ODP CEO featured in Leaders of Oman publication

MUSCAT, October 2020

With his great engineering skills and a passion for innovation, Maqbool al Wahaibi has brought an outstanding contribution to the digitalization of Oman. An early contributor to e-government initiatives in Oman, he brings a deeper perspective on the digital transformation for business and society than most technology executives. After finishing his higher studies in the UK, Mr. Al Wahaibi started his career in the government sector, where he was deeply involved in projects which aimed to move most of the manual, offline procedures of public sector department online in order to increase efficiency. During that time, he helped government agencies such as the Royal Oman Police, Information Technology Association (ITA), and Justice Departments, re-engineer their processes, digitalize their services, and build a secure online infrastructure. As Oman slowly aligned itself with the global trends in digitalization, Mr. Al Wahaibi realized that there was still something missing from the market — local cloud storage services — and he decided to be part of that change. In 2012, Mr. Al Wahaibi was part of the Founding members that established Oman Data Park, the company he leads today.

Oman Data Park (ODP) offers online data storage services, web hosting, and cyber-security services. Before ODP came to the market, any company that needed to store its data had to either have its own data centre or use foreign platforms like Amazon or Google, which store the data on their servers abroad. According to Mr. Al Wahaibi, it’s much safer for Omani companies to store data inside the country, and it saves them money as well. Local data storage also allows them to offer better quality services to their customers. As with any new service, people were reticent at first, and it was a challenge to convince them that there is a better alternative on the market, so ODP ran several awareness campaigns.

The first client willing to trust ODP with its data was Nizwa Bank, a remarkable achievement considering the high standards in data security required by the banking industry. Today, ODP has 12 banks among its long list of satisfied customers, which now totals more than 500 companies from a range of industry sectors. Aside from Omani companies, ODP has also started attracting international corporations as well which are using its cloud services for their local branches.

ODP partners with global technology leaders like Microsoft, Cisco, Dell EMC, VMWare and Fortinet, among other well-known companies. A notable part of ODP’s activity is done in partnership with Omantel, for which ODP jointly with Omantel develops bundled solutions that allow Omantel to create value-added services for its customers.

This year, ODP has launched three new major products and services: Professional Services as a Service — which includes consulting and technical assistance in helping client companies move their data into the cloud — a virtual data center offering named Nebula, a localized Microsoft Azure stack and a Cyber Security Centre offering. As Mr. Al Wahaibi highlights, most of ODP’s products and services were created as a result of customer demand, and he believes an important part of running a business is listening to customers and tailoring your offering to their needs. “We are very close to our customers. After all, they are in our data centres. They live with us,”he says.

ODP now has three data centres – two in Muscat and one in Duqm. As the Duqm Industrial area keeps developing, Mr. Al Wahaibi is hoping that the data centre there will encourage more investors to establish their business in the area and focus on their core activities while their data is safely managed by a trusted partner like ODP.

ODP’s CEO says its strategy is to grow fast, and for that to happen it needs to expand outside of Oman, first in the GCC region, and then globally. No specific plans have been made yet in regard to specific locations, but Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are being considered as potential next steps.

Outside his role as an entrepreneur, Mr. Al Wahaibi is also working hard to support the development of the technology sector through better education with his involvement on the boards of two organizations that aim to bridge the gap between academia and the private sector. Every year, two or three engineering students are sponsored to create projects under the close supervision of ODP. In addition to that, ODP offers training for students in the fields of cloud computing and software engineering by teaching them in-house for several months. As Mr. Al Wahaibi explains, even if they decide to take jobs at other companies after their training, the important thing is that there will be more competent people in the sector, which helps the country as a whole.

In terms of overall technology adoption, Mr. Al Wahaibi believes that Oman still has a long way to go when it comes to building a sustainable technology industry, but that it’s definitely on the right path. In his view, the introduction of local cloud services has not only helped companies store their data, but it has also contributed to developing a new sector, building new competencies locally, creating new jobs, and therefore boosting the economy and promoting economic sustainability.

For Mr. Al Wahaibi, working at ODP has allowed him to use his engineering experience to bring innovation to Oman, but it has also allowed him to enter the business world and expand his horizons. “It was a dream come true,”he proudly says. Maqbool Al Wahaibi managed to create a market completely from scratch, and he is determined to keep exploring new possibilities which will help build a better future for Oman.

Affiliations, Awards & Honors

Technology Person of the Year, 2018

Data Masters – An interview by The Business Year 2020

MUSCAT, October 2020

Oman Data Park provides outsourced ICT services, cybersecurity, and virtual data centers to help all businesses stay ahead of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

What have been the major highlights in the past year for ODP?

With the goal of diversification and gaining a competitive advantage over international players, we introduced Professional Services as a Service (PSaaS) to our portfolio. Since having begun our operations in 2012, ODP has accumulated a host of expertise both in the lines of top-notch certifications and local know-how in managing the various ICT challenges that are associated in this fast-paced, technologically-driven world. We understand that businesses of today have enough challenges focused on their growth, and we would like to address their ICT challenges through our PSaaS through offering advocacy and consultations for infrastructure, software, disaster recovery, back-up, collocation, monitoring and classical services, so that businesses can focus on their core services. The banking sector, as well as the public sectors, have shown great interest in outsourcing as much as possible to reduce operational costs, and our PSaaS are at the forefront in guiding them to the right decisions. 2019 was also when we introduced our Cyber Security Centre, the first of its kind in Oman. Implementing a key element of our diversification strategy, ODP’s Cyber Security Centre helped in turning a costly center into a profit-making center by sharing our knowledge with clients based on our three data centers. Security sits in the DNA of ODP, and the trust element is our competitive advantage in the cybersecurity field. For now, many of these cybersecurity initiatives are more reactive; however, with AI, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be more proactive, and we aim to use these industrial developments to serve our nation and our customers better. We are also proud of our engagement with Microsoft after we launched Azure Stack Services, making it another first for Oman. This introduction of such world-class cloud solutions locally means that clients can save money and can offer better quality services, since their data can now stay within Oman’s national boundaries.

What are the main implications of the first virtual data center (VDC) as a service?

We have launched Nebula, the first VDC in Oman that offers a full range of data center facilities from computing, storage, and networking to network security services on an OPEX model. Through Nebula, ODP provides data center infrastructure and facilities for rent or lease, along with the ability for customers to increase their usage requirements on demand. We offer two additional options of Nebula services: Lagoon Nebula offers a very competitive pricing model to meet the most stringent budgets, while Eagle Nebula targets entities wanting their own dedicated VDC, “5G and the Fourth Industrial Revolution will control and speed up our lives, transforming health, transport, and business operations.”

Which we can set up in less than a day and ship to customers anywhere in the world. Future plans include expanding and introducing Eagle Nebula to other Middle East countries, Africa, and eventually other international markets. The physical data center will vanish in the next 10 years, and virtual cloud data centers will take over, as we are jumping into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with 5G as the catalyst.

What will be the main implications and risks of the full adoption of IoT?

As with any technologies, such as the introduction of GSM or the internet, there are pros and cons; however, the advantages always come up top. 5G and the Fourth Industrial Revolution will control and speed up our lives, transforming health, transport, and business operations. The revolution will be real; it just needs the proper infrastructure and time. Security will be a major concern, taking into account what is happening geopolitically today. Hacking disrupts systems, and, without an empowered cyber security in place, data can easily be compromised. The role of the government will thus be more shaped around the legislative aspect, to ensure this sector becomes more process-oriented and satisfies legal measures in terms of preserving and securing data. Data will dominate the whole world, be it from a business, economic, social, or political perspective. Data will have a deep impact, not only on assets, but also on health, which is why there needs to be proper legislative measures and an international effort mandated by international organizations around the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Oman Data Park gets Excellence in Global Cloud Based Services Award

MUSCAT, September 2020

Oman Data Park, the market leader in Managed Services and Cloud Services,was felicitated with the Excellence in Global Cloud Based Services Award in the Alam Al-Iktisaad Wal A’mal Awards 2019. Eng. Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO, Oman Data Park received the trophy on behalf of the Company from His Excellency Eng. Ahmed bin Hassan Al Dheeb, Undersecretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry in a red carpet event held recently at Hotel W, Muscat. The awards are instituted by Alam Al-Iktisaad Wal A’mal, Oman’s leading Arabic business magazine published by United Media Services (UMS).

Oman Data Park, established in 2011, offers a complete cloud solutions portfolio covering managed services, cyber security services, cloud services, co-location and professional services. Talking about the key achievements of the company, Eng. Maqbool Al Wahaibi said, “We are delighted to receive this prestigious award. It is a testimony of our consistent efforts in maintaining the leadership status in cloud based services.Our wide client base spread across Oman, rest of the GCC market, Europe and North Atlantic markets reflect our strong infrastructure, flexible choices of services and most importantly, unstinted commitment to meet customer needs 24×7.”

Oman Data Park’s managed infrastructure services are built on ITIL/V3 framework and are ISO27001:2013 and ISO 20000:2011 compliant. The 24×7 Cyber Security Centre proactively monitors and mitigates threats.

With its consistent track record over the years, Oman Data Park has been a recipient of number of awards and recognition international platforms. It is the only vendor in Oman to be mentioned in Gartner’s 2018 Hype Cycle report for IT in the GCC for Cloud Services and Disaster Recovery as a Service. It is the recipient of Fortinet’s Best Managed Security Services Partner Award 2019 in Oman. It is also the recipient of Telecom Innovation’s Cyber Security Award for 2018 in Oman.

This year ODP, in collaboration with Microsoft and Cisco, deployed Microsoft Azure Stack solutions in its facilities. A first for the Sultanate of Oman, the Microsoft Azure Stack is an extension of Microsoft’s Azure Cloud that brings the innovation of cloud computing to build and deploy hybrid applications anywhere, while meeting local data sovereignty and regulatory requirements.

In another notable achievement this year, ODP introduced Oman’s first Virtual Data Centre (VDC) – Nebula. It is at par with international VDCs. Nebula is offered locally and therefore satisfying all local government regulations surrounding customer data accompanied with strong ICT skill sets.

During the year, ODP also launched Professional-Services-as-a-Service (PSaaS) in response to a growing market need to support various businesses in their quest to modernise and improve their own information and communications technology (ICT) services. This new service is aimed at helping and guiding customers through their digital transformation in perpetration for the 4th industrial revolution and Gig economy.

In another notable achievement in 2019, ODP also received Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) certification from SISA Information Security, the payment security specialist, headquartered in India. ODP has achieved this milestone after completing the audit for its Data Centres, making them the first managed services provider in Oman to receive such a coveted certification.