending more money on maintaining and upgrading their existing IT infrastructure.
What are the various challenges that companies typically face when it comes to cloud/hybrid cloud adoption?
I think it important to mention that there are macro factors at play here when it comes to, not just technology, but overall business challenges. We have a looming recession, the war in Europe, oil prices, and so on. These factors are posing challenges for businesses already.
With regards to hybrid cloud adoption, there are still concerns around security, data sovereignty, and most importantly skill shortage. I’ve outlined some of the main challenges below:
- IT Complexity: Hybrid cloud can increase IT complexity in terms of the number of vendors, more support needs, and more IT personnel/ teams.
- Security: 66% of IT professionals consider security to be a major challenge to cloud adoption. The reality is that public cloud service providers invest far more in their security than any individual company or government department ever could. A move to the cloud doesn’t decrease security – it increases it. Overcoming this challenge is less about new security infrastructure and more about a cultural shift. It’s about asking the question “How can my company or government department become comfortable with cloud technologies?” In our experience, the best way to do this is to start small by moving a few workloads to the cloud and seeing if you are satisfied with it.
- Vendor Lock-In: Vendor lock-in remains a serious concern for many companies. The worry is that once all systems have been moved to the cloud, the company will be bound to the same vendor even if their prices increase. This is especially relevant given the steadily decreasing costs of cloud services globally.
- Skills Gap: One of the most pressing challenges to cloud adoption is a skills gap. How can a company move to the cloud if it doesn’t have the right people to make it happen? In a 2020 PwC CEO survey, 77% of CEOs were worried about the availability of key skills. The survey also found that those organizations that focused on expanding their employees’ skills were ahead of their peers in many ways and were more confident in their future. Aside from the skills gap, it could mean an increase in IT teams. The more complex the environment, the more organizations may need to hire.
What are the steps that companies need to follow for a successful rollout of a hybrid cloud strategy?
Hybrid cloud strategies are fundamental for digital transformation as well as accelerating and sustaining growth. Businesses that accelerated quickly to the public cloud, are now realizing that it is not a one-size fits all scenario and that they may need to re-think and re-structure where they run their applications and workloads.
In the end, you must find a cloud balance in a hybrid cloud world. Choice and simplicity will be the key factors for businesses. You will need:
- To be Agile and Secure: Take your time choosing your cloud provider, and avoid vendor lock-in. Avoid the need to re-platform, and determine which workloads belong in the public cloud and which belong closer to home.
- Empower Your Employees: It is never too soon to educate and build on the skills set of today (not the future). Consider building a talent enablement program (TEP) that is designed to promote and develop necessary skills. This program can help you define skills the organization needs and improve recruiting efforts. You need to find creative ways to bridge the gap.
- Limit Your Re-Factoring of Applications: There is no need to reinvent the wheel, and in this case, it is a very costly and time-consuming endeavour to re-factor applications for the public cloud. Use the time again to determine which legacy applications should remain on-premise, and which potentially newer applications can be built for the cloud.
Can you tell us about some of the recent innovations from Nutanix?
Back in October 2022, we announced the launch of our hybrid cloud offering, Nutanix NC2. Nutanix aims at making clouds invisible by allowing organizations to have a consistent operating model across all clouds, both private and public. Nutanix NC2 is a cloud-native solution designed to simplify and streamline an organization’s digital transformation efforts by providing a true hybrid cloud solution. NC2 delivers a consistent and secure infrastructure for applications, data, and services, regardless of where they are deployed – on-premises, in the cloud, or at the edge.
We have partnered with leading cloud providers such as Azure and AWS, with more hyper scalers on the way, to allow customers who are looking to move to the public cloud, to be able to do that seamlessly. With Azure’s presence in the UAE and Qatar already, as well as the announcement of a new data center in Saudi Arabia, we are in a strong position to help our current customers and future customers adopt a hybrid cloud strategy that works.
With Azure, at the moment, we are available in selected regions in Europe with plans for regional availability in the next year. Although many of our customers are running public workloads out of region within Europe, due to strong GDPR restrictions, therefore we are still able to assist there. With AWS, we are currently available in both Bahrain and the UAE, allowing customers who are choosing AWS as their preferred public cloud provider to benefit immediately from Nutanix NC2.
What are Nutanix’s main USPs that make it stand apart from the competition and lead the market for so many years?
For many years Nutanix has been known as the leader in the HCI and legacy data center modernization space. However, today we are one of the only vendors that can do hybrid cloud – PERIOD. We are the only player that can deliver ONE platform to run an organization’s apps and manage data. Aside from this our key strengths and USPs are:
- Data Centricity: Our origins are as a data-centric company – whether it’s offering all storage types from objects to files, offering the best performance for cost, ease of data mobility, and finally, security/governance. Hybrid cloud today is more data-centric than apps, with a focus largely on data tiering, disaster recovery, and backups as the prominent use cases.
- The Power of Simplicity: Our simplicity and ease of use have been hallmarks of why customers appreciate us – they simply love the 1-click simplicity we bring to all things complex.
- Freedom of Choice: We are the antidote to vendor lock-in. We give freedom to our customers to choose which hypervisor, which hardware, and which cloud they want to use. Our belief is the choice of everything.
- Customer Experience: We pride ourselves on this USP the most. We have consistently had a Net Promoter Score (NPS) above 90 for over 7 years and have had a 97% customer satisfaction rate. We are obsessed with customer success, and it is evident in every interaction with our customers across all functions of the company.
What is Nutanix’s strategy in the next few years?
Nutanix makes Hybrid multi-cloud infinitely simple, easy to consume, and cost-effective. We want to enable our partners to help customers in their journey to the cloud. Nutanix unites public cloud simplicity and agility with private cloud performance and security. Whether on-premises or hybrid, we ensure cost-effective business continuity through unified management, one-click operations, and AI-driven automation. Thus empowering our partner ecosystem to provide the best solution to the customers depending on their needs.
With over 23,000 customers worldwide we have built the trust and transformed some of the most significant businesses across the region. Nutanix partners with leaders and innovators across major technology categories, enabling our partners to leverage over 700+ ecosystem vendors and provide delightful experiences for the multi-product solutions our customers are looking to build.
We are enabling and empowering our channel to build partner autonomy through the following:
- Optimising Partner Experience – Providing a pathway to a partner’s journey from beginning to becoming an effective contributor.
- Driving Sales Velocity – Providing insights on data they need to focus on high-value activities, keeping them armed with business trends.
- Developing Autonomous Funnel – Multi-touch digital marketing campaigns designed to generate leads and support autonomous pipeline growth.