Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO of Oman Data Park says that entrepreneurs are privileged to be provided a platform with tools to experiment and explore viable alternatives to contribute to the country’s economy

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO of Oman Data Park says that entrepreneurs are privileged to be provided a platform with tools to experiment and explore viable alternatives to contribute to the country’s economy.

A country’s healthy economy is based on a strong SME foundation. SMEs in Oman have been promoted by both the Government as well as private companies and play a mega role in employment generation. The Government’s contribution towards the micro and SMEs platform has resulted in adding to the GDP of Oman’s economy. Al Raffd Fund, SME authority and venture capitals such as Oman Tech Funds offer the necessary impetus to start the engines towards progression.

Oman Data Park commissions its Cyber Security Centre

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Oman Data Park, Oman's leading Cloud computing company, celebrated the commissioning of the company's Cyber Security Centre at Knowledge Oasis Muscat under the patronage of His Excellency Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futtaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, in the presence of senior government officials, board members, as well as CEO’s and senior management teams from its customers.

The Centre seeks to provide IT services, enhance managed security services including a 24/7 cybersecurity operations and a network operations team, managed by an elite team of experienced Omani experts.

The Centre’s two security and network operations teams hold extensive experience in dealing with various cyber threats. The enhanced focus on the newly commissioned Cyber Security Centre will further drive the company’s determination for higher security activities as well as preparation for the 4th Industrial revolution and Gig economy.

On the occasion of the Centre’s commissioning, Eng. Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO of Oman Data Park, expressed his delight at the opening of the Cyber Security Centre, adding that the centre will enhance Oman Data Park’s services and will highly contribute in strengthening the company’s position in the Sultanate as a leader in cloud computing.

Al Wahaibi pointed out the various challenges that the company has faced since launching its operations in 2012 in increasing awareness of Cloud services in the Sultanate and how the company has achieved many successes over the past years through a well-defined business plan that showcased the operational and long term benefits to be reaped by both private and government entities.

“Managed data centre services and accompanying cloud services are vital parts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution axis, whose features are already emerging on the ground, such as online shopping, robot-managed enterprises, self-automated vehicles, smart digital industries, Assets and sensitive resources, such as oilfields, power stations, logistics, aviation, banks and other sectors..

It is no secret that as technology evolves, security risks becomes high as its threats impacts are not limited at individuals and institutions, but extends to be real threat to the national security and economic resources of countries.

In order for the Sultanate to maintain its advanced position as a preferred investment destination, by enjoying the stable security and political environment that has been established by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, we must strive to continue the development of the cyber security system. Oman Data Park is determined to invest heavily in this field, along with the efforts of the competent institutions in the State, to provide digital security protection by establishing a specialized cybersecurity centre working side by side with the relevant institutions in the Sultanate.”

He further added, ” The Oman Data Park Cyber Security Centre focuses on four main areas: educational aspects through the release of free periodic reports, which contain the most important types of actual security risks, offering training courses for individuals and institutions, providing security services. The Centre will also link with other local and international centres to identify the most important potential security risks in cyberspace to reduce their occurrence in an early stage.”

Maitham Al-Lawati, General Manager of the Cyber Security Centre at Oman Data Park, showed a presentation on on ODP’s cyber security capabilities, highlighting the major attacks in 2018, such as e-mail spoofing, DDoS, targeted malware, counterfeit mobile applications, sales of stolen credentials in the black market, as well as imposition on social media, to name a few.

“The threat level is always on the rise and our customers look forward to maintaining their safety. This is why we are preparing for the future with this newly commissioned Cyber Security Centre where we will continue to offer an even more advanced level of Intelligence, protection and mitigation to our present and future clients.’’ He further thanked the supporting partners Fortinet, Cisco and MenaInfoSec for their part in enabling the cyber security offerings.

According to a new survey of risk managers and workers by the Depository Trust and the Clearinghouse Corp., the biggest threat to markets in 2019 is the threat of a cybersecurity attack. In today’s interconnected world, no business can ignore such threats as ransom demand, phishing, malware and others.

The commissioning of the Cyber Security Centre is also a celebration of Oman Data Park’s achievements as a leading player in the data centre services sector in Oman, whether it is a government company, a private company or even a small and medium enterprise operating in or outside the Sultanate of Oman. ODP is fully equipped to to serve with cost-effective and secure IT needs and lead the customer’s business into tomorrow while they comfortably focus on their core business activities. In addition, Oman Data Park partners with qualified vendors to provide comprehensive security services and threat analysis for proactive and reactive security services.

The company currently operates three Tier-3 global data centres located in the Knowledge Oasis Muscat(KOM) in Rusayl, Wattayah, and Duqm Districts. The Data Centre provides a diverse set of services such as Co-location, Managed Security, Cloud and Disaster Recovery services to name a few. At present, Oman Data Park serves a large number of businesses including major banks and oil and gas companies operating in the Sultanate.

The winner of the 2018-19 Telecom Innovations Award for Cyber Security, ODP was highlighted by Gartner as a key player in the GCC for Public Cloud Computing. The company’s services are also ISO 27001/ISO 2000 certified and PCI-DSS and EU GDPR- ready.

Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO of Oman Data Park says Ready to contribute ODP’s support to the transformation of Duqm into a smart city

Interview by:
Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Shezawi

Mr. Maqbool Al-Wahaibi, CEO of ODP, said that there are many gains for companies operating in The Special Economic Zone Authority in Duqm (SEZAD) due to the adoption of smart city applications and programs. Commenting on the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU), by SEZAD with the Korean side, for cooperation in the field of smart cities, Al-Wahaibi indicated that the adoption of intelligent systems contributes to reducing the operating cost of companies, speeding up their services and upgrading their performances. In addition, the use of innovative technological solutions in roads, port and mega projects operation, water and power networks and other services contributes to SEZAD’s development and improves the services it provides to locals, residents and investors.

In an exclusive interview with Duqm Economist, he asserted that Oman Data Park is ready to contribute to the success of this initiative. He added that the cloud data centre in Duqm is one of the enablers for such projects. “The systems operating smart cities, such as servers and data storage, need a data centre capable of achieving this goal. As the centre is ready, it will be one of the enabling elements for the implementation of projects related to smart cities,” elaborated Al-Wahaibi. “We look forward to being one of the contributors to the transformation of Duqm into a smart city and we are ready to contribute actively to these ambitions.”

More than expectations   

In his interview, Al-Wahaibi praised the level of demand for the cloud data centre in SEZAD though inaugurated only last February. “The performance of the centre since its launch and so far, exceeds our expectations. We currently have a good group of companies that benefit from its services and expect the coming period to witness an increase in their number and the joining of major companies, such as Duqm Port and Dry Dock to our clientele. SEZAD was the first client of the company, which was a real boost to our efforts,” stated CEO of ODP. He added that ODP’s vision is to make its centre of cloud data in Duqm a centre of training and qualification of national cadres in the field of cloud systems and data management, and a specialized research centre in this area.

Enhancing Duqm position at the economic and investment fronts
Al-Wahaibi touched upon the objectives of the company from establishing the cloud data centre in Duqm. “We focus on realizing three main objectives, namely, strengthen Duqm position at the economic and investment fronts, attract foreign investment, and enable companies and investments to achieve their objectives smoothly. In this way, we would contribute to the Sultanate’s strategy with regard to promoting investment. Duqm is at the forefront of the government’s interest in economic diversification and the promotion of national income, and we are honoured to be one of the contributors in this regard.”

Enable companies to focus on their business
“The presence of the data centre in Duqm enables companies to focus on their main sectors, such as ports, industry, oil and gas, logistics and other sectors while ODP takes care of the corporate ICT services, which saves about 45% of the total cost of operations. “We are keen to provide our customers with a unique and scalable infrastructure supported by the necessary management expertise while ensuring the highest level of data protection at all times,” indicated Al-Wahaibi.

Backup Data Centre
He pointed out that the third objective is to create a backup data centre that enhances the services provided by the company through its head office in Muscat. If the data of the company in Muscat faces any unforeseen events, they can obtain and retrieve them from Duqm data centre. “We have concluded an agreement with Arab Financial Services Company to use the cloud data centre in Duqm as a backup centre for it in addition to the data centre in Muscat, and there are other companies with which we will sign similar agreements in the coming period,” stated CEO of ODP.

First provider of local cloud services
ODP was the first provider of local cloud services in the Sultanate. Al-Wahaibi said that the company started its operations in 2012 through a third-generation data centre in Al-Wattaya, Muscat, providing networking services to the banking sector. Then, it established a larger and more developed centre in Knowledge Oasis Muscat to meet the growing demand from various industrial and economic sectors. “This centre is the company’s main data centre, providing network connectivity, backup and disaster recovery services, as well as a wide range of other services.” He explained that the three data centres in Duqm, Al-Wattaya and Muscat are linked to each other to provide flexibility, interconnection of data and business continuity.

Main milestones
“In 2013, we launched our first cloud services from Oman placing the Sultanate on the international cloud service providers’ map. In 2014, we set up the security operations centre to meet the needs of key sectors, such as banks, oil and gas and government units that want to protect their information assets. We are proud today that we have built a strong security team. The company offers a wide range of security services, such as email security, website security, protection against denial of service attacks, vital infrastructure, phishing attacks, and others,” explained Al-Wahaibi.

Local data centres
“Our main advantage is that we provide cloud services from within Oman, where we store data and information in the company’s three data centres here in Oman. This is similar to what is happening in many Western countries, where cloud data centres provide service within their countries for greater security for corporate data. It is regrettable that still many companies buy cloud services from outside the Sultanate.”

Miscellaneous services
Commenting on the services provided by ODP Al-Wahaibi said, “The Company currently offers more than 30 services published in the second edition of our public cloud portal. These services are advanced and diverse, including web hosting, cloud servers and security services domain names, all available in our market. Our partners in Oman and abroad can access and purchase these fully automated services from our online market without having to contact or interact with us in three to four steps. “The number of companies that benefit from our services currently is about 450, and we have international customers from Australia, South America and other GCC countries. Currently, 80% of our customers are from the Sultanate, but within the next five years, we expect more of our customers to be from outside Oman.

Ambitions of company
“We are working to be among the top 10 cloud service providers in the world by 2025. I believe that our capabilities and skills allow us to achieve this vision.“We are not only interested in providing ICT services, but we also look forward to playing a vital role in digital transformation and supporting the Sultanate’s efforts to build smart cities.”

Optimism for success
Al-Wahaibi, CEO of ODP, expressed his optimism about SEZAD success in achieving its objectives: “Our confidence in Duqm encouraged us to give Duqm its priority in expanding our cloud data centre. We have plans to establish data centres in a number of the Sultanate’s Wilayats, but our confidence in the success of Duqm has made us accelerate the establishment of this centre. “Duqm projects are carefully studied and have good goals. Many projects will be implemented and will contribute to achieving SEZAD’s objectives. Despite the global challenges, we find that SEZAD projects continue and expect Duqm to become one of the most important sectors and pillars of the national economy due to its diverse projects, such as Duqm Port, Dry Dock, Duqm Refinery and advanced infrastructure,” concluded Al-Wahaibi, CEO of ODP.