DUBAI, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- The oil-rich Gulf countries are mostly advanced in using big data solutions and cloud computing but more awareness is needed to unlock the technology's true potential, industry experts told Xinhua.
Once regarded as a desert in state-of-the-art information technology, the Gulf Arab region is moving rapidly into the new world of big data.
Speaking at a conference last Tuesday in Dubai, Patricia Florissi, vice president of U.S. computer storage giant EMC Corporation said as companies in the Gulf countries mushroomed, demand for big data storage solutions soared in recent years.
Cloud computing, an outsourced data service, is used by many entities to avoid the expensive use and management of hard and softer ware at their own premises.
According to U.S. research firm Frost & Sullivan, the market for data centers in the Gulf region generated revenues of 231.7 million U.S. dollars in 2012 and the number is poised to hit 706.3 million U. S. dollars by 2018.
Gautam Jain, a senior official at British bank Standard Chartered that has ample presence here, said his bank started to use cloud computing based on Oracle software, adding "more awareness has to be promoted among market participants and customers that cloud computing is not insecure, but efficient and cost-effective."
According Vinod Viswanath, head of cloud services at Dubai- based CEM Business Solutions, said cloud computing was not only for big entities but also for small and medium enterprises (SME). "An outsourced storage solution ... can save a Dubai-based SME trading firm up to 200,000 U.S. dollars per year. It reduces IT vulnerability and can save one full-time employee."
He said Dubai, home to tens of thousands of trading firms, is at the forefront of Arab cloud computing. His company CEM is based in Dubai Internet City, the Middle East's biggest free zone for IT firms where blue chips like Microsoft, HP and Huawei run their Middle East headquarters.
While EMC's market share in the Untied Arab Emirate grew from 37.7 percent in 2010 to 42.5 percent in 2012, other market participants such as China's Huawei and United States' Dell have also entered the Gulf region by offering cloud solutions and external data storage services.
According to an EMC survey conducted in the Middle East, 87 percent of IT decision makers regard big data solutions as a tool to make better decisions, 45 percent regard it as essential to stay competitive.
Florissi said EMC's development in the Gulf region was just at the beginning, adding economic growth in the oil-rich Gulf region "will lead to more workloads and this will drive storage innovation."