The Business Year

Maqbool Al Wahaibi

OMAN - Telecoms & IT

Maqbool Al Wahaibi

CEO, Oman Data Park

Bio

Maqbool Al Wahaibi is the CEO of Oman Data Park, the first managed and cloud services provider in Oman. He is part of its executive management and a founding team member and has been instrumental in developing solutions tailored to various sectors. He has more than 20 years of diversified experience in ICT engineering, software development, business start-ups, and leadership. He holds a master’s degree in computer software engineering from the University of York and an MBA from Strathclyde University, UK. Al Wahaibi was recognized as Technology Person of the Year at the Annual AIWA Awards in 2018, which also awarded ODP with the Excellence for Global Cloud-Based Services in 2019.

Starting as a pure data center, Oman Data Park continued to expand and provide in-demand services and has become the leader in the Sultanate in cloud services provision.

What have been the main activities of Oman Data Park over the past year?

Oman Data Park is the leader in Oman when it comes to cloud services provision. This is because we started early. We started with a pure data center and then went one step further by providing cloud services. Today, we have four types of services and the past year has seen new additions to each of them. The first of the four is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which has its own product, Nebula—Oman’s first and only virtual data center. It also has another version built in called Nebula Lagoon, which is open source. Nebula serves critical workloads from key industries such as banks and oil and gas, while Lagoon is more in the mid and small market cap. On top of this, we signed an agreement with Microsoft to provide Microsoft Azure in Oman, and we have another platform that sits on Oracle cloud. In addition to IaaS, we started providing Platform as a Service (PaaS), which is more into database, as well as Software as a Service (SaaS), one of which is the e-signature which is marketed in Oman as eSign. This e-signature solution is the only such service in Oman connected to the national PKI system and is integrated with the ID card so that every corporation and citizen can use it confidently knowing that the signing parties are authenticated. We also provide another platform, Logistics as a Service (LaaS), which is for logistic SMEs in Oman that want to automate their logistics process. Furthermore, in 2020, we also renamed our existing cybersecurity center and launched Cyber Security Park to focus purely on managed security services, be it proactive or reactive. We also supported businesses with the COVID-19 situation where we provided a service that helps people to work remotely with the required security for their enterprise data. We call it Workspace as a Service (WaaS) and started providing it to all corporates.

What services have you planned for 2021?

In 2021, we are launching a product to provide a high-performance computing infrastructure for an AI platform that will take us to the AI readiness space. We also look forward to focusing more on Duqm, where we have our third data center. We are considering using Duqm as a test bed because it is a green area, with large corporations already established there. We will focus on providing IoT and AI. The idea is to work with different partners and the Duqm Authority to transform Duqm into a smart city.

What types of services have your big clients been demanding the most?

IaaS, or the cloud, is in high demand. This was due to the disruption over international supply chains, as many corporates did not have the luxury of procuring IT hardware from different countries like before. There were many delays with imports of servers and storage devices, so we helped them seek an alternative: a local cloud. The second-most demanded were applications that promoted remote working, like WaaS. Other applications like e-signatures and LaaS were also in demand.

What is your long-term strategy for international growth, and what challenges do you expect?

Oman Data Park’s next step is to grow internationally. Saudi Arabia and Africa are interesting markets for us. To work there, we are seeking partners that would take forward Oman Data Park’s portfolio, sell it, and position it in those countries. There are two ways of doing this: through digital channels, where a large portion of data will sit in Oman Data Park’s main data centers; or through localized data centers in a foreign country. Currently, we are in talks with a few partners in Saudi Arabia and Africa. We are also working with corporates in Oman, like ports, to channel us outside, as they have many international relationships.

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