Dr Jassim Haji

Director of Information Technology
Gulf Air

Dr. Jassim Haji holds the position of Director Information Technology since August 2011 in Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and he currently serves on two board of directors, a leading hospitality and tourism technology provider in the Middle East and SITA Council representing Middle East and North Africa.

Dr. Haji has been instrumental in implementing some key innovations at Gulf Air’s IT systems and processes in recent times, most notably, the introduction of advanced technology for Gulf Air World Wide Contact Centre, Cloud Computing, Business Intelligence, Disaster Recovery Centre, Green Technology, In-house Oracle R12 upgrade and Big Data plus ISO 27001, 9001 and 20000 certifications that have helped further improve customer interface services as well as cost efficiency to the company.

Dr Haji received his Doctorate in Business Administration (PhD) from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, UK in 2010.

 

Interview with Dr. Haji (1/03/2015)

Can you tell us about the current landscape of the data center and cloud market in the Middle East? What key developments can we expect in 2015?

Majority of enterprises in the Middle East are opting to build their own data centers and they are learning from the benefits of the cloud trend to venture into virtualization and cloud-based services.  It has become obvious that in order to be agile and to respond quickly to business demands and to new requests of services, cloud-based approach is a must to avoid the time-consuming tasks of physical servers’ acquisition and preparation.

In 2015 we expect companies to change their strategy when it comes to cloud-based services.  For a long time, the term Cloud has been shrouded with mystery and uncertainty which has been unveiling slow recently, and now many companies are realizing cloud-based services are not built on thin air but actually it is a powerful and flexible technical advancement.

 

The cloud market is set to grow at an exponential rate in the Middle East, what considerations should enterprises factor in when migrating to a cloud in terms of security?

There are few considerations to be observed prior changing the enterprise strategy and adopting the cloud technology.  If it is a public cloud, then how reliable and trust worthy is the provider.  The need for a tight contractual agreement that protects and secure the organizations’ interests is key.  The security measures and certifications that the cloud provider possesses is crucial.  Data laws and regulations that govern the organization will have to be taken in consideration when choosing a cloud provider in order to ensure that no laws are violated.  There are some countries that mandate data must be stored within the boundary of the country, which is difficult to assess for cloud providers.  And when it comes to integrating in-house applications and data sources with those in the cloud, the mechanism of this integration should be secured and protected to ensure integrity of the data and the results of the integration.  Whenever you open your doors to the Internet and the cloud there is an inherit risks, each organization would have to put the right measures in order to avoid such risks.

 

What is the main IT innovation project Gulf Air is currently working on and can you tell us a bit more about your presentation?

Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) is one of the main IT innovation projects that Gulf Air is working on is leveraging the power of Gulf Air’s Private Cloud to provide mobility solutions that are accessible and operational around the world.  Gulf Air has deployed EFB to its pilots through the cloud, eliminating the need for the heavy paper-based manuals and enabled pilots to perform critical aircrafts performance calculations on the fly through their tablets based on the cloud-based services.  Gulf Air is expanding this to have flight plans processed in the tablets and to gather actual data after the flights through the tablets to provide comprehensive comparisons of flight plans efficiency.  Further, Gulf Air is also planning to empower cabin crew with tablets to enhance their interactions with the passengers and personalize the customer services provided to the passengers all through cloud-based services.

 

What are you looking to achieve by taking part in DCD Converged Middle East?

Besides sharing experience and lessons learnt between other peers, I expect the event to foster brainstorming and the birth of innovative ideas that every CIO can harness in their own organization.