Dubai: Security remains an overwhelming concern for the take-up of cloud services in the United Arab Emirates, with customers preferring private cloud services over public.

Basil Ayass, Marketing Director Middle East at Dell, said customers are electing for private cloud services because they do not want to lose control and security, ultimately the biggest obstacle for public cloud services.

Private cloud services are created for a sole organisation whereas the public cloud is delivered over an open network and can store several organisations data.

“We see a pick-up for the private cloud in the government space and larger enterprise space,” Ayas said.

Unlike small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) or start-ups, customers with large IT and data centres won’t go public because they have already heavily invested in the infrastructure. The smaller companies will look to offload their web hosting and email to a public cloud so they can focus on their core business.

Deepak Narain, Senior manager–Systems Engineering at VMware, said that private cloud services gave customers the control they needed over their data.

“We see a lot of people going for private cloud because they want all the flexibility but are not comfortable to let go of control,” he said.

Ayass said that the problem was that consumers believe that they’re losing security by handing over their data to a cloud provider. But according to Ayass this is no different to someone placing their salary with a bank — protecting the organisation’s data is a cloud provider’s core concern.

Eyaad Shihabi, Managing Director, HP Middle East, said the company had experienced high percentages of customers adapting to private cloud services. The challenge for public clouds in the UAE and region was that current products did not offer what was demanded by small companies, who want an all-in-one cloud bundle that provides them with simplicity.

According to Shihabi, service providers in the region have dropped the ball because they’re unable to offer public cloud products that deliver confidence and strong services.

Another challenge is the legal framework surrounding cloud services. Ayass said the government had two roles two play in enhancing the take up of cloud in the UAE. He said that the legal framework needs to be set out to protect the customer if the cloud provider goes bankrupt or if there is a security breach of the data.

The other challenge is that several companies want to store their data locally — preferably in country. Data comes under the regulations and legislations it is stored in. If at UAE-based company stores their data in Europe or the United States then European Union law or US law comes into effect.

Ayass said that the UAE should look to build and fund its own cloud making it easier for government entities to take up cloud services.

Narain agrees that there is significant demand in the market for local data centres.

“We see the cloud becoming a local game, with people trusting data centres in region or in country,” he said.

Abdul Rahman Al Thehaiban, Vice President Oracle Middle East & Africa, said that there was a huge market potential for organisations to deliver both private and public cloud products.

He said that the regional take-up of cloud services has been promising and should not be compared to other markets

“The adaption to cloud is faster than earlier technology and this shows we’re in a market that is mature,” he said.