The Middle East region is a fast-growing market for EMC’s cloud services, says Ted Newman, managing director, Cloud Services, Cloud/Global Services, of EMC Corporation.
“The Middle East is definitely a fast-growing region for us and we have done a number of projects in Dubai and Saudi Arabia recently, focusing on things like Smart City, data centre consolidation and hyper-cloud build outs etc. We are definitely starting to see a lot more work in the Middle East. The telecommunication providers are very advanced. We are working with them on network function virtualisation, on becoming cloud service providers, and working with the enterprises around how to optimise data centres as well as add additional cloud service capabilities etc.,” Newman told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview at the The Venetian Convention Center at Las Vegas last week.  He was in the city in connection with EMC World 2016, the company’s annual conference, attended by some 10,000 people including customers, analysts and media persons.
“We have offices in Doha, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. We have worked with a few government entities and some military in the region, but I am not sure which ones I can mention publicly. We have operations in the entire Middle East and North Africa region, besides the Europe and the US,” Newman said.
Asked to explain the nature of cloud services EMC provides in the region in detail, Newman said: “The service that my team provides are professional services in the region. We also impart cloud services offered by vCloud Air and Virtustream. We work with enterprises on a direct basis where we come and set up projects for them. But the cloud portfolio that we have created has a number of different delivery vehicles ranging from technology implementation, consulting and professional services, to residency services where we come in and provide wall-based assistance for a while and finally mandate services, which are SLA- (service level agreement) based services.
“The way customers contract with us are for projects or walls, or through SLAs and on top of that we have our portfolio which tries to provide a lifecycle approach to helping customers transform their IT service, utilising hyper-cloud as an accelerator. We help them understand their current application portfolio, the status of their organisation and their infrastructure and a build a business case for change. We help them implement a hyper-cloud solution, and optimise that solution and integrate them into the enterprise and finally we help them manage and maintain it.”
How cost-effective are the cloud services that EMC offers in the region and how do the service providers benefit from them?
“From a cost perspective, if you are an enterprise with several thousand virtual machines, you can actually be more cost-efficient than public cloud providers, because you have the scale. But it’s very efficient in terms of the services that we offer to help customers become brokers. By that I mean, giving IT the ability to provide services to businesses from both on-premises and off-premises service providers. That’s what we are trying to enable as a key part of our consulting services.”
What are measures the company has taken to mitigate security concerns that clients may have of its cloud services in the region?
“There are a couple of things that we work with in terms of being able to offer solutions for encryption for data inflight or data arrest, both onsite and offsite. We work with a number of service providers to help them design solutions to meet security compliance requirements. We also have a number of products and solutions on premises for that purpose. And then we have consulting services that will help a customer design and implement a management orchestration layer that delivers on security and compliance by policy, regardless of the endpoint. So, the key part of the security concerns is understanding the application portfolio well enough, to know what applies to a particular application, and therefore where that application can live. So we are trying to help the customers define a profile for applications that are appropriate to move outside, versus being onsite to address the security concerns.”
Does the client come to know where his/her data is being stored? Which country or server they go into?
“That really depends on what sort of cloud service they are availing and their contractual relationship with us. From our services perspective, we focus on trying to help the customers develop policies that apply to various applications and profiles. We help them analyse their application portfolio and identify what are the security or compliance requirement that might preclude an application from moving to a particular country and put in place some processes to ensure that it doesn’t happen. The migration does not take place in such cases.”
What are the major advantages of a public cloud as opposed to private cloud? 
“There are some capability differences due to the way they are designed. But the primary differences are who owns the primary infrastructure and how the clouds are defined and consumed. We are trying to get parity between the two in terms of the capabilities. We are not there yet. But the public cloud has an operating model and infrastructure that is optimised for providing consumable services, but enterprise IT in private clouds isn’t just there yet in terms of being able to deliver those kinds of capabilities.”
What does EMC tell the new clients who want to take up the company’s services?
“For prospective clients, we think that the combination of our products and solutions for their services are the best approach to implementing a hyper cloud for them. We have a lot of experience with our largest customers, developing and implementing hyper clouds and maintaining them for them; those are incorporated back into our engineering processes for new products and services. We know how to very quickly stand up these capabilities. We follow the best practices in terms of optimising our application portfolio in the clients’ operating models and take advantage of the capabilities that the infrastructure and software delivers, and that, we think, sets us apart from our competition.”
What does he envision for cloud services in the next five years down the line?
“Within five years, you would see IT services being consumed by APS (Application Packaging Standard) as a part of a fully automated process in which infrastructure definition application and data living in a repository and builds being done in an automated fashion, as opposed to project-based integrations to stand up the infrastructure capabilities.”