Emaar Properties specializes in creating value-added, master-planned communities that meet the full spectrum of lifestyle needs. Highlights include Downtown Dubai, the 500-acre mega-project including Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building,
and The Dubai Mall—the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destination. Emaar is extending its expertise in developing master-planned communities internationally, and has established operations in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan,
Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, India, Pakistan, Turkey, the United States, and Canada.
||What we want is a partner, and that’s what Microsoft is. They partner to help us solve our problems, address our issues, develop our road maps, for whatever we need to move the business forward. That’s the kind of partnership I’ve
always found in Microsoft.
Director, Managed Services & Infrastructure Operations
What we want is a partner, and that’s what Microsoft is. They partner to help us solve our problems, address our issues, develop our road maps, for whatever we need to move the business forward. That’s the kind of partnership I’ve always found in Microsoft.
- Muzamil Abdulkarim, Director, Managed Services & Infrastructure Operations, Emaar Technology
Emaar Properties has grown from a major United Arab Emirates property development entity into a global collection of 47 separate companies in various fields, including hospitality and retail. Emaar’s IT department is responsible for the technology on which
all 47 entities depend for their day-to-day operations and long-term growth.
The company has plans for particularly aggressive growth in the property development and hospitality areas. “In 2014 and onwards, we’ve planned a vast expansion of properties and new business ventures in Dubai and in the Middle East,” says Muzamil Abdulkarim,
Director, Managed Services & Infrastructure Operations for Emaar Technology. “We’re developing 20 plus hotels in the next three years. We’re also expanding The Dubai Mall, which will add another 310 stores to its current 1200. Two years down the line there
will be 1500 stores.”
The company is also planning a massive development of 2,800 luxury villas within the next six years. “There’s a lot to do,” said Abdulkarim with more than a bit of understatement.
Unfortunately, Emaar’s legacy systems were siloed and disparate. That made maintenance, updates, and provisioning to accommodate growth time-consuming and expensive. Multiple siloed systems also impeded the real-time information-sharing and collaboration
necessary for global, organization-wide growth.
Thus, the company focused on ways to increase operational efficiency, reduce operating costs, and, per Abdulkarim, “finding ways to do things differently in order to bring more value-added services to the organization.” The company recognized that in order
to effectively support 47 business entities and their varied, often aggressive growth plans, IT had to provide 24/7 availability, world-class agility and flexibility, as well as top-of-the-line security. To achieve these aims, they knew they had to migrate
to the cloud.
“We’re having new business launches every week in places from Singapore to London,” Abdulkarim explained, “so in terms of supporting all that, the business has very high expectations of IT. We knew the best way to fulfill them was through the cloud. That
way, we could focus on our business needs and spend more time adding value to the business instead of maintaining systems.”
Emaar Technology followed a rigorous process in selecting a technology partner. “When we select any technology provider, we host a proof-of-concept and invite the best players out there with comparable solutions,” explained Abdulkarim. “For one month, we
test thoroughly—from technical, commercial and security standpoints, along with other factors. We invited, among others, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. After using their systems for a month and consistently checking performance, security, reliability, and
integration with other systems, it was clear that Microsoft was the only player that filled our requirements. That’s why we selected them.”
Microsoft Premier Support within Microsoft Services provided Emaar with a combination of workshops, assessments, health checks, and training. These steps helped ensure that proposed solutions met Emaar’s needs, provided the availability, interoperability
and security Emaar required, and that Emaar’s IT staff gained the familiarity necessary to maximize productivity. Microsoft Services also oversaw Emaar’s transition to cloud-based Microsoft Office 365.
The workshops helped familiarize Emaar’s IT team with the platforms and services available to them. Reviewing case studies, they learned how other organizations with similar issues and infrastructure had benefited from various solutions. “They were giving
us more ideas,” said Abdulkarim. “The workshops were like discussion forums within the departments and business units. Then we selected the areas we wanted to focus on. In those areas, we assessed our current IT environment and infrastructure so we could see
where we were, versus where we wanted to be.”
Through the assessments, the Microsoft Premier Support team helped design a secure infrastructure tailored to the specific needs of Emaar’s business units. “The Microsoft approach was very nice because they came, they learned what we do in hospitality, what
we do in technology, what we do in retail,” recalled Abdulkarim. “We had workshops with my team in which they showed unique solutions to help individual businesses and departments. Only a real partner can do that. I don't want a vendor who is just coming here
to sell the thing. I want a partnership for the long-term.” Through the assessments, Emaar IT also partnered with Microsoft Services to determine how to maximize cloud technologies to take their organization to the next level.
Microsoft Premier Support training then focused on specific products, like Exchange and Active Directory. These trainings transferred knowledge about the solutions to Emaar’s IT team. “It’s always a challenge to get the right resources in this part of the
world,” Abdulkarim reiterated. “Through the assessments, workshops, and training, the expertise level of my internal resources has gone up. So has their confidence level, and it has definitely increased our productivity.”
Microsoft Services further helped Emaar consolidate its 47 business units under a cohesive cloud-based IT umbrella, allowing seamless deployment of services to all of the business units as necessary. Transition to the cloud has also led to significant savings
at the data center. The company now has a much smaller footprint on-premises, with fewer servers.
To even further reduce IT and operating costs, Emaar contracted with Microsoft Premier Support for ongoing services. “With the difficulty in finding local subject matter experts, we don’t want a high dependency on internal staff,” Abdulkarim explained. “And
we don’t want to have to have a large army to support operations issues, so we wanted to find a partner that could, over the long term, reduce our manpower costs.”
Microsoft subject matter experts are now available to Emaar should issues arise, or should they encounter any difficulties with their unified, cloud-based infrastructure.
Operational efficiencies providing almost $1 million in annual savings
Through its work with Microsoft Services, Emaar greatly reduced operational costs through server reductions and elimination of the attendant space, power, and maintenance requirements. Emaar’s new cloud-based infrastructure also greatly accelerates their
ability to bring new services online. “It has a big impact on the business,” stated Abdulkarim. “It cuts costs and helps us gain revenue by providing new services more quickly and cost-effectively. I now have the confidence to sign service level agreements
and operation level agreements with my business users assuring them that services will be there to meet their needs. These efficiencies have also reduced costs for Abdulkarim’s customers. He’s now able to provide, as he puts it, “the right service at the right
30–40% increase in productivity without additional manpower costs
“I'm currently with the same team I had before, but the systems, services and users have increased 30 to 40 percent,” said Abdulkarim, “my manpower has not increased so I really saved a lot of money.”
Cloud enables 99.9%, 24/7 uptime
With business units across the globe, service availability is critical to Emaar. Email and file services have to be available all over the world, all of the time. Abdulkarim said, “We don’t want to keep everything in one place; we don’t want our local telecom
operators to be a bottleneck for operations in the rest of the world. That’s why we went with the cloud strategy. It not only cuts costs, but has allowed us to reach a point of 99.9% availability.”
Proactive service increases value of IT
Emaar’s new infrastructure efficiencies allow its IT department to function proactively. When a new project is coming or a business expands, IT quickly provides the services the business needs, but also adds value by suggesting ways to increase efficiency.
“Today, we’re not just technological,” Abdulkarim said, “we’re now helping to guide the business to function more efficiently, to automate more processes, and reduce costs overall.”
Knowledge transfer leading to increased subject matter expertise
Microsoft Services not only provides ongoing services for Emaar, delivering the right support at the right time. They have also helped its IT group become more self-sufficient, and more productive. “They don’t just give us support on issues or the problems,”
explained Abdulkarim, “the workshops, assessments and health checks increased my team’s expertise. I see a difference in them. Now they can resolve many issues and take the lead on projects by themselves.”
Trusted partnership and support
Confidence in the partnership with Microsoft Premier Support helps Emaar IT confidently provide its customers with new services and new technologies. “The best part of Premier Support is that we consider them part of our organization; we consider them part
of our department,” Abdulkarim noted. “So it’s very comfortable for my staff to seek their help at any time, and on any technology. That gives us the confidence to deploy things en masse. That’s something we didn’t find in any of the other suppliers or vendors.
”Being a partner is something special. We don't want just a supplier; we don't want a vendor; we don't want a system integrator. What we want is a partner, and that’s what Microsoft is. They partner to help us solve our problems, address our issues, develop
our road maps, for whatever we need to move the business forward. That’s the kind of partnership I’ve always found in Microsoft.”
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