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.
“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.”
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.