Key features of data centres in the Middle East:
• Governmental organisations have significant ownership of data centres across the region (25-35% all space)
• The regional telcos (also largely owned by governments) have strong positions as data centre operators and cash to invest further, as do Sovereign Wealth Fund organisations
• Security, data transaction storage, disaster recovery key market drivers • Migration by enterprises to third party outsourcing is at a much earlier stage than other markets
• Investment by banks/financial service companies still appears to be ongoing
Key Submarine Systems
The Fibre Optic Gulf (FOG) project consists of a 1,300 kilometer long fibre optic cable link between UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. A Memorandum of Understanding for the FOG project was signed by these countries in 1994. FOG2 was launched in 2006, connecting UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, initially equipped with 80Gbs capacity over two fibre pairs, first ever submarine system into Iraq.
The Fibre Optic Link Around the Globe Cable System (FLAG) project connects Europe to South Asia via UAE. The FLAG Network Operations Centre (FNOC) is set up in Fujairah, which positions it in the midpoint of the cable system (see UAE map below). FLAG was amalgamated with Reliance in 2003 to become RelianceGlobalcom, a subsidiary of Reliance Communications of India.
SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable that France to Singapore and links scores of nations en route, was launched in 2005 to provide additional capacity to the older system SEA-ME-WE3 (May 2007 capacity upgrade to 48 x 10Gbs). SEAMEWE4 was initially equipped with 1.28Terabits of capacity.
Impact of recent submarine cable breaks
On two occasions in 2008 Internet capacity to the Middle East and India was severely restricted by cable breaks to these systems. In January 2008 FLAG and SEAMEWE4 systems were both damaged, leaving only the significantly smaller SEAMEWE3 in service. In December 2008 all three systems were affected and carriers had to route their European traffic via the Far East, Pacific and Atlantic.
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