Computer News Middle East

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the changing face of erp it’s dark knight

Security-as-a-service: The CIO’s saviour?

People’s choice Hybrid is proving the most popular cloud model, but how should you approach it?

come fly with ge

How Fady Sleiman went from flying pensioners around Europe to CIO of General Electric

7 things you need to know about hardware disposal


Mashreq Bank innovates to transform its in-branch experience IBM GM: gulf still rosy for big blue, despite global dip

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EDITORIAL Publisher Dominic De Sousa

Wearable computers, anyone?

Jeevan Thankappan Group Editor Talk to us: E-mail: jeevan.thankappan@

Group COO Nadeem Hood

Move over, smartphones and tablets. Are you ready for talking watches, singing shoes and rings that can double up as Bluetooth headsets? The world of wearable technology is exploding, and is slated to become the next big thing in mobility. There are already a number of devices available today such as the Pebble watch and Google Glass (available to the masses in 2014), fuelling mainstream uptake of wearable tech. According to data from Juniper Research, 15 million smart wearable devices will be sold in 2013, which will jump to 70 million in 2017. The wearable device market is expected to be worth more than $1.5 billion in 2014. Wearable computers may not be new and have already been long in use in some industrial jobs, but the new breed of devices could offer businesses alternative ways of doing things. A recent report from J. Gold Associates states that “the real potential breakthrough that wearables could offer businesses is having more sensors and interaction mechanisms than what we have today.” It would probably take five years or more for wearable technology to find mainstream consumer acceptance but, sooner than later, IT organisations may have to brace for demand from workers who want to use smart watches or smart glasses at work, just the way it happened with the BYOD phenomenon. It’s easy to see what is driving the demand for wearable devices — real-time, actionable data for users. A case in point can be found in the wearable devices already common in healthcare and wellness applications such as glucose and heart rate monitors. Industry pundits say cloud is also playing a major role in expanding the market for wearable technology by allowing the data generated by these devices to be captured, analysed and made readily accessible to users. The University of London, which recently did a survey on the adoption of wearable technology in Britain, points out that the rich data created by wearable technology will eventually lead to the rise of the “human cloud” and form an integral part of the Internet of Things. Are wearables the future? Will it kill the smartphone? That’s a debate already raging in the technology world and at the moment it looks highly unlikely given the fact they lack battery life and processing power. But what if they can do all the things we expect from smartphones and become cheap enough to buy? One thing is for certain: our lives are going to change, and it could be real soon.

Editorial Group Editor Jeevan Thankappan +971 4 4409109 Editor Ben Rossi +971 4 4409114 Online Editor Tom Paye +971 4 440 9103 Contributors Joe Lipscombe, John Gallant, James Careless ADVERTISING Commercial Director Rajashree R Kumar +971 4 4409131 Sales Managers Michal Zylinski +971 4 4409159 Antony Crabb +971 4 4409108 Circulation Circulation Manager Rajeesh M +971 4 4409147 Production and Design Production Manager James P Tharian +971 4 4409146 Designer Analou Balbero +971 4 4409104 DIGITAL SERVICES Digital Services Manager Tristan Troy P Maagma Web Developers Erik Briones Jefferson de Joya Photographer and Social Media Co-ordinator Jay Colina +971 4 440 9100 Published by


the changing face of erP it’s dark knight

Security-as-a-service: The CIO’s saviour?

PeoPle’s choice Hybrid is proving the most popular cloud model, but how should you approach it?

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How Fady Sleiman went from flying pensioners around Europe to CIO of General Electric

7 things you need to know about hardware disPosal


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Mashreq Bank innovates to transform its in-branch experience IBM GM: Gulf stIll rosy for BIG Blue, despIte GloBal dIp

© Copyright 2013 CPI All rights reserved While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.


All’s not lost for BlackBerry

Ben Rossi Editor Talk to us: E-mail: ben.rossi


Now, I’m not one of those BlackBerry fan boys shamelessly jumping to the defence of a company many in the industry have condemned to the grave. But I do believe there is life in the old dog yet. Up until a few months ago, I’d never even used a BlackBerry. Since then, I have used both the Z10 and Q10, and believe both are fantastic phones. In fact, for the workplace, I believe they are the best phones on the market. The all-important messaging and email platform far outweighs competitors, and the integrated security keeps the IT manager happy. The mistake BlackBerry made was targeting the general consumer. With the rise of BYOD, Thorsten Heins et al knew they had to make a big change. More and more organisations were neglecting previous policies of handing out BlackBerrys to employees, in favour of allowing them to bring their own device to work. Needless to say, employees were opting for more consumer-friendly models from smartphone kings Apple and Samsung. So BlackBerry, for the first time in its history, heavily marketed its new device, the Z10, to the consumer market. But one very vital ingredient was missing: apps, the foundation of the consumer’s love of the smartphone. The Z10 foolishly launched without the likes of the universally downloaded WhatsApp and Skype. Whilst these apps have now joined the BlackBerry World store, other fan favourites like Intragram and Snapchat haven’t. These are criminal omissions. They are things some people just don’t want to live without, so why would they? Despite this, BlackBerry sold 2.7 million BlackBerry 10 devices in the first quarter of 2013. Its main competitor in the mobile market, Nokia, sold 5.6 million Lumias. However, only one BlackBerry 10 device was on the market during that time, compared to around 10 Lumias. Is there one single Lumia which sold more than 2.7 million in Q1 2013? Nokia hasn’t broken down the figures, but I doubt it. However, as BlackBerry is never going to reach the heights of Apple and Samsung in smartphone shipments, I believe it’s time it just cut its losses on the consumer market. That doesn’t mean BlackBerry needs to die altogether. Introducing the new BlackBerry: an enterprise mobility company. BYOD should be BlackBerry’s friend, not its enemy. Enterprises trust BlackBerry. It continues to have a strong foothold within the world’s top organisations, with more mobile devices managed with the BlackBerry MDM solution today than any other competitive offering. BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 is a unified device management and security platform for corporate and personally owned BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, iOS and Android devices. Sixty percent of the Fortune 500 have already ordered, downloaded or installed BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, and 18,000 BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 servers have already been installed around the world. This can be genuinely big business for BlackBerry. And enough to see it rise again, whilst also steadily releasing devices of its own aimed exclusively at professionals who appreciate a BlackBerry device in the workplace. The enterprise is moving toward a services model, and is eager for BYOD solutions — BlackBerry must now cement itself in this gap. For me, it is no longer a failed device manufacturer, but a leading BYOD company.

Computer News Middle East

August 2013

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ISSUE 259 | august 2013


Mashreq Bank transforms its inbranch experience

36 54

Is security-as-a-service IT’s Dark Knight? CIO Spotlight: Fady Sleiman


The changing face of ERP

10 Bolt from the Blue Amr Refaat, GM, IBM Middle East, says that, whilst emerging markets were partly attributed for IBM’s unexpected first-quarter dip, the Gulf has nothing to worry about.

14 Microsoft’s executive reshuffle Is Steve Ballmer on to something with the internal re-organisation of Microsoft, and what does it mean for Middle East customers? 81 Hardware disposal From the first day that you plug in a new piece of IT hardware, the clock starts ticking toward the day when it will be pulled out of service. 74 Chambers’ master plan Don’t catch yourself calling Cisco a network company in front of its CEO, John Chambers. The unwavering Cisco leader insists on the term ‘IT company’ now, and has relentlessly set his sights on number one.

48 6

77 Next-level networks Dory Chakour, Mobile Broadband Manager, Ericsson Middle East, explains how using small cells to build heterogenous networks will enable the region’s operators to deliver seamless mobile broadband, no matter how great the demand.

Hybrid cloud: Dipping your toes in

Computer News Middle East

august 2013


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81 IBM Middle East GM: Region remains strong

36 The changing face of ERP With SMBs now looking to implement watered-down ERP solutions, and the ‘nexus of forces’ bearing down, CNME investigates what’s in store for the future of ERP.

7 things you need to know about hardware disposal

42 The virtual reality Server virtualisation may be well on its way to being a ubiquitous deployment, but the journey is not as easy as it appears. 48 Testing the waters After a period of reluctance, organisations are beginning to trust the cloud, but the decision far from ends at acceptance. The hybrid model is allowing CIOs to dip before diving in.


54 IT’s Dark Knight As hackers and attackers wreak havoc on the industry, businesses have been looking for a watchful protector to secure their assets. Is security-as-a-service the IT industry’s Dark Knight?

Microsoft’s executive reshuffle: Is Ballmer on to something?


60 The calm before the plunge For any IT pro, signing a new contract can be a daunting task. Now, more than ever, it’s advisable to test the waters before diving straight into a big contract.


18 Infographic The UAE is ready for NFC (near field communication).

20 Short takes We round up the top technology stories to take our eye in the last month.

28 CIO Spotlight When fate stepped in the way of Fady Sleiman’s dream of becoming a pilot, it opened up an entirely new road.

25 8

84 Product Watch Nokia takes the limelight again — this time with the 41-megapixel Lumia 1020.

86 Word on the street CNME’s man about town, Joe Lipscombe, gives his spin on the latest IT news and trends. This month, he celebrates Marissa Mayer’s first year as CEO of Yahoo.

Bank AlBilad presents a virtualisation masterclass

Computer News Middle East

august 2013

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in depth IBM

Bolt from the Blue When the first quarter saw IBM miss earnings expectations for the first time in eight years, questions were raised not just on Big Blue, but the state of the IT industry as a whole. In an exclusive interview with CNME, Amr Refaat, GM, IBM Middle East, says that, whilst emerging markets were partly attributed for the dip, the Gulf has nothing to worry about.


esults of a disappointing quarter for a technology company are not exactly cause for much surprise these days. However, IBM is a slightly different case. Steady quarterly earnings calls are as consistent as the blue in its logo. Until April this year, that is, when the company missed quarterly earnings expectations for the first time in eight years. Following 10 quarters of double-digit growth, IBM only grew by single digits. Before you knew it, CFO Mark Loughridge was talking of “workforce rebalancing actions”. In other words, job cuts. IBM has not said how many jobs it will cut, but Loughridge did say that most would take place in the second quarter. “Given our first quarter performance,” he said following the earnings call in April, “we now expect to take the bulk of our workforce rebalancing actions for the year in the second quarter, as opposed to last year when it was distributed across the quarters. “Now, remember last year we had about $800 million in workforce rebalancing charges spread across the year. This year, we expect the workforce rebalancing charges to be closer to $1 billion and concentrated in the second quarter.” It is believed that $1 billion figure will amount to cuts of around 6,000 to 8,000 globally. Since June 12, IBM has already cut over 3,300 jobs in North America, according to IBM labour union Alliance@IBM. It is thought that much of the rest would fall outside of North America. Goldman Sachs attributed the first quarter results to stagnated growth for tech companies in emerging markets, which IBM, among others, increasingly relies on. Emerging

Amr Refaat, GM, IBM Middle East


Computer News Middle East

august 2013

markets accounted for nearly a quarter of IBM’s revenue and drove around 80 percent of its revenue growth from 2010 to 2012. After the firm downgraded IBM stock to neutral from buy, and slashed its profit and sales estimates, Goldman analysts said that they believe “pressures on IBM’s growth markets and higher-margin revenue streams may intensify in the near term, weakening some of the key sources of IBM’s earnings and cash flow resiliency in coming quarters.” They added that Goldman still thinks “IBM’s long-term secular prospects remain sound,” but the company “appears to be going through a challenging period” following bleaker IT spending and pressure on growth markets like Brazil, Russia, India and China. Whilst IBM has denied to comment on whether any redundancies have or will fall in the Middle East, it is unlikely when considering there are little worries of stagnation in this region right now. Indeed, IBM continues to enjoy large growth in the Middle East. “In our region, we’re still bringing a lot of values in the team,” says Refaat, IBM’s Middle East GM. “We don’t have the history of 30 years of people in the organisation. “We have been growing a lot, so we’re moving fast. In some areas, we’re moving even faster than others. For sure, the areas that we have the potential to build more values are pillars that are really growing faster than others. If you look at it from a services perspective, the potential is very high and the growth is tremendous.” So perhaps the real worry doesn’t lie at IBM, but further afield. Part of IBM’s long-term appeal has always been its steady earnings growth in spite of uncertain tech spending in recent years. What’s more, in what comes as a sign of


of IBM's revenue growth from 2010 to 2012 was accounted to emerging markets.

the company’s importance as an indicator for markets in general, IBM is the most heavily weighted stock on the Dow Jones Industrial Average index. Thus, a quarter of single-digit growth following many of double-digit growth is certainly a concern for IBM, but probably more so for competitors like Dell and HP, which continue to report plunges in revenue and profit in line with the unrelenting decay of the PC market. “The analysts always expect to have great results for IBM,” Refaat says, “So if you are a little off the expected numbers from the analysts, they get mad. It’s a big thing. “But then you have other competitors with nothing happening in the last 10 quarters and lost market share. The likes of HP and Dell have areas where I don’t think the value is there. So you see now Dell is looking for somebody to buy because the value in the company is becoming lower and lower every day. “These companies, I don’t see the vision and how they will continue. They are really struggling because they don’t have the same vision that we had a long time ago to bring the value.” That value, Refaat says, comes in delivering a solution “from A to Z”. “In IBM, we have a unique value proposition because we have all the pillars — the hardware, the software, the platforms, the system integration, the consultancy — to make it happen for our clients. This is the big difference between IBM and other players.” However, there is still no hiding the fact that IBM’s value proposition was not enough to reach analyst earnings expectations for the first quarter. Aside from the supposed stagnated growth in emerging markets, other analysts pointed to the dramatic decrease witnessed in hardware sales, which IBM did not counteract enough using the large growth in cloud services. “We’ve been in the hardware market for a long time, and to keep growing every quarter is not an easy task,” Refaat admits. “So for sure there are some areas where we need to enhance, but I see the steps that IBM is following as ones that will bring back the positive signs on the hardware.” Refaat was also keen to reveal that,

Watson makes moves in the Middle East

Not much has been mentioned on Watson, IBM’s artificially intelligent computer system, since February when IBM announced the first commercial application. The technology was deployed for utilisation management decisions in lung cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, in conjunction with health insurance company WellPoint. According to Refaat, it won’t be long before we know of the first Middle East deployment.

“We have a lot of discussion right now. We are talking with call centres, telcos and healthcare entities. So it is moving very well and everybody wants to know more about how to run it. You will see more to come. I think we’ll have something in September — there will be some stuff related to things coming up. But it has been one of the key attractions for our clients in the Middle East. The value I see is it is bringing things that were never before available to humanity. We see this as the golden opportunity for humanity to benefit from technology. We’ve never had such an opportunity to deploy technology at that level of importance.”

august 2013

Computer News Middle East


in depth IBM

IBM said its workforce rebalancing charges this year will amount to around

Time to get smart

$1bn perhaps surprisingly to some, IBM hardware sales are in fact growing in the Middle East. In this segment, the region that he's charged with managing has escaped much of the global woes. “It’s not growing as fast as services,” he says. “But it is growing.”

No rebound A rebound for IBM failed to materialise in the second quarter, as profit, sales and revenue further declined. However, operating earnings per share, excluding restructuring charges, was $3.91, above the analyst forecast of $3.77, and IBM raised its forecast for earnings per share for the year. The decline in both profit and revenue was worse than last quarter, but traders, apparently pleased by IBM earnings-pershare numbers, boosted company shares in after-hours trading. Though services and overall hardware sales dropped during the second quarter, company officials stressed strength in software and big systems. “In the second quarter, we delivered strong performance in our higher-value software and mainframe businesses,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO. She added that she expects improvement in the last half of the year, partly as a result of a number of restructuring efforts that include acquisitions, sales of non-strategic businesses and further skills rebalancing. However, it was revenue in the Americas and Asia-Pacific which saw the dips, as EMEA revenue remained flat at $7.8 billion. Whilst figures were not revealed specifically for the Middle East, it is thought that revenue grew in the region. “Things are changing,” Refaat says. “And this is a constant in our typical IT market. “So in the areas where we think values are lowering, we do some shuffling. This is 12

Computer News Middle East

august 2013

Governments have typically been regarded as behind enterprises when it comes to embracing new technologies, but with ICT emerging as a new form of urban competitiveness, the pressure is now on to make cities “smarter”. Refaat touts smart cities as an opportunity for Middle East countries to become world leaders in innovation.

“It is a big opportunity because the governments in the cities are really keen to bring the best to the citizens. They have the appetite, they have the willingness, and they have the money to do it. We are sitting with them, seeing what their priorities are, and how we can conduct workshops to tell them what we think the vision should be in these areas. They are running fast with it. We have seen a lot engagement in Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We are so proud that the governments are even sometimes ahead of other European countries. It’s very impressive, and that’s why IBM on a global level is investing heavily in the smarter cities in our region by deploying more resources, availing more expertise, putting them closer to us, and affording us budget to run these workshops. Before, this was not there in the region.” the way we see it — we need to bring value and be more effective with our clients. This is the only way we have been perceived in the marketplace,” he explains. Despite these changing times, Refaat is far from worried about the future of IBM. In fact, he believes competitors are looking to IBM to know what to do next. “Other companies are not shy to try to copy IBM models or even say so,” he says. “When you talk to some of the executives from other competitors, they say they are trying to copy IBM." And on one of his firm's competitors,

Refaat adds, "You have seen HP saying it loudly in the market. They bought a consultancy firm and are trying to integrate it. I don’t know how it’s moving now, but I don’t think it’s moving well." “The value we’ve seen now is we have all the components and are now trying to go to the next level, which is the client experience. This is what Ginni is focusing on right now; how we get our clients delighted, ensuring they are getting the proper attention, and meeting and exceeding their expectations. This is the next level.”

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in depth Microsoft

Microsoft’s executive reshuffle: Is Ballmer on to something? Microsoft garnered plenty of headlines in July, after CEO Steve Ballmer announced a complete reshuffle of the vendor’s top brass. ‘We need to move forward as one Microsoft,’ Ballmer said after the announcement was made. But what does that mean, and what does it mean for Microsoft’s customers around the world? CNME looks at Ballmer’s thinking.


Computer News Middle East

august 2013


hen Steve Ballmer went ahead with the expected reorganisation of Microsoft’s top brass, the idea, the CEO said, was to eliminate goals by division. He wanted to share technology and responsibilities across the company, according to a memo that was made public. And while Microsoft’s moves are a business decision with the goal of making the company more responsive and decisive, the end goal of the company hasn’t changed, Ballmer said. “Going forward, our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most,” Ballmer wrote in the memo. This is a pretty big change, given that, in the past, Microsoft organised its business around product groups, meaning that its mobile business, for example, was ultimately responsible for developing and fine-tuning the Windows Mobile and Windows Phone operating systems that powered third-party smartphones, while the Windows group oversaw the OS and apps for desktop and mobile PCs. Sticking with that example, under the new strategy, Terry Myerson will lead the Operating Systems Engineering Group, responsible for not only all the OS work, from consoles to mobile devices to PCs to back-end systems, but also the cloud services specifically used by the operating system. “Although we will deliver multiple devices and services to execute and monetise the strategy, the single core strategy will drive us to set shared goals for everything we do,” Ballmer wrote. “We will see our product line holistically, not as a set of islands. We will allocate resources and build devices and services that provide compelling, integrated experiences across the many screens in our lives, with maximum return to shareholders. All parts of the company will share and contribute to the success of core offerings, like Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, Surface, Office 365 and our EA offer, Bing, Skype, Dynamics,

Who’s on top?

Steve Ballmer, CEO

Tony Bates, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Evangelism

Lisa Brummel, Executive Vice President, Human Resources

Amy Hood, Executive Vice President and CFO

Julie Larson-Green, Executive Vice President, Devices and Studios

Qi Lu, Executive Vice President, Applications and Services

Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President, Operating Systems

Satya Nadella, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise

Mark Penn, Executive Vice President, Advertising and Strategy

Tami Reller, Executive Vice President, Marketing

Eric Rudder, Executive Vice President, Advanced Strategy and Research

Brad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Kirill Tatarinov, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Business Solutions

B. Kevin Turner, COO

august 2013

Computer News Middle East


in depth Microsoft

Azure and our servers. All parts of the company will contribute to activating highvalue experiences for our customers.” Other departments have been converged, too — Qi Lu is now Executive Vice President for Applications and Services. His responsibilities now include overseeing what used to be a number of different business units. Meanwhile, Satya Nadella will now oversee Cloud and Enterprise, which weren’t necessarily related before. But is this a good strategy? And what will the re-organisation mean for the vendor’s business operations around the world? Will the Middle East even be affected at all by the headline-grabbing goings-on over at Redmond? On the first question, analysts differ in their opinions. Tom Austin, a Gartner analyst, is skeptical of this shift from business units to functional groups. “The business of business is business," he said. "Companies should be organised by major business units, not by functional units." With this new set-up, it may become harder for outsiders such as customers, partners, investors and analysts to decipher Microsoft’s strategy and evaluate its performance, he said. In short, he fears there will be less transparency and visibility into the company. “I would have preferred that there was a clear message they were going to continue to manage and report by business. Whether they structure [the company] that way or not is less material,” Austin said. “The value of transparency is that it lets customers and investors make more

informed decisions as to the level of accuracy or spin that are in Microsoft’s executive statements,” he added. That said, there have been murmurs of approval from other analysts, who believe that the changes Ballmer wants to implement are completely necessary. “Microsoft’s core business is being undermined by changes in the market and the company needs to be more responsive and think about things differently than it has in the past,” said Al Gillen, Senior Analyst, IDC. These challenges include the extremely weak position of Windows Phone in the smartphone and tablet sphere, as well as competition against the Microsoft Office suite from rivals like Google, which now offer either free or markedly cheaper alternatives. And let’s not forget that, shortly after the re-organisation was announced, Microsoft said that it was effectively writing off around $900 million thanks to its experiment with the Surface RT tablet. That device runs Windows RT, a ‘Metro’-centric operating system suitable for ARM-powered tablets, and has been less than well-received by the buying public. The newly organised executive team, then, has plenty of hills to climb, but things are already on the up. Microsoft has responded to the smartphone and tablet woes with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. What’s more, Google’s QuickOffice offerings, while pretty good for their price, offer nothing like the integration or the enterprise-class reliability of Office 365, a suite that includes cloud-delivered versions of its productivity apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and Web-hosted versions

“We will see our product line holistically, not as a set of islands. We will allocate resources and build devices and services that provide compelling, integrated experiences across the many screens in our lives, with maximum return to shareholders.”


Computer News Middle East

august 2013


The charge Microsoft took to account for the poor-selling Surface RT tablet that debuted last year.

of its server products like SharePoint, Lync and Exchange. So despite Austin’s pessimism, many see good things ahead for Microsoft. However, what will be the ramifications for Microsoft’s teams across the world? Should customers in the Middle East have any cause for concern? According to a Dubai-based analyst who asked not to be named, Microsoft needs to ensure that these new, bigger business units can still offer a personalised customer service experience, particularly to large enterprise customers. “Say I have an issue with my new Windows 8 implementation for company desktops, I want Microsoft — or its partners — to be able to resolve it straight away. This was easy before because there was a separate Windows group, but now I’m worried that, under the converged business unit, some of the personal service might be lost,” the analyst said. However, he quickly added that we won’t be able to see the effects of the reorganisation until later this year, or even early next. What’s more, he said, most Microsoft customers in the region will have built up good relationships with Microsoft representatives, so, no matter how their business cards change, they should still be able to help. The consensus, then, is that Ballmer is onto a good thing. Some analysts are skeptical of the hype surrounding the re-organisation, sure, but few can doubt that change was needed at Microsoft — particularly considering its recent luck in the consumer market. With a new team behind him and a seemingly rejuvenated ability to listen to customer feedback, Ballmer seems well placed to fend off the attacks from Google and Apple.

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of UAE survey respondents would like their bank to issue them with a contactless card



1. Quick


shorter waiting time at cashier desk

2. Innovative

modern way of paying

3. Convenient

no need to fiddle around with coins

would like their bank to supply a contactless card that can be used for both payment and transit


The younger generation – widely recognised for willingness to adopt new technologies – would easily leapfrog to contactless banking cards. An interesting finding for UAE’s banks to draw 18 – 24 year olds into the world of mainstream banking.



would like their mobile phone to provide payment functionality


Payments eLoyality

Transit Events

while half of 18 – 24 year olds just can’t wait to use NFC


Initial scepticism has been replaced by a simple desire to start taking advantage of the benefits of NFC. Momentum behind contactless payment technologies is reaching a tipping point, and it is now just a case of when it becomes a part of everyday life, not if.

3 OUT OF 4 CONSUMERS ARE KEEN TO EMBRACE CONTACTLESS TECHNOLOGY Face-to-face interviews, conducted amongst 500 Dubai residents by Salience Research on behalf of Gemalto reveal overwhelming appetite for contactless technologies. BIG CITIES, BIG POTENTIAL






57% 73% 86%

do not yet have a banking payment card

The concentration of population means more pain points for end users. Fluidity and speed of life in the city needs contactless solutions.




are regular users of the Dubai Metro


show strong interest in contactless multi application cards


72% 84% 95%

see no barriers at all to adoption

are already aware of the technology

are confident about security not becoming a barrier

61% 85%

smartphone penetration in UAE

1000 0123 45

of POS terminals will be NFC enabled within 3 years Source: ABI Research






of UAE’s transaction volume currently paid in cash With the contactless infrastructure rapidly coming into place, contactless technology is expected to become very popular in the region. Soon the gentle tap of a phone or card will increasingly provide a truly compelling alternative to UAE consumers’ long-held attachment to notes and coins.


short takes Month in view

MEA leads IP traffic growth The Middle East and Africa will be the fastest-growing IP traffic region in the world from 2012 to 2017, showing a compound annual growth rate of 38 percent, according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast. This will represent a five-fold growth over the projected period. In

comparison, global IP traffic is expected to grow threefold between 2012 and 2017, Cisco said. The MEA region showed the fastest growth in IP traffic last year, too. The region’s IP traffic was projected to grow 10-fold, with a compound annual growth rate of 57 percent, from 2011 to 2016.


Cisco is set to expand its security software portfolio with the acquisition of Sourcefire in a deal worth $2.7 billion. Both boards have approved the acquisition, which is expected to close later this year.

New LTE technologies to emerge rapidly

Emerging technologies for 4G LTE networks are expected to make rapid advances over the next few years, helping mobile networks keep up with data growth and bringing more users worldwide into the LTE fold. By 2018, a majority of the world’s LTE subscriptions will be on networks that use either TD (time-division) LTE or features from the emerging LTEAdvanced standard, according to an ABI Research forecast. Polycom President and CEO Andrew Miller resigned after the audit committee of the company’s board found irregularities in his expense-report submissions. Polycom board member Kevin Parker was named interim CEO.


Computer News Middle East

august 2013

During 2012, Cisco said, the MEA region’s consumer Internet traffic grew by 83 percent, while business Internet traffic grew by 63 percent. Breaking down further the numbers for the region during 2012, Cisco said that 10 percent of consumer Internet traffic was mobile during that year, while five percent of business Internet traffic was mobile.

du expands its managed services portfolio In the hope of strengthening its managed services portfolio, du last week announced the launch of IT Management as a Service. The UAE-based telco’s solution delivers a cloud-based IT management and help desk service, which is delivered on a pay-as-you-use model. The solution provides features such as proactive system monitoring, patch management, disaster recovery, IT auditing, IT policy management and anti-virus management, among other advanced features. Announcing the launch of the service, which is being offered in partnership with IT Max Global and Kaseya, Hatem Bamatraf, Executive Vice President Enterprise Business, du, said that the new service would allow organisations to focus on their core business, rather than having to worry about maintaining network uptime. According to the telco, IT management services account for more than 30 percent of the overall IT budgets for corporations. And the global market for IT management automation — or remote infrastructure management — is predicted to grow even higher in the next few year, du said. “Our IT Management as a Service is a complete solution that ensures regular monitoring of the systems and proactive prevention of issues before they even occur," Bamatraf said. "This lets businesses focus on what’s most important — their core business.."

WHAT’S HOT? In its second-quarter earnings, Yahoo rose profits by 46 percent, aided by nearly a dozen product launches. Second quarter net earnings per share were $0.30, approximately a 67 percent increase from $0.18 in the year-ago quarter. One analyst said that, after a year with Marissa Mayer at the helm, Yahoo is no longer seen as a “dead company walking”.

Yahoo Lenovo surpassed HP into the top spot for global PC shipments with boosted secondquarter shipments of 12.6 million, aided by expanded sales outside of Asia Pacific. That was still a decline from a year earlier, but much smaller than competitors. Of the top five vendors, Acer saw the biggest declines, with shipments dropping by a third from a year earlier.

Lenovo Not a great month for Apple as profits dropped 22 percent year on year, and the company’s developer website was hacked. Sales were down in part because the company didn’t have a big product launch, and because of the increased competition from Android-based devices. As a silver lining, however, the results were ahead of analysts’ expectations, and shares jumped in after-hours trading.

Apple Microsoft closed its fiscal year with a disappointing earnings call, missing revenue and profits expectations, and taking a $900 million charge to account for what it called “inventory adjustments” for the Surface RT, the poor-selling tablet that debuted last year. The write-off reiterated the serious struggles the much-maligned tablet has faced in gaining traction among consumers.



Networks riddled with vulnerable Java: Bit9 Java vulnerabilities continue to represent a major security risk for organisations because most of them have outdated versions of the software installed on their systems, according to a report by security firm Bit9. Bit9's report is based on data about Java usage collected from approximately a million enterprise endpoint systems owned by almost 400 organisations that use the company’s software reputation service. Oracle has made significant Java security improvements in the last six months, but the data shows that Java 6 is still the most prevalent major version, present on more than 80 percent of enterprise computers that have Java installed. Java 6 reached the end of public support in April, and only Oracle customers with a long-term support contract will continue to receive security updates for it. Java 7, the version that is the focus of Oracle’s recent security strengthening efforts, was only found on around 15 percent of endpoint systems sampled by Bit9. The most widely deployed Java version, according to Bit9's data, was Java 6 Update 20, which was installed on a little over 9 percent of endpoints. This version of Java is vulnerable to a total of 215 security issues, 96 of which have the maximum impact score on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scale, Bit9 said.

Businesses neglect BYOD policies


Intel has moved to bring keyboard-free computing to PCs and mobile phones with the acquisition of Omek Interactive, whose software and programming tools allow devices to recognise hand and body movements.

Amazon lures the cloud-weary with 80% price cuts Amazon Web Services dropped the price of its dedicated instances, which are virtual machines allocated to individual customers and that do not run on shared hardware. Usually cloud resources are multitenant, meaning that multiple customers are running workloads on the same virtualised hardware. Dedicated instances are the basis of AWS' Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) offering and are aimed at organisations that do not want to share public cloud resources with others. But unlike many other private clouds, these resources are still hosted on Amazon infrastructure, not on customer sites. AWS dropped its pricing of these dedicated instances by up to 80 percent. Dedicated instances require a per-hour fee to use the service, which dropped from $10 per hour to $2 per hour. It also dropped the per-hour price of the dedicated instances by 37 percent.

Mobile malware jumps 614% in a year The number of mobile malware apps has jumped 614 percent in the last year, according to studies conducted by McAfee and Juniper Networks. The Juniper study — its third annual Mobile Threats Report — showed malware aimed specifically at Android devices has increased at a staggering rate since 2010, growing from 24 percent of all mobile malware that year to 92 percent by March 2013. According to data from Juniper’s Mobile Threat Center (MTC) research facility, the number of malicious mobile apps jumped 614 percent in the last year to 276,259. McAfee’s study found that a type of SMS malware known as a Fake Installer can be used to charge a typical premium rate of $4 per message once installed on a mobile device. Seventy-three percent of all known malware involves Fake Installers, according to the report.

SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe will leave his post in May 2014 to become a member of the enterprise software vendor’s supervisory board, leaving Bill McDermott as sole CEO.

New research has shown businesses are putting corporate data at risk by failing to implement BYOD strategies. The report found that just over half of the IT professionals surveyed have no personal device policy in place, and that 23 percent of those with BYOD policies are willing to make exceptions for executives, who handle some of the most sensitive data.

Juniper CEO announces retirement Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson has revealed he is retiring once a successor is found. Johnson abruptly announced his retirement after Juniper announced its second quarter earnings in which it soundly beat Wall Street estimates: $1.15 billion in revenue, $60 million better than expected, and profit four cents per share higher than forecast. Johnson will continue to serve in his current capacities while a transition is completed. Juniper’s board has formed a search committee and hired an executive recruiting firm to draft its next CEO. august 2013

Despite today’s second quarter results, Juniper’s financial results have been inconsistent. The company dropped in market share rankings in both service provider edge routing and enterprise switching. And Juniper’s security business has declined in the face of new competitors. Things appear to be rebounding in the second quarter. And in the third, Juniper expects more of the same — strong routing and switching demand, and a stabilising security business.

Computer News Middle East


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Intelligent scanning for smart business

Introducing the new ScanSnap iX500 from Fujitsu. Made to make your life easier. · · · ·

Built in Wi-Fi for documents straight to tablet or smartphone Scans business cards to A4 double-sided and even A3 Fast scanning, up to 50 sides per minute Creates searchable PDFs

Drop a mixed handful of documents into the new Fujitsu iX500 scanner; anything you like from business cards to A3. Then just press the blue button. In less time than it takes to read this, the first page will be scanned and the image ready to be viewed. It can even scan both sides at the same time with no loss of speed. The iX500 will deliver perfect results: pages facing the same way and all images straightened. The new GI-processor performs the intelligent image enhancement responsible for great looking images. They can be easily stored as searchable pdfs to make finding them again child’s play, or if you want them on the move just use the in-built Wi-Fi to send the documents straight to your tablet or smartphone.

All names, manufacturer names, brand and product designations are subject to special trademark rights and are manufacturer‘s trademarks and/or registered brands of their respective owners. All indications are non-binding. Technical data is subject to change without prior notication.

on location Bank AlBilad

Banking on virtualisation When Saudi Arabia’s Bank AlBilad needed to increase its server capacity while decreasing the number of physical servers it had to run, it turned to VMware for a solution. Two years later, the bank had virtualised 95 percent of its data centre, and had more than double the capacity to play with.


n terms of virtualisation, VMware are just way ahead of anyone else. They’ve been doing it longer than anyone else, and you can see it in the products they offer.” That’s pretty high praise for VMware, and it doesn’t even come from a vendor representative or partner — it comes from a VMware customer. The customer in question is Rashed AlOthman, Chief Information Officer, Bank AlBilad. The Islamic bank, based in Saudi Arabia, found itself in a position that would involve endlessly needing to expand its data centre, thanks to continued business expansion, and so hit upon virtualisation as an answer to its problems. “It wasn’t an ideal situation — we were running at capacity almost all of the time, spending a lot of time and resources on the simple upkeep of the data centre. We wanted to increase our data centre capacity and decrease the number of physical servers that we had to run. Naturally, we looked at virtualisation as the answer,” says AlOthman. Now, following a two-year implementation process, the bank’s data centre is 98-percent virtualised, though the original project aimed at virtualising the data centre to 95 percent.

It’s an impressive feat, no doubt, so how did the bank go about doing it? Certainly, there were issues even before a vendor had been picked for the project. After all, virtualisation is still a relatively young technology in the Middle East, with less than half of enterprises actually running partially virtualised environments, despite not having to work around terribly old legacy systems. “When we talk about virtualisation, you notice that the region is still a little bit weary about it. A lot of companies in the Middle East look at virtualisation in the same way that companies in Europe or Australia looked at virtualisation 10 years ago. There’s still that perception that the old way of doing things is better, and a sort of apprehension about the technology,” says AlOthman. Bank AlBilad had shared similar concerns about virtualisation, but having seen that the technology could lead to a much more efficient data centre, AlOthman decided to test the virtualisation water, landing on a solution from VMware. “When we first started, we had a VMware vSphere, though we weren’t using it to its maximum potential,” says AlOthman. “It was kind of sitting there, being used for various different things but not

august 2013

Computer News Middle East


on location Bank AlBilad

really affecting the overall environment. What we decided to do was take what we could do with the vSphere and apply it to the whole data centre.” Why did the bank want to do this? Well, as stated before, Bank AlBilad was running pretty much at capacity, using over 300 physical servers to the max. To simply buy more physical servers to accommodate the bank’s growth would have been a hugely expensive project. It also wouldn’t help for when — as can be reasonably expected — the bank entered new levels of growth further down the line. Now, the bank has 750 virtual servers running at around 60 percent capacity. What’s more, if the business does experience a spike in growth, the IT department can easily provision for more virtual servers. “It’s a big improvement. If we wanted 750 physical servers, we’d be talking about a huge warehouse just to house the data centre – it’s just a no-brainer when you think about the costs savings,” says AlOthman. Over a period of two years, then, the bank went about migrating to the virtual servers. The solution the bank used was the VMware vSphere 5.1, which incorporates VMware VCenter Operations Manager and VMware vShield Endpoint. The reason the migration took so long, according to AlOthman, was because the bank wanted to do things properly. After all, it’s charged with handling over SR3 billion in corporate capital, so any mistakes on the IT side were simply not acceptable. What’s more, because the bank had been running on physical servers pretty much since the beginning, its staff needed to be trained on how to effectively manage the new virtual servers. So, before the project was implemented, VMware was asked to train around 60 of the bank’s IT staff on the vSphere 5.1. “Like I said, in the Middle East, virtualisation isn’t as big yet, so we needed to get everyone up to speed on the new environment. Obviously we couldn’t expect everyone to be the vSphere expert overnight, so we asked VMware to come in and train our staff,” says AlOthman. Aside from this, with an eye on customer service across the consumer banking divisions, the bank migrated from one-Gigabit Ethernet core switching to 10-Gigabit core switching. The bank also went about implementing a new storage virtualisation and IP-based storage infrastructure.

“If we wanted 750 physical servers, we’d be talking about a huge warehouse just to house the data centre – it’s just a nobrainer when you think about the cost savings.”

Rashed alothman, cio, bank albilad

Happily, the migration went about without many issues, and in 2011, the data centre was 95-percent virtualised, with only a few other functions running on physical servers. AlOthman offers high praise to VMware in terms of setting up, and says that the technology has now made the bank’s IT department much more agile. “We signed up for the VMware Technical Account Manager Programme, which basically meant we had someone from VMware available to help us if we had any issues. We’ve also discussed roadmaps for future projects with them, so we know that we can expand effectively in the future,” he explains. And what about future endeavours? Well, from a data centre point of view, AlOthman says that the current environment still offers a lot of room for expansion, but the bank is looking into more storage virtualisation technologies. What’s more, he’s carried on virtualising more of the data centre since the original implementation, meaning the data centre is now 98 percent virtualised. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Having first been a little uneasy about virtualisation, Bank AlBilad has since virtualised what amounts to almost its entire data centre, and now speaks extremely highly about the vendor that provided the technology. Whether or not AlOthman’s claims about VMware are accurate is up to the IT community, but the vendor can certainly claim to have one very satisfied customer.

august 2013

Computer News Middle East


CIO Spotlight Fady Sleiman

Fady Sleiman, CIO for the Middle East and Africa, General Electric


Computer News Middle East

august 2013

Blessing in disguise When fate stepped in the way of Fady Sleiman’s dream of becoming a pilot, it opened up an entirely new road – one that would eventually bring him to the position of corporate CIO for the Middle East and Africa at General Electric.


y passion is flying. When I was 17, my father gave me an ultimatum: I could either buy a car or I could do flying. I chose the flying, and I got myself the car later.” These hardly sound like the words of someone who didn’t actually end up becoming a pilot. Judging by the way in which Fady Sleiman, now General Electric’s corporate CIO for the Middle East and North Africa, speaks about his early love for flying, it’s difficult to believe that his career took him anywhere near IT. It’s a bit like getting to meet Tom Cruise’s character in Top Gun only to find out that, since the film was made, he’s become an accountant. And yet, by a strange series of coincidences, it was Sleiman’s passion for flying that set him on the path to becoming the regional CIO for one of the world’s biggest companies. What’s more, now that he’s made it to the top IT job at GE, he’s glad that his life turned out the way it did — he calls the direction change a “blessing in disguise”. So how did everything get shaken up from the original plan? Well, Sleiman certainly was on track to becoming a pilot — having taken a couple of months off for lessons in the United States as a 17-yearold, he could fly a small aircraft before he could drive a car. After returning to London, where he grew up with his Lebanese parents, he did plenty more training, earning a basic commercial pilot licence. “I flew old-age pensioners all around Europe — Italy, Amsterdam, all those places,” Sleiman says. “It was just paying my way through university and things like that.” At university in Nottingham, United Kingdom, Sleiman took computer studies, and specialised in information management. Aside from the aviation, Sleiman was always interested in the technology world — and plus, he says, to take his flying career to the next level, Sleiman would have had to focus on either computers or literature, so computer studies was the clear choice. Following university, Sleiman got himself onto the British Airways pilot scheme, which accepts just 25 pilots every year. Indeed, his childhood dream was quickly becoming a reality, and he was set to start on September 15, 2001. However, the US terror attacks of September 11, 2001, meant that pretty much every airline in the world would have to rethink its strategy. And unfortunately, British Airways was forced to decline Sleiman a place on its pilot scheme at the last minute. “Obviously, September 11 happened, and it changed everything, so they indefinitely postponed that,” Sleiman recalls.

The airline did not, however, wish to leave Sleiman hanging high and dry, and so it referred him to a careers fair for top-end graduates in London, where he met recruiters from CitiGroup, Chase Manhattan and, of course, General Electric. “It was basically British Airways that introduced me to GE,” Sleiman says. “What happened was, as soon as they notified us, it was the last day of this two-day event at Imperial College. Literally, when I went there, I got offered a job on the same day because British Airways backed us with all the education, references and everything with regards to what we needed.” Indeed, Sleiman got offered jobs from all three of the companies that he met, though GE stood out for him in a number of ways — not least because the company had pledged to put him on a graduate fast-track scheme, an executive leadership programme that would take him across the world. In contrast, a job at either of the other two firms would involve only half the amount of travel. “I chose GE because it was four rotations, not two. All the others were two — one year in London, and one year in New York. Instead, this was four six-month rotations. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in IT, so I ended up doing that.” Having joined GE’s so-called Information Management Leadership Programme, Sleiman quickly fell in love with the GE Capital business, which entails GE Money and the consumer, corporate and commercial finance sides of the GE business. Immediately after his two-year stint in the leadership programme, Sleiman joined GE Capital, adopting a global reconciliation programme manager role. “At the bank, we had lots of reconciliation issues, as you can imagine, so me and my team would focus on any business that had more than $6 million in write-offs a year. As soon as we did that, we’d go there and rectify that, using automation, using technology, and fix the issue so that they would be saving that $6 million that they were losing previously. That’s what the whole idea was. It was like an audit staff type of role, and every three months, we would do something like that,” Sleiman says. Having built up a successful track record for reconciliation, Sleiman joined the acquisitions and merger team for GE Capital, which brought him to Dubai in 2007. He was directly involved in a merger with Al Futtaim Group, which jointly created Al Futtaim GE Money with GE that year. Little did Sleiman know then, however,

august 2013

Computer News Middle East


CIO Spotlight Fady Sleiman

that he would end up staying in Dubai long after that deal had run its course. After the due diligence for that merger was completed, the regional CEO of GE Money asked Sleiman to take the firm’s regional CIO role. He took the job without a moment’s hesitation, excited at the prospect of building an entire IT infrastructure from scratch. “It was a greenfield programme, so there was nothing here. We had four employees when I started. By the time we finished, at the optimum level of the business, we had something like 440 people,” Sleiman says. However, that business wasn’t to last — because of the 2008 financial crisis, GE Money handed its portion of the joint venture back over to Al Futtaim. It was the right thing to do, Sleiman says — even though around 230 got handed back, the business, now called Al Futtaim Financial Services, ended up thriving. Sleiman, meanwhile, continued as regional CIO of GE Money. Having launched a number of implementations, and built a strong IT infrastructure from scratch, it wasn’t long before Sleiman started to attract some attention. By 2010, having been impressed with Sleiman’s work, GE’s regional corporate CEO, Nabil Hubayeb, asked him to take on the role of corporate CIO, overseeing all the various business units under the GE umbrella. This ended up being the challenge of a lifetime for Sleiman, but it was one that he was quick to embrace. “Because we’re an emerging market, we’re still growing very quickly and we don’t have, I would say, the dedicated CIOs for businesses. Some businesses have CIOs, and where they have one it’s fine. But where they don’t have one, we’ve basically stepped in and we’ve helped, and we’ve paved the way for the strategy for the region on making GE a best-in-class regional centre,” he says. “I’ve actually been in the role now for three years. It’s been a roller coaster ride, and it’s been a very good one.” So, having been introduced by British Airways to GE, and gone on to nab the firm’s top regional IT job, does Sleiman ever look back and think about what might have been, had he realised his dream of becoming a pilot? “I always did, but the problem with flying is that age is against you. It makes it a lot more difficult, as you get older, to get involved. Anyway, my love originally was with flying itself — yeah you had assistance from technology, but now, technology can enable an aircraft to take off and land on its own, so in that sense, I think it was a blessing in disguise.” That said, Sleiman still keeps up his flying licence, which requires him to fly 13 hours every year. What’s more, with GE’s massive ties to the aviation industry — GE is the world’s largest aircraft engine supplier, and is the world’s biggest leasing company for aircraft — Sleiman still gets plenty of access to that world. The CIO also believes he’s better suited where he is — he says he’s committed to building up the region, and he believes that technology will provide the way to do that. “I’m here long-term,” Sleiman explains. “My origins are from the region. The good thing about it is that I have a passion to help this region grow.”



Born in London to Lebanese parents.

2001 Having been schooled in Surrey, graduates from the University of Nottingham with an honours degree in Computer Studies.


Accepted onto British Airways pilot programme.

2001 Following US terror attacks, referred by British Airways to General Electric.

2007 Comes to Dubai as part of GE Money’s mergers and acquisitions team.

2007 Offered the job of regional CIO for GE Money.

2010 Offered the job of regional CIO for the entire GE group.

august 2013

Computer News Middle East


on location Mashreq Bank

Magic Mashreq The Middle East’s first Chief Transformation Officer leads Mashreq Bank’s vision to transform its in-branch experience with a new digital concept.


ou would never disassociate banking with innovation. The sector continues to utilise things like the Internet and mobile apps to take the banking experience out of the branch and into the customer’s home. But the effect has seen a degree of neglect towards the branch experience itself. Indeed, many customers still prefer to do their banking in, well... a bank. The UAE’s first bank, Mashreq, has never been one to shy away from innovation. It was the first to bring the ATM, credit cards, debit cards, and chip and PIN to the country. Now, it has jumped ahead again — this time with a first-of-its-kind digital concept and banking experience in the Middle East, which goes by the name of the E Cube Retail Concept. With an emphasis on interactivity, and delivering a banking experience through the familiarity customers now have with touchscreen technology, the branch includes 75-inch exterior attractor screens, eight Samsung tablets, and a digital table.


Computer News Middle East

august 2013

The devices are designed to allow customers to carry out standard banking activities at their own pace, with the option of downloading application forms and additional product information onto their smartphones through QR codes. As well as being able to browse through products and services, customise them to their requirements, and apply for them there and then, customers can also check their social media and surf the Internet, and kids can play interactive games whilst their parents attend to their banking needs. The project was the brainchild of David Horton, Chief Transformation Officer, Mashreq. Previously the CIO of Mashreq, Horton was the first in the region to hold the new innovation-focused title, which a number of banks have gone on to replicate. The idea came about in September 2012, and was the combination of discussions on the branch in frequent forums. “Obviously the branch is a fairly significant factor in the retail banking division, so discussions came up,” Horton says. In October, Horton and his team put together a conceptual presentation based on a proof-of-concept idea. “It was a presentation to the management to say, ‘Here is an idea of what the branch of the future could look like, some of the technologies that could be used, and how they would be applicable to the way that we work,’” he says. On the integration side, Horton enlisted the services of Mashreq’s Microsoft partner, Infusion, which boasts a strong background in implementing digital experiences. “So the management bought into it pretty much immediately,” Horton says. “And then it was a case of initiating a formal project.”

Working committee The next step was doing all the background work — in particular, figuring out how much it would cost and how long it would take. Mashreq brought together all the various stakeholders — the Head of Branches, Head of Electronic Channels, Head of Retail Banking, Head of Banking, and Horton — to form a working committee to progress the idea.

“We thought it would give us a distinctive competitive advantage, showing customers that we not only invest in technology, but that it’s not just technology for the sake of technology purposes — it’s actually there to make the experience for the customer.”

In January, the committee did a brainstorming session, Horton says, and “threw some ideas on a page” as to what it would look like, how it would feel, and what it would do. “We thought it would give us a distinctive competitive advantage, showing customers that we not only invest in technology, but that it’s not just technology for the sake of technology purposes — it’s actually there to make the experience for the customer.” The next stage was due diligence. The working committee set off on a trip to Singapore, where they looked at a couple of other banks that have implemented similar concepts. The first was a visit to DBS Bank, which has invested in a “space age-like” look that focuses more on the cosmetics of its flagship branch, Horton says. “They haven’t done it to the same scale as what we’ve done. We were very clear that we didn’t want to do one branch and say, ‘That’s our flagship branch and that’s the end of it.’ “We wanted a solution that will be replicated so we could roll it out to all branches. It’s not a digital flagship branch; it’s a flagship network.” The committee then visited OCBC Bank and looked at a concept it has developed for students. “Again, less technology, more on what the customer experience is like inside some of these branches,” Hoston says. He adds that, as soon as they returned from that trip, they were convinced they were on the right track. “In fact, we thought we were actually going to exceed some of the stuff that we saw. And it was all go from there.” In March came one of the most important decisions — selecting the vendors. The choice of operating system was easy, Horton explains. “Windows 8 was always going to be the operating solution for us because it’s the de facto operating system for doing corporate development on,” he says. “So that was important for us.” Product play The hardware choice was slightly more complex, and involved the evaluation of a number of solutions after a tender was sent out. Amongst the vendors considered were Samsung, Sharp, Lenovo and Microsoft’s own Surface. After being sent trial equipment by all the vendors, Mashreq delivered everything to Infusion, which tested them in an innovation lab mocked up as a branch. Mashreq ran the proposals through its VEM (vendor evaluation matrix), where it determines which categories it is going to score and by what weightage. For each of the products, Mashreq jotted in the numbers and calculated a grand total, which it then weighed up against the costs. “We’ve made a decision for the time being to go with Samsung hardware,” Horton says, “primarily because they were one of the very few vendors that do all the mediums. “They do the touch-screen digital walls, the large screens, the tablets, the kiosk PCs, and the digital tables. So for simplicity reasons, it made sense. They were also cost-competitive and scored the highest in terms of delivering all of those solutions.”

august 2013

Computer News Middle East


on location Mashreq Bank

The development started immediately after selecting Samsung in March. With all the testing, and much of the development, already done by Infusion, the process was accelerated. “We knew at a point in time that we simply had to pick up that equipment, deliver it to the branch and get it installed,” Horton says. But what did take a bit of time was the training of the in-branch staff to make them familiar with the technology, and the civil work. “All the interior design, decorations and cosmetics probably take as much time as actually developing the technology and solution,” Horton says. “So at the point when we were happy that the technology solution was developed and working the way we wanted it to work, I’d say within a two-and-a-half-week time span, we had the cabinetry designed, developed, mounted and installed.” Mashreq was keen not to give the branch a complete make-over and tell customers to use it in a completely different way, however. “A lot of banks do that, which I think is a mistake,” Horton says. “This level of change has got to be introduced subtly to customers and has got to happen over a period of time, so we didn’t remove anything that the branch used to do. “We’ve only added to it now, so now you have alternative ways to


The increase in the number of people entering Mashreq’s DIC branch.


Computer News Middle East

august 2013

do things, and, over time, as customers become more familiar with the new technology, then we will start to phase out some of the paper forms and things like that.” Paying its dividends With most of the work done in the evenings, the branch didn’t require any downtime, and whilst Mashreq went live on the opening of the new concept in June, it was actually ready in April. According to Horton, there has already been an “overwhelmingly” positive response to the branch, which sits in Dubai Internet City (DIC). “At the same time, we’ve seen an immediate increase in footfall within the branch,” he says. “Within the first month, we’ve already seen a 20 percent increase in the amount of people coming into the branch, and we’ve seen an even more significant increase in tickets being allotted from the queuing machine. “So we’re seeing it pay its dividends. There has also been an increase in new customers, rather than just existing customers coming to experience it. To put it into perceptive, in June, we had the record in Mashreq’s history of new customers to the bank, as well as the least attrition, so least customers leaving our bank.” Furthermore, with customers able to grade their experiences on the touch-screen devices, Mashreq received more feedback forms in the first month of the technology going live, than all the feedback it received in the previous seven months. Mashreq is now looking to roll out the concept across more of its branches. Ibn Buttuta Mall was being implemented in July, and Mashreq expects to have at least six malls done by the end of the year. It also plans to deploy the solution at its main Abu Dhabi branch, another one in Sharjah, and in any new branches going forward.


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ERP software

The changing face of ERP With small and medium-sized businesses now looking to implement watered-down ERP solutions, and the 'nexus of forces' bearing down, CNME investigates what’s in store for the future of ERP.


magine Henry Ford in 1900 explaining to his world that an assembly line will help to produce more cars. Nobody would dare to challenge this today. At the time, the change of putting the production of a car into a structured process will have meant dramatic change and push-back. Today, there are only boutique car manufacturers who can afford to produce without the assembly line.” So says Steffan Reisacher, Mobile and Process Lead, Strategic Business Development, EMEA, SAP. It might be strange to hear an enterprise IT expert speaking about how cars are produced, but he explains that the automotive production line can be used to perfectly illustrate the need for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software in large enterprises. “The assembly line is for the car industry what enterprise resource planning, or management (ERM), is for any process in business. ERP simply helped to make information available everywhere in the organisation and, in the best case, process it automatically,” he explains. 36

Computer News Middle East

august 2013

“Did the truck leave the company? Can we bill the customer? Can anybody please check if he paid? Every piece of data was accessible for the next person in a well-defined business process and automatically posted in accounting. The costs of cooperation with customers, suppliers and within a company were reduced dramatically.” ERP solutions evolved from material resource planning, which enterprises across the world had adopted in the 1960s in order to run more efficiently. According to Swaminathan Natarajan, Oracle Fusion Applications Leader, the carmaker Toyota was among the first to implement such ideas as inventory planning and costing. Later on, accounting was thrown into the mix so that payables and receivables could be managed easier, and so ERP was born. “More and more manufacturing organisations started using ERP solutions. Service organisations also started using ERP concepts like financial management (payables, receivables, asset management) to automate and streamline their processes. ERP solutions further evolved to manage asset-intensive organisations like aviation or telecoms,” he says.



august 2013

Computer News Middle East



ERP software

1972 The year that SAP changed ERP with its one-size-fitsall solution.

According to Reisacher, though, it was SAP that pioneered the ERP market in 1972, thanks to it developing a standard software instead of attempting to build bespoke ERP solutions for each and every customer. “Selling a standard software is much less time consuming than producing it customer by customer. Hence SAP was able to rapidly gain the majority of the market,” he says. Whoever started it, though, the ERP market is much more diverse now. Oracle would certainly describe itself as the current-day leader, while smaller vendors like Infor point to the big two as outdated and proclaim themselves a viable third option. Either way, though, all ERP vendors are working to bring the technology into the future. One of the issues to tackle, it seems, is that, up until recently, it was only large enterprises that could afford to implement ERP systems. This was a shame for both vendor and customer — it meant that the smaller business customer was missing out on an opportunity to streamline business, and the vendors were missing out on a huge chunk of the market (no one needs reminding just how valuable the Middle Eastern SMB market has become to vendors over the past five years or so). To remedy the situation, vendors have since come out with cost-effective ERP solutions targeted at the mid-market. What’s more, vendors that provide task-specific packages and add-ons to the overall ERP solutions have also jumped on board the SMB bandwagon. This means that smaller businesses really can get all the functionality that was once the preserve of larger enterprises, according to Ali Hyder, CEO, Focus Softnet. “ERP solutions in the past were proprietary and very expensive and beyond the IT budgets of SMEs. However, this has changed. Vendors are now also developing and offering cost-effective ERP solutions to SMEs. Most of the companies which were purely accounting packages providers, like Focus Softnet, Sage and Tally, upgraded their

“ERP vendors are focusing on delivering business solutions which open new market places, improve operational efficiency and streamline business processes.”


Computer News Middle East

August 2013

“The assembly line is for the car industry what enterprise resource planning, or management (ERM), is for any process in business. ERP simply helped to make information available everywhere in the organisation and, in the best case, process it automatically.” products and now have full-fledged ERPs for midtier markets,” he says. “SMBs look for solutions that are not only easy to deploy and use but also increase productivity and efficiency. The ERP solution deployed by the SMB needs to be adapted to the business rather than the business adapting to the solution. A number of vendors are now offering SMBs cost-effective ERP solutions that are flexible, scalable and easy to customise. A significant number of SMB companies are also looking at lowering total cost of ownership (TCO) by availing of the shared cost model in the adoption of business applications,” he adds. But bringing ERP into the future isn’t all about tailoring solutions so that they can be sold to SMBs. According to Phil Lewis, Business Consulting Director, MEA, Infor, what made ERP solutions so popular in the first place — the fact that they were one-size-fits-all technologies — has since gone against the ERP market. He believes that ERP now has to change if it is to stay relevant to business, and therefore customer, needs. “Monolithic, one-size-fits-all systems have worked in the past in providing good, centralised control, but now companies prize speed and agility — the ability to change is critical,” he says. Lewis’ view is that, for a truly successful ERP implementation, the vendor has to have industry expertise. He also says that ERP solutions now have to be easily integrated with other applications, as well as allow a decent degree of enterprise mobility.

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ERP software

A lot of these “must have” traits for a futuristic ERP solution are happening right now. For example, at the Inforum customer conference earlier this year, Infor said that it had differentiated itself by targeting what it called “micro-verticals” — industries within industries that have their own specific sets of needs. That ticks the “industry expertise” box, then. Meanwhile, Lewis also says that integration with other applications is critical — Oracle recently made headlines over high-profile tie-ins with other vendors, and SAP is already known for its impressive third-party app store. Another prerequisite for a futuristic ERP solution is mobility, according to Lewis. Infor showcased a number of iOS-friendly business apps at Inforum earlier this year, and SAP recently made headlines with its new mobile enterprise app store. And what about ease of use? Surely that’s one area in which all ERP solutions — famous for being complicated, technical and often difficult to grasp — could improve. According to Hyder, this is a must, as business users are continuously wowed by their easyto-use consumer smartphone apps and are beginning to demand the same of their enterprise apps. “As users feel the ease of use with mobile apps, they expect similar experiences from their ERP application. The ERP market in the Middle East region is adapting to the demands of most enterprises by adding more features, especially apps on mobiles, to allow employees to access the ERP on mobile devices. The most common features expected from the mobile version is the BI (business intelligence) dashboard, critical management alerts and booking of sales orders,” he says. It might be a tall order to bring all of that technology to the mobile and to make it look good, but according to Oracle’s Natarajan, that’s exactly what

"ERP today is practically unrecognisable from its first iterations (it has roots 30plus years ago) — though many companies still use that legacy software.” Phil Lewis, Business Consulting Director, MEA, Infor

ERP solutions evolved from a concept used to manage resources called


“The ERP market in the Middle East region is adapting to the demands of most enterprises by adding more features, especially apps on mobiles, to allow employees to access the ERP on mobile devices.” Ali Hyder, CEO, Focus Softnet


Computer News Middle East

August 2013

vendors like the one he represents are trying to do. Apparently, the ERP solutions of the future are already here, and they’re here to stay. “ERP vendors like Oracle offer solutions that rest on five important pillars: modern user interfaces, cloud, mobility, social and embedded intelligence. With modern technology like Web 2.0 [and] HTML5, the user experience is dramatically improved in ERP solutions like Oracle,” he says. “Executing a business process in ERP is as simple as booking an airline ticket or buying from an online store. The user experience is further improved because of real-time intelligence (embedded BI), device-independent access to ERP (mobility), any time, anywhere, access to solutions (cloud and mobility) and working in a collaborative environment (social).” Indeed, those five pillars that Natarajan mentioned are likely to become the drivers behind the next generation of ERP solutions, says Infor’s Lewis. New possibilities will emerge from cloud computing, while mobility and social media will drive businesses to look for exciting ways leveraging intelligence. “We have seen some clients use cloud versions as a ‘sandbox’ to explore new functionality, whilst others have opted for compete cloud based ERP systems as a cost-driven measure,” he says. “Mobile — specifically enterprise mobility — is another key force. Extending the ERP system out to the shop floor or field will yield another round of big productivity savings and improvements in operations. There is an ongoing discussion around the platform that end users may prefer, but it is certain that the ability to make decisions and transact with the ERP system is about to be set free from the desktop.” As the so-called 'nexus of forces' continue to affect the way in which IT departments operate, no doubt the ERP world will have to change, too. And by the looks of things, that change is already taking place.


Server virtualisation

The virtual reality Server virtualisation may be well on its way to being a ubiquitous deployment, but the journey is not as easy as it appears.


Computer News Middle East

august 2013

strategic it networking partner

network WORLD


erver virtualisation has emerged as an extremely popular enterprise deployment. By running multiple virtual machines on a single physical chassis, organisations can save costs, increase utilisation and simplify operations. However, while the ROI is simple, the same cannot be said for the implementation itself. Or, at least, the effect it has on data centre infrastructure designed to support traditional server models. A recent study conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Brocade revealed that, although data centre virtualisation and cloud computing are being widely embraced, IT managers across the world are struggling to make their networks meet performance benchmarks, despite ongoing investments. The biggest barrier to adopting these new technologies, Brocade said, seemed to be having to sustain — at great cost — ageing legacy systems.

Ninety-one percent of the 1,750 IT decision makers surveyed believe that their current IT infrastructures still require substantial upgrades in order to meet the demands of virtualisation and cloud computing. This is despite the fact that organisations are committed to technology investments — the report said that over three quarters of respondents claimed to have updated their IT environments in the last three years. While ageing legacy systems are less of a concern in the emerging market of the Middle East, concerns still exist. Following the study, Brocade confirmed that legacy systems were causing a barrier to deploying new technologies at Middle East organisations. That doesn’t mean it’s holding them back altogether, as regional studies reveal the extent of adoption in the region. “Our surveys show a 15 percent virtual server adoption, which we feel will grow to 40 percent in three years,” says Jatin Sahni, Vice President, Large

august 2013


of IT decision makers believe their current IT infrastructures still require substantial upgrades to meet the demands of virtualisation and cloud computing.

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Server virtualisation

“Virtually every enterprise account and service provider that we’re talking to is engaging in a combination of consolidation and virtualisation activities in their data centres.” Mark Hosking, Regional Sales Manager, Unified Computing, Cisco

The adoption rate of server virtualisation is predicted to be

21.3% of total new physical x86 servers in 2016.

Enterprise and Business Solutions Marketing, du. “We believe it would be the growth area to watch out for. The obvious benefits of costs and scale make it attractive. Also, the fears of security are being increasingly addressed.” According to Gartner, the adoption rate of server virtualisation in 2012 was predicted to be 14.3 percent of total new physical x86 servers, and will reach 21.3 percent of total servers in 2016. Furthermore, Gartner said total virtual OS instances would contribute 70.2 percent of total OS instances in 2012, and reach 82.4 percent of total OSes in 2016. Cisco confirms the “very strong growth” in Middle East adoption. “Virtually every enterprise account and service provider that we’re talking to is engaging in a combination of consolidation and virtualisation activities in their data centres,” says Mark Hosking, Regional Sales Manager, Unified Computing, Cisco. “Depending on which analyst you talk to, they’ll tell you, on average, in a traditional data centre, that the actual CPUs on the servers are only used at between 10 and 15 percent of their capacity.”

Choking up A very traditional data centre problem arises every time a new project or business requirement comes along. The IT team provisions more infrastructure in the silo for that project or application, resulting in a large physical server sprawl that chokes the data centre. Subsequently, virtualisation vendors offer organisations the appealing proposition of increasing the utilisation of assets. “Enterprises are implementing server virtualisation as a move towards consolidation, thereby reducing power and space requirements,” says Rajesh Abraham, Director of Product Development, eHDF. “This trend is especially true for the Middle East, where businesses are consolidating their IT


requirements and virtualisation is becoming a part of their journey to the cloud.” However, the attraction of virtualising servers is often enough to blind CIOs from the reality that the deployment will stress data centre infrastructure that has been designed to support traditional models. The first stress point is finding the physical resources to rack, power and cool the servers. “Even with virtualisation, large enterprises can have several thousand servers,” says Mervyn Kelly, EMEA Marketing Director, Ciena. “The growing amount of physical servers can often trigger the need for a larger data centre.” Cost savings also become another stress point. Perhaps the biggest testament to this was Google’s reported realisation that it could save approximately $1,500 per server by building an efficient rack design. Other organisations are looking to save costs and simplify deployment by bringing together systems with servers, storage and network, and managing it all within a single unit. Kelly adds that a further stress to the data centre comes because better inter-data centre networking is required in order to move virtual machines between company-owned data centre facilities and off-site cloud service providers. According to A. N. Rao, Senior Vice President, IT Infrastructure Services, Cognizant, all aspects of data centre architecture are impacted by higher virtualisation adoption. “The power and cooling solutions, which tended to cater to a more predictable and static environment, are not expected to be dynamic as the workloads float across systems and data centres. So the sizing, lay-out and implementation of data centres are different.” In case of infrastructure architecture, the network layer is impacted immensely, he adds. “Traditionally, the network architecture followed a hierarchical structure — access, aggregation and core — and the traffic was more north-south bound. As applications get more distributed on the virtual layer, there is greater traffic between servers in the same tier, thus increasing the east-west traffic.” Changing design Another often overlooked outcome of virtualisation is the effect it has on the design and architecture of a data centre. Traditional methods used in the design of the data centre were based on application requirements mapped on the same number of physical machines. Virtualisation is playing a big, if not essential, role in changing that, says Anurag Verma, august 2013

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Server virtualisation

Telecom Operations and Managed Services Lead, Smartworld. “Today, the virtualised data centre can reduce the capital expenditures from up to 60 percent of the traditional design by installing multiple applications and operating systems on to a single virtualisation host.” Furthermore, cooling and airflow requirements change as the number of servers increase, adds Vipin Sharma, Vice President, Tripp Lite. “Power efficiency and correct power distribution is and will always be critical in operating a data centre,” Sharma says. “But this has to be done in a sustainable manner — something that the enterprise sector is also starting to look into. “Likewise, everything has to be monitored in real time, down to the socket level and cable connection to ensure that the data centre runs continuously and efficiently despite an increasing demand.” Subsequently, it is vital for CIOs that deploy server virtualisation to revisit their data centre network design to support the new strategy. The input/output (I/O) throughput must not become a bottleneck to the virtual processing as data is written to storage, sent to users or sent between machines, Kelly advises. “As a result, the internal data centre network often must be re-architected to 10 Gbps Ethernet links and high speed 8 or 16 Gbps Fibre Channel links,” he says. “These links support the increased input/output workloads from a fully virtualised physical server operating at peak efficiency rates.” Virtual machines that have tight integration should reside with the same host, which in turn, will reduce the network traffic beyond the host, Verma adds. Whilst the promise and attraction of virtualisation is indeed very real, there are big challenges in embracing it in an effective way.


“Even with virtualisation, large enterprises can have several thousand servers. The growing amount of physical servers can often trigger the need for a larger data centre.” Mervyn Kelly, EMEA Marketing Director, Ciena

The adoption rate of server virtualisation in 2012 was predicted to be

14.3% of total new physical x86 servers.

“Viewing virtualisation programmes as merely technology interventions without adequate organisational change management can render a virtualised environment more bureaucratic, and much less flexible and agile than envisaged.” A. N. Rao, Senior Vice President, IT Infrastructure Services, Cognizant

Traditional architectures from the traditional vendors were never built to meet the demands of a virtualised and automated data, which is something CIOs must remember when racing to virtualise servers. “Beyond virtualisation, the dynamic nature and delivery of IT that a lot of organisations are now looking into — cloud computing is very topical — is putting a lot of stress on traditional IT architectures,” Hosking says. “To incorporate virtualisation, which is required and is a prerequisite because it gives elasticity to the architecture, you have to automate that architecture — you can’t do it all manually. That’s where traditional data centre infrastructure is a big inhibitor.” According to Sharma, the common pitfalls that companies make when deploying virtual machines include not having the right network infrastructure, having insufficient power to support its network of machines, and failing to distribute energy within its network more efficiently. “The lack of a proper monitoring system could lead to a failure to conserve energy where and when possible,” he says. “The design of a data centre is also important as this could result to inappropriately located cold and hot aisles, which could impact the airflow and heat retention of a facility.” It thus appears that the mindset of IT teams, not just in the Middle East but around the world, should change in order to make virtualisation projects successful. With virtualisation, it is no longer about who owns a piece of hardware and who has control over it. “The environment is moving significantly towards ‘shared platforms, and virtualisation is enabling that,” says Rao. “Therefore, viewing virtualisation programmes as merely technology interventions without adequate organisational change management can render a virtualised environment more bureaucratic, and much less flexible and agile than envisaged.” august 2013

Computer News Middle East



Hybrid cloud

Testing the waters After a period of reluctance, organisations are beginning to trust the cloud, but the decision far from ends at acceptance. Do you go public or private? Or do you go for a combination of both — otherwise known as a hybrid. The latter is allowing to dip before diving in.


Computer News Middle East

August 2013

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loud has taken over the enterprise and transitioned from cautious trend to must-have technology. It is no longer a matter of if an organisation will deploy it, but when. However, an ‘if’ question does still remain in regard to the type of cloud the business opts for. On paper, the decision maker has three options; public, private or hybrid. In reality, however — in the case of large organisations, at least — the latter appears to be gaining the most traction for now. Cloud projects continue to grow in the Middle East, with 43 percent of organisations in the Saudi market and 40 percent in the UAE dabbling in the technology during 2013, according to industry research. Furthermore, the Cisco Global Cloud Index predicts that more than a third of all data centre traffic will be based in the cloud by 2015. “This upwards curve in cloud computing will continue to grow as we see more and more regional cloud deployments as organisations get the same levels of security, reliability and performance as was seen with on-premise deployments,” says Rajesh Abraham, Director, Product Development, eHDF. It therefore appears that an initial feeling of distrust towards the cloud — primarily driven by security concerns — has faded. These feelings were particularly apparent in the Middle East, where worries of data crossing borders further distanced CIOs from shiny public clouds owned by the likes of Microsoft, Google and Amazon. “I strongly believe that the Middle East will eventually catch up to the global scale of cloud rollout,” says Boby Joseph, CEO, StorIT Distribution, who blames sometimes confusing and overwhelming cloud models as holding back adoption to date.

He thanks new technologies from smaller players and start-ups for pioneering the concept better than the conventional vendors. Some organisations, he says, will wait to see these start-ups acquired by the well-known vendors. “However, in IT, most of the advantage and stabilisation of the platform is drawn by calculative risk-takers and early adopters, who then go on to stabilise their environment with very clearly defined practices,” Joseph explains. The biggest challenge, he adds, is the availability of VADs, VARs and SIs, who would help these companies to roll out in a more effective way by consulting and cloud integration.

By 2013, cloud projects in the UAE are expected to reach


Gaining momentum In spite of this slow start, Peter D’Souza, Regional Product Manager NetApp and Data Centre, Logicom, says cloud adoption in the region is gathering a lot of momentum. “Most of the regional Internet service providers have added cloud services to their service portfolio,” he says. “From an end-user perspective, we have been seeing some of the larger enterprises leading the way in offloading both critical and non-critical workloads to the cloud.” Such implementations by big players in the region are particularly important to induce confidence amongst SMBs. In the case of SMBs, driven by venture capitalists looking to get products to market quickly and easily, the public cloud continues to grow.

“From an enduser perspective, we have been seeing some of the larger enterprises leading the way in offloading both critical and non-critical workloads to the cloud.”

“In the use of hybrid cloud models, a well thought-out integration strategy, while defining the architecture for cloudbased systems, is critical in ensuring that disparate hybrid cloud components utilising various cloud service models get along well.” Mahesh Venkateswaran, Managing Director, Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud, Cognizant.

August 2013

Computer News Middle East



Hybrid cloud

“These venture capitalists are actually saying to new companies starting up that they’re not going to invest in the IT infrastructure and build it for them, but simply telling them to go buy that,” says Den Sullivan, Head of Architecture and Enterprise, Emerging Markets, Cisco. “Then they don’t have to have a CAPEX all associated on their books.” But in larger organisations, where IT is more complex, it is the hybrid model that prevails. A hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds — private, community or public — that remain unique entities but are connected together, offering the benefits of multiple deployment models. “Hybrid cloud solutions can offers the best of both worlds,” says Joe Fagan, Senior Director of Cloud Initiatives, Seagate EMEA. Indeed, such a model allows businesses to store unrestricted data in a public cloud solution while continuing to manage certain amounts and types of data in-house for enhanced security. Furthermore, organisations using this model can then choose to use infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) — which continues to grow in itself — when the need arises, such as during demand spikes or peak loads. “The hybrid cloud allows enterprises to hold sensitive data behind their firewall while taking advantage of the lower cost and flexibility of the public cloud,” confirms D’Souza. “It can also improve scalability and provisioning at a lower cost, thus allowing resources to be allocated to the public cloud for short term projects at a much lower cost than that what it would cost to make changes in your private cloud.” Therefore, the hybrid cloud provides companies which are reluctant to move to a cloud computing model with the opportunity to “dip their toes in” at a low cost and with lesser perceived risk, D’Souza adds. It is ultimately this “dip their toes in” approach that is driving adoption in hybrid cloud models. In other words, it is popular because the industry is in a transition phase.

“There must be more credible service providers before enterprises feel comfortable with public clouds. We are already seeing this in many large companies like IBM, Siemens and others investing in the Middle East.” Gibu Mathew, Director, Product Management, ManageEngine.

This transition comes due to various reasons, as Gibu Mathew, Director, Product Management, ManageEngine, explains. “Lots of processes have been optimised based on existing tools and changing it overnight is tedious,” Mathew says. As such, a time will come when there will be a “tipping point”, where the value of new capabilities built on public clouds will far outweigh the rest, giving more reasons for a complete shift to public clouds. “But that point is still some time away,” he emphasises. “Additionally, there must be more credible service providers before enterprises feel comfortable with public clouds. We are already seeing this in many large companies like IBM, Siemens and others investing in the Middle East.”

“Hybrid clouds are much easier to implement and do not interrupt or disrupt the existing infrastructure, and also save a lot of costs in rolling out newer, clientside applications.” 50

Computer News Middle East

August 2013

Jumping on the bandwagon Asides from its ability to ease organisations into the cloud, it is also the ease itself of the model which is encouraging others to jump on the bandwagon. “Hybrid clouds are much easier to implement and do not interrupt or disrupt the existing infrastructure, and also save a lot of costs in rolling out newer, clientside applications,” Joseph says. “Competition in this also will bring in customer benefits and reduction in the management costs, which are the main costs in running IT.” However, Sullivan thinks of it differently. He believes it is not a conscious choice to go for a hybrid cloud, and that “hybrid cloud” is not even the right term to describe the technology. “I think you end up doing it,” he says. “You’re really probably not going to just take everything you’ve got on Monday morning, or even over a period of six months, and put it on the cloud. “What I see is you will probably take steps

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Hybrid cloud

“Selecting the appropriate infrastructure environment is also extremely important, as is ensuring that the hybrid cloud platform allows reliable and efficient workload transfer, and a high level of interoperability so your resources work well with your cloud provider’s resources.”


of all data centre traffic will be based in the cloud by 2015.

Joe Fagan, Senior Director of Cloud Initiatives, Seagate EMEA.

to look at cloud as an opportunity for your corporation to offload you to move to more of an OPEX model, whether that be due to reasons of expansion or new services. “Hybrid cloud sits a little bit ill with me because really it’s a hybrid cloud environment, not a hybrid cloud. Basically, hybrid cloud is simply one of private and one of public. Really, as you’ve moved one out to a public, you have a hybrid cloud environment.” Once an organisation has settled on hybrid as the best cloud model for them, it is important to define a cloud strategy that clarifies the vision up-front. “One size clearly does not fit all,” says Mahesh Venkateswaran, Managing Director, Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud, Cognizant. “Industries differ, clients differ, business models differ, and so do their requirements.” Such a strategy should include what components need to remain in-house and what can be moved to the cloud, along with the activities and time frames involved in the actual cloud migration. The migration must be executed phase-wise based on sound methodologies that can maximise the benefits of cloud adoption, as well as ensure efficient migration. As part of cloud adoption, it is imperative to establish sound governance models that address all regulatory and compliance requirements, as well as operational policies for steady state management of the cloud-based systems after migration. “In the use of hybrid cloud models, a well thought-out integration strategy, while defining the architecture for cloud-based systems, is critical in ensuring that disparate hybrid cloud components utilising various cloud service models get along well,” Venkateswaran adds. Two of the most important factors when moving into a hybrid cloud environment are the same reasons 52

Computer News Middle East

August 2013

that held back implementation in the first place; data security and data availability. According to Fagan, having the right SLAs in place is crucial to ensuring the availability and security of data. “Selecting the appropriate infrastructure environment is also extremely important, as is ensuring that the hybrid cloud platform allows reliable and efficient workload transfer, and a high level of interoperability so your resources work well with your cloud provider’s resources,” he says. It is not only security concerns and business criticality which determine what data goes where. As always, costs are prominent. “A good weightage for shifting to public clouds is cost,” Mathew says. “If the cost to value does not match, organisations will tend to pull back some of their core workloads in-house.” However, public cloud companies like Amazon are trying to make it harder for organisations to look back. Building AWS (Amazon Web Services) on a programmable architecture running with very thin margins has allowed Amazon to cut prices over 26 times since 2006. With this likely to continue, and security concerns easing, public cloud adoption may be closer than people think.

“What I see is you will probably take steps to look at cloud as an opportunity for your corporation to offload you to move to more of an OPEX model, whether that be due to reasons of expansion or new services.”









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When corruption and chaos began to tear Gotham apart, the city turned to one of its own for protection. As Batman got stronger, so too did the enemy, and the fight raged on until near destruction point. IT has found itself in a similar position — as hackers and attackers wreak havoc on the industry, businesses have been looking for a watchful protector to secure their assets. Is security-as-a-service the IT industry’s Dark Knight?


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august 2013

security advisor


kay, so comparing the IT industry to the Batman series may seem a little odd, but consider the aspects. In Christopher Nolan’s 2005 adaptation of the Batman comics, Batman Begins, Jim Gordon says that Bruce Wayne’s benevolent Batman alter-ego has really started something among the criminals in Gotham. Gordon explains that the more sophisticated the weapons get and the more intimidating the defence becomes, the villains always go one better. This can be likened to the IT industry, which has seen heavy fire in recent years as hackers and cyber-criminals continue to find new and ever more devastating ways to infiltrate businesses electronically. Attempts to quash these attacks and curb the risks have been costly and time consuming, and it appears as though they haven’t always been successful. Look back to Saudi Aramco, one of the largest companies in the world, and victim of a cyber-attack so fierce that it stands as the ultimate reference in today’s security handbook. In Nolan’s 2008 sequel, The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent explains to the people of Gotham that the night is darkest just before the dawn, and that the dawn is coming. Is that dawn for the IT industry an externally managed security model?

Strategic IT BYOD Partner

Many areas of IT are leaning toward offerings as a service, freeing up space, cost, time, and manpower. Security-as-a-service (SaaS) is certainly no different. However, unlike other hosted services, security poses many risks. Hani Nofal, Director of Intelligent Network Solutions, GBM, claims that the region is seeing a more sophisticated threat on industries. “The evolution of the security landscape in the Middle East over the past 12 to 18 months will have a significant impact on how consumers will accept SaaS. The security challenges have evolved in the region due to the technological advancement, which has increased the complexity of cyber-attacks,” he says. “Protecting organisations requires a diverse set of security expertise. Recruiting and retaining experts in operational roles is not easy due to skill shortages and the perception that the assignments may not be challenging enough. SaaS-based services help to overcome these challenges through the use of automation and cloud, with additional benefits of lower costs, flexible deployments and innovation,” says Lucius Lobo CISSP, Vice President Security Services, Tech Mahindra.

“The traditional in-house security has many barriers to overcome. It requires lengthy time to procure, deploy and integrate the security to the business processes. The inhouse security cannot keep up with the emerging threat landscape and advanced persistent threats.” Jatin Sahni, Vice President, Large Enterprise and Business Solutions Marketing, du

Eat in or take away? Nicolai Solling, Director of Technology Services, help AG, claims that cost isn’t really the aspect of SaaS that organisations should be focusing on. “One of the major misconceptions is that managed services, specifically security-related managed services, is just about cost-savings. In fact, it may not be cheaper than in-house operating environments. However, the benefit of SaaS is that the services can often be operated better than in-house offerings,” he says. “Another thing, which I hope SaaS will deliver on, is taking the cross-organisational attack information and applying this intelligence across the environments they are operating. Once an event in one organisation creates protection for another organisation, then SaaS becomes truly valuable.” august 2013

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“In the context of security services, traditional vendors need to focus on understanding the evolving changes in global customer demands, but not forget the criticality of understanding regional requirements.” Dr Tamer Aboualy, CTO, IBM Security Services

Jatin Sahni, Vice President, Large Enterprise and Business Solutions Marketing, du, believes that traditional in-house security has also created its own barriers, which managed security services (MSS) now must overcome — another benefit of switching to a managed model. “The traditional in-house security has many barriers to overcome. It requires lengthy time to procure, deploy and integrate the security to the business processes. The in-house security cannot keep up with the emerging threat landscape and advanced persistent threats,” he says. “The SaaS provider has state-of-the-art technologies, a skilful team, threat intelligence, agile processes, KPI/SLA driver deliverables and, more importantly, fast response capabilities to security incidents. These capabilities can be easily provided to enterprise with seamless integration of enterprise business processes with a fraction of the cost of total security investment of enterprise.”


Concerns in outsourcing Outsourcing all of an organisation’s security leaves it under someone else’s control, and its fate is ultimately in someone else’s hands, says Osama Al-Zoubi, KSA Country Lead, Senior SE Manager, Cisco, who questions some of the concerns facing SaaS. “Take, for example, a service provider with 1,000 customers. If they are hacked then everyone is compromised — that’s 1,000 customers hacked. So these providers become a far more attractive attacking point,” he says. Natalya Kaspersky, CEO, InfoWatch, points toward more recent security stories to stress the importance of SaaS providers’ safety guarantees. “The main risk is confidential data leakage, and the cost of such leaks is usually very high. To prevent these incidents, companies must encrypt their information. And now as we hear about the scandals with American secret services spying on users’ emails, companies should be even more careful about storing their information in the cloud,” she says. “There is also a legal issue regarding the responsibility for the information security in the cloud. Neither SaaS providers, nor their customers, want to take the responsibility. This problem can be solved by attracting insurance companies into the process. As for regulations, they are different from country to country. In some countries, they are strong, but in some they are not.” Rohit Kumar, co-Founder, Paladion, finalises the concerns with SaaS providers. “With due credit to all its benefits, SaaS, if not evaluated properly, could have a serious shortcoming; single point of failure (SPOF),” he says. “This is the responsibility of the vendor providing the SaaS. Unfortunately, not all managed security

“In virtualised environments, resources and workloads can be frequently and quickly initiated, migrated and terminated. Traditional hardware-based approaches to encryption simply take too long to implement — making them impractical to employ in these dynamic environments.” Miguel Braojos, VP Sales, SEMEA, SafeNet

august 2013

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“The main risk is confidential data leakage, and the cost of such leaks is usually very high. To prevent these incidents, companies must encrypt their information. And now as we hear about the scandals with American secret services spying on users’ emails, companies should be even more careful about storing their information in the cloud.” Natalya Kaspersky, CEO, InfoWatch

services (MSS) are created equal. There are instances where even basic software/hardware vendors label themselves as MSS providers hoping to leverage the buzz around the term.”

significantly, these solutions take too long to deploy. In virtualised environments, resources and workloads can be frequently and quickly initiated, migrated, and terminated. Traditional hardware-based approaches to encryption simply take too long to implement — making them impractical to employ in these dynamic environments,” he explains. “Exacerbating matters is the fact that encryption in many organisations has been deployed and managed in a disparate, isolated fashion. In traditional data centre environments, this isolated management of encryption breeds inconsistency, security gaps, and inefficiency — those issues only grow more pronounced in cloud and virtualised environments. These are all areas where traditional vendors need to improve.” Dr Tamer Aboualy, CTO, IBM Security Services, points to a more regionally focused element of evolution that vendors must respond to: “In the context of security services, traditional vendors need to focus on understanding the evolving changes in global customer demands, but not forget the criticality of understanding regional requirements. Ongoing investment and innovation is also mandatory. This can come in the form of building within, purchasing, or partnering.” It appears as if providing a solid security service is a more challenging task than first thought. However, end users seem insistent that software services are no doubt the future model, and security will follow that trend. Much like in Nolan’s trilogy concluding movie, The Dark Knight Rises, Gotham City eventually realises that Batman is a symbol of hope, and not one of disruption and chaos. The IT industry seems to be siding with software providing vendors, too, and security-as-aservice may just be its Dark Knight.

Adapting to the future Aside from the concerns with SaaS, it does appear as though vendors are making the leap toward products as a service, made available through the cloud, and security isn’t going to be the exception. Taking traditional hardware products and delivering them as a pay-by-use service is no doubt the future market model for vendors, but how does this change the way in which these vendors and their partners approach the market? “There is a need for transformation of the business model of vendors, to meet the market demand,” says Jatin Sahni, du. “Cloud adoptation is slow in this region, however there is a trend that enterprises and SMEs are moving towards trusted cloud providers who have robust and mature security services and governance processes in place. Vendors or service providers who leverage the security as a differentiator to their core offerings will capture the trust in the market.” Miguel Braojos, VP Sales, SEMEA, SafeNet, believes that taking standard traditional hardware products, which include security encryption, is a tough task for vendors, and lays out areas in which he claims they can improve, moving forward. “As organisations seek to bring traditional hardware encryption approaches into cloud and virtualised environments, these technologies present security teams with a range of challenges. Most

august 2013

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integration advisor

The calm before the plunge For any IT pro, signing a new contract can be a daunting task. With lineof-business managers increasingly keeping a watchful eye over the IT department, IT managers need to be extra-careful about how they spend their budgets – and who they spend it with. Now, more than ever, it’s advisable to test the waters before diving straight into a big contract.


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august 2013


n selecting a partnership, the IT manager is effectively pinning his or her organisation’s business interests on the success or failure of the partner’s experience and its ability to execute. This could, therefore, have serious ramifications on the IT manager’s own reputation and, more importantly, on the success or failure of the IT initiative in the organisation.” That’s the view of Sayed Golkar, Director, GBM Business Solutions, when it comes to signing up to a new IT contract. Of course, any IT manager knows that, if a contact goes sour, and a supplier fails to deliver, it could be their head that rolls. What’s more, even more responsibility is placed on the IT manager’s head if the dodgy service provided actually affects customers. The technological world is littered with the tattered reputations of CIOs who failed to deliver projects on time — and to budget — simply by signing up with the wrong suppliers. For example, in a recent, high-profile screw up, the BBC’s Chief Technology Officer, John Hall, was suspended in May after it came to light that the British broadcaster had

wasted almost £100 million on a digital production system and archive. The failed project was blamed on a poor choice of suppliers. That’s an extreme example, but it does show what’s at stake when IT managers have to sign contracts for new projects. That’s why, increasingly, IT pros are looking to test the waters with new suppliers. According to Golkar, there are a number of key concerns that need to be addressed before any concrete agreement is made. “On the supplier side, [you need] local/ regional experience, [a] proven ability to execute, commitment to the region, [the] ability to understand the business requirements and thus provide effective solutions to meet them, [and] the ability to provide effective support, postimplementation. These are all valid concerns. Some or all of these may make the difference between a successful or failed partnership,” he says. Increasingly, IT pros are turning to systems integrators for smaller “test” projects before signing up for the big ones. These projects are typically less critical to the business but still helpful — and they give the customer an idea of how the supplier can cope with the demands of the business.

august 2013

Computer News Middle East




“Unfortunately, many of these cases quickly turn sour, and, in the long run, a low price may well turn out to be a false economy. Delays, repeat work and ultimately the replacement of an unsuitable partner may cost dearly to the business, especially when time to complete an IT initiative has a direct impact on the business.” Seyed Golkar, Director, GBM Business Solutions


The amount, in British pounds, that was wasted on a failed IT project at the BBC


That’s not to say that big IT projects are still being implemented without completing a test project first. After all, for large-scale contracts, everyone knows that a tender is put out, and whoever brings the best deal to the table is chosen to implement. If there’s no scope for doing a test project first, duediligence must be done to ensure that the project won’t go south. “Depending on the scale of the IT partnership, a full-scale commercial and technical due diligence should produce the necessary background checks. Over and above this are the less tangible, but often important aspects, that should also be checked,” says Golkar. That said, the onus is not always on the supplier to ensure a smooth project implantation and a happy contract. There are also internal concerns to address, according to Golkar, who adds, “On the customer/client side, [you need] management buy-in and support, the ability to allocate resources to the project, the ability to clearly define and articulate business requirements, and the ability to participate and make critical decisions in a timely manner. These factors may equally impact the success or failure of a partnership.” This view is shared by Stephan Berner, Managing Director, help AG, who told CNME earlier this year that each side of a partnership needs to set out — in great detail — from the start what a contract will require from each party. “Set clear expectations, stick to your promises and communicate relevant subjects with the relevant stakeholders,” he said. “Customers usually ask for more if the scope of work is not clearly defined. It is in everybody’s interest and particular our responsibility to agree on the same at the time of signing the contract. What is in scope, what is out of scope — this is the essential question. If this cannot

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August 2013

be answered then suppliers are always in a difficult position and will most probably taken on a ride.” Another issue that can cause headaches further down the road is simply signing up to a contract based solely on price. The experts advise that it’s always better to go for the more experienced, highly recommended supplier, rather than one that promises a lot for a fraction of the price. After all, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. “The examples are numerous here. Unfortunately, many of these cases quickly turn sour, and, in the long run, a low price may well turn out to be a false economy. Delays, repeat work and ultimately the replacement of an unsuitable partner may cost dearly to the business, especially when time to complete an IT initiative has a direct impact on the business’ go-tomarket strategy,” Golkar explains. According to many, then, signing a contract shouldn’t even be seen as a simple way of sealing a buyer-seller agreement. Instead, it should be viewed as the beginning of a strategic partnership — whereby both parties are deriving maximum value. “The partnership must be built on a winwin strategy. Often short-term objectives and inappropriate expectations create obstructions in achieving this important goal,” says Golkar. When these goals are met, and both sides of the contract see the benefits, they’re likely to want to continue doing business. Indeed, both parties will want to be more accommodating towards each other in order to get projects done promptly and to a high standard. That’s how Hani Khanfer, Channel and PreSales Coordinator, Smartworld, sees things anyway. “Success within a partnership or the achievement of common goals can play a major role in the move to strengthen and reinforce good relations between the two parties,” he told CNME earlier this year. “With goals obtained, both parties



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will now look into maintaining the partnership so that gaining benefits and rewards will remain continuous.” But what if the partnership does go sour? Is there anything that an IT manager can do upon finding out that a project is not going to be completed ether on time or to budget? Indeed, is there any way that he can avoid being suspended like the unfortunate IT head at the BBC? According to Golkar, it depends on the original contract, and whether or not either party has an exit strategy built into it. “[Breaking a partnership] typically depends on the construct of the contractual agreement between the partners. An exit strategy or provision in partnership agreements with obligations for smooth transition has been practiced for centuries — the IT industry should be no exception to this practice,” he says.

However, some believe that there is no easy way to go about geting out of a contract, even if relations do go sour. Berner, for example, when speaking about maintaining relations to CNME earlier this year, said that, for this very reason, it was important to ensure everything is in order before signing. “Really, is this an option?” he asked. “I don’t think so. Do your due-diligence before signing, highlight the risks and if you can accept them than go and sign the document. If not then it is better not to sign at all.” It rather depends on who you speak to, then, but one thing is for sure — it’s definitely advisable to complete a proper due-diligence before signing a large contract. Doing just a little bit of homework could mean a lucky escape for an IT manager’s career or even a company’s reputation. As the old adage goes, look before you leap.



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A service-centric design for datacentre infrastructure

Ahmed Youssef, Business Development Manager: Network Infrastructure, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise MEA


or as long as data networks have been supporting organisations, IT has been driving the decision-making in the business. But over the past few years, there’s been a fundamental shift, with the demands of users and consumers fuelling a change from an infrastructure-centric to a service-centric model. This is due to the rise of mobility and the increasing adoption of bring your own device (BYOD) policies. According to Ahmed Youssef, Business Development manager for Network Infrastructure, ME and Africa at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, this has significantly changed the approach to network development. He says this new paradigm where the users effectively call the shots means mere power and speed are no longer enough.

“Throwing additional bandwidth at the problem will not make it go away. What is now required is intelligence in the network. Today, networks need to be designed in a way that makes them capable of effectively handling mobility. People want freedom of movement and of the device, but this creates security headaches for IT. So your datacentre needs to be context-aware – it must be able to answer the ‘who, what, why, where and when’ conundrum,” he says.

“Because there are multiple factors to take into account, including device, point of access, what applications are running, etc., the network today needs to be intelligent. Alcatel-Lucent focusses on crafting the appropriate design to enable this. We create context awareness via what we refer to as the application-fluent network, which takes into account factors such as the user, the device and the application, thereby providing a more appropriate user experience.”

Streamlined and self-healing Youssef says Alcatel-Lucent has developed a network that is more streamlined and is selfhealing. This means it’s far less susceptible to failure and its reliability means administrators need not be as hands-on as they have to be with older technologies. “Our goal is to be able to handle the convergence of connecting everything via one network, which is why our networks are streamlined and efficient. For example, instead of utilising multiple layers of physical switches, we’re collapsing this down to single layer. This reduces complexity and capital expenditure. “Furthermore, Alcatel-Lucent has always had a reputation for being green, so our switches are extremely energy-efficient. And since a single layer of switches requires far less rack space, we’re also playing our part in reducing the energy consumption and the heating and cooling costs of the datacentre.”

automated, self-healing network that reduces the need for management and administration. This, in turn, means that manpower traditionally used for this can be redeployed within the business, improving its efficiency. Asked about the future of the datacentre, Youssef says that for the foreseeable future, the foundation of a successful operation will be built on switch performance, design of the network and its intelligence. “The other crucial factor is to ensure the design is based on open standards; going the proprietary route will likely lead to vendor lock-in. I believe this revolution in datacentre design is all about supporting new demands and tackling new challenges. To do so effectively, the customer must be flexible enough to change with market demands. “By ensuring your platform is interoperable, you’re able to shift as the market shifts, without having to rip and replace your entire infrastructure. The key to staying ahead of the pack is to be able to adapt and change swiftly as new technologies or ideas come along. To successfully pull this off, you need an infrastructure that’s intelligent, self-healing and flexible,” he concludes.

However, the biggest value proposition the company’s next generation networks offer, he believes, is in the total cost of ownership. This is achieved by reducing both capex – through the reduction in the number of switch layers – and opex. This is done not only by reducing the costs of heating and cooling, but also by having a fully




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august 2013

strategic telecom partner

telecoms WORLD

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications could open up a new world of technological opportunity, both for consumers and for businesses. So why, despite the big buzz, hasn’t M2M taken off, and what interest should the Middle East take? Tom Paye investigates.


hile it was once the stuff of science fiction, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is here and ready to be used. The concept, which sees machines communicate with each other without any human interaction at all, is being hailed by some as a turning point in technological history, allowing users, companies and entire industries to do things that were never thought possible. “Think about everything we can do – it can be something as simple as keeping checks on your children brushing their teeth. On the toothbrush, there’s a sensor, which tells you if they’ve brushed their teeth, and even how long they’ve brushed their teeth for. That information can then be sent directly to your smartphone,” says Rabih Dabboussi, Managing Director, Cisco UAE.

According to Dabboussi, this is all part of what Cisco calls the Internet of Things – billions of devices all connected together through the Internet, talking to one another and taking action without the need for human intervention. He talks of smarter homes and smarter cars, where sensors determine what’s happening in the environment and then send messages to other machines that take action to ensure a pre-set standard is preserved. However, this is still the stuff of science fiction, as Dabboussi admits. After all, the sensors required to realise much of these concepts are prohibitively expensive. What’s more, they’ll need to be connected to the Internet via, presumably, Wi-Fi or a 4G chip, which means batteries will have to be involved. And as battery technology still hasn’t caught up with the futuristic world some have envisioned, these smarter homes and cars are still a way off. august 2013

Computer News Middle East


By 2020, the number of M2M connections will reach

But M2M technologies are indeed being deployed today. In the Middle East, Dabboussi says that examples can mostly be found in the oil and gas industries. However, according to Pan En, Vice President, Huawei Middle East, M2M has made inroads into other business segments, too. “We have seen certain industries become early adopters—such as the transportation, logistics, utilities and retail sectors—but that is not to say that they have more to gain than enterprises in other sectors. Many of the M2M applications that have risen to the forefront today focus on enterprises improving their service efficiency, reducing OPEX of their business, reducing energy consumption, and responding faster to scenarios, which tie directly to the customer service,” he says. “Power companies are now reading meters through tele-metering systems instead of sending

technology to see how they gain an edge over the competition. “In 2012, Oracle sponsored a survey by Beecham Research on M2M adoption, in which more than 70 percent of C-level respondents said current M2M implementations are driven by the need to deliver new services, compared with 45 percent who said M2M was being used to improve operational efficiencies and reducing costs. The purpose of M2M solutions within the enterprise has always been about creating new differentiation in the market for the company’s products and services,” he says. This is at odds with a widely perceived view that M2M is all about driving operational efficiencies and ultimately cutting costs. Indeed, if companies want to use M2M to offer new services, Dabboussi’s pie-in-the-sky future might

“By 2022 there will be 18 billion M2M connections globally, up from approximately 2 billion today. Today M2M accounts for only around 2 percent of cellular connections. By 2022 it will account for 22 percent.”


Girish Bhat, Vice President, Middle East and Africa, Tech Mahindra

personnel to visiting houses; doctors just started remotely monitoring the conditions of their patients 24/7 by use of consumer devices connecting patients at home instead of requiring the patients to stay at hospital; vehicle-mounted terminals automatically display the nearest parking space; sensors in smart homes turn off utilities, close windows, and monitor security. This clearly is not a technology in its infancy, although M2M’s application and prevalence will certainly widen throughout the coming decades.” So what’s driving this enthusiasm for M2M technologies? Well, according to Fadi Abdulkhalek, Vice President of Technology and Gulf Cluster Leader, Oracle, it’s all about delivering new services, thereby standing out in the market. Having gotten a taste of what’s possible with M2M, C-level executives are experimenting with the 68

Computer News Middle East

august 2013

not be so far off. What’s more, as more and more organisations prove how useful M2M has been, more will follow suit. Girish Bhat, Vice President, Middle East and Africa, Tech Mahindra, believes that the M2M market is set to grow tremendously over the next 10 years. “By 2022 there will be 18 billion M2M connections globally, up from approximately 2 billion today. Today M2M accounts for only around 2 percent of cellular connections. By 2022, it will account for 22 percent,” he says. Bhat adds that the technology will be spread around a number of different verticals – in other words, everyone will be in on the action. “The biggest sector in 2022 will be intelligent buildings with 37 percent of all connections, dominated by heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) and security systems. Accounting for 32 percent of

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connections, the second biggest is consumer electronics, including games consoles, music players, cameras and white goods. These are followed by utilities (10 percent) and automotive (8 percent). Short-range technologies will dominate M2M, accounting for 73 percent of connections in 2022,” he says. There are, however, still obstacles to these predictions being realised. For one thing, the widespread adoption of M2M depends on telcos being able to accommodate the increased wireless traffic over their networks. After all, if these technologies are going to rely on 3G and 4G, operators need to be able to supply the bandwidth, according to JeanLuc Scherer, Head of Service Line Revenue Growth, Communications Service Practice, Ericsson. “For some industries, we have worked directly with service providers and delivered M2M solutions to them without much involvement of the operator. In sectors where efficiency, reliability and security is key, the role of the operator is becoming increasingly important. Ability to scale, provision and re-provision or re-deploy devices smoothly is going to be important as well,” he says. “It is also important that telcos understand their major role in shaping the networked society, where anything that can benefit from a connection will be connected. Securely and efficiently connecting, provisioning and managing the growing amount of connections is key to achieve the process improvements, sustainability gains and lifestyle improvements of the vision of the networked society.” Anurag Verma, Telecom Operations and Managed Services Lead, Smartworld, agrees with this. However, he also says that operators should take an increasing interest in M2M, as it could be one of their biggest revenue drivers in the future.


“From an industry perspective, we view telco as the key, and M2M as a vital service offering for the telco industry’s future revenue generation. The underlying infrastructure is owned and operated by telco groups, who are rapidly adding a service layer.” Anurag Verma, Telecom Operations and Managed Services Lead, Smartworld

“From an industry perspective, we view telco as the key, and M2M as a vital service offering for the telco industry’s future revenue generation. The underlying infrastructure is owned and operated by telco groups, who are rapidly adding a service layer to offer it as a service,” he says. Assuming the region’s operators do end up supporting the M2M market — as the experts believe they will — the opportunities could be huge. According to Abdulkhalek, an entirely new value chain could come into existence, spanning “multiple stakeholders, such as semiconductor manufacturers, sensing devices and gateway manufacturers, network equipment providers, telecommunications operators, independent software vendors, system integrators, and many more.” Those who tout the words of people like Dabboussi as science fiction, then, might want to rethink their positions, as this market is about to get big.

analyst corner Hung LeHong

Step out of your comfort zone Are you in your comfort zone? It can be a great feeling, but organisations that operate exclusively within their comfort zones will miss opportunities and often adopt everything in line with their enterprise personality, writes Hung LeHong, Research VP, Gartner.

O Hung LeHong, Research VP, Gartner 72

rganisations should recognise their risk comfort zones but be prepared to step outside them depending on the strategic importance of an emerging trend or innovation. That is, they should aim to be selectively aggressive. Where it can lead to significant competitive advantage, organisations should move early, even if they are not normally aggressive. Here are some of the more significant emerging trends and “tipping point technologies� that enterprises should consider to deliver new value and experiences to customers and citizens.

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august 2013

Bring your own everything

Consumerisation makes it acceptable for enterprise employees to bring their own personal devices into the work environment, a trend known as bring your own device (BYOD). This trend is tempered, however, by a few technologies that have yet to reach their tipping points. The first is hosted virtual desktop. Performance levels and usability are improving, but not yet adequate for enterprises to port images of employees’ corporate desktops onto their tablet devices. The second technology, HTML 5, must mature more to allow development of applications and services across devices.

Big Data and global-scale computing at small prices The Internet of Things

Gartner defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as the network of physical objects accessed through the Internet that contain embedded technology to sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment. Conceptually, IoT describes how the Internet is being used to link smart devices, such as consumer items, automobiles, city infrastructure, enterprise assets and a myriad of other physical assets, so that these new endpoints can be controlled and/or can create and receive a data stream from one another or from conventional computing environments. When these devices (“things”) directly (or indirectly) connect to the Internet, they become an extension of the enterprise and mobile computing environments. New experiences, operating efficiencies and business models can be created and deliver enhanced value through improved utilisation of these physical assets. The potential impact of the IoT is vast, reaching to every corner of technology, business and the consumer experience. The IoT has been emerging for decades, with origins in factory automation, machine-to-machine (M2M) interaction and embedded systems. Its impact will increase in the coming years as the costs of technology and connectivity continue to fall, and it becomes even more pervasive.

This broad scenario portrays a world in which analytic insight and computing power are nearly infinite and costeffectively scalable. Once enterprises gain access to these resources, many improved capabilities are possible, such as better understanding customers or better fraud reduction. The tipping-point technologies that will make this scenario accessible to enterprises, governments and consumers include cloud computing, Big Data and in-memory database management systems. The cloud concept sits behind all large-scale computing needs that can work in a centralised and often public architecture — and therein lie the constraints. Currently, the industry is only beginning to produce a solution that meets the needs of many enterprises. Security, integration, cost and privacy stand out as today’s biggest challenges. Big Data is often described as a style of data analysis and management that is marked by very large data volumes, that comes in at various velocities (including real time), and that is composed of a variety of data types (structured and unstructured). While the hype in the industry is focused on the fact that we can now deal with each of these three facets, less attention is being focused on how to do so at low costs that scale reasonably. This tipping-point technology will really blossom when the cost equation works out — when enterprises and governments get sufficient benefit from the costs of handling big data. All enterprises run on some form of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and legacy applications. These systems are usually dependent on some form of database that accesses data on physical storage drives. In-memory database management systems will remove this need by making database access into something that occurs in memory chips — which are much faster than disks. The result is the legacy systems that run our corporate and government world will become significantly faster. Although cloud computing gets much of the spotlight, in-memory database management systems are the tipping point that will benefit the enterprise greatly once the technology matures.

The future of payments

In a near-cashless world scenario, most transactions are electronic and technologies such as near field communication (NFC) payment will enable it. NFC, however, will not be widely adopted for mobile payment scenarios unless certain devices, such as Apple’s iPhone, embed NFC chips into their models. There are other payment technologies that aim to turn the smartphone into a wallet, such as mobile over the air (OTA) payment. The level of success of these technologies will be country-specific, so unlike other limiting factors, success and failure will be local.


Computer News Middle East


Face to face John Chambers

Chambers’ master plan Don’t catch yourself calling Cisco a network company in front of its CEO, John Chambers. The unwavering Cisco leader insists on the term ‘IT company’ now, and has relentlessly set his sights on number one. What would you say are the critical elements for Cisco in becoming that Number-one IT company? Managing the market transition. Many people think the data centre, cloud and LAN are separate, but we believe it will be a total architecture. I might put that as a whole 74

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separate point, even though it’s part of the market transition. We think there will be a single architecture, a single approach in the data centre that combines routing, switching, storage, software and server technology, and that will go straight up into the cloud, with intelligence throughout on the net. Now,

John Chambers, CEO, Cisco

once that occurs, all of a sudden you can program to any [part] of that, and you can bring services or tie into revenue generation, from months to minutes. When we first started talking about architectures, nobody in the industry believed them. Now people appear to get it.

Now with 18 product families where we’re the one or two [in market share], no-one has even come close to that in history, and we’re talking from the data centre all the way down to security. If we combine those well architecturally, we are two to three years ahead of our nearest competitor on how you use ASICs and silicon to go after this. This ends up being the architectural play to solve the business solutions, which I now firmly believe it will be. Is this application-centric approach bigger than software defined networking (SDN)? Does it relegate SDN to a technology that enables that? How many CEOs do you think say, “I want SDNs?” Not very many. Or how many CIOs? Not very many probably. What they want is to be able to control operating costs and the CAPEX costs, the ability to be able to meet their business needs at a much faster pace. This is just one of the variables in that equation. We played defence for a year on SDN rather than just embrace it and say here’s where it fits and here’s where it doesn’t, here’s how it fits in the architecture. When you go to service providers, SDN does one thing for you. NFV does another set of functionality for you. And candidly, the cloud does another. What we’re going to do is combine the cloud with the data centre architecture, with SDN and NFV all together, and it will be a play at orchestration.

Let’s talk about the Internet of Everything. What should IT people be doing to lead this? This is exactly what many customers ask. If you stay where you were, your job is keeping the lights on in a data centre, with servers separate from storage, separate from switching, separate from software, separate from the cloud, separate from ease of use. If your ability to bring services to your customers or to your consumers or for your internal use [entails] cycles of one, two and three years, you will get left behind, with 90 percent of decisions going to the end user. Now we’ve all seen that movie. As

that happens, it will feel good for a couple of years and then you go, “I can’t combine them. I can’t show you the data. I’ve got security problems. I’ve got more people maintaining the patchwork effect.” That’s a bad outcome, too, although, in the short term, it might have some attractiveness. All of a sudden, you can see a company move into this number-one position in terms of the ability to deliver. And that’s what we’re going to try to do. So what does it mean? Should a CIO be the one who is developing the ideas for how to capitalise on the Internet of Everything? Who’s driving that, and who

market. This is profit on top of OPEX, CAPEX, people, everything. You don’t have to explain the amount of money you can make or what does that mean — especially when you then take it to the car and connect it through seven or eight major networks in the car, and new revenue-generation capabilities. The answer is, the IT people have to begun to really come up to speed on it.

How big an opportunity for Cisco is 802.11ac? Mobility was our Achilles’ heel just three and a half years ago. Now we’re Number-one in every area of mobility, except radios. Think how far that’s gotten. We did 27 percent last

“The interesting thing is, when I talked Internet of Everything concepts two or three years ago, the techies got interested but not the top decision makers. That has changed in the last 12 months. The CEOs are beginning to get it.” should be driving it? The interesting thing is, when I talked Internet of Everything concepts two or three years ago, the techies got interested but not the top decision makers. That has changed in the last 12 months. The CEOs are beginning to get it. They’re beginning to understand this isn’t a nice, next-generation of the Internet. In my opinion, it’s going to be bigger than all the prior generations combined, both on loads, the way it changes society, implications, et cetera. And while I call it the Internet of Everything, something that might bite with most business users is they’re going to digitise every company in every country. What is the role of the CIO? They have got to understand what the opportunity is here. They’ve got to understand that it varies by industry, with probably the fastest one taking off being manufacturing. We think it’s 25 to 27 percent of the first decade’s opportunity of $14 trillion profit. This isn’t total available

quarter in wireless, back to your specific question. Rather than get religious on this fixed versus wireless in your location, we built the same ASICs and it could be either one. We’re number-one in the mobile networks now, from the small cells all the way through virtual data centres. When you put our architecture together with mobility, there’s not any player in the industry that even has half the pieces we do. We pull this together, and that’s why, in the service provider market a quarter ago, we grew eight percent year after year in a market that probably shrunk, and we’re getting more market share. Mobility is a good example why architecture wins, although you’ve got to have the patience. Every acquisition fits into that. Here’s what was small cell, here’s what was the access level, here’s what is analytical and here’s the orchestration level, here’s how it interfaces to the cloud. So it’s that cloud all the way through the data centre combination. august 2013

Computer News Middle East


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Face to face Dory Chakour

Next-level networks

Dory Chakour, Mobile Broadband Manager, Ericsson Middle East

There’s no denying that the Gulf’s mobile broadband penetration is growing fast. But are the networks prepared for this growth? And, if not, what can they do to accommodate this new demand for mobile data? We speak to Dory Chakour, Mobile Broadband Manager, Ericsson Middle East, who explains how using small cells to build heterogenous networks will enable the region’s operators to deliver seamless mobile broadband, no matter how great the demand.


o start off with, can we ask what your definition of a heterogeneous network is? A heterogeneous network is a network involving a mix of technologies and cell types working together seamlessly. Ericsson believes that the operators should always start to enhance the existing capabilities of their infrastructure. If that is not enough, the next step is to add more sites to improve coverage and capacity. The final step in building heterogeneous networks is to

introduce small cells that could vary in size from Micro to pico or Wi-Fi. These small cells can be placed in squares, restaurants, offices or larger shopping malls to provide a better end user experience.

Can you explain how heterogeneous networks will help in coping with the data explosion that is expected to take place with the rise in data usage via smartphones? A heterogeneous network — based on

3GPP-standardised and coordinated radio network with integrated Wi-Fi, advanced traffic management and highperformance backhaul — can help deliver a consistent, high-quality and seamless mobile broadband experience. Making the right technology choices at the right time is the key to supporting operators in smooth capacity expansion and with maximum efficiency. How far have the Middle East’s operators come in terms of building

august 2013

Computer News Middle East


Face to face Dory Chakour

heterogeneous networks? Well, we see that data is growing in the Middle East. Of course, not every operator has the same type of growth on data, but we see at least some operators that are experiencing a huge amount of data growth. And these operators have already started to look into the heterogeneous network options. I would say that the Gulf’s heterogeneous networks are quite new — small cells in general are quite a new concept. I would say that most operators will be interested in the heterogeneous network at a certain point in time. However, I would say that maybe four, five or six operators are already engaging in looking at the options for going forward with heterogeneous networks.

Is it all about data, or are heterogeneous networks’ uses more far-reaching than that? Of course, with heterogeneous networks, a part of it is about improving the coverage as well as the capacity. Voice as well will be benefiting from the introduction of heterogeneous networks. But, of course, the main driver for it has been data, because, other than that, if you look at GSM networks, they’ve been good enough to handle the voice traffic so far.

Say an operator wants to upgrade to a heterogeneous network, what kind of investment are we talking about? That will depend on the size of the operator, on the traffic growth that they are experiencing, or on the way they have built their networks. It’s very difficult to give you a straight-off answer about the amount of investment that they will be putting in. The most important thing is that they do this in the most costefficient way, which starts by improving the existing network, and then moving on to adding more sites. The last part is adding the smaller cells. Small cells provide small coverage, so if you have small cells, you need to use many of them to handle the coverage. 78

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What is Ericsson doing to support the growth of heterogeneous networks in the Middle East? We are helping the operators right now with all kinds of engagements when it comes to what are the best options for the operators, and how they can improve their networks. We also help them with their options when it comes to adding the small cells — so should they go for Micro cells, or should they go with Wi-Fi, or a combination of both? And sometimes we are working with them on POCs and the business cases, as well as the technical details of the solution.

“The main driver for this has been data, because, other than that, if you look at GSM networks, they’ve been good enough to handle the voice traffic so far.” Do you see much competition in this sphere? Of course, we have our traditional competitors such as Huawei or AlcatelLucent and so on. And now, because we talk about the heterogeneous networks — which is more to do with the smaller cells — then we have other players which are coming into the market. We have Cisco and we have some smaller companies which are trying to enter this market.

We are the leaders when it comes to the market share. But we work with a coordinated network, so the smaller cells should talk to the larger cells. And, of course, if you already have the footprint, not many vendors can offer this kind of coordination. I feel that some of the other competitors are trying to niche themselves on some functionalities and key areas, but it will be quite difficult. We will be facing hard competition, but we will be striving to resolve this through our benefits when it comes to products and solutions. What are some of the biggest challenges that the Middle East’s operators are facing at the moment? Now the growth is happening around data, we are seeing that some of the operators in the Middle East are still not yet in the smartphone era — they are waiting for smartphones to take off. We need to segment a little bit because you have operators which are already smartphone-oriented, have a high penetration of smartphones and have quite high data revenues. And we have other ones which do not have this. For the ones which are not, the main challenge would be to start pushing the smartphones into their networks, and to be able to get revenue from the smartphone users. For the other operators, which already have big smartphone growth, we see that, for them, the challenge is to be able to monetise the amount of growth they see. How does Ericsson see the future of data usage via smartphone devices in the region over the coming two to three years? The data usage via smartphones globally continues to double every year. In the region, we see similar trends with some operators that have already started to experience the smartphone growth. Other operators in the region will start to experience this growth in the coming years.



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Insight Hardware disposal

7 things you need to know about hardware disposal From the first day that you plug in a new piece of IT hardware, the clock starts ticking toward the day when it will be pulled out of service.


hen that day comes, responsible IT execs ensure that the now-surplus component is either repurposed, resold or recycled — with none of its toxic components ending up in an unregulate, third-world dump. Fortunately, it is possible for proactiveminded IT departments to prevent this from happening, thus protecting the environment,

people, and the valuable public image (and stock price) of the company. Here are the seven things IT managers need to know about safe hardware disposal. 1. Disposal costs should be built into hardware lifecycle budgets Big corporations go through lots of IT equipment. “Akamai Technologies’ global content distribution network is made up

of 127,000 servers and is growing daily,” says Nicole Peill-Moelter, Director of Environmental Sustainability, Akamai. “These servers are spread across 81 countries in 1,150 networks, and we refresh them on a four-year basis.” Every piece of IT hardware — be it a server, monitor, router, keyboard or mouse — has a value and costs associated with it throughout its lifespan. They include the cost of acquisition, installation, housing, maintenance, and ultimately disposal. Rackspace is a managed hosting and cloud computing company with nine data centres and 100,000 servers in use at any given time. Melissa Gray, Director of Global Sustainability, Rackspace, says, “TCO includes the cost of responsible hardware disposal once it is past its operational lifespan.” She adds, “This means that the money is there in the budget to dispose of our surplus equipment responsibly, ensuring that Rackspace’s equipment does not cause any environmental issues.” The same approach is followed by Akamai. “We are committed to being environmentally and socially responsible, which means that we consider and include disposal costs in our TCO,” Peill-Moelter says. “In doing so, our goal is to budget for the ‘greenest’ equipment disposal, not the cheapest.”

2. Be sure to find a disposal company that’s certified There are all kinds of IT equipment recycling firms promising to provide responsible equipment disposal to companies, institutions and individuals. The key to ensuring that the company you choose does what it promises is to select a recycler with strong credentials, Gray says. Fortunately, there are certification programmes to verify such promises. One of these is e-Stewards, which is backed by the Basel Action Network non-profit waste watchdog group, and endorsed by corporate heavy-hitters such as Alcoa, Bloomberg, Boeing and Wells Fargo. Another is Responsible Recycling (R2) Solutions. Both programmes are endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Once you know what to look for, certified hardware disposal firms are not that hard

august 2013

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Insight Hardware disposal

to find. For instance, Newport Computers of Rochester, N.H., is “a certified e-Steward and R2/RIOS (Recycling Industry Operating Standards) Certified Electronics Recycler,” says Anne M. McKivergan, one of the company’s two vice presidents. “We find that many of our customers are requiring one or both of those certifications these days as proof of our commitment to responsible handling of the assets.” Companies such as Newport that have undertaken e-Stewards and R2/RIOS certification regularly open up their systems and procedures to an independent third party for auditing. McKivergan adds. “A reputable company who is handling the waste properly will be able to provide documentation showing the flow of the materials to their final destination and will not have a problem explaining where everything goes.” She cautions, “One of the clearest signs of a company who is merely dumping the electronic waste illegally and indiscriminately is anyone who says, ‘We’ll pay you for your e-waste’ before even asking what you’re trying to dispose of.” 3. Consider repurposing before recycling Within two years of deployment, the best servers and routers are already showing their age — at least in comparison to the newest IT equipment that has subsequently come to market. Think of it as being the Curse of Moore’s Law: With the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubling approximately every two years, IT equipment made and deployed in 2011 is now definitely behind the curve. Google is a major consumer of servers and routers — for security reasons, the search engine giant won’t say how many it actually has. However, Google is very public about its commitment to environmentally

Since 2007, Google has remanufactured and repurposed enough outdated servers to avoid buying replacement machines amounting to


sustainable practices, including how it deals with ageing IT equipment. “We’re a carbon-neutral company and have strong initiatives in place to reduce the environmental impact of our global operations,” says Google spokesperson Kate Hurowitz. “When it comes to equipment, our approach is to extend the lifecycle of our equipment as much as possible, then dispose of it responsibly.” Specifically, “Before we buy new equipment and materials, we look for ways to reuse what we already have,” Hurowitz says. “As we upgrade to newer, higher-speed servers, we repurpose older machines either by moving them to services that don’t require as much processing power, or by removing and reusing the components that are still in good working condition. Since 2007, we’ve remanufactured and repurposed enough outdated servers to avoid buying over 300,000 new replacement machines.” 4. Don’t forget data destruction At Google, destroying data on surplus hard drives is an internal matter: “We completely erase any components that stored data, and then resell them into the market, giving the equipment a second life,” Hurowitz says. As a certified hardware recycler, Newport Computers provides data removal services to its clients. In fact, “a big part of what we do is data destruction,” McKivergan says. This is available in various strengths. Newport Computers can use software to overwrite the drive, removing data while leaving the hardware reusable. But in those instances where data destruction must be 100 percent certain, “we can bring out the big guns and either degauss the drives or shred them, making them unusable again,” she says.

donating it does not pose any licensing or ownership issues. Giving old equipment to charitable foundations such as TechSoup or Computers for Charity is both socially and environmentally responsible, and also good for one’s corporate image. So is making equipment donations to local schools, social agencies, and churches, whose IT needs are easily satisfied by CPU speeds that are inadequate by current business standards.

6. Make green computing a way of life The reason that companies such as Akamai, Google and Rackspace were able to make well-informed decisions about equipment disposal is because all three have embraced environmentally sustainable practices as a way of doing business. “At Rackspace, we are a member of the Green Grid Association,” Gray says. “This means that we are actively involved in finding ways to improve green practices at data centres, including the development and adoption of the Electronics Disposal Efficiency (EDE) metric. The EDE is designed to allow companies to easily and effectively rate how well they are disposing of their surplus technology, with an eye to improving it over time.” Rackspace also governs its business practices in line with standards such as ISO14001 (Environmental Management Systems), OSHAS 18001 (Health and Safety), and ISO9001 (Quality Management) — and requires the same standards from its suppliers. By doing so, Rackspace is covering all of its bases when it comes to environmental and social responsibility.

5. Make charitable donations When an IT department disposes of equipment that had low-security applications — such as usage by customer service reps at a call centre, or entry-level clerks in administration — it may be possible to wipe it, then donate the equipment to charity. Such donations can consist of complete machines and/or parts. Outdated software can also be a welcome gift, as long as

7. Weigh costs versus rewards Choosing an equipment recycler who does it properly and under audited certification is more expensive than using a fly-by-night company. Finding the right recycler will require a commitment of staff time and other resources, but the benefits justify the expense. “Being environmentally responsible does affect the bottom line, but so does being irresponsible,” Gray says. “In fact, when you add in the impact on the community, the planet, employee morale, and your firm’s reputation, the cost of being responsible is actually less than not doing the right thing.”

august 2013

Computer News Middle East



Launches and releases

PRODUCT WATCH A breakdown of the top products and solutions to launch and release in the last month.


Product: Lumia 1020 Vendor: Nokia What it does: Nokia announced its Lumia 1020 smartphone with superior camera and video technologies, including a 41-megapixel optical sensor and 6x zoom. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop introduced the phone in a yellow, uni-body case and claimed it would help users see objects up close with greater clarity and in low light better than their own eyes. What you need to know: Running on Windows Phone 8, which hasn’t taken the market by storm, Nokia is hoping the 1020’s camera functionality will help boost sales and improve Nokia’s fortunes, analysts said. The 1020 will also have a 4.5inch AMOLED PureMotion HD+ display with 1280 x 768 pixels. Elop noted that the 1020 follows a long tradition of adding photo and video technologies to its cameras, going back to 1994. The company has 450 camera patents.


Computer News Middle East

august 2013

Product: HTC One mini Vendor: HTC What it does: HTC finally unveiled its muchrumoured HTC One mini handset, which boasts a similar design as the HTC One, but slightly lower hardware specs. The mini has a smaller 4.3-inch display, with a screen resolution of 720p instead of 1080p. The phone’s processor is also slower, and packs a dual-core 1.4 GHz processor, instead of the quad-core 1.7 GHz chip found in the HTC One. What you need to know: Pictures of the mini show it having larger borders on its edges. It uses the same “UltraPixel” camera and HTC Sense user interface as the HTC One. The Taiwanese smartphone maker’s previous phone, the HTC One, garnered positive reviews when it was launched earlier this year, but the company has still struggled to lift its earnings. In the second quarter, HTC’s net profit was down 83 percent year-over-year.

Product: Galaxy S4 Zoom Vendor: Samsung What it does: By combining 10x optical zoom, a 16-megapixel CMOS senor, OIS and xenon flash with technologies seen in its Galaxy S4 Mini device, Samsung believes it captures the best of both worlds for photography enthusiasts.

What you need to know: Samsung chose the Middle East to launch the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. The device is Samsung’s attempt at uniting the capabilities of a smartphone with a high-end compact camera. It is now available at all major retail outlets across the UAE for Dh1,899.

Product: Aspire S7 Ultrabook Vendor: Acer What it does: Acer has revealed the next-generation, 13.3-inch Aspire S7 Ultrabook. The new model has improved battery life for all-day computing, a refined electroluminescent (EL) backlit keyboard for more natural typing, and second-generation Acer TwinAir cooling with less fan noise. In addition, it is equipped with wireless display (WiDi) technology for big-screen entertainment and productivity. What you need to know: The S7 Ultrabook remains slim and light, measuring only 12.9 millimetres thin and weighing 1.3 kilograms, and IPS technology squeezes an impressive 2,560 x 1,440 resolution into the screen. Taking advantage of the touch benefits offered by Windows 8, the touch-enabled screen on the S7 can be opened a full 180 degrees, and the image orientation reversed with a hot key combination for touch-and-show sharing.

august 2013

Computer News Middle East


Column The word on the street

Joe Lipscombe CNME’s man about town gives his spin on the latest IT news and trends. 86

Computer News Middle East

The highs and Loebs


hate to say I told you so, but I did tell you so… Sort of. A few months back, we discussed the radical changes being made over at Yahoo, and addressed the raised eyebrows following some unorthodox announcements. Now, however, we’re discussing what a successful first year Marissa Mayer has had at the helm of what appeared to be a flailing company beyond repair — what a difference a year makes, right? Yahoo can deservedly celebrate some success; its shares have risen to heights of 90 percent since Mayer took over, and still sit around the 75 percent mark today. Compare this to Jerry Yang, who served around 18 months from 2007 to 2009 and witnessed a share decline of 60 percent. On top of stock success, Mayer has made some solid acquisitions, notably Tumblr for $1.1 billion, and some solid product changes. Overall, Mayer can look back at her first year, exhale with a hint of relief, and be pretty pleased. And here comes the but… Just as the confetti was beginning to settle and a string of Yahoo employees had begun to overwork the snooze button on a well-earned day of rest, Third Point CEO and Yahoo board member, Dan Loeb, announced his departure — wait, what? Loeb, responsible for the ousting of the former CEO and instatement of Mayer in the first place, can be held accountable, to a degree, for the success Yahoo has seen over the past year. But he isn’t a party man; he’s a business man. Yahoo has much to thank him for, too; as well as his hand in the executive reshuffle, he also instrumented the selling of some stake in Alibaba. Yahoo sold 7 percent, making $7 billion for acquisitions. It appears,

august 2013

on the surface, that Loeb’s hand steadied the wheel for Yahoo, but his hands might be better known for puppeteering. After closer examination, it appears as though Dan Loeb has got out of Yahoo at the best possible time, and luck has nothing to do with it. Loeb has carefully constructed today’s Yahoo, one that looks good, but is fairly unstable at the core. He’s waited for the positive review, sold the majority of his stake, and left a richer man — but what does this mean for Yahoo? Analysts have suggested that the company could have thrived going forward as a media company, probably under the leadership of Ross Levinsohn, who recently took a little jab at Mayer by stating that he wouldn’t have spent $1.1bn on Tumblr, but Loeb pushed for Mayer to come in and direct it toward the tech industry. A former Yahoo executive allegedly claimed that this was always a risker move for Yahoo, and one that it knew was unsustainable. But the stock market historically values tech companies higher than media companies, which makes perfect sense for Loeb, who already would have known that leaning on Alibaba would continue to surge Yahoo’s shares for a short while. So Loeb made a quick buck and vanished, leaving Mayer and Yahoo with flat revenues, poor advertising declines, and a bunch of thriving tech companies for direct rivals. It’s the perfect crime. Whether Yahoo would fare better in the media industry in the long run is not something that Mayer will ever think about, nor should she. But board members who have enjoyed the recent relative success will be pardoned for wondering what the future holds. Mayer can be proud of what she has achieved in her first year at Yahoo, but the battle has certainly just begun, and as Bachman Turner Overdrive once said, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

discover? what will you discover?

The QlikView Business Discovery approach delivers on the promise of self-service business intelligence by putting business users in control. Unlike visualization-only tools, QlikView gives workgroups, departments and business units access to the data they need to generate insights. It also empowers IT to serve the business The QlikView Business Discovery approach delivers on the promise of self-service business like before, while assuring data security, governance. The never QlikView Business Discoverystrict approach delivers quality on the and promise of self-service business intelligence by putting business users in control. intelligence by putting business users in control. QlikView takes insight to the edges of organizations, enabling business users to do their jobs Unlike visualization-only tools, QlikView gives workgroups, departments and business units smarter and faster than ever. Unlike visualization-only tools, QlikView gives workgroups, departments and business units access to the data they need to generate insights. It also empowers IT to serve the business access to the data they need to generate insights. It also empowers IT to serve the business like never before, while assuring strict data security, quality and governance. like never before, while assuring strict data security, quality and governance. QlikView takes insight to the edges of organizations, enabling business users to do their jobs QlikView takes insight to the edges of organizations, enabling business users to do their jobs smarter and faster than ever. smarter and faster than ever.

a connected world 覺s just the beg覺nn覺ng

In the Networked Society connectivity will be the starting point for new ways of innovating, collaborating and socializing. A world connected in real time will place many new requirements on all of us while opening up opportunities beyond our imagination.