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Hoda Younan

Enterprise Lead, Microsoft MEA Multi Cluster Countries

Ali El Moussaoui

Founder & CEO, Zero & One

Companies offering innovative and specialized cloud services are key to fulfilling the Ministry of IT's plan for regulating the latest technologies and optimizing costs across all sectors.

How do you review the Lebanese IT sector?

HODA YOUNAN It is good to see the creation of a ministry responsible for the IT industry. We have already seen great efforts to boost the environment for start-ups and tech entrepreneurs; however, the sector is still far from vibrant. The ministry is reaching out to the different stakeholders and building a plan of engagement, and we are looking forward to the outcome and have expressed our willingness to help fulfil the plan. What we need is a comprehensive body of legislation and policies that can regulate technology across all sectors. We require laws that protect data, define how the cloud can be used, and tackle all matters related to data sovereignty and cybersecurity. This is an important first step to allow Lebanese to not only be consumers, but also creators of technology.

Can you tell us about your services?

ALI EL MOUSSAOUI Founded in 2016, we were the first certified consulting partner for Amazon Web Services in Lebanon. As the founder of Zero & One, it was important for me to work with the number-one cloud provider. Unlike most businesses in the field, we do not resell the cloud. Rather, we provide consulting services to customers who are interested in investing in the cloud. We educate them about the technology and discuss with them the main points of their cloud migration journey. We offer managed service support. We organize education sessions, proofs of concept, seminars, workshops, and hands-on, live exercises for our customers’ teams. We help customers with the planning phase, building a cloud adoption framework, and the migration process. Once you are on the cloud, cost optimization becomes a central focus, and this is where Zero & One can excel in offering customers regular optimization and cost savings recommendations.

How are Lebanese companies approaching the cloud?

HY It is amazing how the conversation with customers has changed over the last five years, since we launched cloud services in the region. Previously, clients were focused on why and how to choose or use the cloud. Today, clients are aware of what the cloud entails. They are more interested in ways to optimize and reduce costs. Even this conversation will disappear in a few years, because it will be clear that companies can gain a competitive edge. Today, technology has become a commodity with a specific price. Thus, all cloud providers have to align their prices to compete.

How does the cloud enable businesses to grow?

AEM Our mission is to spread awareness about the cloud and educate the market. Cloud technology is now becoming the norm. From a technical perspective, the cloud provides IT resources on demand under a pay-per-use model. In fact, cloud migration is beyond an IT project; it is rather a business transformation that encompasses all business units and enables companies to be more agile and innovative. 80% of the IT budget of a company goes to maintaining the existing infrastructure, and 20% goes to financing new projects and innovative ideas. By enabling businesses to save money on their IT infrastructure, the cloud increases business innovation and agility. The advantage of the pay-per-use model is that companies don’t need to forecast the demand anymore, but simply pay for what is needed. Another indirect advantage of the cloud is staff productivity; the cloud minimizes IT failures, boosting productivity.

What are Microsoft’s strengths from a regional perspective?

HY As head of the Enterprise Segment within the Microsoft MEA Multi Cluster Countries, I cover Africa, the Levant, and Pakistan. We have a concrete presence in the countries we serve, in terms of resources as well as committed in-country investments. This is especially important for corporate clients. One of Microsoft’s advantages is that a big part of its business is based on large corporate partners. These partners intend to grow and expand their business to other countries. Lebanese businesses want to expand to other countries and we offer a good platform to help them expand.

How does the cloud compare with hardware in terms of cost?

AEM We use a Total Cost of Operation (TCO) analysis for this. That means comparing the cost of hardware acquisition, maintenance, licensing costs, cooling, electricity, and physical space and with a five-year strategy on the cloud, which can be equal to the average lifetime of hardware. For any business, a TCO analysis will show savings of at least 30%. There are huge success stories about cloud migrations such as Expedia, which shut down 20 data centers and made the move to Amazon Cloud.



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