ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS
June 2010 Vol. 23 Issue 6
An ITP Technology Publication Licensed by Dubai Media City
ALIGNING BUSINESS AND IT STRATEGIES FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
BAHRAIN BD1.5 | EGYPT LE15 | JORDAN JD2 KSA SR15 | KUWAIT KD1.5 | OMAN OR1.5 QATAR QR1.5 | UAE DHS15 | UK £5 | USA $8
AIR SALES Our verdict of the best cloud-based CRM products BANKING SURVEY RESULTS REVEALED I ECAE BUILDS NEXT-GEN DIGITAL CAMPUSI CLOUD CRM ROUNDUP
THE SMART BANKER We reveal the results of our banking trends survey
TOP OF THE CLASS Emirates E mirates C College ollege ffor or A Advanced dvanced E Education ducation builds next digital b uilds n ext ggeneration eneration d igital ccampus ampus I SSN 1997- 7700 9 771997 770009
23 TOP OF THE CLASS The UAE’s Emirates College for Advanced Education took on the ambitious task of creating a complete “digital campus”. Imthishan Giado reports.
News & Views
5 EDITOR’S LETTER 7 NEWS All the latest IT news in the region, including:Juniper says Cisco is biting off more than it can chew with its UCS initiative;hospitals use Emirates ID cards to speed up registration processes;RIM and Nokia lead local smartphone market;Egypt first to get Arabic domain names in the Middle East;Western Union pilots mobile remittance scheme;Fujitsu delivers new global cloud computing strategy; project failures on the rise in the region;and STME acquired by MIC.
LEADING THE M&A CHARGE Michael Bayer, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa operations for Avaya, provides insight into the rapidly consolidating IT market.
MANAGE SMART ICT provider Smartworld turned to HP for business optimisation systems for its new range of managed services. Imthishan Giado reports.
RIGHTS, FLICKS AND MARKS
Mark Hill of the Rights Lawyers takes a look at current IP landscape in the UAE and explains how far the market has come over the past 12 months.
Nick Fearn, business manager, EMEA for Infor Expense Management explains why automation of travel expenses can lead to big savings for enterprises.
32 CONNECTED CONFIDENCE Mawarid Finance turned to Double Take’s availability solutions to keep critical data and applications online.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
38 AIR SALES The strongest area of growth in the emerging market for cloud services is mobile R M C , allowing sales staff to be more productive while being out of the office. Piers Ford reports.
34 COLD STORE Growing computer density in datacentres and a desire to cut costs and be green is creating more cooling and power headaches for IT managers in the region, as Piers Ford discovers.
THE SMART BANKER
AC Nreveals the results of its first survey of trends in banking technology, conducted in conjunction with services specialist Infosys. The results will come as a surprise to many in the financial IT industry.
AC Ncaught up with Subroto Bagchi, chief operating officer of MindTree o Cnsulting, during his recent visit to u Dbai, to find out what opinion the noted entrepreneur has of the region’s creative minds.
14 WORLD NEWS The latest IT news from around the world including:Symantec buys erisign V business for $1.2 8 billion; Google offers encrypted search engine in the wake of s“tolen data” scandal;SAP buys Sybase for $5 .8 billion;and Skype now offers monthly subscription services to users.
52 PROJECT ROUNDUP 49 INSPECTING GADGETS AC Nrounds up the latest and greatest in executive gadgets, from the eVrsace niq U ue which brings actual features to the world of fashion phones, to the new u Rgged hard drive from LaC ie – will it stand up to the abuse of the average ICO?We also find Sony Ericsson’s new green phone strangely uninteresting to non-greenies.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
ELECTRIC INSIGHT Faisal h Kashouf, chief information officer of SwissSwedish power and automation specialist ABB provides his views on working in the competitive world of Saudi IT and how he aims to retain staff.
The latest project announcements including:u Kwait’s Ministry of Electricity and Water switches to eRd Hat Linux;and Emirates Group signs deal with iCsco aCpital.
56 SECRET CIO Secret ICO attends his first user group meeting. Predictably, chaos ensues.
5/20/10 2:59 PM
UNDERNEATH IT ALL THIS MONTH, I TOOK A WALK outside the traditional enterprise world of applications and servers into the weird and wonderful world of networking. As you’d expect, it got very complicated, very fast. And quite rightly so, as befits a technology which underpins every enterprise in the world and affects quite literally, every interaction an organisation has today. The event in question was u J niper Networks’ recent EMEA summit in Barcelona, where I got the rare opportunity to sit down with the firm’s founder and CTO, rPadeep Sindhu. As you’d expect, he was quite outspoken, particularly about archrivals Cisco – but considering that John Chambers’ outfit is the resident 800lb gorilla of the networking industry, it did not come as a surprise. What did surprise me is the approach he’s taking to bring the fight to his rivals, which strikes me as more than a little brave. Juniper’s plans revolve primarily around its still-largely-under-wraps Stratus project – which quite simply, aims to collapse the number of layers in the datacentre to a single, cloudbased one which can dynamically
scale and allocate its resources as necessary to the task at hand. It’s ambitious, but also requires a fundamental rethink of the ways internal networks is organised. It’s also diametrically opposite to the way Cisco plans to do things, which as many of you will no doubt know, is through its unified computing system (U SC). Q uite simply, Cisco is getting into the server business with its own range of products – and that’s bad news for long-term partners HPand IBM. By building its own products, Cisco can build systems that are more tightly integrated with its existing range of networking products, while further simplifying management. So which strategy will prevail? It’s difficult to tell. u J niper’s purenetworking play is a long shot – asking datacentre managers (who are far from adventurous at the best of times) to completely rethink the datacentre, but Cisco’s approach does them no favours either, locking them into what eventually becomes onestop shop, as Sindhu calls it. Cisco getting into hardware came to many as a surprise, but the truth is that the San o J se-based firm has been
pulling unusual -Uturns for some time now. o Lng known as a hardcore networking company, its acquisition of SOHO and SMB network provider brought it into a whole new market and certainly lifted its visibility to the general populace. While u J niper’s Sindhu was adamant that the firm would stay away from similar forays in the consumer space, that only holds true for today – you might well find u J niper products on storeshelves in the future. And speaking of small fish being gobbled up by large fish, HP ’s acquisition of 3Com is a signal and its own growing rPoCurve decision is a signal to the industry that the big players won’t take the loss of longterm relationships lightly – they’ll go out there and buy the companies they need to compete. u J niper’s wellregarded product range which can be found at many an ISPboth in the region and across the world, make it a very juicy target for the few remaining major vendors which don’t have an in-house networking division. At this point, eDll looks like the most likely candidate to make a bid, but don’t discount IBM, either. Sindhu and the rest of the u J niper team remained coy about a possible M&A play, but try not to be too surprised if something happens early next year. It’s all contingent of course, on whether u J niper can successfully execute its ambitious strategy and deliver a product line based on Stratus in 2011. If so, Cisco would have something to be worried about – but something tells me, Chambers would have something left up his sleeve anyway.
Imthishan Giado eputy Editor D
June 2010 | www.itp.net
NEWS Regional and global industry news
MONTH IN... Sindhu: This problem is insanely complicated, and for any company to think that they can solve the problems in computing and storage as well as people who specialise in the [individual technologies] is a tall order.
JUNIPER: CISCO BITING OFF MORE THAN IT CAN CHEW WITH UCS THE FOUNDER OF JUNIPER networks has lashed out at archrival Cisco at its EMEA press summit, claiming that its Unified Computing System initiative is too ambitious to pull off successfully. Pradeep Sindhu, director, founder, and vice chairman of the board, also believes customers are rejecting the technology, preferring to stay vendor neutral. Juniper is still hard at work on its own multi-year Stratus Project, which aims to “flatten” datacentre networking into a single layer, making infrastructure less complex to administrate and implement. Planning for the project started in 2006.
“We started the conception of the Stratus project in 2006 and started earnestly the design work in 2008. It took us two long years of trying to understand the problem, figure out what role Juniper could play. We are a pure-play networking company – we don’t want to build storage devices and other things,” he declares. For Sindhu, Cisco’s solution of building its own servers in addition to its current range of networking gear is an unwieldy solution: “This problem is insanely complicated, and for any company to think that they can solve the problems in computing and storage as well as
people who specialise in the [individual technologies secotors] is a tall order. They’re trying to bite off more than they can chew – there’s no question in my mind.” “UCS completely misses the problem of large-scale organisations. It’s a solution which is intended to solve Cisco’s problem: how do you increase your revenues? In fact, it forces the customer to get locked into Cisco solutions,” he adds. “My discussions with customers is that they want to run away as fast as possible. There is a fear that they will get completely locked into a proprietary solution,” states Sindhu.
HOSPITALS USE EMIRATES IDS TO SPEED UP REGISTRATION Authority. You can use it for anything, but the idea is that it’s going to be used everywhere in the future.” “Not every ministry is using it of course but MAIDIS [Oasis’s new ERP system] has it integrated already. For example, they are using it in Shaikh Zayed Military Hospital. Getting those devices into our registry machines saves a lot of time,” he continues. The implementation of the Emirates ID-based check-in system has been delayed until October 1, when its new MAIDIS health information system goes
The amount that a UAE government report claims that Etisalat board members took as compensation for their efforts.
2.6% The iPhone’s market share in the Middle East and Africa, according to a Gartner report.
Quotes “Counterfeiting not only results in loss of revenue and loss of jobs, but it is also viewed as an unprincipled activity.” – Malek Al Malek, managing director of Dubai Internet City, discussing the authority’s partnership with HP to clamp down on pirated goods.
AN INCREASING NUMBER OF UAE hosptials are looking to integrate the nascent Emirates ID card into their system to shorten the time to check-in new and returning patients. Al Ain’s Oasis Hospital is the most recent to express interest in implementing the new reader devices. Luis Perfetti, Oasis Hospital CIO explains how the intended system works: “If you come in and put your card, we can take the information from there, we don’t need to ask you your name or take your picture. That’s a special device coming from the Emirates
live. Perfetti expects it to reduce registration time considerably. “For new patients, it will reduce registration time. Now it takes seven to ten minutes – but with the registration cards you get most of the data directly and you need to ask only three more questions,” he believes. Perfetti also adds that the system is not mandated by health authority, SEHA.
“A lot of customers have been holding back in investments so much over the last two years that they need to start spending pretty aggressively.” – Juniper EMEA SVP Gert-Jan Schenk, expounding on his belief that the infrastructure market will see renewed growth for the remainder of this year.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
BITS AND BYTES
RIM, NOKIA LEAD LOCAL SMARTPHONE MARKET
JUNIPER: EMEA SWITCH MARKET WORTH $6 BILLION u J niper’s senior EMEA P V believes demand from customers will see the regional market for network switches hit 6 $billion by the year .4 1 0 2 eGrt-Jan Schenk says: “A lot of customers have been holding back in investments so much over the last two years that they need to start spending pretty aggressively in some of the fundamental infrastructure.”
VIVA SEALS $270M VENDOR FINANCING DEAL WITH HUAWEI iVva, the u Kwaiti mobile operation launched by STC in ,8 0 2has signed a five-year, 0 7 2 $million vendor financing deal with u Hawei. iVva, which competes with aZin and aWtaniya in u Kwait, said in a statement that the deal would help fund its future network expansion using the “latest technologies”.
GARTNER CIO ACADEMY RETURNS TO ABU DHABI aGrtner is to bring its CIO Academy to the A UE again this year. The CIOlevel event will be held in Abu Dhabi for the second year running. The event is held in association with the n Uiversity of xOford’s Saïd Business School, and is intended to be a highly interactive event for IT decision makers.
NOKIA, BLACKBERRY AND HTC are the leading smartphone brands in the Middle East and Africa based on analysis of 2010 first quarter sales by research firm Gartner. Studies done by the firm see a 26% growth in smartphone sales in MEA in the first quarter of the year compared to 2009 figures. Nokia represents 87.6% of the MEA smartphone market share, while Research in Motion comes in second with a 4.3% share. Apple’s popular iPhone only has a 2.6% market share. Combining both smartphones and traditional handset sales, the
iPhone was ranked 7th worldwide with a 112.2% increase, representing Apple’s strongest quarter yet. “The second quarter of 2010 will be a very important one for Apple. We expect that Apple will present its new iPhone in June during its Worldwide Developer Conference, which will be the first to feature the latest release of the iPhone OS that includes welcome improvements for developers and users, such as multitasking,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. Still, it isn’t expected to catch up to Nokia’s lead anytime soon. Nokia’s mobile phone sales to end
RIM trails Nokia with .4% 3share of the MEA smartphone market. users reached 110.1 million units worldwide according to Gartner, which is close to research findings by IDC. But Google’s Android platform is also making its presence felt – Android devices surpassed iPhone sales for the first time in the United States. Regionally, Nokia could face a tougher time from the likes of Apple and Google Android-device manufacturers, as more handsets enter the market.
DIC SUPPORTS ANTI-PIRACY DRIVE FOR HP PRINTER CONSUMABLES HP HAS WON THE SUPPORT of Dubai Internet City in its ongoing bid to clamp down on parties counterfeiting its products. The PC and printer vendor claims the global trade in fake products now exceeds US$200bn a year, with ink cartridges traditionally one of the most vulnerable categories to counterfeiting. HP and DIC plan to work together to raise awareness of the implications of counterfeit printing supplies and highlight the benefits of using original products. “It is a significant milestone in our fight against counterfeiting that Dubai Internet City has partnered with us to help combat this crime,” said Amin Mortazavi, general manager of the imaging and printing group at HP ME. “As a worldwide leader in the industry, our customers trust the HP brand to provide them with quality products and we are committed to protecting our customers from fraudulent goods bearing the HP name,” he said. HP and DIC will promote awareness on the issues that can be faced by using counterfeit print-
June 2010 | www.itp.net
The global trade in fake cartridges is wroth S Ub 0 2 $n. ing supplies, as well as educate users and channel partners on how to identify and report counterfeit HP supplies. “We believe in the strength of HP’s message and we want to voice our concerns against counterfeiting,” said Malek Al Malek, managing director of Dubai Internet City. “Counterfeiting not only results in loss of revenue and jobs, but it is also viewed as an unprincipled activity. Purchasing fake products undermines eco-conscious efforts to recycle since the products are potentially dangerous,” he added.
TRIGON LANDS XEROX DISTRIBUTOR ROLE AN OVERHAUL OF XEROX Emirates’ sales strategy to initiate more business through the channel has led to Trigon becoming its first authorised products distributor in the UAE. Xerox Emirates has traditionally served as the printer giant’s lone sales conduit in the UAE, but revealed in April that it would begin seeking partnerships in a bid to grow market share and improve coverage. Andrew Hurt, GM at Xerox Emirates, believes Trigon is the perfect foil as it sets out to woo channel companies. “Their experience and presence across the channel, retail and corporate segments complement our existing strategy and they will be an invaluable partner to attaining our vision of being considered for every single business process and document management opportunity in the market,” said Hurt. Xerox claims its long-term strategy is to engage with partners and capitalise on opportunities in key vertical sectors. It recently hired Prateek Dayal from HP as its inaugural channels and alliances director.
BITS AND BYTES
WESTERN UNION PILOTING MOBILE REMITTANCE FUJITSU DELIVERS NEW GLOBAL CLOUD STRATEGY Fujitsu has announced a new global cloud strategy, as part of its growing delivery of cloud computing services. Farid Al Sabbagh, managing director for Fujitsu Technology solutions in the Middle East and Africa said: “Fujitsu’s IaaS offering is ideal for companies who want to focus on their own core business and let external experts manage their IT. IaaS benefits classic small and medium enterprises that have little or no own IT support.”
APPLE RESELLER GETS CRANKY OVER GREY IPADS Prominent Apple dealer iStyle is refusing to help Middle East customers that require support for iPads which they have sourced from outside the region. The company, which is a designated ‘Premium Reseller’ for Apple in the Middle East, has turned away customers that have approached it with issues for iPads they have bought ahead of the product’s official Middle East launch, claiming they do not deserve coverage.
SOFTWARE PIRACY STILL “SIGNIFICANT THREAT” The Middle East and Africa region is the fourth-largest market for pirated software in the world, according to a report by research firm IDC that also revealed the key challenges the Arab IT industry faces.
WESTERN UNION IS FOCUSED on offering mobile money transfer services in the UAE and has already deployed a pilot programme with several exchange houses. The service, once fully deployed, will allow customers to send and receive funds using a phone. Western Union’s Agent expansion plans for 2010 include a strong focus on the Middle East and the UAE specifically – enabling the ‘cash to mobile’ service model. Additionally, as mobile wallets are introduced by MNOs in the UAE, it will pave the way for international mobile money transfer transactions to be available as well,” Khalid Fellahi, senior VP, Africa and global head of Mobile Transaction Services at Western Union told itp.net. The Cash-to-Mobile model Fellahi refers to sees customers take money to participating Western Union
agents in the country, providing a recipient’s mobile number to send the amount to. “To date we have conducted pilot programmes with Wall Street Exchange and Orient Exchange in the UAE, focusing on cash to mobile between the UAE and the Philippines. Further deployment of these services will be dependent on the result of the pilot,” Fellahi explained. “In total, there are currently 19,000 Western Union Agent locations enabled with Mobile Money Transfer services in 10 countries, and that number is expected to grow to 75,000 before year end 2010.” Western Union currently has mobile money transfer partnerships with select mobile operators around the world, including Globe Telecom and Smart Communications based in the
Philippines, Orascom and Zain in the Middle East, Safaricom in Kenya, Maxis in Malaysia, and others that haven’t gone public as yet. Noticeably missing are operators from the Indian subcontinent. In January, local mobile operator Etisalat said it would launch a mobile remittance service for Indian expatriates in ‘coming months’. When it was announced at the time, the service was regarded as a threat to the healthy profits exchange houses presently enjoy from business in the UAE and Gulf as a whole. In 2008, Western Union and Cairo-based Orascom Group signed an agreement to offer various mobile remittance services to Orascom subscribers.
EGYPT FIRST TO GET ARABIC DOMAIN IN THE MIDDLE EAST EGYPT IS OFFICIALLY THE first Middle Eastern country to go live with a web address entirely in Arabic. “Today the first three production non-Latin top-level domains were placed in the DNS root zone. This means they are live! Here is one newly enabled domain with a functional website that works right now: ” wrote Kim Davies, manager of Root Zone Services at ICANN, in a blog post. Davies is referring to Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology website that now includes the Arabic string equivalent of ‘.misr’ in its URL identifier. Egypt, KSA and the UAE were some of the first countries in the world authorised by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to register domain names in Arabic.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
It follows ICANN’s 2009 decision to liberate the Internet by ending the exclusive use of Latin characters in addresses. For Gulf countries, the decision meant Arabic characters could be used for an entire internet address, instead of just parts of addresses followed by .com or .net in English. Egypt’s own Minister of Communications and Information Technology Dr. Tarek Kamel said that the use of Arabic in the URLs on the Internet would increase the number of users coming online, doing away with language barriers. The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority in Egypt has already licensed three firms – TE Data, InTouch and Vodafone Data – to be able to accept and register new Arabic domain name applications from interested entities within the country.
FIRST ARABIC UAE WEB ADDRESS GOES LIVE FOLLOWING EGYPT, THE UAE has gone live with its first web address entirely in Arabic. The website of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, launched by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has the Arabic equivalent of ‘khalifa.emarat’ as its URL identifier. It was launched in cooperation with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE and the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, following ICANN’s decision to end the exclusive use of Latin characters The Ministry of Presidential Affairs says the new domain “reflects UAE’s pride in Arabic language due to its role in the Arab culture”. Websites can now be registered with the Arabic equivalent of ‘Emarat’ in the United Arab Emirates.
BITS AND BYTES
PROJECT FAILURES ABOUND IN REGION COMPANIES in the region are lagging behind on the use of proper project management tools and expertise, according to project management specialists Collaboration, Management and Control Solutions (CMCS). The company recently completed a Middle East survey which highlighted a wide range of reasons for project failure, with improper planning and methodology cited as the leading factor in project failure, with 78%of respondents calling it an issue. Other contributing factors to project failure included lack of communication (75% ), and unrealistic target completion dates (67% ), identified inadequate commitment and involvement
from senior management (59% ), insufficient budgets and resources (56% ), too many assumptions and unknowns (51% ), project politics and conflicts (3 8% ), lack of set targets or measurable results (4 5% ), and the formation of the wrong project team (27% ) CMCS said that the results reflect a region wide under-investment in project management tools and a lack of and training. “The downturn revealed a lot of flaws in the way the region manages its projects. y B this time project-based businesses should have already learned their lessons, and yet our survey results show that many still adhere to poor practices and either delay or avoid key project management
Samman: The downturn revealed flaws in the handling of projects.
investments. We hope that our findings will serve as a wake-up call to project managers and make them realise that they need to invest more in tools and talent if they want to maintain the viability and competitiveness of their respective developments,” said assam Samman, CEO of CMCS. B
EMIRATES LAUNCHES FLIGHT BOOKINGS BY MOBILE PHONE Emirates Airline said that it has launched a new service which allows passengers to book flights on their mobile phones. Mobile Emirates.com will allow Emirates customers around the globe to have the option of booking their flight through their phone’s mobile browser.. Once they log on to www.emirates. com they will be automatically redirected to the mobile optimised version of the website.
PALESTINIAN REFUGEES TO GET XO LAPTOPS NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION One Laptop per Child will be providing their O X low-cost laptops to nearly half a million Palestinian refugee children by 2012, offering them new learning opportunities in the digital age. Inexpensive O X laptops, which are the siz e of a small textbook and come with built-in wireless connectivity, will be provided to the children through United Nations eRlief and Works Agency schools in the occupied Palestinian territory (West aBnk and Gaz a). “Core to our mission is providing the world’s most isolated and vulnerable children access to modern forms of education and the opportunities that follow,” said Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of OLPC. “The O X laptop has a special place in children’s education in regions that are disrupted by ongoing political unrest. With the O X, the children can gain the knowledge required to participate fully and thrive in the 21st century – even when getting to school becomes impossible.” OLPC is working with UNR WA on teacher training and the development of localised content.
ETISALAT BOARD TAKES HOME $10.2M IN BONUSES A UAE GOVERNMENT REPORT has revealed that the Etisalat chairman and board members paid themselves a total of $10.2m in bonuses in 2009, and has noted a string of discrepancies in bonuses and salaries at the country’s largest telecoms operator. The State Audit Institution (SAI) found that Etisalat’s salary system had integral weaknesses and lacked necessary safeguards to prevent exploitation, according to Arabic daily Emarat Al oYum. It said that those safeguards that are in place are not enforced, exposing the company to “severe financial risks”. According to the newspaper the SAI report said one employee had been able to take advantage of the system to embez zle a total of $7.3 5m, and also noted that former Etisalat employees whose service had been terminated, still owed the company more than $798,000 as of the end of 2008. The report also highlighted an incident where the telco approved a $54 ,000 loan to an 4 employee who wanted to buy a
house, even though the maximum limit for his grade of employment should have limited his loan to $272,000. The loan was in clear violation of Article 722 of the company’s human resources regulations, the newspaper said. According to the SAI’s findings, the telco made a $3 3 8m loss across ten of its overseas operations in 2009. y B the end of that year, the value of loans and debts granted by Etisalat to affiliate companies totalled $2.72bn, which constituted 5 3 percent of the value of Etisalat’s investment in these companies. The SAI said these were granted without the proper collateral, which put company finances at risk. The SAI report recommended that Etisalat must conduct cost effectiveness measures, and suggested that Etisalat overpaid for a number of its overseas acquisitions, including for Atlantique Telecom, Tanzania’s Z anzibar Telecom, Sudan’s Canar Telecommunications Company, and Egypt Telecom.
EGYPT’S ETISALAT MISR UPGRADES HSPA+ NETWORK Egyptian mobile operator Etisalat Misr said it has launched the second phase of its HSPA+ network deployment. The country’s third mobile operator, which is working with Huawei on the project, said the deployment will give subscribers mobile broadband download speeds of up to 42Mbps, compared with 21Mbps speeds under the first completed phase of the network.
NEW CEO TAKES THE HELM AT JUMBO ELECTRONICS Jumbo Electronics has announced the appointment of Deepak Khetrapal. Khetrapal (below) is a former COO and director of Mumbaibased Raymonds Limited. He started his career with the Indian State Bank and was also CEO of Steelage Industries.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
SUN BOSS MOVES TO TECH ACCESS SALES IT DISTRIBUTOR TECH ACCESS has announced that Sun Microsystems’ former Middle East boss C hris o Crnelius has joined its team. o Crnelius will serve as senior P V for sales and support in a role that will see him directly responsible for sales management, vendor and partner relations, services and support, and logistics management. o Crnelius and Tech Access know each other well given the company’s status as Sun’s primary distribution partner in the region. It was created to serve Sun’s business in the region and continues to draw more than half of its revenues from the hardware vendor. Before his time as Sun’s man-
aging director for the MEN A region, o Crnelius held a variety of sales and relationship management roles at technology giant IBM. In a statement, Tech Access’ president and E CO, Shomail Ghalib, said o Crnelius was an important addition to the company’s senior management structure. h C “ ristian has the skills and expertise to help us realise our growth plans in key distributor markets and I am confident that he will be an instrumental element in the team’s continued success,” he commented. o Cnfirmation of o Crnelius’ move to Tech Access comes just days before Sun and Oracle officially begin going
Chris Cornelius formerly worked at Sun Microsystems. to market as a joint company in the Middle East. Sun’s channel manager for the region, Bruno Haubertin, revealed he would not be joining Oracle either. He is currently weighing up his options, but is looking to remain in a regional channel or business development post in the future. Oracle has yet to outline how it intends to run Sun’s Middle East channel business going forward.
STME ACQUIRED BY SAUDI INVESTMENT HOUSE MIC STME’S RECENT SALE to Saudi investment house MIC is set to herald its transition to a more rounded IT infrastructure provider, according to a member of the company’s senior management team. Although STME’s roots lie in the storage arena, deputy E CO o J celyn Al Adwani says the company’s new owners have sanctioned plans to expand its market offering, particularly in terms of professional services and enterprise solutions. And she insists their financial backing will give STME a strong foundation to move forwards in its strategy. I“t is going to give us the strength and the ability to grow in a much more stable manner because they have invested u q ite a lot of funds and they have a good vision,” she explained. W “ e are enhancing the product portfolio and ultimately we will grow across geographies as well.”
June 2010 | www.itp.net
T “ he plan is to grow into more of a full infrastructure provider so we will focus on our strengths for this year and then start to build out by bringing in network and security,” she revealed. MICannounced the takeover of STME early last month after buying the company from its founder and chairman Peter Aubrey. The K uwait-based business initially started out as the Middle East subsidiary of StorageTek back in 19 82 before becoming an independent company five years later. MIChas installed Salah Abu Shaar as STME’s E CO and he will pull the strings from Saudi Arabia, which remains the integrator’s largest market. More accountability also rests with the company’s territory managers following a recent internal reorganisation. “What we have done is restructured the company into regions with their own P&Ls,”
AL Adwani: Ultimately we will grow across geographies as well.
explained Al Adwani. S “ audi Arabia is a region on its own, as are all of the Gulf countries. Egypt and o J rdan is another region and the fourth one is Pakistan. This gives the area managers the ability to run their region like their own business, but also to be accountable for everything as well. On a functional level they still report to the sales director and the support services director.”
ARAB STUDENTS WIN AT US GLOBAL SCIENCE FAIR THE MIDDLE EAST REGION had good representation at the 2010 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which saw Arab students win seven awards. More than 1,600 talented young students from 59 countries took part in the pre-college science competition in California early last month, which offered over $4 million in prizes. Students from Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco participated but it was 11 talented students from Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Jordan that won five IDEF Grand Awards and two Special Awards. Palestine participated for the first time with Nour Alarada and Asil Shaar winning a Special Team award for their ‘Electronic Stick for the Blind’.
Saudi Arabia did well with Saud Alharbi, Humoud Almutairi, Rakan Almutairi receiving fourth place in the Grand Award, Environmental Science category. Abdulaziz AlGhunaim took second place in the Behavioural and Social Science category for ‘Game Power – A Game Environment for Measuring ICT-enhanced Skills of Young Students’, while Ahmed Alhomaid, Abdualaziz Almugairin and Fahad Al Musharraf also took home a Grand accolade in the Cellular Molecular biology section for their study into ‘Radiosensivity and Carrier’s Frequency of Ataxia Talengectasia-like Disorder’. “The dedication and enthusiasm shown by students from our region is truly inspirational. The Arab world is home to a full
11 Middle East students won awards at the fair.
spectrum of highly talented individuals who have demonstrated that they are really able to compete at a global level in the field
of science and technology,” said Ferruh Gurtas, corporate affairs director for Middle East, Turkey and Africa region.
UAE ID CARDS REQUIRED FOR FUTURE PUBLIC INTERNET USAGE THE UAE’S MINISTRY of Interior has said that ID cards will be required to access the internet in cafes and public centres throughout the country. According to the Department of Public Information Security, the new regulations are intended to identify suspected cyber criminals and stop fraud, sexual exploitation of children, and the circulation of pornographic material. In addition to requiring ID cards to be used, UAE daily Emarat Al Youm said the Ministry is also introducing a series of other measures to track paedophiles who may try to contact children over the internet, or exchange illegal files involving children. Programmes will be made available to parents that will allow them to block their children’s access to certain websites, and a team of law enforcement experts from around the world has been assembled to combat the exploitation of children through the internet. Major Faisal Al-Shammari, the team’s media liaison, said that it
draws from a range of institutions in the US, Britain, Australia, Canada, and Italy, in addition to the International Police, also known as Interpol. He claimed that “the crime of the exploitation of children via the internet is still very limited in the UAE, because of the privacy of the community and its commitment to Arab values and traditions.” The end of 2010 has been set as the deadline for expatriates living in the UAE to register for ID cards. Professionals have been warned they could face problems with services such as obtaining a driver’s licence, visiting a doctor or opening a bank account if they miss the registration deadline.
IOMEGA DENIES THAT IT HAS TOO MANY UAE DISTIES CONSUMER AND SME storage ace Iomega is adamant there is enough capacity in the UAE market to justify its recent appointment of Trigon, a move which takes the number of in-country distributors it works with in the UAE to four. Iomega’s regional sales chief, Cizar Abughazaleh, confirmed that Trigon has not supplanted anyone, but will instead take its place alongside existing partners Empa, Intuit and ITE. He said it was likely that each distributor would carry a different product mix to retain a specific value in its line-up and insisted the appointment would make its array of storage solutions more accessible to the channel. “There is enough capacity in the market because we believe there is still potential growth in the GCC, especially in the UAE,” reasoned Abughazaleh. “We have selected Trigon because we know they have their own specialties when it comes to the channel and the resellers. This appointment is part of our mission to provide the best ser-
Abughazaleh: There is enough capacity in the market.
vice that we can for our products, whether it is availability, aftersales service or channel activities,” he said. Trigon is the latest in a growing list of in-country distribution appointments that Iomega has made to increase its footprint in the Middle East. The company recently signed Al Babtain in Kuwait, following on from earlier agreements with Al-Jammaz in Saudi Arabia and Delta and VAS in Egypt.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
BITS AND BYTES MICROSOFT PREVIEWS SPRUCED UP HOTMAIL Microsoft has previewed a brand new Windows Live Hotmail that will be launched this summer and promises to address the needs of the ‘modern inbox’. Among the many enhancements showcased, Hotmail will let customers send up 10GB of attachments in a single message, a significant improvement over its existing 10MB file limit. Additionally, users are able to view and edit Microsoft Office documents right in their inboxes and view photo attachments as a slideshow with a single click.
VPLEX ALLOWS VIRTUAL STORAGE OVER DISTANCES EMC has launched new technology enabling virtual storage to be extended over long distances, to allow new models of cloud computing and distributed datacentres. The VPLEX technology will allow companies to nondisruptively move thousands of virtual machines and large volumes of data over distances of thousands of miles.
ARUBA TO BUY AZALEA NETWORKS FOR $40M Aruba Networks has announced the acquisition of outdoor mesh network provider, Azalea Networks, for $40 million. Aruba will pay $27 million in stock, and up to $13.5 million in cash to add Azalea’s expertise for vertical sectors with outdoor, industrial operations. The deal will include Azalea’s operations centre in Beijing.
PAKISTAN BLOCKS FACEBOOK ACCESS PAKISTAN HAS BLOCKED access to Facebook because of a religiously-fuelled campaign on the social networking site called ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’. A Facebook user set up the page inviting people to send in a ‘creative and funny depiction of Mohammed’ on May 20, with the intention of supporting freedom of speech and to protest threats made by an Islamic group against the creators of South Park for depicting the Prophet Mohammad in a bear suit during an episode earlier this year. Hundreds of Facebook users have called for the social-networking site to pull down the page. Other users have created their own pages in protest with one page, ‘AGAINST “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!’, already
The Lahore High Court has blocked Facebook and other sites in response to protests.
having the support of more than 92,000 people. Facebook sent a statement to the media saying that they are investigating the matter and that they would consider restricting access to the controversial content in specific countries. “While the content does not violate our terms, we do understand it
may not be legal in some countries,” the company said in a statement. “In cases like this, the approach is sometimes to restrict certain content from being shown in specific countries.” The page is presently not accessible in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan, has decided to block the website entirely ‘till further orders’.
SYMANTEC BUYS VERISIGN SECURITY BUSINESS SYMANTEC IS BUYING OUT Verisign’s security business for $1.28 billion in a deal that will conclude by September. The acquisition will see Symantec take over the division of VeriSign that sells security technology to websites including the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate Services, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Services, VeriSign Trust Services and VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Authentication Service. Symantec’s security solutions protect more than one billion systems around the world and the VeriSign deal will see them helping companies incorporate
identity security into their framework so that new computing models such as cloud computing, and social networking can be adopted securely. “With the combined products and reach from Symantec and VeriSign, we are poised to drive the adoption of identity security as the means to provide secure access to anything from anywhere, to prevent identity fraud and to make online experiences more user-friendly and hasslefree,” said Enrique Salem, Symantec president and CEO. The VeriSign check mark is a recognised symbol of trust online with 175 million impressions
A Pakistani technician repairs a mobile phone at his workshop in Quetta.
A new social networking site for pilots opens in Vietnam to assist disabled dogs.
Symantec are based in Mountain View.
every day on more than 90,000 websites in 160 countries. Symantec will be adding the VeriSign check mark in a new logo once the transaction has closed ‘to convey to users that it is safe to transact commerce and exchange information online’.
MONTH IN PICTURES
A student works on an OLPC XO laptop at a Catholic school in El Salvador.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
A net café employee pastes news of a Facebook block in Islamabad.
BITS AND BYTES
SAP BUYS SYBASE FOR $5.8 BILLION SAP HAS ANNOUNCED ITS intention to buy database and business software company Sybase, for 5 .$8billion. The deal, which has been approved by the Sybase board, will see SAP bid 6 5 $per share for outstanding stock in the company, with the deal expected to close in Q3. SAP will finance the deal with a $ 3.5 billion loan facility and existing cash. SAP stated that the main benefits of the deal will be in using Sybase mobility solutions to deliver SAP applications to mobile devices. “With this transaction, SAP will dramatically expand its addressable market by making available its market-leading solutions to hundreds of millions of mobile users, combining the world’s best
business software with the world’s most powerful mobile infrastructure platform,”said Bill McDermott, co-CEO of SAP. “This is a game-changing transaction for SAP and Sybase customers, who will be better able to connect their employees with key functionality and information from anywhere and make it easier for companies to make more informed decisions in real time. With SAP’s customer-centric approach, we are resolute in our commitment to support Sybase customers,”he added. The deal will see Sybase continue as a standalone business unit, retaining the Sybase name and management. Product roadmaps for both firms will continue as planned, and development teams will remain intact.
Sybase’s development teams are expected to remain intact.
Sybase has a portfolio of access, management, development and security tools as well as a variety of mobile messaging service, focused on the enterprise. SAP says that it will use this portfolio to extend the reach of its applications, driving further adoption of SAP applications.
GOOGLE TO OFFER ENCRYPTED SEARCH ENGINE SOON FOLLOWING THE BACKLASH Google faced for stealing data from open WiF i networks m ‘ istakenly’ , the search giant now says the incident has highlighted how easily accessible non-password protected networks are. It now plans to serving up an encrypted version of Google Search soon. E “ arlier this year, we encrypted Gmail for all our users, and next week we will start offering an encrypted version of Google Search,” revealed Alan Eustace, senior P V for engineering and research in a company blog post. Google began using encryption as a default for Gmail users only in 2010, while aYhoo!and Hotmail
The French MX4 ground robot undergoes field trials in Germany.
Google has come under attack for ‘accidently’ collecting data.
do not offer that same level of security and privacy as yet. sUers can check if pages are encrypted by looking to see whether the U RL begins with h ‘ ttps’, rather than just h ‘ ttp’, with browsers showing a lock icon when the connection is secure. In the same blog post, Eustace explains the WiF i incident in detail, which started when the
A woman samples a touch-based display in the Museum of London.
Data Protection Authority in Hamburg, Germany asked to audit the WiF i data that Google Street iVew cars collected for products like Google Maps for mobile. The request saw Google going over all the data collected and realised they were m “ istakenly collecting samples of payload data from open i(e, non-password-protected)WiF i networks”but adds that the data was never used. According to Eustace, Google is reaching out to regulators in the affected countries to discuss how to dispose of it. Presently only data collected in Ireland has been deleted upon request by the Irish Data Protection Authority.
An employee at France’s Cybercustoms, monitoring e-commerce exchanges.
VENDOR TESTS LTE TECH FROM HUAWEI FOR EXPO Anite, a specialist in testing technology for the wireless industry, is working with Huawei to test its LTE systems. The tests are particularly important for Huawei as it prepares to showcase its LTE technology at the Shanghai World Expo, which runs until October 31. Anite’s software test solutions for 2G, 3G and LTE technologies allow developers to test all of their wireless technology, reducing time and cost-to-market.
AVAYA UNVEILS NETWORK PRODUCTS TAILORED FOR UC Avaya has unveiled a new range of solutions which are tailored to meet the high demands of modern unified communication systems. Kevin Kennedy, president and CEO, Avaya commented: “The Avaya Data Solutions business is positioned to play a critical role in Avaya’s growth as we lead the industry to ‘Fit for Purpose’ data and SIP-based communications technologies.”
SKYPE ANNOUNCES NEW MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS Skype now offers monthly subscription packages to its users that offer savings of up to 60% compared to its standard Pay As You Go rates. Skype has started rolling out calling plans to more than 170 countries globally, with subscriptions starting from as little as $1.09 per month and rates as low as $.01 per minute offered to almost any destination worldwide.
Adobe takes out a full page newspaper ad defending its Flash technology.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
2009, but early 2010 did see a resurgent in interest in this form of licensing. A few new franchises have arrived, such as Bloomingdales, Hamleys, Index Living, iKdville, Baja resh and Crate and Barrel, as well as F the return of Laura Ashley, does indicate confidence in the potential here and in the regulations that exist to protect licensors and licensees. Having said that, there is no law that specifically addresses franchise operations in the region, making the contract very important to operations.
MEDIA AND GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES
Hill: Locally produced TV continues to be a rarity – most Arabic content comes from the Levant region.
RIGHTS, FLICKS AND MARKS Mark Hill of the Rights Lawyers takes a look at the current IP landscape in the UAE.
TRADE MARKS AND BRANDING
Since the last edition, we have seen little movement in the attempts to achieve synchronisation between trade marks and company names. With several jurisdictions issuing company names, this is becoming apressing issue. The long awaited unified trade marks law that was proposed in December 2006by the AE government is still pending. U And trade mark procedures in the region remains steadfastly paper driven, with no access to online databases and no likelihood of that changing readily. The one movement in the A UE is that they have now imposed a strict deadline on applications for publication, with no ability to request extensions. If the application is not lodged within the required 30 days, then the application is considered to be abandoned.
In good news for brand owners, the AE government departments are U still focused on regular inspections for counterfeit goods in the region. CDs worth AED9.1 million S$ (U 2,4 79,5 )were confiscated near 4 6 the end of 2009 and a further AED3.5 million U S ($ 95 3,6 78 )confiscated early in 2010. Regular inspections are now made in the region and there have been considered government efforts to provide information to public about the creation of an environment free of infringement. The A UE still holds the top score in the Arab world in relation to the fight against piracy, a statistic of which it is rightly proud.
FRANCHISING With the economic downturn, there can be no question that franchising opportunities had declined through
Dubai Media City, Studio City and Internet City continue to flourish as a base for many major international brands. In addition, the Abu Dhabi Media rFee Z one, Two o Fur5 , 4 launched at the end of 2008 , is slowly coming into its own as a centre for excellence in relation to media. The Emirate of u Fjairah is also entering the media and creative fields with the introduction of iVrtuz one, which would be of interest to SME’s. Many government entities in Abu Dhabi – Imagenation, TwoF our5 , 4 Abu Dhabi Media Group – have announced co-productions and investment deals, all of interest for people in the creative industry. The main block to the attraction of international production and indeed the fostering of local production remains the lack of any financial incentives to bringing productions into the region. Currently there are no government schemes, such as a location rebates or accommodation subsidies, that might encourage and facilitate the production of films in the country.
MOVIES Another great year for DIF Fand MEIF Fthis year. DIF Fthis year saw the premier of the first fully funded Emirati film “C ( ity of Life” ). The producer of C “ ity of Life” , along with several young local film makers (Hanan Al Muhairi, Majid Alansari, Nawaaf Al aJ nahi), attended Sundance this year in a bid to heighten awareness of the A UE as a film production region and to showcase the talent that is being developed here. oYung filmmaker Hanan Al Muhairi had her documentary, A “ rabyana” , about the AE’s first all female horse riding U team, make its debut at a film festival
June 2010 | www.itp.net
in the S UA. The 2010 film H “ enna” directed by Saleh aKrama was shown in the Arab iFlm F estival in St. Paul SA. So while production shooting U in the A UE continues to be a young business, it’s clear that interest in regional films will continue to fuel its growth and hopefully provide its youth with a creative outlet.
TELEVISION The regulatory story remains the same in the country in relation to TV . As far as broadcasters go, the main pay TVoperators, Showtime and Orbit, merged in the past year. The Saudi based media giant Rotana, which has main offices in the A UE, welcomed a new 9% shareholder in the form of Murdoch’s News Limited. We anticipate more activity in M&A as the numerous broadcasters attempt to create a commercially viable business model for themselves. Locally produced television continues to be a rarity with most Arabic language content coming form the Levant region. In a world where poetry is as popular as rock music, the locally produced reality TVshow, “Prince of Poets” , scaled diz zying heights in audience reaction and SMS revenues and won an award in the
Pirated CDs with a value of nearly $2.5 million were seized in the UAE last year.
The phenomenal growth patterns evidenced through 2009 have raised the same questions that have been plaguing the media industry worldwide – will online ad revenue cannibalise the revenue of other media? Additionally, on-line specific advertising campaigns are now in evidence more and more – daring to go where other media does not.
The main block to the attraction of international production and indeed the fostering of local production remains the lack of any financial incentives to bringing productions into the region. Currently there are no government schemes, such as a location rebates or accommodation subsidies, that might encourage and facilitate the production of films in the country Gulf eFstival. Production remained centered on documentaries in this region but there can be no doubt that recent changes in management in TV stations should provide producers with a new outlet for local content.
nfortunately, concerns remain U about the amount of material that is used without proper licensing – while media savvy may be expanding, diligent adherence to copyright law is not catching up.
2009 saw the international powerhouse of aYhoo come in and do a joint venture with local internet provider Maktoob. With a high percentage of young Emiratis now spending a phenomenal amount of time online w ( ith young Emiratis taking up aFcebook in particular at an alarmingly fast rate), there can be no question about the strength of this media here.
The Abu Dhabi Media Company, for its subsidiary Abu Dhabi TV , continues to aggressively seek broadcast rights in major sporting events E ( nglish Premier League, ormula 1)in order to cement its F position as the premier sports broadcasting network in the A UE. Its main competition in this regard comes from the Doha based Al Jazeera network.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
The region has hosted numerous first class sporting events in the past 12 to 18months – the first Grand Prix was held in Abu Dhabi. The Dubai sports stadium has opened with numerous international cricket games being played there. The Rugby Sevens continues to grow in stature and attendance, despite the downturn in the global economy. Golf thrives in this region with the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club opening and championships in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai attracting international players. The multimillion dollar Meydan race course has been opened and will no doubt attract not only its fair share of multimillion dollar horse racing events but is also the planned venue for the staging for numerous large international concerts.
MUSIC The region continues to be without copyright collecting society for music. There is still no clear n “ ext step”coming from the government on this, despite the hard work of numerous entities o ( urselves included)over several years. The lobby work will no doubt continue, but all parties are awaiting guidance on who will be able to collect royalties.
PROGRESS The A UE, despite being only 37 years old, is certainly working hard i(f sometimes slowly)to achieve its goal of international excellence in all fields related to intellectual property.
Consolidation and convergence can spur innovation by enabling a resource pool, accelerating research.
LEADING THE M&A CHARGE Michael Bayer, president of EMEA field operations for Avaya, provides insight into the consolidating IT market. THE IT SECTOR WAS MARKED BY a spate of activity in the final quarter of 2009 – a flurry of deal making grounded in optimism about the fundamental strength of the sector. The upturn in the economy sees M&A activity gaining speed, especially in the technology sector. That the industry is set for a strong rebound is beyond doubt. The recent announced deals involving Adobe buying Omniture, and Computer Associates buying NetQOS are revealing some interesting trends. It’s not the usual suspects anymore; it’s a new breed of companies making acquisitions to strengthen their market position in the market and extend offerings. The first-quarter results announced by companies such as HP, Apple and Intel, for example, suggest that demand for technology is robust and growing as a recovery kicks in. But any increase in mergers and acquisitions will start from a low base. In 1999, by comparison,
start-ups were plentiful and the potential for new business seemed almost limitless and there were nearly 270 initial public offerings. Last year, there were just 12 IPOs. But a recent report from auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers providing insights into technology M&A forecasts predicts that the market is poised to re-awaken in 2010 with an upturn in deal activity. The resilience of IT is due in part to the permanent place it now holds at the heart of any ambitious organisation’s competitive strategy. Essential online interactions with customers are driving up demand for servers, software, applications and network capacity, as is the need for an organisation’s distributed workers to collaborate and share knowledge in real time wherever they are. The increasing role video content plays in these communications only
places more pressure on chief information officers to upgrade existing infrastructure. Meanwhile, on the consumer side, social networking sites and mobile devices are driving up wireless revenues, while the PC market is now showing strong signs of recovery. The imperative for aggressive technology companies is to identify a smart growth strategy that will foster innovation and allow them to tap into lucrative new areas or extend current market leadership. The right merger or acquisition can deliver on both counts, and mature companies can consolidate their market position by incorporating agile, innovative start-ups that meet specific portfolio needs. One outcome of the recession is that promising companies are likely to be available at far more attractive prices today than they will be in two or three years. Entrepreneurs and their investors are thirsty for capital, face a stilldifficult IPO landscape and operate in a challenging revenue environment. A merger or acquisition may currently be the only significant liquidity event available to them. The recession has also allowed the cream of potential targets to rise to the top. To survive, let alone thrive, young companies have had to develop products that resonate with customers. They have had to show that they can innovate and operate with financial discipline. Good buys are far easier to identify now than they were three or four years ago – or will be in 2013. Strategically, M&A is an efficient way for new companies to infuse advanced new technologies into an existing portfolio without making large, speculative investments in own-house research and development. M&A activity is also good for the IT industry as a whole. Consolidation and convergence can spur innovation by enabling a pooling of resources that accelerates research. The right deal can also align funding with promising technologies, and entrepreneurialism with experience. While we have seen larger companies cutting back on R&D during the downturn, they have also built up their cash reserves. At this time they have both the need and the resources to onboard fresh technology, making smaller firms a good bargain. After a period of reflection and pause, the technology sector is set to expand once again, and smart consolidation will be a hallmark of another decade of growth and transformative innovation.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
Fearn: T&E is one of the last processes to be automated.
Nick Fearn, business manager, EMEA for Infor Expense Management explains why automation of travel expenses can lead to big savings for enterprises. HOW DOES YOUR ORGANISATION automate travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses? Many still use spreadsheets. Business travellers enter their expenses into Excel, print out the spreadsheet and attach receipts. From there they pass it to somebody for approval, maybe even using recorded delivery to get it back to the relevant office which adds even more cost. Once approved, the data is laboriously re-keyed into the finance system for processing, and finally the reimbursement payment is generated. Sound familiar? But spreadsheets are not automation. They create a slow, costly process that lacks any effective management visibility into the data. At a time when companies are desperate to rein in expenses, the old spreadsheet-based T&E process is counter-productive. In the current economy, expense management has been magnified in importance and so too has travel and entertainment cost control. Yet still, after many years availability of sophisticated automated expense
management systems, so many companies have still not automated their T&E systems and processes. The need to automate expense management and T&E has never been greater. The economy of the past 18 months has been particularly hard on cash flow. Although the economy in many parts of Europe is showing varying signs of recovery, managers can’t count on a large enough pick-up to really boost revenues in the near future. This means that all they can do is to focus on what they can control. That includes T&E expenses. Travel managers are struggling with the economic pain. Across the board, we’ve seen huge cuts in T&E spend. In some companies all non-discretionary travel and entertainment spending has been curtailed and in others business travel has been cut back to only that which is customer-facing or commercially critical. Without doubt, the last 18 months have seen a marked reduction in travel and entertainment spend; an avoidance of travel where possible through the wider use of
online meeting tools; stricter policies and higher-level approvals for T&E. However, world-class enterprises take a more comprehensive approach. The Hackett Group recently looked at how companies manage their T&E costs and found that 70% of worldclass companies use automated tools. Compare this to the average adoption rate across all companies of 30%. The difference to the bottom line that this makes between the world-class companies and the rest is striking. According to the research world-class companies spent $4 less on processing costs per expense report. This is 40% less than is spent by those companies that use a manual process. For a company processing thousands of expense reports each year, the savings can really add up. A large company can easily be processing over 5,000 expense claims every month. Many other companies have more than 500 regular business travellers and can process 1,000 or more expense reports monthly, so these efficiency savings are sizeable. Significant though these savings are, they’re small compared to the reduction in spend which can be achieved through the greater adherence to policy, increased use of preferred suppliers, greater VAT recovery and other cost savings which automated solutions make possible. In one particular case a company had 12 full time employees handling T&E expense auditing and reimbursement when it was only partially automated. However when it was fully automated, they were able to do it with just five people – a saving of seven staff. Yet today, most organisations still do not fully automate T&E, and with today’s focus on curtailing costs, organisations should be pushing for more automation and integration. Analysts Aberdeen Group, in their latest T&E management automation study, identified four primary drivers for the adoption of expense claim automation software: 1. Budget reduction, which was a direct response to the recent global financial downturn and is cited as the most important reason of those given. 2. The fluctuating cost of travel. 3. The high cost of processing expense reports. 4. The need to meet financial reporting and regulatory requirements. Naturally enough, gaining improved visibility and analysis of company spend and improving expense policy
June 2010 | www.itp.net
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management enforcement are also very powerful drivers, as is reducing the time it takes to enter, approve, and pay expenses. Getting started, corporate credit cards often constitute an initial step in management’s efforts to understand and control T&E costs. The corporate card has become an effective link between travel booking and expense processing in many cases. Many companies have gone beyond that. For example, many have already integrated payment processing with expense management, by integrating their finance systems with the expense management application. Others also integrate reporting and budgeting with their expense management solutions. However, rather alarming is the fact that so few companies have used the data available from their T&E system for the purpose of improving the procurement process. For organisations intent on controlling their travel and expenses spend, this is a serious oversight. A determined procurement effort based on up-todate and accurate information concerning the use of airlines, hotels and rental cars can make a significant dent in T&E expenses in a very short timescale by securing the most
Tthe independent nature of business travellers has made T&E difficult to automate.
of the volume discounts that they are potentially jeopardising. This is another example of where T&E expense management can be improved through the adoption and enforcement of consistent T&E
The positive impact that procurement can make may be undermined by human behaviour. Procurement’s contribution is to establish a select set of providers to which all business travellers are directed. Yet many business travellers have their own preferred airlines and hotels – ones that are not part of procurement’s approved supplier listing. Often, they break the rules but think that they are getting the company an even better deal, unaware of the volume discounts that they are potentially jeopardising favourable possible volume discounts and terms. The positive impact that procurement can make may however be undermined by human behaviour. Procurement’s contribution is to establish a select set of providers to which all business travellers are directed. Yet many business travellers have their own preferred airlines and hotels – ones that are not part of procurement’s approved supplier listing. Often, they break the rules but think that they are getting the company an even better deal, unaware
policies supported by the use of an expense claim automation solution. Almost half the respondents to a recent Infor study had documented policies but adherence to policy was upheld manually. As a result, managers could not easily determine whether or not policies were being upheld. Others let each business unit or region manage T&E themselves. Some tried to apply consistent T&E policies but only to selected spend areas such as air travel and hotels. Even among the largest businesses, those with $1 billion or more in
revenue, only a little over half of them reported the ability to apply policy through an automated, fully integrated approach. Yet, in the end, that is what it takes. T&E is one of the last processes within organisations to be automated. Maybe it is the independent nature of business travellers or their very mobility that has historically made T&E difficult to automate. Whatever the reason, the economic pain of the past 18 months is finally forcing a change in companies’ attitudes toward T&E automation. Looking ahead, the next issue for expense management is mobile computing. Here, both travellers and managers can use mobile devices such as Blackberrys to make and change travel arrangements, file and process expense claims, and review and analyse T&E spending. In conclusion, although cost cutting is still at the forefront of many minds, organisations cannot significantly curtail travel without risking lost sales and degrading customer service, both of which can significantly hurt an organisation’s bottom line. Fundamentally, companies don’t really want less contact time with their customers, so a far better strategy is to closely manage T&E expenses as part of a comprehensive integrated expense management approach that incorporates comprehensive expense claim automation.
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McKenzie: We want to make students more active consumers of information and create a culture of self-service.
TOP OF THE CLASS The UAE’s Emirates College for Advanced Education took on the ambitious task of creating a complete “digital campus” with a single sign-on identity for students. Imthishan Giado reports.
AT THE BEST OF TIMES, CIOS ARE under the gun to deliver results. It’s par for the course with the role: the person at the top is naturally expected to be able to juggle the demands of management to keep costs down, innovate and find new technological differentiators for the business, all while managing a division that is prone to the same human foibles as any other. But how do you deal with a situation like the one at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE), which wanted to create a vast “digital campus” for its 450 students so they could have single identity across the full portfolio of services – all while operating out of a temporary campus? Oh, and not to mention, the decision to implement the systems and the choice of vendor (Sungard Higher Education) was taken before the CIO in question arrived. Well, if you’re Ian McKenzie, head of IT at the college, it’s just another day at the office. As McKenzie explains, ECAE is a teacher’s college which prepares Emirati teachers to work within the UAE school system via a four year degree: “We also do a lot of professional development work, so we work alongside ADEC – Abu Dhabi Education Council – to help teachers who are already in school increase their skill levels and update their qualifications. At the moment we have probably have in the area of around 450 students in the Bachelor’s programme and a couple of 100 in the professional development programme. At the moment we are only taking Emirati students into our Bachelor’s programme, but we will be taking expat students from next semester.” The college has already shifted campuses twice since its inception in 2007 and has been at its current location since December 2009. There’s still one more move to go, as ECAE plans to build a new campus in the upcoming future – which means infrastructure is a huge challenge for McKenzie and his team of 12 staffers.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
ECAE’s current campus is a temporary location in Abu Dhabi.
“The challenge is being a temporary campus where we’re not looking to make huge investments in infrastructure that we can’t take with us ultimately when we do move. That’s a constant juggling act between investing in something that’s going to give us stable architecture, but also something we can transport in the future,” he explains.
For the digital campus project, ECAE installed Sungard’s PowerCAMPUS, self service and portal products and integrated it with its existing Blackboard system. As McKenzie puts it, the main driver was to have a single digital identity for all users. “We wanted it to be simple, we didn’t want people remembering lots of different user names or passwords,
We’re about to go live in a couple of weeks with a buy-selltrade component where students can actually submit items to buy, sell or trade with their fellow students. Feedback has been quite good, but as I mentioned, it’s been released in stages; it’ll probably be another two years before we have something which we truly say is huge in content. But that was important for us; we wanted to make sure that it wasn’t overwhelming for staff and students WHO DID IT? McKenzie provides a thorough breakdown of who was involved in the implementation process at ECAE. Project Sponsor – Director Corporate Services Project leader – Head of IT Education Technology Manager Portal focus group with 2 representatives from each department Faculty reference group – 3 faculty + Head Learning and Information Management Dept. IT Support Staff: 1 Applications specialist (SQL) 1 IT Manager 5 IT infrastructure / data Centre staff (includes 2 team leaders who are Emirati) 3 implementation assistance (SunGard) Registrar’s office – 4 staff Learning and Information Management Department (e-learning – 3 staff)
June 2010 | www.itp.net
just one that could used across all the systems. The other one was automation. We wanted to make the IT department the least of the bottlenecks. If a person is added into PowerCAMPUS, they automatically have an Active Directory account allowing them to log on to the system immediately. So they don’t need us to go and do things. It’s the same with Blackboard. To make a course available, enroll students, put a teacher in as an instructor and for that instructor to start working with the students in Blackboard, the registrar just puts a single tick in a box in Powercampus. The rest of the process is automatic,” he says. “The other thing we want to do is try and make students more active consumers of information and create a culture of self-service. They can go onto the portal to check their timetables, attendance, keep an eye on their grades rather than having to go to the registrar’s office or us having to provide letters and spoonfeed the students. We wanted them to take responsibility and become active in accessing that information. A part of that is being driven by the UAE government’s move to portal-type arrangements for traffic departments, and so forth. It also gives the students life-long skills so that when they do leave the college, it’s a culture they’re used to,” adds McKenzie. Initially, he says, Sungard were signed solely to provide a student management system via PowerCAMPUS. When McKenzie arrived and began the implementation,
McKenzie: Some features needed more focus around being a Middle East implementation like students names.
he quickly realised that the system was capable of much more and began working on using it as a base to implement the full integrated Sungard digital campus infrastructure. Working closely with both Sungard and Blackboard, he built a tight bridge between the two systems. However, he is keen to note that implementation was not solely an IT-led effort. “From Sungard there were three people involved – a project manager and two developers. The other thing to point out is that this wasn’t just an IT project, it was a collaborative project. We had lots of involvement from faculty and staff, we formed a focus group. Basically we tried to deliver something that met the needs of the academic side of the college. I should also point out that this was an academic initiative – it’s not an ERP, not a payroll system. This was about academic information and accessing it for teaching and learning,” he says. Many might ask at this point why ECAE did not go with Sungard’s more expansive Banner system. While he was not part of the initial selection process, McKenzie does believe that the relatively small size of the school was a major factor in the selection of the PowerCAMPUS product. “The main thing was trying to find a system that would suit us in terms of our size and the culture of the college. We basically looked at PowerCAMPUS because it was a really good system for a small to midsize college but could also take the growth. I believe that they’re running organisations in the US with around 15,000 students. But
we’re starting off small and we didn’t have a large IT staff or Oracle developers. The other real interest was having something that was running on SQL as opposed to Oracle because we have more of a Microsoft direction here.” he recalls. “When the selection happened, the college was quite new. There was a core of people who basically had to make a decision to get something in place. They looked at Sungard Banner and felt that it was probably a little bit too large and complicated for what we needed at the time. I tried to glean as much as possible about how the decision was made and why we were going for PowerCAMPUS, since my experience was previously with Banner,” he continues. “It’s a much simpler system with its SQL back end. It was really relatively
simple to implement. We also did have a lot of help from Sungard. Without sounding too commercial, they probably were one of the best implementers I’ve worked with in a long time. They knew their stuff, they had good communication skills and were willing to go the extra mile which made a huge difference in actually getting the thing up and running. In terms of feeling like I was coming in halfway, because I wasn’t as familiar with PowerCAMPUS, I wouldn’t have been as proPowerCAMPUS as other people might have been. But having been the process, I certainly think it was the right choice and I’m very happy that it was the one that actually made,” he states firmly. Academics and students were more involved in the testing phase of the
As students graduate from the college their account will migrate to alumni status. Using the same digital identity (for life) they will be able to access (some same, some new ) college services to keep them connected to the college community as they launch forward in the role we are training them for – to be the teachers of the nation
IMPLEMENTATION ROAD MAP August 2008
Core services of Power campus implemented, in pilot mode
Power campus implemented live in registrar’s office and run in parallel with existing manual processes -
Operational management of students shifted to Power campus , discontinuation of manual registration and student management processes Power Campus Discovery Sessions (Sungard) Power Campus portal needs analysis focus group formed and planning commenced
Install and commissioning of Self Service and PowerCAMPUS portal system
Portal Testing and pilot phase begins
Blackboard integration implementation planning commences
Blackboard integration implementation completed
Blackboard integration implementation testing
Go live -
on integrated digital Campus including: Online applications for prospective students Self Service Portal Blackboard
June 2010 | www.itp.net
implementation, when teachers used it with students in a “live environment”. The feedback gleaned from these systems were invaluable to the final implementation, but as McKenzie says, you can never have quite enough testing. “One of the main lessons learned is that we probably needed to allow more time and budget for the fine tuning of the system. Since the portal part of the integrated digital campus is so customisable and it’s a Sharepoint wrapper which links into the backend of the Sungard portal and selfservice products, there’s so much you can do with it. We probably underestimated how much flexibility was there. We had to more or less scale back but I guess this was the plan all along. It was never going to be all things to all people from the beginning. It was going to be released in phases and that’s what we done,” he says. Implementation began in August 2008 with the implementation of PowerCAMPUS’s core services, and concluded a year later on August 27 2009 as a full digital campus. This included online applications for prospective students, self service, portal and Blackboard systems. As one expects with a system this ambitious, there remained plenty of challenges during the implementation phase. “Some features needed more focus around being a Middle East implementation like student names. Out of the box, the system dealt quite successfully with first names and last names from a Western perspective. We had to make modifications to make
first middle and last name important. In some cases, students in the same class had similar first, middle and last names. We needed to look into how we could have those students showing up as unique individuals in the system. That’s where the flexibility of the product came in, but there were lots of little things like that needed to take a little bit more time,” he recalls. The student ID system, as it turns out, was the source of more than one issue: “In March 2009 during the portal implementation, it became evident that the student ID system we were using was going to cause problems with the level of integration we required between systems. The decision was made to adopt the power campus ID number (truncated to six digits) as the student ID. Although this would cause some pain as some 500 existing student ID numbers would need to be changed along with the corresponding email addresses, active directory accounts and so on, it was decided though an extensive consultation process with all the stakeholders that in the long run this would be the best way forward. “As a result PowerCAMPUS has become the “single point of truth” for all student and staff identity management within the college. Power campus writes directly to Active Directory against which all systems authenticate against. In short when person enters the college in any role, they start in PowerCAMPUS through which their digital identity is generated and then used to access all other systems,” he continues.
Current student strength stands at 450 in total.
GO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW Ian McKenzie, ECAE’s head of IT, says cautions that in many cases, new project vendor selections can be derailed by technology heads sticking to what they know – instead of being willing to experiment. “You have to be careful that sometimes people make choices based on what they know, not on necessarily what’s best. When inexperience is involved, people fall back on what they know. What works in their last institution is what they generally go with because they’re comfortable with it, where it may not necessarily be the best choice,” he says. “Just because you’re the one that signs off at the end of the project doesn’t mean the decision is really on your shoulders. All you’re signing off is making sure that the proper governance and selection processes were in place and followed and that the outcome is representative of the needs of the organisation.” “The ID system that we changed highlights that when you’re doing something like this, it reaches into so many areas of the campus and the college. It can’t be a decision that involves just IT or one department, it has to be looked across the whole college in terms of data integrity. You have to truly understand the impact on everyone, not find out six months down the track that there’s a major change you didn’t think of because you didn’t involve everyone as a consultative process,” he concludes.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
Feedback from students and faculty, he says, has been largely positive: “It’s generally good. We’ve released this thing in steps, so mainly for the students, we’ve got a couple of things going live. There’s announcements, so students can go on and check daily for announcements. There’s an attendance monitor so students can go on and get a snapshot of their attendance. They can get an unofficial transcript or request an official one, and we released the grades through the portal for the first time last semester. “We’re about to go live in a couple of weeks with a buy-sell-trade component where students can actually submit items to buy, sell or trade with their fellow students. Feedback has been quite good, but as I mentioned, it’s been released in stages; it’ll probably be another two years before we have something which we truly say is huge in content. But that was important for us; we wanted to make sure that it wasn’t overwhelming for staff and students,” he cautions. McKenzie concludes by saying that the digital campus system isn’t just for the student years – it will promote closer ties between the students and the college for years to come. “As students graduate from the college their account will migrate to alumni status. Using the same digital identity (for life) they will be able to access (some same, some new ) college services to keep them connected to the college community as they launch forward in the role we are training them for – to be the teachers of the nation,” he ends.
MANAGE SMART ICT provider Smartworld turned to HP for business optimisation systems for its new range of managed services. Imthishan Giado reports. IT’S A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD when you’re a vendor of technology, as opposed to being a consumer. In a regular enterprise, the IT team has plenty enough to deal with, providing services and support to business units that can have wildly differing needs. But what precisely do you do, when your whole business model revolves around external enterprises being able to “rent” your infrastructure? Not only do your systems have to be top-of-the-line but they also have to provide maximum efficiency and uptime to external users. This was the dilemma facing the UAE’s Smartworld, a managed ICT
services provider that is a joint venture between operator Etisalat and the D ubai government through the ubai World Central project. As it D prepares to roll out a new range of cloud-based products and services, the company turned to HP for business optimisation software B ( TO) tools to ensure effective IT service management I(TSM). The company presently operates two datacentres out of u Dbai World Central, where most of its customers are located, and also has strong interests in the aviation integration business – it was recently awarded the contract to manage the integration for eJ bel Ali Airport, end-to-end.
Mustafa Kaddoura, CTO of Smartworld, says the BTO installation (which was part of their datacentre buildup)presented a wholly different set of challenges. “As a managed ICT provider, we need to have a unique value proposition for our customers,” he says. “We cannot be a body shopper which sends people on site for fixing desktops, laptops, network security and so on. We have to do something very unique and be very proactive. So the idea came that we need to build a very unique, world-class network operations centre where we can have the tools and applications that will manage the end user directly, whether it’s an endpoint, router, switch, infrastructure or server. “We looked at the market for different options including the big ones and were really keen about a fully-integrated ITSM and BSM. To be fair with HP, they are the only supplier which gave us an end-to-end solution. The other suppliers gave us different modules from different companies. But because HP comes with a large array of applications, they were able to supply a converged application that will cater not only for the management but also for incident management – and they are all ITIL version .30 compliant, of course,” he continues. The project was first initiated in February 2009, when Kaddoura first began exploring options for ITSM. FPs were sent out, vendors were R invited in for workshops, and after the final decision was taken in May, the agreement with HP was signed in June. However, the implementation stage took a surprising long period of several months, with the site only going live on eDcember 15 . “We took our time because at that point, we were very cautious about getting the right technology that fits our needs. It took us some time definitely but I think most of the problems came on the implementation side. So we were very keen on getting all the challenges fixed during the implementation cycle. Today we are fully live, have all the components running from the business service manager, trouble ticketing engine, the service level management engine – for HP it was a very unique BTO project because our scope was including all the components they have to offer. It’s not only a network
June 2010 | www.itp.net
Kaddoura: There was a big difference between our selection and the next shortlisted one – it was nearly triple the price.
We have to have at least three suppliers. For this RFP, I remember that there were around seven. It was not only suppliers, there were so many system integrators involved in the discussion. For example, we have received a proposal from one supplier from three different system integrators. Each proposed different components, however. None could provide an end-to-end solution except HP and another big IT vendor or a server, it’s is the whole IT and telecoms infrastructure,” he reveals. One of the major criteria for the selection of the vendor in this instance, as Kaddoura recalls, was ensuring that the platform was a onesupplier solution, to ensure a minimum of integration issues. That naturally reduced the number of vendors available to Smartworld, many of which still delivered piecemeal solutions. He says:“We look at the available options of the managed services toolset, developed an F RP based on what we have seen from best practices from the suppliers, solutions, from the references in the region and from the different models we have seen in the region. Based on this model, we came up with a model and based on that model, we said these are the critical components that we need to have in the selection. “In our process, we have to have at least three suppliers. For this F RP, I remember that there were around seven. It was not only suppliers, there were so many system integrators involved in the discussion. For
June 2010 | www.itp.net
example, we have received a proposal from one supplier from three different system integrators. Each proposed different components, however. None could provide an end-to-end solution except HP and another big IT vendor,” he continues. While Kaddoura is reluctant to reveal an exact price, preferring to quote it in the range of “a couple of million dirhams”, he does state cost was a significant factor:“There was a big difference between our selection and the next shortlisted one. I’m talking about triple the price. The problem, I believe, is not from the application part – because they understood that the scope is different – and the integration part. They t[he alternative vendor]just did not propose an efficient option for us.” While the implementation period was certainly protracted, Kaddoura is keen to stress that it still went live on time and that the supplier met the delivery targets, avoiding the financial penalties. Nevertheless, he says, there were many significant challenges overcome during the long gestation period.
“We faced multiple challenges. When it comes to the actual implementation, we have selected the supplier based on certain scope – and one of the main challenges we faced is the site readiness in u Dbai World Central. There were a couple of challenges on the power requirements and the infrastructure readiness like the servers, the storage as well. There were multiple challenges but not on the implementation side, it was mainly to do with the dependencies and the readiness of the environment,” he recalls. Another issue, he says, was around software licencing:“We were supposed to buy two instances of Oracle database as part of the solution, and it turned out that we needed to buy three. Instead of going to the management and telling them that we have these issues, we worked closely with the supplier to find an alternative option. “So instead of buying a third Oracle licence, we increased the hardware of the system, which allowed it to take more instances of the Oracle database. We did some workarounds and tricks and it worked, but it caused ten days of delays,” he says. At this stage of the project with the system having gone live so recently, it’s still too early to talk upgrades, but Kaddoura says that future improvements or upgrades will depend on HP’s product roadmap. “At this stage, we just installed the system and are ready for operations. Any upgrades will need to be considered, assessed and evaluated. If there are features that we need to incorporate in our platform, we will definitely upgrade it. We have a full upgrade programme in place with the suppliers on all the existing versions,” he says. He concludes on an upbeat note however by noting that Smartworld still has many projects and plans to follow:“On the infrastructure side, we are heavily working with cloud computing companies to provide us with the platform-as-a-service that will enable us to be the first company in the Middle East to offer a full suite of applications out of the cloud. We will hopefully launch this year document management systems from the cloud, CR M and integrated ER P out of the cloud. We’re already offering unified communications and servers out of the cloud, so we want to have a full array of services.”
The Mawarid team chose DoubleTake’s system for its ease of deployment.
Mawarid Finance turned to Double Take’s availability solutions to provide business continuity and keep critical data and applications online. DISASTER RECOVERY AND BUSINESS continuity have not always been part of corporate IT strategies in the Middle East, with many companies taking a ‘wait until after something happens’ approach to protecting their core data. Certain sectors however, mainly those where the data is the absolute core of the business, have recognised the importance of R /B DC to providing stability for their ongoing operations – and while compliance and regulations are not always a factor for all aspects of operations, some companies have taken steps now to get ahead of the regulatory curve and to install systems that will meet current and future rules. Mawarid Finance, an independent Islamic finance company based in the UAE, is one such company that has
June 2010 | www.itp.net
taken steps to ensure all of its business is protected from systems failure and other potential disaster events, with the deployment of replication solutions from o Duble Take Software. Mawarid, which was formed in 2006 , with a paid up capital of 2 $7 2 million is focused on a number of different areas of the Shariahcompliant financial business. The company’s operations include financial services, insurance and brokerage. With an emerging compliance landscape, not all aspects of the business are covered by regulations as of yet, but the brokerage activities currently fall under the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority S ( CA), which requires replication and a disaster recovery site.
With this in mind, and with its other operations to protect, the management of Mawarid, decided to implement a business continuity plan, including a business continuity (BC)site. The company went with a solution to both back up data onto tape, which is then stored at an offsite location, and the creation of a complete second site, to provide business continuity of vital systems in case of failure at the primary site. In order to facilitate this, the company required replication solutions which could handle the mirroring of data, and the connectivity to a BC site. The company identified the need to protect a number of core systems – its main Oracle 10g financial trading application, which runs on two Linux servers, plus an Exchange mail server and two file servers running on Windows. While different users have different access to systems, overall Mawarid would need to connect around 100 users to the replication site in the event of a failover. After looking at several solutions available in the market, Mawarid, through consultation with StoreTech Systems, settled on a system from ouble Take Software. D Amith Chandran, systems administrator, at Mawarid Finance explained:“We chose o Duble-Take solutions because of their ease of deployment, and the wide range of coverage they offer on various platforms, rendering them particularly efficient. “In addition to this, o Duble-Take is a particularly cost effective system and with a local expert like StoreTech Systems on hand to help us as-andwhen required, it represents a particularly reliable and trustworthy solution. After reviewing several products, we realised o Duble-Take could fulfil all our requirements. Our
In addition to this, Double-Take is a particularly cost effective system and with a local expert like StoreTech Systems on hand to help us as and when required, it represents a particularly reliable and trustworthy solution. After reviewing several products, we realised Double-Take could fulfil all our requirements
decision was influenced in part by the available methods of data transfer, easy operations and easy failover in the event of a problem,” he added. Mawarid and StoreTech worked together to set up and install the solutions, consisting of o Duble Take Availability standard edition and ouble Take Availability for Linux D edition to protect the critical servers. The deployment took one month, with a WAN connection, based on a 200 Mbps MPLS line, providing the link to the disaster recovery site in ubai. Around 100G D B of data are transferred each month to keep systems current. “As replication takes place in real time and re–mirroring time depends on the siz e of the data and bandwidth, o Duble-Take was the obvious choice for us,” commented Praveen aRjan, senior associate manager for IT at Mawarid. The solution now provides real time replication of all five critical servers, which Mawarid says not only gives them the full disaster recovery and continuous availability of systems that they needed, but has also provided gains in day to day operations through improved availability. The solution is also easy to manage, requiring only one systems administrator to supervise day-to-day running of the disaster recovery system, which frees up valuable resources for use elsewhere in other areas such as development. Mawarid would now replicate all new mission critical servers with
The company identified the need to protect a number of core systems – its main Oracle 10g financial trading application, which runs on two Linux servers, plus an Exchange mail server and two file servers running on Windows. While different users have different access to systems, overall Mawarid would need to connect around 100 users to the replication site in the event of a failover Duble Take to the disaster recovery o site, said aRjan. “We are already in the process of purchasing other o Duble-Take products to protect additional servers. The software has achieved anticipated payback as well as gains in accuracy and productivity, and has most certainly lived up to our expectations,” he said.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
IN DEPTH Management insight and industry profiles
COLD STORE 034
June 2010 | www.itp.net
Growing computer density in datacentres and a desire to cut costs and be green is creating more cooling and power headaches for IT managers in the region, as Piers Ford discovers. COOLING THE DATACENTRE IS AN issue of growing strategic importance as organisations try to balance economic and ecological concerns with the need to maintain system and network availability in the 24-hour, always-on, global economy. A datacentre cooling system can be a greedy power consumer, dealing a double blow to the business’s carbon footprint and energy bill. But it is also – potentially – a vital tool for measuring consumption and underpinning the business’s energy management strategy. The problem is that too often, a cooling system is treated as a standalone investment – a necessary overhead – when it should be integrated far more closely with the organisation’s network infrastructure and business processes. Industry research continues to reveal some startling facts about cooling strategies, not least of which is the fact that there is a widespread tendency – even in the hottest countries – to overdo the cooling. An Intel experiment in the New Mexico desert, for example, revealed that simply turning off the air-con and using an air economiser to pump in ordinary air from the desert, could save almost 0 7% of the total power used by an air conditioner in the same datacentre. And last year, a survey of the US ata Centre Users rGoup discovered D that many datacentres are being cooled to unnecessarily low temperatures 2 (7 °C is recommended in the US). If this was monitored more efficiently, datacentre operators could achieve energy savings as high as 90% – but they are hampered by the lack of communication between servers and cooling systems. Hotter regions like the Middle East are always deemed to be at a disadvantage when it comes to more economic approaches to cooling. Intel’s desert research suggests this is not necessarily the case, but
according to o Rdney Callaghan, vice president UAE and u Glf Countries at cooling system specialist APC by Schneider Electric, higher ambient temperatures do require larger and more expensive cooling installations. “It is more difficult to capitalise on technologies such as ‘free cooling’ in high temperature climates,” he says. “D atacentres these days are manufactured and undergo standard tests so they are able to operate in a wide range of temperatures,” says Anthony Harrison, senior principal solutions specialist for the Middle East and North Africa, at security, systems and storage management vendor Symantec. “High temperatures in the region do not differ greatly from certain areas in the US where their operations are the same. aDtacentre equipment is also manufactured with air flow segregations into hot and cool aisles and fitted with other various ways to allow inflow of air to cool the machine,” he says. “The ICT industry is well aware that external high temperatures up to 45 °or 0 5°can pose a challenge, and hardware manufacturers do rigorous testing to increase the temperature range their equipment can tolerate. Nevertheless, the datacentres need to operate under the region’s temperature range, so the focus shifts to the ability of the physical environment to provide the right level of cooling,” continues Symantec’s Harrison. Much depends on the infrastructure the cooling system is required to protect, and this is where datacentre managers can encounter key problems. Power and cooling constraints can seriously cramp any ambition to expand business applications but the answer is not necessarily to ramp up already costly cooling systems. Instead, a combination of incentivised, compliance-driven strategy – with datacentre managers
rewarded for efficiency as much as for system uptime – constant server testing for power and performance, and right-siz ing server platforms to match application requirements more closely, could be the most viable starting point for reassessing environmental performance. “There are two ways to look at cooling,” says Harrison. “Find better ways to cool the hardware or reduce the amount of hardware to cool. It seems foolish to throw money at the first option before you have looked at the second. “This can be accomplished in a number of ways – replacing old equipment with newer energyefficient systems, improving data storage to increase deduplication (why store multiple copies of the same data?), and virtualising more servers to increase utilisation and save on space and energy consumption. The bottom line is: make better use of the resources you have and clean up what you don’t need,” he says. Callaghan says that datacentre managers also run into problems when it comes to cooling modern high-density server infrastructures. Most hardware is now designed to pull air in at the front and expel it from the back, lending itself to a faceto-face configuration of alternating hot and cold aisles, and ‘In o Rw’ cooling systems. If you try to use these configurations with traditional ‘In o Rom’ cooling systems, designed for low-density racks, explains Callaghan, efficiency gains will be a challenge to achieve. “If a cooling system is designed correctly, be it legacy In o Rom cooling or In o Rw cooling, it will work and keep the datacentre running,” he says. “The In o Rw solution is more efficient and will eventually reduce the running costs of the datacentre.” There is no doubt that data centre managers will come under more
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pressure to get their cooling strategy right, thanks to a number of factors. The Middle East might not currently be considered in the vanguard of the global green movement, but businesses and organisations in the region are certainly exploring their options with regard to sustainability. And the unreliability of the power supply in many areas presents a constant challenge for anyone seeking to balance consumption with the system availability needs of the business. All of which are helping to push datacentres up the agenda of senior management. “G reen initiatives are being promulgated by various governments in the region,” says Callaghan. “Companies and organisations are constantly moving towards green infrastructure i(n terms of building and data centres), and vendors are constantly designing product and systems with increased efficiency, which will save power.
“D atacentres are the fastest growing users of energy worldwide at present. Therefore, they represent a significant portion of an organisation’s power costs. Measuring power consumption is very important, to be able to manage the power consumption of an organisation, and control and reduce costs,” he continues. “There are some companies that are willing to invest time and energy to explore green initiatives,” agrees Anthony Harrison, “and they are looking to motivate and inspire others to follow their lead. Some of these are global initiatives, others are more home-grown such as Masdar and the region’s ambitions to be at the forefront of renewable energy. “At the senior level in organisations, there are two sides to consider when it comes to energy savings:hard cost savings, and benefits in terms of Corporate Social eRsponsibility (CSR ). The split is about 80/20 at the moment, whereas in more developed
Harrison: The high temperatures experienced in the Middle East tend to shape the overall approach to cooling in the region.
Last year, a survey of the US Data Centre Users Group discovered that many data centres are being cooled to unnecessarily low temperatures (27° C is recommended in the US). If this was monitored more efficiently, data centre operators could achieve energy savings as high as 90% – but they are hampered by the lack of communication between servers and cooling systems FIVE STEPS TO EFFICIENT COOLING IN THE DATACENTRE According to business continuity specialist vendor Emerson Network Power, cooling accounts for up to 7 % 3of power consumption in a well-designed data centre. That figure alone presents ICT and network managers with a useful target for reducing their IT energy costs. In a recent white paper, Five Strategies for Cutting Data Center Energy Costs Through Enhanced Cooling Efficiency, the vendor focused on the 0 5% of data centre energy consumption not devoured by IT systems a( s identified by New York analyst EYP Missions Critical Facilities), and the savings – up to 40% – that could be achieved by addressing cooling, air movement, transformer and UPS, and lighting costs: 1. Sealing the datacentre environment properly:a vapour seal can help guard against
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major cooling losses due to poorly insulated floors and ceilings, and not isolating the datacentre from the rest of the building or outside environment. It is also a low-cost way to ensure that humidity levels can be controlled at an optimum level. 2. Air-flow optimisation:making sure the data centre – server racks, aircon units and cabling – is configured in the best way to allow air to move with minimal energy consumption. .3Best use of economisers:using outside air to support data centre cooling during lower ambient temperatures, creating opportunities for energy-free cooling. 4. More efficient cooling systems:taking advantage of the newest available technologies including variable capacity systems and improved control mechanisms. .5Bring the cooling closer to the heat source: additional cooling systems nearer to the heat reduce the amount of energy required to move air around the datacentre.
economies, we are seeing it nearer to 0/5 5 0,” he continues. “G iven that the market here is maturing, CSRis improving, but for the moment the primary driver is companies are realising that a lot of cost savings can be made through optimisation, better use of the resources they have, and the right degree of automation,” adds Harrison. But erratic power supply remains the single biggest challenge for the datacentre manager in his ongoing quest for an energy-efficient, properly cooled infrastructure. “In terms of power i[n the region], there is generally more demand than there is supply,” says Harrison. “Utility providers may be forced to implement brownouts i(ncomplete blackouts)to accommodate the power distribution. There were recently problems in Sharjah with power supply that could have affected companies that perhaps have disaster recovery or testing sites there.” And that is why the cooling system can no longer be seen in isolation. It has the potential to impact and benefit the overall organisation on too many levels. “ICT managers need to assess their current datacentre set-up, measuring efficiency and implementing energy efficiency imperatives to reduce the risks imposed by unreliable power supplies or inefficient cooling practices,” says o Rdney Callaghan.
IN DEPTH Management insight and industry profiles
AIR SALES 038
June 2010 | www.itp.net
The strongest area of growth in the emerging market for cloud services is mobile CRM, allowing sales staff to be more productive while being out of the office. Piers Ford reports. CRM HAS LONG BEEN SEEN AS ONE of the most cloud-friendly enterprise applications, but a quick look at the market reveals an extraordinary landscape in which the leading players are all at very different stages of their individual strategies. There is a certain amount of conventional growth by acquisition, to be sure. The cloud model has finally crystallised the rationale behind Oracle’s purchase of Siebel, for example, giving the enterprise software giant a natural introduction to the simpler world of on-demand delivery. And SAP, whose CR M on-demand software suite was widely perceived to have been overtaken by the new generation of pure SaaS platforms, has re-ignited its cloud ambitions with a prospective takeover of Sybase that will tap into a wealth of attractive development, particularly on the mobile front. That new generation is itself forging new relationships. Salesforce.com has joined forces with virtualisation specialist M V ware to build an enterprise aJ va cloud V m ( force)that will extend the range and reach of its constantly evolving range of CR M con applications. And then there is app Microsoft, still dragging its heels over Mi the international launch of Microsoft ynamics Online after testing the D Dy waters in its native US for almost two wa years. The vendor has now said that yea will be more widely available by it w the end of this year – although it remains to be seen which territories rem will be the first beneficiaries. wi It’s It a very varied picture but aGrtner analyst Chris Fletcher says there is no ana doubt that cloud CR M has already dou reinvigorated the industry by making rei
CR M cheaper, quicker and easier to implement – thereby opening it up to a wider prospective customer base and increasing the possibilities for customers who don’t necessarily want to layer a legacy-badged product on their legacy ER P systems with all the consultancy and project management costs that entails. Cloud CR M allows enterprises to pick and choose the functionality they want, and to tailor the software specifically to their requirements in a timescale that suits them. “Cloud CR M implementations take substantially fewer up-front financial services, technical services, and time resources than equivalent licensed CR M product in many usage models,” says Fletcher. “The cloud model by definition means that the user or an outside service provider does not need to install a dedicated server, license a database and create a CR M data schema, or license and install CR M application software. “In fact, many cloud CR M implementations bypass the IT organisation almost entirely, initiated by a discrete group of sales and sales management that wants a quick, simple and cost-effective solution – for example, a geographically dispersed sales team responsible for single division’s products. Many hosted CR M implementations have gone into production in the course of just two to three weeks, as compared to licensed CR M implementations that can often take up to several months,” he continues.
MICROSOFT DYNAMICS CRM ONLINE As ever, Microsoft plays heavily on the familiarity of its user interface
with a suite of applications that cover the complete spectrum of CR M from sales and service to marketing. Microsoft y Dnamics CR M Online has been available to US customers since early 2008 but unless they want to avail themselves of the hosted or on-premise model, the rest of the world will have to wait until at least later this year to take advantage of the customisability promised by a cloud version of the platform. In the long run, this might turn out to their advantage, as Microsoft has been busy innovating and enhancing, treating early adopters like a gigantic beta test project. To date, the applications include a host of tools designed to support sales planning and management, automated leads, streamlined account management, pipeline management, analytics and Microsoft’s Mobile Express platform. There are also comprehensive sales force automation and marketing tools. Microsoft has won plaudits for its work with system integrators and reseller partners on training and developing methodologies. It has also set out a convincing strategy for xR M – a vision that will allow customers to tailor and extend the platform according to their own needs. There is, of course, strong integration back into Microsoft’s office and infrastructure products. However, some analysts have suggested that the vendor’s decision to pursue a triple-pronged availability strategy – on-premises, hosted and online – has been confusing and noncommittal to the cloud model. Microsoft y Dnamics CR M also stands accused of being a generalist platform rather than clearly gunning for best-
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Sabbagh: All you need is Internet access to get one remote agent up and running.
in-class position. They would like to see a higher profile given to the independent software developers who are producing applications for the platform, and Microsoft itself give more a priority to CR M as a specific target rather than an add-on to its established product lines.
ORACLE SIEBEL CRM ON DEMAND Where Microsoft has taken a more general approach to the cloud CR M model, Oracle is busily setting a lot of store by its pedigree in the market. It scores highly with analysts for its attention to loyalty in the shape of analytics, campaign management and decision support capabilities
designed to drive loyalty into the heart of the customer’s service function. And it is already well developed as a SaaS offering. The steady evolution of the Siebel CR M platform under Oracle’s auspices has forged more sophisticated integration with the vendor’s other software applications – and this integration clearly has a strong appeal for customers who are already heavy investors in Oracle’s financial and database brands. It is backed up by robust support and distribution, and the kind of clout that comes from having several decades of simple board-level awareness. This ensures that Oracle is
BIGGING UP THE EMERGING CRM CLOUD IN THE GULF Consultation-heavy projects, significant time commitments and complex datacentre requirements are encouraging many CR M users to look at the cloud model rather than traditional legacy systems. And there is no doubt that vendors like Salesforce.com, iRghtnow and NetSuite have benefited. aZki Sabbagh, chief information officer at aZmil Industrial, has recently implemented a new cloud CR M solution using Salesforce.com, with the aim of helping to break down some of the regional concerns and reservations about using a hosted model. The project included the development of a a specific new field service management module with ServiceMax, which was achieved with just six months’ of subscription. This was
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followed by similar customisation of the existing contact and call centre modules. “The customisation with this approach is very flexible and allowed us to introduce a lot of new features,” says Sabbagh. “It’s hard to do that with legacy systems. Then there is the ease of use:all you need is Internet access to get one remote agent up and running. “The savings of cloud CR M are incredible:no new hardware, no administration, no licences, , no storage. All the banking data is kept separate so the cloud doesn’t represent a big security threat to us. We’ve invested in a brand new system without crossing the half-million dollar mark, and that includes the data integration. “The next phase will be to integrate existing customer data and invoicing through our underlying ER P system and I’m convinced that can be done with similar ease. That’s how the cloud approach works, module by module.”
still the standard for large call centrefocused CR M projects. In addition to the expected sales, and marketing applications, Oracle has an embedded contact centre. Agents only need an Internet connection to get up and running, with full customisation capability and the security of data hosted at the its data centre in Austin, Texas. However, it is a relatively complex purchase, and established users don’t necessarily represent the best reference sites for smaller organisations that want to take advantage of the cloud CR M model on what might, initially, be a less ambitious scale. Analyst aGrtner has singled out two aspects – real-time decision support and businessanalyst-level customisation – as work still in progress, but again these are unlikely to be of primary concern to a less experienced customer. Overall, the perceived complexity of, and necessary commitment to, the underlying Oracle legacy technology might be off-putting, although aGrtner says this certainly should not discount it as a possibility.
SALESFORCE.COM There is no doubt that Salesforce.com has set the standard for accessible, ‘ready to wear’, cloud CR M. Its rapid advance in the market since the company was founded in 1999 – ironically, by ex-Oracle executive Marc Benioff – has seen it gather more than 20% of the SaaS CR M market, according to aGrtner. The
platform continues to grow exponentially as Salesforce.com acquires new technologies and, thanks to its infinitely tailorable model, generates cutting edge implementations – many of then in the Middle East s( ee box). Service Cloud, the company’s customer service module, in particular has captured the imagination of the CFO in the board room, delighted at the economies of scale made possible for very low cost (as little as 9 $ per user, per month) compared with a traditional big ticket system investment. Salesforce.com also wins plaudits for its ease of use – it is genuinely a child of the Web 2.0 generation – and for the range of its automation possibilities across customer service and support, prospect management and customer interaction enablement. While it is still on such a steep growth and development path,
however, gaps in some areas are seen by some industry watches as barriers to holistic adoption in more complex business environments and vertical markets. But it seems certain that these gaps will be plugged sooner rather than later – witness the launch of the collaborative Chatter application last year – and Salesforce.com will continue to gain credibility in larger contact centres. It is also expected to lead the way in the integration of social network platforms with the CR M cloud – dubbed “social CR M” by aGrtner.
SAP SAP introduced its on-demand CR M platform in 2006 , then promptly seemed to stall any further development. This prompted some market watchers to question its commitment to the cloud CR M market, and suggest that the product might largely be an initiative to grow
its hosted customer base, ready to sell them the benefits of its new on-premises platform. espite SAP’s own claims for the D simplicity and ease of use of its on-demand solution, the emphasis has always been on its ease of integration with the vendor’s ER P products – a major potential drawback for customers without existing investment in the platform. artner, for example, suggested that it G needed to invest more effort in areas like workflow, real-time decision support, social CR M and collaboration tools. Now, finally, the software giant seems to have risen to the challenge. It has just announced a new on-demand application, Sales On emand, that will eventually replace D its existing CR M On eDmand product. The new application will incorporate a whole host of social application tools, combining technologies from its Business ByD esign on-demand ER P suite and its collaboration platform StreamWork. Senior spokespeople at the vendor have promised a ‘Facebook-like’ feel for Sales On eDmand, which suggests that it will be pitched fairly and squarely at the space in which Salesforce.com and Microsoft ynamics have been pitching much D of their effort on the cloud CR M front. In throwing down the gauntlet, SAP has plenty to do to convince the market that it is finally serious about CR M SaaS systems.
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THE SMART BANKER
The bankers feel retaining existing customers is as important as getting new ones. For 5 % 7of the respondents, improving customer service and satisfaction is priority. Middle Eastern banks lay less emphasis on product innovation, in keeping with their current conservative approach of focusing on fewer product lines. The survey findings reinforce the bankers’ belief that technology led banking transformation can improve an organisation’s customer-focus. And hence the business influencers for a technology led banking transformation include factors impacting customer interest – for example processes, time to market and cross sales are key influencers. Haragopal M, global head for Finacle at Infosys Technologies commented:“Our findings show that the IT projects prioritised by the Middle Eastern banks align well with their business strategy of managing the customer value chain. Short term business strategies are bound to change based on macro economic trends, demand-supply dynamics, mergers and acquisitions. However, long term aspirations and strategies reflect that IT plans align well with the business strategies.”
ACN and Finacle from Infosys reveal the results of the Banking Technology Trends in the Middle East survey WITH THE IT MARKET STILL SLOWLY recovering from the effects of the last year, many enterprises have retreated from their traditional spending and innovation cycles. CIOs now prefer safe projects that deliver a fast O R I without excessive capital expenditure or team resources. But there is one vertical that can ill afford such caution and it’s the one that many look to for innovation – the banking sector. Unfortunately, these industry titans also tend to be quite secretive about their operations and the kinds of investments they make. This situation is now history, with the unveiling of the results of the Banking Technology Trends in the Middle East Survey, conducted in association with Finacle from Infosys. We surveyed 42 senior bankers in the region across a diverse portfolio of functions including IT, risk management, corporate banking, wealth management and retail banking. The respondents represent 29 banks and financial Institutions
including global banks, top Middle Eastern banks, Islamic banks and investment and finance companies. The survey spanned nine countries – Bahrain, Egypt, o J rdan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, aQtar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. The survey was aimed at gaining insights into the bankers’ perspective of key business and technology drivers as well as understanding current trends and the future outlook for technology led banking transformation in the Middle East. The report examines the business priorities for Middle Eastern banks, their IT priorities, anticipated trends and likely core banking replacement strategies and vendor strategy.
CURRENT IT PRIORITIES BUSINESS PRIORITIES FOR MIDDLE EASTERN BANKS The key focus of business strategy for a majority of the Middle Eastern banks is to manage customer value chain elements, i.e. customer acquisition, cross-sales and service.
What are your top 3 IT projects (in terms of Investment) for this financial year ?
What are the main focus areas of your business strategy ?
Online Channels Refresh / Upgrade
Multi-channel Platform / Integration
Core Systems Re-engineering / Replacement
Compliance / Risk Management
Back Office Consolidation
Fraud / Security Initiatives
BPM / Process Intelligence
Branch Systems Transformation
Core systems re-engineering/ replacement ranks among the top three IT projects for as many as 2 5% of respondents, next only to online channel renewal and multi-channel integration. For 47 % of respondents their current core environment is a
Cross Selling to Customer Base
36 Infosys – ITP Survey Results
ACN-Infosys Survey R esults
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In association with
mixture of packaged and in-house developed core systems, which is more than any other type of environment. 6 % 3say that they use a packaged core system from an external vendor while the remaining 17 % say that their core systems are fully developed in-house. Interestingly, no bank or financial institution outsources or uses a shared processing centre for their core systems. A third of those using a packaged core system are looking to re-engineer or replace it this year and two-thirds of those using a packaged core system feel that it may require replacement or re-platforming within three years. Infosys’s Haragopal feels the results do not diverge dramatically from the rest of the globe:” The current core banking setups in this region are largely similar to what we find in other markets, however, from a technology adoption point of view, this market is way ahead compared to The Americas and Europe. The differences are in the area of channel innovation, product innovations that are enabled through technology. “ With regard to their core systems replacement approach, Middle Eastern banks prefer improving their existing systems b ( y wrapping or re-engineering them)over replacing all existing ones. A majority of the respondents expect that their legacy core systems would turn critical, requiring significant re-platforming or replacement within three years. Of these, only about 0 6% seem to have initiated remedial action, with core systems re-engineering/replacement figuring among their top three IT projects by investment for this year. The process improvement theme is reinforced as a key technology influencer of core systems replacement. Lowering future core systems maintenance and development costs is an important factor for 7 .5Implementation issues % and the need for customisation are seen as the biggest challenges in core systems replacement.
PARTNER SELECTION CRITERIA The ability to offer end¬ -to-end service and a successful track record are the most frequently cited criteria in core systems vendor selection. Implementing an external vendor solution is the most preferred option, favoured by 47 % of respondents. Interestingly, a large majority of
respondents favouring this option already have an external packaged solution in their bank, either exclusively or in combination with in-house systems. This suggests that the opportunity for core banking solution vendors is not restricted to those banks that are running on in-house developed systems. Middle Eastern banks see technology as an important enabler of business priorities and, core systems replacement/re-engineering is ranked among the top three IT projects of many banks. Clearly, Middle Eastern banks have recognised the role of core banking technology in enabling various business priorities.
THE WAY FORWARD For Middle East banks thus far, the ride has been relatively straightforward – but now the way looks haz y. As our survey shows, many of the region’s top banks have been overly focused on growing their customer base and improving satisfaction – noble goals to be sure, but they also put excessive pressure on aging core banking systems. It’s extremely telling that only 17 % of institutions develop core banking in-house – the resources required for such a project are often simply beyond the skills of any but the
Haragopal: For a successful transformation, banks need better preparation, planning, and training to reduce complexities.
largest multinational institutions. eVndors remain the best option, but the latter should also work more closely with enterprises to streamline implementations and provide better customisation options. “For a successful transformation, banks need better preparation, planning, and training to reduce complexities. They need to define goals and objectives that are simpler and easier to understand. Secondly, we have found that keeping the requirement scope under check all the time will reduce customisation requirements. Banks need to model their future approach on what the solution provides rather than trying to replicate earlier systems. It is very important to set the right expectations,” concludes Haragopal. iVsit www.infosys.com/finacle to access the Banking Technology Trends in the Middle East report.
SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS •Business strategy of more than 5 % 7Middle Eastern banks is focused on improving customer value chain management. •Middle Eastern banks expect core systems replacement to give them the flexibility to modify business processes easily •Although Middle Eastern banks would rather rework their existing core systems in the short term, most foresee a need for replacement within three years. •While choosing a core systems vendor, 4 7% of the banks lay emphasis on their past record and ability to offer end to end service
June 2010 | www.itp.net
INTERVIEW to get better availabilities, and better competencies on the hosting side on the services. This should eventually become a utility. We’re talking about any kind of infrastructure operations in the background, where you have server maintenance and so on. : Do you prefer to recruit externally or develop internal staff? FK: If we cannot find solutions from the market, we have to build that inhouse, of course. We’re doing that but optimally it should be given to someone who’s more professional, more dedicated than just developing resources inhouse and then maintaining them.
Khashouf Our business has not been impacted; budgets has gone up by more than 20%.
Faisal Khashouf, CIO of Swiss-Swedish power and automation specialist ABB provides his views on working in the competitive world of Saudi IT.
: What is the current state of the Saudi IT market? Faisal Khashouf (FK): It’s maturing over the past two or three years. There is of course, a lot of competition, but still I see it as oriented towards selling technology. Service-wise, it’s not that mature. I would say that this state is also valid for the region. We had a aGrtner conference here in UAE two years ago, and had CIOs from different companies that they t[he analysts] were dealing with. It was the same kinds of challenges. In Europe, they’re talking about outsourcing, rGeen IT. Here, we’re still facing some basic issues where we cannot talk about those ones – we have not reached a level where our IT service providers are offering this style of education to the country. I talked with IBM and aGrter and told them that the suppliers have to educate the market and do more
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investments in this region. Basically, they’re selling boxes here and that’s it. There’s no value-added services – and if you find any, they’re usually expensive. That’s why you tend to have more in-house systems, that’s what we did at least. When we did assessments of outsourcing, we could not find anyone. I did an assessment of getting hosting services in UAE for SAP and the best thing we could find was still not good enough for us at the time. : Have you begun looking into arrangements with outsourcing vendors? What is the business case for managed services? FK: It all boils down to the business case. We haven’t done it yet, not in the Middle East or Africa. I wouldn’t say it’s cost for us. On cost levels, when I look at the whole region and the costs around us, we’re still very cheap. The main value-add for us is
: Are you considering a model based on service-level agreements? FK: We do have SLAs now internally but we still cannot say we are doing hosting services like IBM does it – we’re nowhere near that of course internally. We’re trying to reach up to that but it takes a lot of time internally to manage. The best way is that you get rid of this [management]from the administrative tasks and then focus on the business needs, getting the service from someone who can do it according to your requirements. : What conditions are necessary for the KSA enterprise market to make the jump into outsourcing in greater numbers? FK: It will happen but then you have infrastructure challenges. It has improved in the past few years but it will remain a challenge when you’re talking about the infrastructure and getting reliable connectivity. That can always be a challenge, and expensive as well. : How has the market changed over the last year?
From my side, I find having the mentoring role is very important, especially with the young people joining the workforce. It’s about managing their expectations, talking to them and dealing with some of the issues that they face. This is a practice that I employ with all the new guys that we hire, whether they’re Saudis or any other nationalities
INTERVIEW FK: I see more attention on the security side. There’s a lot of development in the area. Compliance is also a big thing impacting operations, with global regulations coming in. There’s also a lot more burden on the IT operations. If you look at IT organisations now versus six years ago, you will see a lot of functions that were not available there at the time, such as risk management and compliance. : Has the recruitment situation in the Kingdom improved? FK: It’s not easy. This is common worldwide. We talk about resource issues, it’s not just for KSA – it’s everywhere that there’s a resource problem. I don’t think there has been a lot of change. There has been a lot of cutbacks in other countries and termination in spending, but the skilled people that you need are still very hard to find, so they have retained their jobs. In terms of our own workforce, we have been growing over the past three years. Our business has not been impacted, even our budgets has increased by more than 20% . : What sort of projects have you been focusing on in recent years? FK: We’re focusing on ER P rollout in the region, bringing it to the other countries. We upgraded SAP in the Kingdom to ECC 6last year. Now for us, SAP is a major project for the other countries. On the infrastructure side, we’re putting in some new technologies for data storage solutions and virtualisation. With regards to the earlier trends in datacentre virtualisation, this actually makes a business case for us, because we can save on changes in our environment significantly by implementing it. It’s in progress. We plan to cut down by more than 40% on our existing storage use and servers in the country – this is the picture right now. : How many datacentres have you built in the Kingdom? Are any based outside the country? FK: We have around five in the country. R ight now we’re not replicating outside the country – it’s in a different location in the city. We do have offline backups sent outside the country, in u Dbai, : Do you see a more cohesive vision emerging in the future for cloud computing?
FK: I don’t see corporates moving that fast to cloud computing. There is still a lot of security issues, still a lot of internal resources developed so it will be a little bit slower maybe for the big corporates to move. Maybe a lot of small companies can benefit from cloud computing. They really shouldn’t invest as much before in their IT – they can get a lot of services from outside their own environment. Take Salesforce. com – that’s something that they can use without building their own system. It will be become easier for small companies to operate with IT solutions without having it in-house. Big companies will always have their own policies, restrictions, security guidelines – so it will be different. They might develop this inhouse, so they might have a corporate cloud, benefiting from the major datacentres, they might have to assist other small countries within the organiz ation. I don’t know if it would be feasible for these big companies to think about moving to the big cloud outside. : What percentage of your workforce is Saudi? FK: I believe it’s about 3 0% . I would say that it’s good – the figure is not low. It’s more or less on the standard required. It’s quite reasonable. There’s a lot of good Saudis that I know in the IT field, very skilled and qualified. What will always be the difficulty is the demand – there’s always lots of competition for the same resource. We’ve seen the change in the past two years – it used to be that the government offered them more salaries to work in that sector, but now there’s a change. A lot of my friends who graduated from college are working in the private sector. A lot of them are very senior and very well qualified as well. It is long working hours and quite difficult in the private sector, but I think there is a change in the mindset. People are looking at this more professionally. We in Saudi Arabia don’t look at it as just one department;we look at the whole working environment. We’ve been awarded best company in Saudi Arabia and the u Glf in 2009 and the year before. Our working environment is considered an strong attraction for IT professionals. I cannot comment on the other CIOs but for me, this is a priority. I have a very good team without which we
Khashouf: We have around five datacentres in the Kingdom.
would have no success for at all. It’s also the key for our country management to maintain a good environment for all working staff. As I mentioned, we’ve received awards for being the best u Glf working environment. This is a very high priority for us in the country management team, to maintain this environment. : What specific steps are you taking to improve conditions for the workforce? FK: From my side, I find having the mentoring role important, especially with the young people joining the workforce. It’s about managing their expectations, talking to them and dealing with some of the issues that they face. This is a practice that I employ with all employees we hire, whether they’re Saudis or any other nationalities. This mentoring role was very important;it gave them some sort of confidence that there is a good communication with the management and that they can come to us at any time with issues. Of course, we’ve done a lot of development and training. Communication is the real key to ensuring the proper direction, vision and strategy.
We do have SLAs now internally but we still cannot say we are doing hosting services like IBM does it – we’re nowhere near that of course internally. We’re trying to reach up to that but it takes a lot of time internally to manage. The best way is that you get rid of this [management] from the administrative tasks and then focus on the business needs June 2010 | www.itp.net
Bagchi: Many people in this region still have a trading mindset.
FREE MIND ACN caught up with Subroto Bagchi, chief operating officer of MindTree Consulting, during his recent visit to Dubai, to find out what opinion the noted entrepreneur has of the region’s creative minds. : What is the main purpose of your visit to the region? Subroto Bagchi (SB): We have fairly strong operations here. We have currently 12 major projects going in this region. These are with the government, travel and transportation sector and so on, mostly projects based around software development. We are engaged with developing applications for customers here. The second reason for my visit is that this is the third year in a row that we are doing something very interesting. A couple of years ago, we went to Amsterdam and brought back a set of young students to India to spend a week with me. They get to see inside a software services company and how it works. I then take them with me to show how the non-urban part of India lives, to give them a sense of the past of India by looking at some of the ruins and architecture. We feel that this is a very important exercise from
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both sides, both in terms of building a relationship with a region and also to see through their eyes what they think of us. We repeated this in Singapore – we had ten young people in the 16 -18 age range that spent a week with me and then went back. They blog their experiences, and we compose the team in such a way that there is a videographer, a writer and a photographer. At the end they produce a film which they take away but also share with us. I am keen to do that in this region – to take back 10 students this year. These are not MBA students, not engineering students; they are people who don’t have a legacy. Nor is there a direct interest that you can discern, such as us making job offers to them – that’s not the idea. My sense is that people would be keen because it’s not an exchange or an industry programme. They will see it through their own eyes and give us some of the reflections. They also get to
spend some time with me and they need to see the value in that. Hopefully they will, but we’ll see. The third part is related to the fact that I work with the top 100 people in the company. You want to build leadership for the next round, which is a critical issue for us. When we founded the company, there were 10 co-founders. We agreed amongst ourselves that our children would not work in this company, they will not inherit it from us. As we are now completing ten years in this organisation, the issue becomes: who do we hand it over to? A couple of years back, we started a company initiative whereby I focus my personal time on the top 100 people so that out of this batch, we should be able to produce 25who could take over the reins of the company. That process takes me all over the world because I engage with leadership in their time and space. : Has demand for products and services gone up over the past year? SB: It marginally grew last year. We didn’t shrink, that’s for sure. It has been a very tough year for small and emerging companies. We have 8000 staff, so companies like us were able to brave it a little better. Fortunately, it’s beginning to look better now. For us, it wasn’t as difficult as the year 2000-2001 when we were a fledgling company. We started in 1999 and in 2000 you had the slowdown, then in 2001 you had 9/11. In a sense, for this round, it didn’t come to us as a roadroller down the mountain. : Have clients significantly modified their RFPs or made major changes to their plans? SB: They did, but we were geographically far more distributed. We were sectorally far more distributed. Unlike some of the larger players, we were not overtly dependent on the financial sector – which is not necessarily a good thing. It’s not like that sector was 0 5% of
The world understood that this Satyam episode was an exception and not the rule. It does not tell you how companies like Wipro, Infosys, TCS or Mindtree actually work But it is a warning that you can’t take things for granted
INTERVIEW our business. If you look at some of our sectors like travel and transportation, it didn’t shrink during this period. People grew. A lot of travel-related organisations used this time to prepare for the turnaround. : Have you seen any further fallout from the Satyam situation of last year? SB: Fortunately, not. eVry fortunately, the world understood that this Satyam episode was an exception and not the rule. It does not tell you how companies like Wipro, Infosys, TCS or Mindtree actually work – we are seen as benchmarks for governance in the world. But it is a warning to everyone that you can’t take things for granted. It has to happen a few times more. More than Satyam in IT services or the technology area, poor governance is not something that be ruled out in any part of the world. Corporate lack of governance is because of intent. Sometimes it is because people become so obsessed with growth that they forget that it brings its own challenges. For example, a leading Indian IT firm admitted to siphoning off 4 $ million of forex by one internal treasury operator who transferred money to his account, which was not noticed for a year. Sometimes the siz e of the organisation becomes a problem. : As CEO and co-founder, how much do you worry about your staff being caught in similar situations? SB: As a founder of a company, you can’t live in fear. You have to put in place several things. First and foremost, you have to articulate very clearly the organisational position. The CEO has to say that this is the standard to which I hold myself and to which I will hold you. Number two, you have to continuously evangelise. You cannot say that I will only do it in the beginning – you have to keep to doing it with every new batch of people. Even today when a newly joined employee comes on board, the chairman himself goes and explains the integrity policy of the company. That said – just because you have a policy and you go out and communicate it yourself, that’s not going to work. You have to walk the talk yourself. Top management forgets how in small things, the whole organisation is watching. : Do people only learn when major breaches occur?
SB: Unfortunately, yes. But the moment a breach happens, people watch how you’re going to deal with it, and if you do, if you’re going to talk about it. Let’s say that on Friday evening, you find your star salesman has fudged a travel bill;and on Monday is a crucial negotiation where this guy has the upper hand. The whole organisation is watching to see whether you will sack him that day or after the deal is over. A lot of organisations may not sack him and simply warn the guy, because it could potentially bring you a ten million dollar deal.Some organisations will not sack him on the spot but on on Tuesday morning. Some will sack him on the spot but keep it hushed up. Some organisations will choose to clean themselves and fix the systems and processes, the failure of which might have led to this situation. Sometimes these things leave a residual toxicity in the organisation which will help them to come out of it. The point I’m trying to make is, it is no point in losing sleep about it. It is critical to understand that it’s basically all these things that need to be continuously done. : Are there still challenges specific to this region? SB: Many people in this region psychologically have a trading mindset when it comes to engaging with partners. It is more in terms of buyer/supplier relationship as against a partnership relationship. For co-creation of interesting new solutions, that has to change. It is very important that people take a more collaborative and more inclusive approach when it comes to dealing with the outside world. It also means that the outside world – people like us – need to change. We tend to look at this region through sometimes very ancient filters which may be vanishing very quickly. I am telling my people that we need to offer intelligent engagement and thought leadership. We need to look at other people who are thinking very differently about this region. You talk to the average company operating out of here, do they have any clue about that? People are here to sell their hardware or licences, attend trade shows – that’s not going to work. It’s an assumption by outsiders that people here take a long time to figure out if you’re trust worthy or not. What constitutes trust can be very individual and subjective.
Bagchi: Sometimes the size of the organisation is really the problem.
: What needs to happen to create more entrepreneurs here? SB: Entrepreneurship requires a soft infrastructure which includes more than social acceptance – in some societies entrepreneurship is celebrated. It’s not just about the creation of wealth. You see this individual as a mover or shaker of the economy. Some societies focus on the quality of entrepreneurship. In the US or the UK, there are endowments that research the ideas, there is management literature that comes out on entrepreneurship. When these things happen, there is a higher chance that entrepreneurship will bloom. The second thing is an ecosystem, which is an ecosystem not necessarily of bankers willing to leave you money – I don’t think great entrepreneurs come out of those things. It’s an ecosystem of thought leadership which requires diversity and tolerance. In those kinds of environments, you will have ideation taking place and entrepreneurs are idea people. In today’s world, ideas are not chasing money – it’s money that is chasing ideas.
You have to continuously evangelise. You cannot only do it in the beginning but keep doing it with every new batch. When a new employee comes on board, the chairman himself goes and explains the integrity policy June 2010 | www.itp.net
Rehman: Our package does not require customers to throw out their existing investments.
TRAIL BLAZER Jawwad Rehman, managing director of LiveRoute, speaks to ACN about the launch of the Middle East’s first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company. : Why did you set up LiveRoute? Jawwad Rehman (JR): We saw this as a great opportunity. I’m part of a league of partners and board of directors who have actually been in this region for at least the last 15 years in the IT industry. I was part of the Microsoft corporate team for 15 years and have held the country management positions, as well as the director positions at Microsoft for various different interesting propositions. The last position I had at Cisco was the head of business and operations for the G ulf region and surrounding countries. Based on our passion towards technology, we wanted to launch something which actually makes sense for the customers today and has a great future. We didn’t want to offer something which fifty zillion other people are offering as well, we wanted to be very unique. We came across a couple of trends. One which stood out quite a bit was cloud computing and software-as-aservice. When we looked into it further, we actually saw a great relevance to our region for many reasons. First, we don’t have to go through the progression from mainframes to minicomputers to
June 2010 | www.itp.net
client-server. People can jump in without needing a lot of prior history or investments. From that perspective, we see that we can address those needs. Especially after the economic meltdown and challenges that everyone faced around the globe, we thought that customers are going to be very careful in terms of how much they invest and what they get in return for that investment with respect to IT. That’s one emerging area of opportunity. Secondly, in our region, we tend to be a few years behind the US and developed countries with respect to IT trends. That time lag is shrinking as we move forward, but nevertheless for various reasons like telecom and culture we tend to be still lagging behind. Third, in our region, many companies which offer business critical applications like CR M and ER P – in my opinion – are taking most of the firms for a ride. These are very complex solutions but on top of that, they’ve been charging a huge fee for an on-site model of deployment, where they have to buy hardware and software, configure their systems, have to pay hefty
annual maintenance contracts and things like that. The story doesn’t end there. They also end up actually being the custodian of all those aftermaths – application scalability, availability, disaster recovery. The situation was very clear that we had a scenario where we looked at customers spending a lot of money in our region and getting into the uncharted territory of figuring out how to use these critical applications like ER P and CR M but still not getting the benefit of it. There’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there. Those were the opportunity areas which excited us to get into this new market for managed services. : How does Live Route plan to overcome the reluctance of companies to outsource services? JR: We see a great future for software as a service in the Middle East and we’re currently talking to more than 100 organisations across the region. It is true that outsourcing is bit behind the curve in some areas compared with US and Europe. However, due to the recent economic meltdown many organisations in the region are very keen to reduce their costs (especially capex)and get better efficiencies while looking to adopt the latest technology. Based on our interaction so far, no one has declined the SaaS concept as a viable concept, and rather we see huge momentum and strong acceptance beyond our expectations in the region especially in medium to large enterprises. Customers today are reluctance to invest in expensive hardware and software packages as well as long-drawn consultancy engagements, which means that the door is wide open to outsourcing and for SaaS. So far we have only seen willingness from companies in the region to outsource their CR M and ER P applications and strong interest in the cost savings possible via SaaS.
In our region, many companies which offer business critical applications like CRM and ERP – in my opinion – are taking most of the firms for a ride. These are very complex solutions but on top of that, they’ve been charging a huge fee for an on-site model of
INTERVIEW : What makes you different from the other application vendors currently in the market? We’re not just a company offering CR M and ER P. Live R oute is a company which wants to focus on building a portfolio of businesscritical and relevant applications for Middle Eastern enterprise and midmarket customers. We’re building a portfolio of various different applications so ER P and CR M happen to be one. We’re also introducing other applications called Success Factors which is going to be focused on performance management and making sure that organisations are fine-tuned to achieve their intended objectives. Why are we different from some of the competing SaaS vendors? We offer an integrated package of CR M as well as ER P. This is unheard of globally as well as in the region and is really our USP. : What do you believe is your main value proposition? JR: Number one is the cost benefit. When you compare procuring a 5 0-user CR M package on-site using something mid-tier like Microsoft or Sage, we can save our customers easily anywhere between 5 % and 7 5 % , depending on the customisations needed. Secondly, the actual integration of both ER P and CR M – which is nonexistent today unless you go with a very large package which most companies cannot afford. Third, what we provide is always available and has an up-time guarantee. The US government’s commerce division is using our Aplicor application across the globe. The ease of integration – when companies work on on-site deployments, inherently in this sort of model, people have to fly in and out, consultants have to meet and so on. In our model, a lot of those things are done from a development and customisation perspective on the back end at the datacentre. That saves lots and lots of time. Finally, our package does not require customers to throw out their existing investments – we can integrate to any open system. So our sweet spot is mid-to-large companies – we don’t focus on the very small companies out there. : How many support staff does LiveRoute have to support customers in the region?
Rehman: It is true that outsourcing is bit behind the curve in some areas compared with US and Europe.
JR: LiveR oute has partnered with Aplicor and other key SaaS Companies to provide software-as-aservice across the region. While we have the required professional services talent on-board to manage projects locally, our model allows us to deliver customisation, configuration, testing, and support centrally from our dev centres in US, UK and Latin America where our datacentres are located and the software developers and architects are available.
still seem concerned in the fact that their data may not be within their D C or four walls. For that we offer a unique Aplicor Appliance, which is a preconfigured server with no local maintenance required, and which goes into one of the D C slots at the local site. We still manage the updates, security and uptime while this local device provides a synchronisation capability with our multiple datacentres in real
When companies work on on-site deployments, inherently in this sort of model, people have to fly in and out, consultants have to meet and so on. In our model, a lot of those things are done from a development and customisation perspective on the back end at the datacentre. That saves lots and lots of time As a matter of fact, our model offers tremendous savings of cost, time, hassles and complexities for our customers, the benefits which are not available in the traditional on-site model. Our local team is strongly focused on helping customers build their requirement documents, discovery sessions, local support, project management as well as training needs of our customer. : Is there any model for companies to take the applications in house if they so choose? JR: This is an advantage of our offering, as a SaaS provider. We offer both ER P and CR M and an integrated package for customers who may be inclined towards SaaS benefits, but
time for customers for the reasons of backup and high availability. : When is the service expected to go live? JR: The service is already live and available. We have just launched Aplicor SaaS Solutions in the region and are finalising our first few contracts. However, there are already several existing Aplicor SaaS customers in the region which LiveR oute will help support via its Aplicor agreement. We have a significant pipeline – in Saudi Arabia alone, we have close to 5 0 customers we are engaged with and similar numbers in the UAE and the rest of the G CC states.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
INSPECTING GADGETS ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from the new Versace fashion phone to the toughest in rugged storage.
Standing out from the crowd Now, we’re no strangers to fashion, having rocked the occasional naff Ed Hardy t-shirt on casual day, and perhaps even a Burberry scarf or two in the mid-noughties. And we’ve certainly seen our fair share of fashion phones in the past from the likes of Samsung and Nokia. But we’ve never seen anything quite like eVrsace’s UNIQ UE. That’s because fashion phones are – like the industry, if we’re being honest – a little bit emptyheaded. You expect traffic-stopping looks, but you rarely get a device you can actually use for anything besides telephone calls and SMSes. That usually leads to you
lugging along some sort of smartphone as well to take care of the work chores. But lo and behold – eVrsace may actually have created a device that people can use. A touchcreen handset (of course)with a nice and hefty three-inch screen, the UNIQ UE also sports an e-mail client and a decent five-megapixel camera, along with an interface that people might actually be able to use. Of course, the secret here is that eVrsace weren’t alone – the Italian design house had plenty of help from specialist builder Modelabs (which produced the stunning Tag
June 2010 | www.itp.net
Heuer Meridiist in the past)and LG , which supplied much of the innards. That’s certainly a good pedigree, and virtually guarantees that the UNIQ UE will be at least somewhat decent underneath, particularly based on what’s LG ’s been bringing to the table recently. But who are we fooling with all this talk of tech? You’ll either take one look at the UNIQ UE and whip out your credit card on the spot, or you’ll turn back to your iPhone with a satisfied sigh. And really, the UNIQ UE certainly has craftsmanship on its side. Hand assembly is extraordinarily rare in this day and age of mass-produced technology, and the sapphire crystal screen is purportedly the largest that’s ever offered in a consumer device. Just don’t expect that eVrsace logo to come cheap.
Rugged and built for speed External hard drives. Not a lot you can say about them, is there? Plug them in, store some data, and er, take them somewhere else. To date, most hard drive purchases have been solely based around the style of the device, since performance is limited by the USB speed of the interface. For comparison, your average USB port has the same turn of speed as a plough horse, compared to the snarling Ferrari that is an internal interface. Try to copy more than few gigabytes across at a time and you’d be tapping your fingers in frustration, watching the progress bar. But everything’s changed now. Well, actually, nothing has changed yet, but it will next year when Intel officially adopts it. I’m talking of course about USB .30 o ( r SuperSpeed USB, as the marketing mavens like to call it)which can theoretically achieve speeds of .32G bps – compared to 480Mbps from its predecessor. We’re very, very cynical that you’ll ever achieve .32G bps in real life, but it’s certainly going to be noticeably quicker than most external drives. And after all, this isn’t the real draw of the LaCie u Rgged device, which is actually supposed to be about toughness. Yes, that orange shell is Mil-810F-certified u ( p to US eDpartment of eDfence standards)so the u Rgged drive should able to survive the odd knock or two and the occasional drop from 2.2 metres. Anything higher of course, and you might be not so amused. My only real issue with this particular product is around aesthetics. Take a look at the ersace V handset featured on the other page and then come back to the LaCie – not exactly a stunner, is it? Bright orange never really seems to go with anything in the CIO wardrobe. Perhaps LaCie could be persuaded to build one in basic black.
A nightmare on Elm street? They’re suddenly becoming more common, aren’t they? rGeen phones used to be nothing more than a glint in the eye of some marketing genius, but suddenly everyone’s got a candybar headset which purports to save the world by having all the ecological footprint of a floating peacock feather. Here’s Sony Ericsson’s latest entry, the strangely-named Elm handset. And much like how the eVrsace UNIQ UE surprised us with its featureset, the Elm is a surprisingly well-specced phone. P GS, 3 .5 G support and Wi-Fi, -5megapixel camera – they’re all present and accounted for. The Elm’s also made from a high proportion of recycled plastics and comes with a low consumption charger. SE is so serious about cutting back on wastage that it doesn’t ship with a manual. Instead you have to root around in the phone, which is
great from a PRperspective but less so when you’re trying to get your e-mail set up to access different mailboxes in a different application. It’s not very heavy either at 90g. Considering the average iPhone weights at more than a 15 0g (not forgetting the necessary casing)and the Elm almost seems to be a featherweight. Battery life seems acceptable – Sony Ericcsson suggests that you’re likely to see about 4 hours of medium use, which really isn’t much to complain about. So the perfect green phone? Well, we’re not entirely convinced that buying one of these devices is much smarter than just hanging onto your existing handset for a very long time. But if you need it, the Elm will certainly suit those who want to do something about the environment but don’t want to make a terrible fuss about it – which is another of our pet peeves, by the way.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
PROJECT ROUNDUP Who’s doing what: ACN presents the latest project announcements and customer wins from across the Middle East. Kuwait Ministry of Electricity & Water: Linux development (Kuwait) Kuwait’s Ministry of Electricity & Water M ( EW)has announced plans to switch its data centre Linux deployment, with a move from Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 to eRd Hat Enterprise Linux. MEW will migrate mission critical systems running its automated meter infrastructure and geographic information system, along with HR , business intelligence and additional CR M applications as well. The utility, which serves more than 800,000 customers, cited the lower TCO of eRd Hat, and its ability to keep infrastructure stable and secure and running to key service levels, as reasons for the switch. “Adopting eRd Hat Enterprise Linux as a technology platform offers MEW the opportunity to solidify our business continuity,” said Ali AlWaz azn, the undersecretary for information technology at MEW. “With eRd Hat Enterprise Linux, we’re offered a valuable subscription model, a robust certified ecosystem and high-performance technology to fit our business needs. With a strong eRd Hat Enterprise Linux base, we will additionally be able to investigate future plans to utilise virtualisation and cloud computing technologies in our emerging IT infrastructure.”
Batelco: Network upgrade (King dom of Bahrain) Batelco has teamed up with Ericsson as it sets about expanding and upgrading its mobile network, and gears up for the eventual move to the new fourth generation wireless technology, LTE. Batelco said that it will “significantly” expand its High Speed Packet Access H ( SPA)
capability, enhancing its ability to deal with the increasing uptake of mobile broadband. Chief executive eGrt iReder said:“We have built a solid relationship with Ericsson over many years and value their
technical expertise and experience which ensures the delivery of complex projects in a timely and efficient manner.” President and head of customer unit C GC for Ericsson, aRy Hassan, added:“The deal
represents a major milestone for the partnership between Ericsson and Batelco because it not only upgrades Batelco’s network but allows us to jointly ensure Batelco’s customers enjoy an unparalleled level of service in the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
American University of Sharjah: Distributed content (UAE)
Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, (R) Director of DNRD and flydubai’s CCO, Hamad Obaidalla, announce a new visa service.
Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department: Mobile services (UAE) The D ubai Naturalisation and esidency eDpartment D R N ( D )R and airline flydubai have begun trials of a new e-mail and mobile phone visa service. The m-visa service will allow visitors to the UAE to apply for a visa either at N DR Doffices or using the online application at www.dnrd.ae, with the entry visa then provided electronically, via SMS or email, with authentication from a R N D De-signature. On arrival, the visitor just needs to present their mobile phone or a PD F print out, so that immigration officers can scan the barcode contained therein, and retrieve the visa. His Excellency Major eGneral Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, NR D ’s director general said: D “The launch of our electronic visa service with flydubai highlights our commitment to making the visa process as easy as possible for the public. This
June 2010 | www.itp.net
new development is in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin aRshid Al Maktoum, iVce President, Prime Minister and uler of u R Dbai, in enabling NR D Dto carry out its mission to serve the community and the public. “D NR ’s management is in a D constant search for the latest electronic technologies and how to employ them to speed up procedures and reduce congestion in branches of the NR D . M-V D isa will be used to inform customers immediately via e-mail and SMS text messaging when visas are ready,” he added. haith Al h G Gaith, flydubai’s CEO said:“We are delighted to work in partnership with the NR D Dto offer this service in ubai. The visa process can be D a lengthy one and a real hindrance to travel. flydubai and the N DR Dhave established this partnership to find a way of making the system easier, quicker and more reliable.”
The American University of Sharjah A ( US)has introduced a range of new video services for teaching and information, with the deployment of the Cisco iDgital Media Suite M D ( S). The University, which is the first in the UAE to roll out M D S, is using the system to distribute lesson content, to provide visual networking and to deploy campus-wide digital signage. The M D S platform, which utilises video, IPTVand digital signage, allows AUS to deliver a range of live and on-demand lectures and other educational content to students, anywhere on campus, and also enables video collaboration and the delivery of richer lesson content. AUS is also the first university in the u Glf to use Cisco’s Show and Share social video system, which enables ‘visual networking’ whereby students and teachers have access to a library of video content, which can be shared, to complement the lessons and curricula. Students will also be able to create content using the built-in Cisco MX E0 300 Media Experience Engine. eGorge JeDBin, vice chancellor for finance and administration, American University of Sharjah commented:“Today, video is increasingly becoming one of the most important forms of communication and entertainment both in the UAE and globally. At AUS we realise the benefits of bringing digital
media into the classroom and the campus environment and Cisco’s iDgital Media Suite will provide the university with the capability to utilise video communications in order to greatly enhance our students’ experiences as well as accelerate their learning.” M D S also enables AUS to replace traditional signage and bulletins, with video services to deliver schedules, news, emergency messaging and other information around the campus. Wayne Hull, general manager, Cisco, UAE said:“In order to effectively achieve connected learning societies, we at Cisco believe that the deployment of video in educational establishments is vital for the 21st century education transformation. iVdeo is a critical medium for communicating to all audiences and in education, recent advancements in video technology are helping to change the way school administrators, faculty managers and students are working together to create a stronger community. The Cisco iDgital Media Suite at the American University of Sharjah is the first step towards helping transform how educational establishments in the UAE and their students learn, grow, communicate, and collaborate.”
Abu Dhabi Health Services Company: Healthcare information systems (UAE) Abu h Dabi Health Services Company S ( EHA)and Cerner have announced the expansion of their long standing deal for healthcare information systems H ( IS)for Abu h Dabi. The deal will allow SEHA to deploy all Cerner solutions available in the UAE, to any of its business entities. At present, the solutions are in use at five SEHA hospitals, twelve ambulatory healthcare clinics and multiple primary healthcare clinics, but the extension will introduce new healthcare systems and deployments at other sites. Carl VStanifer, SEHA chairman commented:“SEHA’s successful partnership with Cerner has already improved the quality of healthcare delivery in the
Emirate. Our continued partnership with Cerner will help healthcare professionals further elevate safety, quality and efficiency for the more than five million patients that visit SEHA hospitals each year.” SEHA has already expanded on its initial 2005agreement with Cerner, to deliver a suite of 15 solutions to four hospitals, but the extension will introduce new solutions in the areas of automated processes for women’s health, clinical trials, point of care medication administration
and the critical care and laboratory departments. Cerner’s Lighthouse solution will be implemented across the SEHA HealthSystem to help identify opportunities for process improvement, increase efficiency, reduce costs and increase patient safety. This solution also helps hospitals meet regulatory requirements and make better use of data to improve the healthcare delivery process. “We are proud at Cerner of our partnership with SEHA and what we have accomplished together
Emirates’ new deal with Cisco Capital is the first to be announced since the the latter was established in MEA at the start of 2008.
Emirates: Network optimisation (UAE) Csco Capital, the financing arm of Cisco, has announced its first ever deal in the UAE with airline and travel specialists Emirates rGoup. The Emirates rGoup has signed a three-year contract, financed by Cisco Capital, to purchase Cisco SMAR Tnet support services, and network optimisation services. The deal is intended to provide flexible financing to the group, to develop its network infrastructure as necessary. The services will be provided by Cisco o Gld partner u Glf Business Machines along with Cisco itself. The deal is the first since Cisco Capital was established in the UAE in u J ly last year, although Cisco Capital was first announced for the MEA region at the start of 2008. Patrick Naef, divisional senior vice president IT, Emirates rGoup commented: “The Emirates rGoup is always
looking to expand its portfolio with strategic ventures that will enhance its commercial proposition, revenues and reputation. The financing through Cisco Capital will help us to continuously deliver the necessary financial enhancements to our information technology infrastructure to service our ever growing customer needs and maintain a competitive edge in the future.” “The Cisco Capital financing for Emirates rGoup marks a major step forward in the way Cisco does business with organisations in the UAE as we increasingly seek innovative new business solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. As a result of this we will be able to build on the existing agreement for future projects and solutions, enabling the Emirates rGoup to proceed with future projects jointly with Cisco,” said Wayne Hull, general manager, Cisco, UAE.
to create a better experience for SEHA patients,” said iRchard Berner, Cerner Middle East vice president and general manager.
Bahrain Polytechnic: Student information systems (Bahrain) Bahrain Polytechnic has signed a deal with International Turnkey Systems I(TS)to implement a student information system from SunG ard Higher Education. The Polytechnic will roll out SunG ard’s Banner Unified iDgital Campus system, the most widely used student administration and ER P system worldwide, to improve and connect processes across a number of functions. The deployment will include modules for the online enrolment and registration of students, as well as an e-gateway for financial and administrative functions as well as additional archiving and e-learning elements. The project aims to create a central portal for students, administration and faculty, based on the SunG ard Luminis Platform, with single sign on. The portal will give access to a range of applications to enable self service. The Banner system, which runs on Oracle B D RMS, will also provide integration between financial and administrative data, to help manage budgets, and integration between student enrolment and finance, to manage student financial grants. o J hn W Scott, chief executive of Bahrain Polytechnic, said:“Part of the Board of Trustees’ strategic development goals include improving efficiency of the Polytechnic’s administrative systems, which then allows us to avail the best for our students. With the comprehensive solutions that ITS offers, we aim to meet and exceed our students’ expectations in terms of our services. We hope to set a trend for other educational institutions in the region to follow.”
STARTED A NEW PROJECT? WON A CONTRACT? E-mail the ACN team at email@example.com to let us know
June 2010 | www.itp.net
LETTERS ALIGNING BUSINESS AND IT STRATEGIES FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
Registered at Dubai Media City PO Box 50024, Dubai, UAE Tel: + 971 (0)4 210 8000 Fax: + 971 (0)4 210 8080 Web: www.itp.com Offices in Dubai & London
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR This letter was received in response to the May new story, “Hospitals speed up registration with Emirates ID cards”.
DEAR SIR, Oasis Hospital in Al Ain – I am proud of you! Please continue the usage of EIDto promote the identity of each individuals. Again, more power to you. I wish even low-level workers will apply for the Emirates Identity cards for their identity protection. od bless! G egards, R Edmundo UAE
DEAR SIR, Over the last year, we’ve all seen a tremendous increase in the number of user groups and vendor meetings. That’s something we’ve been asking to happen for quite some time and in my organisation, we are very pleased that vendors are taking us seriously now. My only question is, why did it take so long? egards, R Stephen Lang, Saudi Arabia Imthishan iGado replies: It’s taken a long time, Stephen, but it’s also emblemic of the natural human tendency to bury your head in the sand and pretend a problem doesn’t exist! I actually am not that happy, because we’ve seen more vendor presence, but it’s been largely around increased sales efforts and more ‘meet-and-greets’ with top vendor management. That’s a good start, but very, very far from the kind of in-depth
ITP Technology Publishing CEO Walid Akawi Managing Director Neil Davies Managing Director Karam Awad General Manager Peter Conmy Publisher Natasha Pendleton
engagement I’m really looking for from vendors. Ideally, they should be offering more training courses, working with local universities to nurture future talent – and yes, it has to be said, stop poaching the most talented employees frrom an enterprise!
EDITORIAL Group Editor Mark Sutton Tel: +971 4 210 8225 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor Imthishan Giado Tel: +971 4 210 8658 e-mail: email@example.com Contributors Piers Ford ADVERTISING Group Advertising Manager Brett Pearson Tel: +971 4 210 8 345 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
You held the ACN Arab Technology awards all the way back in October last year, but since then we haven’t heard a peep from the winners. If they are really worthy of winning, why aren’t they willing to tell us how they did it? Seems like some people are eager to accept a trophy and then vanish afterwards. egards, R aDle Brennan, UAE
Senior Designer Michel Al Asmar PHOTOGRAPHY Director of Photography Sevag Davidian Chief Photographer Khatuna Khutsishvili Senior Photographers Efraim Evidor, Thanos Lazopoulos, G-nie Arambulo Staff Photographers, Jovana Obradovic, Isidora Bojovic, Rajesh Raghav, Ruel Pableo, Lyubov Galushko, George Dipin PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION Group Production Manager Kyle Smith Deputy Production Manager Ali Fahmi Production Co-ordinator Basel Al Kassem Managing Picture Editor Patrick Littlejohn Distribution Manager Karima Ashwell Distribution Executive Nada Al Alami CIRCULATION Head of Circulation & Database Gaurav Gulati
MARKETING Marketing Executive Martin Chambers Event Manager Preeta Panicker
Imthishan iGado replies: Harsh criticism, Dale, but probably deserved on our part! Unfortunately end-users are incredibly reticent in this part of the world. We’ve been trying to chase these winners up as showcase case studies, and will continue to do so.
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THE MONTH AHEAD – JULY COLLABORATE AND LISTEN
HOSPITALITY AND TRAVEL
BANKING AND FINANCE IN IT
Project management in this region has often slated due to a lack of communication. We look at the next generation of unifed comms that seek to resolve the situation.
The UAE hospitality sector came under enormous pressure last year with the enormous drop in visitors. ACN examines how IT is enabling a fight back for hoteliers.
The banking sector has taken a massive battering in recent years and technology budgets have suffered. We ask the region’s CIOs how they are coping with the situation.
June 2010 | www.itp.net
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The goals: Share your challenges, elevate your thinkingâ€” and return to your enterprise with a renewed perspective and a tailored action plan for success.
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DON’T SPEAK Secret CIO attends his first user group meeting. Predictably, chaos and disaster ensue. 30 MINUTES IN, I WAS BORED. But then, who wouldn’t be? It’s a user group meeting. Excitement is never on the menu at one of these things. What is on the menu is talk. Lots and lots of talk about what vendors see us doing in the future, about what analysts saw us doing in the past, and the occasional CIO chucked on stage to nervously declare what he’s doing right now. Which in the case of the latter, is usually the most sanitised version of events that marketing would allow, usually leading to a complete absence of useful information. Of course, everyone in the know says that the real purpose of these events is
June 2010 | www.itp.net
to get lots of tech bosses in one to place to chat about ‘issues’. But really, What ‘issues’ do we have exactly? We don’t have any budget left to splash out on so in the immortal-and-slightlyparaphrased words of Bob Marley, “No Money, No Cry.” Having no money to spend is a glorious thing, of course if you’re at an event like this. You can walk from table to table, listen to pitch after pitch as vendors pour their desperate hearts to you and attempt to impress upon you the need to buy something – anything at all in the next 18-24 months. You listen attentively, you provide a kind and willing ear.
Sometimes, in their desperation, they provide information they really shouldn’t, such as what your competitors are up to, or in many cases, not up to. And then, with an appropriate flourish, you reveal to them your stated, strong, incontrovertible intent – to think about it. Their jaws agape, eyes bulging with fury, you can then proceed to the next table to repeat the process anew. Unfortunately, all these shenanigans can only waste so much time. Soon the coffee breaks are over and you’re plunged into the real meat of these events – the actual meetings. Oh good Lord, save me from these things. Unlike a large conference hall where you can sort of melt into the background, here it’s like being thrust into your high school Spanish class. You shuffle in awkwardly, then without much in the way of warning, they make you stand up and introduce yourself. For a mumbling anti-social ingrate like myself, that’s akin to a bout of North Korean waterboarding. It soon gets worse. What you need at these kinds of meetings is a moderator, someone who can keep all these rampant egos in check and keep everyone on track. What you usually get is a milquetoast, the least offensive person in the room who can speak as many languages as possible and be as toady as necessary. Such was the case, and soon everyone was talking over everyone else. The whole meeting quickly resembled a debate between fishmongers as everyone attempted to shout each other down. Normally, I would welcome such chaos but today I was having a bit of a headache and really just wanted to lie down for a bit. Well that didn’t happen. The noise built and built in lockstep with the intensity of my headache, until at the 90 minute mark, I could take no more. “I’ve had enough,” I declared, and walked out. As I lay on my hotel bed later with a cold compress clamped firmly to my forehead, I was sure this was the end of my trip. But not for the first time I was wrong. My Blackberry pinged on the bedside table – it was a message from the forum organisers, who wished to congratulate me on my “principled stand” and “courage to cut through the noise of debate”. Perplexed, I read further. They offered to put me on the seat of the board of directors and even asked me to organise next year’s conference. Clearly, this was not going to plan.