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Nassib Chamoun is General Manager at Cirrus, located in Lebanon’s capital city Beirut. An ITG company, Cirrus is an enterprise-class cloud computing and managed services portfolio provider, catering for different service models (Infrastructure, Platform and Software) and different deployment scenarios (Private, Public or Hybrid Cloud).
With a core requirement for a robust IT stack located in a growing number of datacenters, Cirrus demands high-uptime, low administrative overhead and scalable room for growth, expansion and diversification. Chamoun and his team have helped Cirrus become one of the most progressive managed services and colocation providers in the Middle East. The company’s datacenter experts custom-design the best solution for every customer to ensure optimum data, voice, network and cloud performance.
CXO Focus spoke to Chamoun for the inside track on his operational strategy.
High Value In Data Sovereignty
As a managed cloud services provider born here in and of the region, we often say that we are filling the data sovereignty gap for the Arab world. Most organizations do want to move some (or indeed all) workloads to public cloud, but like many parts of the world, in regions like ours there are specific data sovereignty laws that need to be complied with.
To answer this growing market requirement, we have built our own datacenters in Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan with a further operation planned for Iraq. These facilities are custom-engineered to be able to provide domestic cloud for workloads that need to run locally. Whatever their mix of cloud resources, we know that customers want the whole workload to be managed from one interface and from one single corporate entity… and so that’s what we deliver.
The majority of our customers are financial institutions and banks running particularly mission critical workloads, which is a challenge and process that we intrinsically understand due to our track record in this market segment. They also want to run traditional infrastructure services and do so while being able to deliver their entire technology layer in compliance with different banking laws and traditions.
New Channels For A Data Lake
To answer the requirements created by the insurance sector in this region we have also built our own data lake. An increasing number of insurance specialists are now working to develop services that leverage Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to track automobile braking systems and other aspects of car performance. Sometimes charged on a pay-per-mile basis, this type of application has the potential to create new channels of raw and unstructured data, so the data lake provides that much needed repository to manage that stream of information.
We’re now working with our insurance business customers to help them explore new ways of working with the information resources that are harbored in the data lake. We are exploring ideas with one customer who is looking to develop a care product for the elderly that can monitor location and movement and so help to look after them. Insurance companies are able to use this kind of data to build structured policy products and expand their range of services.
Startups Drive API Extensions
In terms of other developments, we have recently been looking at working with startups to offer them access to our platform through an API. By using this approach, we see startups creating extensions so that they can develop new services in shorter timescales. It’s an area that’s getting a lot of traction and interest currently, so we do expect this space to grow.
Looking at where we have come from inside the organization itself, we started off with an IT department of only 7 and that has now built to more than 20, so there has been a cumulative drive to develop, expand, innovate and explore. This has only been possible due to the robust and widely functional nature of our base cloud platform management substrate. By choosing the right enterprise cloud technologies to build our datacenters upon we have been able to focus on wide-ranging innovation, rather than having to worry about our engineers’ obligations to perform tasks like daily maintenance, load balancing, provisioning and so on.
Some of our most recent enhancements in our own IT stack have seen us progress rapidly towards our goal of achieving increased scalability and better performance as we take our services to our customers.
From my own personal perspective, I would just add that, even now in 2020, technology is changing so fast all the time, it’s what drives many of us to love our role in the industry and keeps us constantly charged to learn more and do more every day. People have been talking about digital transformation for years, but few of these same people have clear goals behind why they are doing it -- and many are doing it just because their competitors are. I think what’s really important now is to understand the rationale and raison d'être behind the adoption of new technologies. Only then can you create new revenue streams and move forward.
These are our core services and this I hope paints a picture of what we do on a day-to-day basis. As we look to the future we will bring in incremental layers of service functionality that may span Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) and look to emerging technologies such as Natural Language Understand (NLU) interfaces, but these will largely come from our partner ecosystem because we are steadfastly focused on delivering and improving our core competencies.
The Cirrus Promise
Cirrus sums up its market proposition by reminding customers that it exists to address the challenges of maintaining scalability and high availability of any hosted database or application. The high availability of critical services is guaranteed by coordinating the replication and recovery and using geographic redundancy. The company’s professionals have a deep understanding of application infrastructure design and service operations, to help simplify the management of applications running on the cloud, while ensuring the best performance, operations and support.