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August 03, 2018. | Data security Financial services Infrastructure Regulatory compliance

The History of Penta

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Penta has come a long way from its humble origins in Nyon, Switzerland.

Today, Penta is a worldwide IT powerhouse, with offices in three continents serving markets around the world. However, 22 years ago the company began in a tiny office in Nyon, Switzerland.

Starting his IT business as a one-man operation, Farhad Khalilnia approached other small businesses, offering his technical experience in dealing with everything from providing support for their existing IT systems, to providing cross-platform networking services.

Complex

However, Mr Khalilnia says it was not long before he faced some problem:

Farhad Khalilnia, Penta CEO

Farhad Khalilnia, Penta CEO“Sometimes, as soon as I would get the car back to the office I would get a call saying something was not working. And this was mainly because the entire IT environment was so hectic, complex and not at all standardised in any format; issues were coming up one after another.”

Recognising the difficulty in dealing with so many clients which all had different IT systems, Mr Khalilnia set out to create his own data centre in 1999. Controlling the entire IT system for clients and standardising some elements of their architecture would allow his company, Penta, to provide a better service, ironing out all the difficulties generated by each unique client’s individual IT system. And for clients, Mr Khalilnia knew they would be able to drastically reduce their IT maintenance costs, while also reducing the number of issues they faced as he would be on-site to deal with any problems immediately.

Production

“When I built the data centre, I had a 10sq.m room and all of it was in production. This was in contrast to many other new data centres which came onto the scene. Many were investing millions and some would have 10,000sq.m of empty space. You could walk into some of them and actually play football because they were so empty.”

This shift to ‘cloud computing’ – moving software and data storage out of individual offices and into remote, secure servers – proved a huge step forward for Penta, with clients enjoying an improved level of service, backed up by constantly updated security all while reducing their capital expenses and giving them control of their IT expenditure.

Skills

However, understanding his company’s unique skills were in implementing specialist software on custom IT platforms, Mr Khalilnia decided it would be better if Penta concentrated on supporting clients’ IT software and infrastructure needs, rather than running the servers themselves. So, in 2005, Penta moved its office to Geneva, renting server space from data centre giant IX Europe, now Equinix, based in the same building.

“Because of our location in Geneva, we found ourselves in the middle of the financial ecosystem, and most of our clients were financial companies. But through time we became accustomed to their habits, how they work, what they like and the unique needs of their financial systems.”

Expansion

With Penta’s clients expanding into new territories, Mr Khalilnia saw the opportunity to expand to the UAE in 2008. With Swiss clients setting up offices in Dubai, Penta set about making sure clients’ systems were fast, stable, secure and fully connected across both locations.

“Dubai is ultra-modern with its architecture and ambitious business developments but when we arrived it still had a lot to learn about its IT infrastructure. So we saw the opportunity and we saw there was a great level of maturity there with its business ambition but it would need help to make it work,” he said.

“So from that moment forward we became incorporated into the DIFC as the sole IT company offering cloud services to clients while also bringing our expertise – the added regulatory compliance reports year after year.”

Focused

And despite the journey from his hand-made data centre in a business apartment in Nyon in 1996 to the international IT services provider his company is today, Mr Khalilnia knows how important it is to keep Penta focused on service.

“Today we are operating three data centres in Dubai and two in Switzerland, with about 150 active clients ranging from two-man businesses up to multinationals. And, just as when I first started in Nyon, Penta is committed to delivering quality services which are secure and stable but also scalable – giving clients total control of the services they want in a predictable budget so they never over invest or under invest.”

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