Etisalat to open two more data centers in UAE

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UAE-headquartered telecom operator Etisalat is constructing two additional data centers - Jebel Ali and Al Ain - in a bid to meet the growing demand of digital transformation in the UAE and in preparation for Expo 2020.

Miguel Angel Villalonga, vice-president for cloud and datacenter at Etisalat Digital, exclusively told TechRadar Middle East that the Al Ain campus will be up and running in the third quarter of this year. 

“The Al Ain campus will have an area of 1,700 square metres. It will be in four rooms and on two floors. The overall IT power will be 4MW while the average density per rack will be 6kW,” he said.

UAE's largest data center

The Jebel Ali campus will be Etisalat’s biggest data center in the UAE and is expected to go live by the third quarter of 2020. “It [Jebel Ali campus] will have an initial capacity of 12.4MW of IT power and will be able to cater to the needs of the customers for the next five years,” he said. 

The Jebel Ali campus will have an area of about 4,000 square metres of white space and divided into eight different data halls while the density of the data centers will be 6.5 kiloWatt per rack. Villalonga mentioned a major challenge is to cool the IT equipment which results in huge electricity bill at the end of each month.

Expo 2020 to raise demands for cloud services

Big tech companies have shown interest in the region, especially in the UAE, to open data centers. Amazon Web Services has data centers in Bahrain and the UAEOracle, Microsoft and Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, have also invested in the UAE while Huawei is set to open its data center this year.

With Expo 2020 coming in, an industry expert predicts that demand for cloud services is going to be huge and Etisalat wants to fulfil that by ramping up its infrastructure as it is the official telecom provider for Expo 2020.

“We built the data centers initially for government and enterprise customers but what we are seeing is that smaller companies, especially SMEs, are moving to the cloud to cut costs and boost efficiency,” Villalonga said.

Etisalat has 10 commercial data centers in the country, eight owned and two that are third-party and white-labelled but sold under Etisalat name. Jebel Ali will be the 12th data center in the country but the operator is also planning to retire some of the older data centers and move customers to the new campus in the next two years.