TBY talks to Fadi Kanafani, Senior Director – Middle East and Africa of NetApp, on Dubai as a “smart city,” data security, and plans for the coming year.
How would you assess Dubai’s efforts to establish itself as a data hub and a smart city, and in what way is NetApp assisting?
Dubai has proven to be one of the most progressive cities in the Middle East. It is at the forefront of digitalization, digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI), smart cities, and Internet of Things (IoT). Investment is an important aspect but backing it up with expertise and skilled resources to drive the vision is another. In 2017, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Prime Minister and Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, appointed the country’s first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence. This indicates the high value of Dubai’s transition into a digital society. It is definitely a city full of forward-thinking, futuristic projects and it is exciting to contribute to this innovative spirit. What role does NetApp play in this context? Data is the lifeblood of every organization and NetApp is the data authority for hybrid multi-cloud, providing a full range of cloud data services that simplify the management of applications and data to accelerate digital transformation. Throughout the life cycle of data, NetApp supports companies across all verticals like governments, the public sector, the private sector, and enterprises to kick-start – if they have not started it already – their digital transformation journey at their own pace. Recently, we have launched FlexPod AI, a converged infrastructure solution that is optimized for analytic workloads using a validated design with NetApp’s ecosystem partners. With the capability to learn from data and make more informed, faster decisions, organizations are better positioned to understand the market requirements in order to deliver innovative products and services in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
What are the highlights of NetApp in terms of products and services?
Gartner’s recent recognition of Data Fabric as a top technology trend in Data and Analytics is a strong validation of NetApp’s vision. Only NetApp can deliver a Data Fabric with consistent data services for data visibility and insights, data access and control, and data protection and security. We help customers modernize their data center, by allowing them to do more with a lower total cost of ownership. All-flash array technology is the de facto choice as customers seek performance and economic benefits from replacing hard disk installations. With a highly differentiated and broad portfolio of all-flash and hybrid array offerings, NetApp enables customers to accomplish this transition. According to IDC, NetApp is the leader in All-Flash in EMEA. We want the customer to determine where to keep their data safe and how to manage it. NetApp provides solutions for all cloud workloads and Kubernetes applications and also has an excellent cooperation with the big hyperscalers – Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. As an example, NetApp was recently named 2018 Google Cloud Technology Partner of the Year for Infrastructure. Customers benefit from our open collaboration with other technology leaders to create specific solutions. We were incorporated in 1992 and created the world’s first networked storage appliance. Today, we offer a portfolio of products and services that satisfy a broad range of customer workloads across different data types and deployment models. NetApp is a member of NASDAQ 100, a Fortune 500 company and a member of S&P 500.
How is then our data safer with NetApp?
The NetApp Data Fabric enables companies an enterprise data security approach that spans their entire data infrastructure. NetApp encrypts its data at the lowest level, whether it is at rest, moving through the network or stored in the cloud – therefore granting the provision of consistent data security policies across flash, disk, and cloud – with visibility into all customers’ storage devices.
Which regions and markets are you looking at for future expansion and what is your primary business objective this year?
We see the majority of the businesses in the GCC in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, followed by Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. The market has been good for us and we have been doing well. I look after the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan and my areas of responsibility tend to be full of surprises, but we manage well. Our main objective for 2019 is to sustain our market leadership in the region and maintain our overall strong business performance. We will continue to integrate innovation into our portfolio, cater to business needs, and create fruitful partnerships. We are also looking at continuously laying a solid foundation for the organization to strategically participate in building new smart city ecosystems, the future urbanism.Through our solutions, including NetApp Data Fabric, hybrid multi-cloud connectivity, and NetApp HCI systems, we can contribute to the smart transformation efforts taking place in different parts of the region such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, we will aim to create awareness of the benefits of digital transformation and how our solutions can help make this happen. And like the previous years, we will continue to enhance customer experience by consistently delivering world-class and outstanding digital solutions.