Maqboul Salim Al Wahaiby, General Manager, Oman Data Park talks about the benefits of outsourcing IT related services to a local company.
Can you give us a brief background of Oman Data Park and its services?
Oman Data Park is a managed service provider which started in 2012. The company provides a service portfolio starting from co-location service from within our data centres. We have cloud services and managed services. The entire service portfolio boils down to the fact that Oman Data Park’s approach is to provide information technology (IT) as a service. IT is no longer a commodity, but is measured as a utility, just like water and electricity. Oman Data Park is relieving other industries from worrying about their IT-related needs, by taking care of their IT services for them. We also provide security services like DDoS, web application firewalls etc. Security is a vital fundamental within Oman Data Park.
Oman Data Park is a joint venture between Omantel, which owns 60 per cent of the company, and NTC Group-represented by 4Trust, a leader in building data centres-which owns an enduring 40 per cent. It was during 2010-2011 that our shareholders decided to start providing cloud services and managed data services in Oman and that was how Oman Data Park came into being.
Are your services localised to Oman or do you also have clients outside Oman?
We service clients even outside Oman, a good example of that is our ERP services like SAP on the cloud. Oman Data Park has clients from GCC and other MENA countries. These clients are using ERP solutions from within Oman Data Park Centre. When it comes to cloud services, one is not limited to the boundaries of one’s nation. The only limitation is access to the internet. We also have clients from countries like Australia, UK, Denmark and other European countries on fleet management applications. These clients choose to use Oman Data Park on cloud for various reasons. One is latency; if they have a business in the GCC, they would like to host their application close to that country instead of hosting it in Australia, Denmark etc. where the latency might be an issue. Secondly, we have been able to prove that our quality is second to none both within Oman and abroad.
When it comes to cloud services, one is not limited to the boundaries of one’s nation. The only limitation is access to the internet. We also have clients from countries like Australia, UK, Denmark and other European countries on fleet management applications. These clients choose to use Oman Data Park on cloud for various reasons. One is latency: if they have a business in the GCC, they would like to host their application close to that country instead of hosting it in Australia, Denmark etc. where the latency might be an issue. Secondly, we have been able to prove that our quality is second to none both in Oman and abroad.
How has the growth of the company been since its inception in 2012?
Oman Data Park since its inception has progressed strategically thus mitigating the startup blues. The journey has been great; the market has received the services offered by Oman Data Park in a very optimistic way. Clients have started realising that they have an opportunity to focus on their business and let Oman Data Park take care of the operational aspects of their IT infrastructure. For example, if you are an oil and gas company or a construction company, you are more focused on your business rather than handling IT needs. This is what drives Oman Data Park’s service in a constructive manner. On a year-on-year basis, our revenue has been growing by a minimum of 30-40 per cent.
This 30-40 growth is coming on a low base. Going forward, do you expect to sustain this kind of a progress?
I would like to say, ‘yes’. While everyone has been facing some challenges due to the economic situation (low oil prices), we expect Oman Data Park to do even better, because this is an occasion for us. Given the economic conditions, nobody would like to invest in a capex model; they would judiciously favour spending on an operational expense, so that they pay as and when they require, probably on a monthly or quarterly basis for three to five years. This empowers them to manage their cash flow when they are receiving the best out of their total cost of ownership over that period of time. It is here that Oman Data Park becomes an attractive option in this kind of an economic situation. I would encourage both the private and public sectors to outsource their IT services to Oman Data Park, as this will enable them to save upto 45 per cent on IT services and HR costs over three to five years.
There are multinational companies which are providing the same kind of service as Oman Data Park. Why should clients use your services?
These global corporations are big players and we see them as contributing to Oman Data Park’s journey. We are working closely with Microsoft and other big players to enrich Oman’s market. What distinguishes Oman Data Park is the localisation of data. So whoever has a concern about having their data out of the country, can be reassured by outsourcing it to us. Oman Data Park is a great option for such clients, as we provide them with rich cloud services, and it is all localised in Oman. Secondly, as we are a local company, clients can actually come and discuss their concerns and requirements with us face-to-face, unlike international firms where you don’t see them or you do not know as to where they are located around the globe.
Can you name some of the big clients that you work with?
We have more than 190 clients so far, and we offer them different services, starting from simple ones like providing them with domain names and web hosting, e-mail services, managed services to co-location and cloud services. Amongst banks we work with alizz bank, Bank Nizwa and Bank Sohar. In the oil and gas sector, we have ORPIC, Occidental Oman and Oman Oil exploration. In telecom, we have Omantel. These are some of our big clients. In addition, we have a number of mid-size and small clients.
You mentioned about having a solution for SMEs. Can you tell us more about it and how it is
We have signed an MoU with Al Raffd fund for providing SMEs with a couple of services like ERP, CRM, financial modules and applications like payroll, finance, webhosting and domain names at very special prices. We signed another MoU with the SME authority or Riyada in 2015 and we are working with both these organisations to enrich the SME market with as much cloud services as possible, to help them in their journey by making them viable and effective. Unfortunately, we have not got many companies onboard in the SME space; hence we would like to encourage the micro and the SME companies in Oman to take advantage and make use of these packages offered by Oman Data Park.
Are you looking at adding more products and services to your line-up this year or in the coming year?
Oman Data Park’s drive will continue to sustain, improve and continue innovating with a different set of solutions in cloud services, managed services or co location services. Innovation is a core value for the company. Innovation is a core value for the company, and we will continue to innovate, as that is the only way to enrich the market in Oman. We are also working on packaging some interesting sets of services for the consumers. In addition, we are also looking at getting into the consumer space as well.
What are the challenges that you foresee in Oman?
I think awareness is the key aspect; if you know that there is a solution that will make your life easier, you will surely consider it. So awareness is something that we need to keep pushing, particularly in the SME market as there are some tools that they might want to utilise to excel and be profitable. We also need to raise awareness about the fact that IT is a tool which improves their business and helps them to get better planned. People are ready to invest on IT; they just need to know the return on investment and the cost of ownership.
What kind of support services do you offer to clients?
We sign service level agreement (SLAs) with our clients. In the SLA, we agree on various criteria like response time, availability of infrastructure, security, 24/7 call centre etc. These parameters are within the broad framework of the SLA.