OmniClouds' unique concept of empowering organisations to migrate into cloud services - GulfToday

OmniClouds' unique concept of empowering organisations to migrate into cloud services


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Inayat-ur-Rahman, Deputy Business Editor

OmniClouds’ unique proposition is to empower organisations to reach cloud services — or even their local and international branches — in an economical and reasonable way where they pay as per their usage.

Spread across eight countries, OmniClouds offers ICT as a service and wants to be your partner in the cloud.

This was stated by Sherif Lotfy, Vice President, Strategic Engagements MEA, OmniClouds, during an exclusive interview with Gulf Today, adding that the main concept behind OmniClouds is to provide security, connectivity and technical support to end-users.

Here is the full interview:

Q:  Can you explain briefly what the term 'cloud' refers to in the technology world?

A:  The word "cloud" often refers to the Internet, which more precisely means a Data Centre full of servers connected to the Internet performing a service. However, the term "cloud computing" refers to the on-demand availability of computer resources such as storage and computing power without the end user having direct active management on them.

In a classical technological world, every single company has its own set of applications installed on its premises at their own ‘Data Centres’, so this is what we refer to as an on-premises solutions. Now unfortunately, these solutions are very costly.

It costs a lot of money and requires a full-fledged maintenance, upgrades, updates, software and hardware compatibility issues and upgrading systems after every two or three years result on a very high capital expenditure.

If you were a big organisation, you ended up with armies of technology people to help you do your business.

Now we have moved to the cloud, which can be leased. All you need to do is pay a monthly recurring cost for the services you consume, which is basically a subscription fee in order to be able to use these services.

Q: Is cloud platform secure?

A: Yes: this is a very common question.  As far as the security is concerned most of the things are out of our physical control. No one can ensure a 100 per cent security. If this technology were not safe, then nobody would have adopted it today in the market. If we look at the market’s landscape, SAP, Microsoft 365, Google Cloud Platform, AWS, all are offering their products successfully and they would never have been able to sell their products in the market if they had not been fully secured. It is totally a misconception that cloud is not safe. The concept of security differs from one industry to the other, but generally speaking technology provides endless solutions to secure access to the applications, making sure that all of the transactions taking place in the clouds are secured to a great extent.

Meanwhile, saving documents, photos, videos and reports on a computer’s hard drive  – that’s becoming almost quaint. Today, people are more frequently saving their files in the cloud, storage space not located in their computers or devices but on servers hosted by third-party providers.

The positives of storing data and files in the cloud are many: you won’t clutter your computer. If your laptop, tablet or smartphone crashes, you’ll still have access to your files. And it will take you a long time to ever use up all the space offered by most cloud providers.

But you might have concerns about cloud computing, including data protection, security threats, and potential data loss. You might worry that all those videos, photos, and reports might be vulnerable to data breach and hackers who could break into your cloud provider’s servers.

Or maybe you worry that your provider’s servers will crash, causing all those photos of your summer vacations or videos of your children’s elementary school graduation to disappear.
Secondly, the files stored on cloud servers are encrypted. This means that they are scrambled, which makes it far harder for cybercriminals to access.

Q: Is user and enterprise data secure on cloud platforms?

A: Yes, it differs from one industry to the other industry. There are two important things I would like to mention here, the first one is regulations and the second is all of the technology that accompanies cloud access and it must provide a secured connectivity to these applications and information.

In a nutshell, we do ensure that the users’ information and the access to the clouds are highly secured.

Our cloud partners like Microsoft, AWS, ensure that the application itself and access to the data is entirely safe within their premises.

Q: What advantages do cloud services offer over traditional data centres?

A: As I mentioned there are a lot of advantages of cloud services as compared to the traditional data centres. The first and most important benefit of cloud services is agility, which means ease of moving and shifting venue from one place to another without dismantling a physical data centre.

The second most important thing is that you don’t need to hire highly qualified armies of technology people to help you do your business and run your new data centre.

The third is you don’t need to go for very long procurement cycles to buy hardware and software solutions.  The only thing one has to do is to only subscribe in order to get services.  Adopting the cloud services significantly reduces the capital and operational expenditures to a great extent. So basically it is a one point cost-effective data solutions.

Q:  What is the main concept behind OmniClouds? What services does OmniCouds offer?

A:  OmniClouds has a simple proposition — use the technology; don't buy it. Instead of investing in information and communications technology (ICT), you should be simply using it to grow your business.

Basically, there are two main obstacles after taking the decision while moving to the cloud. The first thing is that if you have already an application in your data centre, and the data is huge in volume then moving a huge data that runs into petabytes and terabytes is not easy.

There are two ways of migrating a huge data in volumes to the cloud. If you have already the Internet connectivity that would typically take several months or almost one year to migrate that huge workload into the cloud.

The other way is to ram the connections from your premises all the way into the cloud and that would be very expensive. Most of the IT companies provide such services on an annual basis. The migration is done in a few days and for the rest of the year you are paying money for the same thing, which you are not using at all. So it is basically a time versus cost.

Sherif-Lotfy-750x450 Sherif Lotfy

Therefore, we at OmniClouds overcome this obstacle by connecting our services to the application centres and from there we take the workload into the cloud and payment is only done for the amount of time consumed and after that it is not chargeable.

The second concern when you migrate to the cloud is that you want to make sure that whoever is accessing the application in the cloud will have similar experience if he has in office been accessing the application, which is in the company’s data centre, so the quality of the connectivity itself is important and the quality of the experience of connectivity to the application is extremely important. 

So what we do is we provide help to our customers to migrate their workload into the cloud and we ensure the access with a high level of quality.  We also help the organisations having multiple branches to add new branches to their network in a very quick way in order to reduce time and cost.

Our unique proposition is to empower organisations to reach cloud services — or even their local and international branches — in an economical and reasonable way where they pay as per their usage.

Q:  Can you explain how much OmniClouds services are different and unique from other competitors?

A: We have introduced a very disruptive environment. We don’t compete with other players in the market as we have a very different approach to the market and yet we still rely on the solutions offered by technology vendors and the underlay connectivity provided by other service providers. Our main concept is not to sell the ICT products but to facilitate our customers and they should consume our services which we are taking care of.

The main idea behind our services is to provide security, connectivity and technical support to our end-users.

Q: What are your expansion plans? Currently in how many countries is OmniClouds offering services?

A: Currently, we are offering our services in eight countries. We are planning to expand our global footprint.  We want to explore new markets. We are in advance discussions in Africa in order to tap the bourgeoning African market.

Q: How much are OmniClouds facilitating businesses, particularly the small and medium sized enterprises in terms of cost saving?

A: We cover a very large spectrum of businesses including small and medium sized enterprises.

SMEs are very cost-sensitive and I think they are the largest adopters of the cloud technology. They don’t want to heavily invest in the software and hardware tools. They usually change their locations frequently, so they are perfectly matched for the services we offer.

SMEs are vulnerable and cannot always invest in security tools or firewall because these are very expensive.

For SMEs, it will be no less than 40-50 per cent in terms of transforming CAPEX required into OPEX. More importantly, it is the safety of the spend since you have not invested in routers, switches or servers.

Q: Due to the pandemic most employees are working from home. What is the future of this concept?  Do you think it is benefiting companies?

A:  Good question: basically a majority of the companies are significantly benefiting from the remote work experience.  Even schools have been obliged to send their students and teachers to work from home.

There was no other solution to that and those who were not ready to adopt it would eventually suffer badly. A lot of companies have noticed that there is at least a 20-25 per cent increase in productivity when employees are working from home.

They have saved on office space and utilities, while at the same time people are closer to their families. So employees are happier while they are working. And they are working more hours now because they have the freedom to work at different times.

Q: Working remotely is a bit risky due to security issues. How does OmniClouds ensure a risk-free environment for users?

A: . No one can provide risk-free solutions in the market.  There are always new attacks.  The only point here is how quickly you adapt to the new trends. We provide state-of-the-art secured solutions to customers. We are always updating and upgrading our security services.

OmniClouds offers security as a service. So today, you can have the best breed of firewalls right at your home or office, for an economical monthly recurring charge.

Q: Does OmniCloud also offer migration services?

A: Of course yes, as I mentioned in the beginning that one of the main obstacles we help our customers overcome is migrating their workload, so all the data they have, which sits in their data centres today, we migrate a very heavy workload from their local data centres into the cloud.   

Q: Looking at the present COVID pandemic, how does OmniClouds see the future of cloud? What have you learnt from 2020 challenges?  What is your 2021 vision?

A: Cloud is the future and the present in the IT world. We can’t downplay the importance of cloud solutions. Our respective governments are adopting cloud solutions. No one can stay away from the cloud. The people will definitely adopt this technology, when they realise that it is safe, cost-effective and easier to operate.

The first thing we have learnt in 2020 is that we will not go back to the pre-pandemic era.  Many changes are here to stay. Secondly, we have learnt to take any change on a positive note, because most changes are an opportunity to move to a better place.

People who are rigid and can’t think out of the box have no future and would be considered a failure in the market.

The companies, which are flexible, easy and agile, are the ones who will capture the market.  

For 2021, we are focusing to enhance our connectivity to the end-users and to give them a better living and working experience in order to make people’s life much easier in the New Year.

We are focusing on the three verticals of health, education and banking. We are helping organisations in these areas to transform and economise their business models, to get more efficient.

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