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Why EMC is poised to seize the cloud market in the Middle East

How Microsoft Dynamics is helping Chef Middle East

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Aligning business and IT strategies for the Middle East

Aligning business and IT strategies for the Middle East



An ITP Technology Publication | Licensed by Dubai Media City

FISCAL FUSION Meet the man behind the biggest IT merger in Middle East history

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Contents January 2011 | Volume 24 Issue 1

5 News Update This month in the news: the man behind the Emirates NBD IT merger reveals the crucial role technology played, HP aims to become the glue between hardware and applications, IBM reveals the social aspect behind Cognos 10, brings databases to the cloud, concerns emerge of the security of data within the cloud, especially with the release of Google Chrome OS, former NCR chief Areff becomes Avaya’s new regional boss, tablets begin to impact PC sales, and Orange reveals its cloud computing dream.

12 Online ACN rounds up the top stories from

18 Fiscal Fusion Naushad Kermalli, the man behind the biggest IT consilidation the region has ever seen – the merger of Emirates NBD – speaks out for the first time about the challenges that he and his team faced.

24 E=MCloud

13 Statistics: Tablets set to hurt PC shipments going into 2011-12 We analyse what the shift towards tablets means for enterprise CIOs.

With 2011 set to be the year of cloud computing, EMC tells Arabian Computer News why it feels it is ideally positioned to benefit itself, and its customers.

28 The Future Enterprise The world the enterprise inhabits is changing. Customer expectations are increasing and the speed at which CIOs need to react to that change is getting faster.

14 2010 Retrospective

Every month, Arabian Computer News brings you opinion from key figures within the Middle East enterprise market. This month, Cedar Consulting’s Abhijit Pendse asks in the middle of a recession, when costs are already high, do you have too many staff ?

40 2011 Predictions Arabian Computer News rounds up the predictions for the Middle East and global markets from the top vendors, analyst, and ITP staff.

48 IT In Education Arabian Computer News takes a look at the latest developments with IT in the important education market.

54 Rising Stock

2010 is so last year. With that in mind, Arabian Computer News gives you its comprehensive two-page rundown of the biggest news stories and events to happen last year, month by month.

16 Comment


Arabian Computer News speaks with upand-coming vendors who feel they have what it takes to get on your must-buy list.

56 Recruitment


Employment news, including promotions, moves and new jobs from around the region.

A Taste Of Success

58 Get to know

Catering company Chef Middle East recently introduced Microsoft Dynamics. ACN finds out more about the project.

Arabian Computer News sits down with leading figures from around the industry to find out what makes them who they are.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011



Registered at Dubai Media City PO Box 50024, Dubai, UAE Tel: + 971 (0)4 444 3000 Fax: + 971 (0)4 444 3030 Web: Offices in Dubai & London ITP TECHNOLOGY PUBLISHING CEO Walid Akawi Managing Director Neil Davies Managing Director Karam Awad General Manager Peter Conmy Publishing Director Natasha Pendleton EDITORIAL Group Editor Andrew Seymour Tel: +971 4 444 3320 email: Editor Ben Furfie Tel: +971 4 444 3643 e-mail: Contributors Aaron Greenwood ADVERTISING

The Korean issue...


s I write this column, South Korea has just begun its firing drill on the small island of Yeonpyeong. While it seems like a strange subject to address in a magazine aimed at enterprise executives, the reality is that the outcome of today could have a very real impact on your IT infrastructure. Should the North act on its threats to retaliate, and the situation spiral into a wider conflict, several of the vendors you currently rely on could disappear. Their names are some of the biggest in the modern IT industry. Samsung, LG, and Hitachi-LG Data Storage are just a few of the hundreds of hardware, software and service companies that support enterprises around the world, including in the Middle East. Do you have continuity plans to deal with the many problems that would arise if a systems critical vendor was literally wiped off the face of the planet? Faced with no more support, no more spare parts and defunct warranties, what would you do, and more importantly, how would explain the issue to your bosses? These are questions


that needs to be asked now, because if or when it happens – and that vital vendor partner disappears – it will be too late. Of course, I’m not advocating a wholesale dumping of Korean vendors because of the smallest hint that its unpredictable Northern relative may decide to throw a hissy fit and launch a couple of hundred shells at Seoul. No, rather the point I’m trying to make is that it isn’t enough to address the issues that threaten your business close to home, especially as conflict is something all Middle East enterprises should be accounting for in their continuity plans. In these days of globalised economies, failure to plan based on global trends can mean the difference between life and death for today’s modern enterprises. So what can be done? Well, unfortunately, it’s extremely unlikely an enterprise will be able to stop a conflict from happening. However, you can assess the impact the loss of each one of those vendors would have upon your business. Everything from monitors, to mobile phones are produced by Samsung and LG, while Hitachi-LG Data Systems currently powers the storage infrastructure of many Middle East enterprises. Could you find alternative vendors? If not, where could you find replacement parts? How vital are those assets your infrastructure. You may not be able to stop a war, but you can prevent your enterprise from becoming a casualty. Ben Furfie, Editor

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

Publishing Director Natasha Pendleton Tel: +971 4 444 3193 e-mail: Advertising Manager Sean Rutherford Tel: +971 4 444 3482 email: STUDIO Group Art Editor Daniel Prescott Senior Designer Michel Al Asmar PHOTOGRAPHY Director of Photography Sevag Davidian Senior Photographers Efraim Evidor, Jovana Obradovic Staff Photographers Isidora Bojovic, George Dipin, Murrindie Frew, Lyubov Galushko, Shruti Jagdesh, Mosh Lafuente, Ruel Pableo, Rajesh Raghav PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION Group Production & Distribution Director Kyle Smith Deputy Production Manager 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 ITP DIGITAL Assistant Editor Georgina Enzer Tel: +971 4 444 3723 e-mail: Group Sales Manager ITP Digital Websites Ahmad Bashour Tel: +971 4 444 3549 e-mail: Ahmad Senior Sales Manager, Nathalie Akl Tel: +971 4 444 3520 e-mail: ITP GROUP Chairman Andrew Neil Managing Director Robert Serafin Finance Director Toby Jay Spencer-Davies Board of Directors KM Jamieson, Mike Bayman, Walid Akawi, Neil Davies, Rob Corder, Mary Serafin Circulation Customer Service Tel: +971 4 444 3000 Printed by Color Lines Printing Press. Controlled Distribution by Blue Truck Subscribe online at The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review.

Published by and Copyright © 2011 ITP Technology Publishing Ltd. Registered in the B.V.I. under Company Registration number 1402846.


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“Emirates NBD’s merger would have failed if not for IT success” Man in charge of IT merger reveals the critical role technology played in emergence of bank BUSINESS

The merger between Emirates Bank and the National Bank of Dubai would have failed had the integration of the two bank’s IT systems not succeeded, the man behind the project has revealed. Speaking exclusively to Arabian Computer News for the first time since the merger was announced, Naushad Kermalli, who was senior vice president of business technology relations and IT post merger management at the time of the merger between the two

banks, revealed the scale of the project and the impact his team’s success is having upon the bank today. “No matter what we did with the business units, unless we merged the two IT systems, we could not have the two banks operate as one.” said Kermalli. “You simply couldn’t, because if we had, you would have had the customers of Emirates Bank being serviced through one system, while the customers of National Bank of Dubai being serviced through another. That would have meant

as an former Emirates Bank customer, you would not have been able to be serviced in a former National Bank of Dubai branch, despite them being the same company. Kermalli also revealed that the team had the full support of the board, and given the resources necessary to pull the IT merger off. “Everyone – from the board to the floor –knew the systems merger was extremely crucial – it was literally the backbone to ensure that the two banks could operate as one going forward,” he added.

HP to act as glue for applications TECHNOLOGY

HP has said the role of its software division is to ‘act as the glue’ between the hardware and applications in the enterprise, as it warned of a number of trends that were increasingly driving up complexity and costs facing CIOs. The company said that the enterprise of tomorrow would have to become ‘instanton’ in order to deal with the changing face of challenges, and most importantly, customers’ expectations. “Technology has never been in such a strong position,” commented Jan

ZADAK: Technology is in a strong position.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

Zadak, senior vice president and managing director for HP Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at the opening of its Software Universe event in Barcelona, Spain. “However, the proliferation of technology has also produced a number of problems. “Change is now instant, and if enterprises are not able to adapt and change instantly, they will face challenges. Our purpose is to enable enterprises to compete in this new world of competitors that are leveraging this new approach to working.”



IBM Cognos 10 to put social media to work Business intelligence shouldn’t just be for managers, says firm z Software is designed to mimic everyday use of data


NZ CIO HINTS AT TECH GOALS The chief information officer for New Zealand has suggested that the government may invest in social media services to bolster its communication with its citizens.



IBM has announced the launch of the latest version of its business intelligence application, IBM Cognos 10. The latest update, which IBM says is the most significant since it acquired Cognos, aims to take analytics to mobile devices and to introduce a social networking approach to analytics to encourage greater collaboration. Cognos 10 has a new look and feel, which IBM says mirrors people’s every day use of technology, and also include real time analytics, and the ability to deliver analytics to mobile devices, such as iPhone and BlackBerry. The application also extends the reporting of data, to present analytics in an easier to understand format increasing the number of stakeholders that can use business intelligence in the decision making process.

United States Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has issued a directive ordering all public agencies to update their eServices and websites. AUSTRALIAN STATE TAKES IT INTO THE PUBLIC CLOUD The government of South Australia has become the first state body to KILANI: Sharing data is crucial for enterprises.

“Cognos 10 delivers a completely new experience, which allows users to achieve collective intelligence by connecting with others, sharing insights and establishing decision networks,” said Bashar Kilani, business unit executive, Software Group, IBM Middle East.

move its IT infrastructure into the public cloud, prompting suggestions other states may follow. CLOUD TO BOOST OUTSOURCING

Indian company Patni has suggested cloud computing may lead to a new boom in cloud computing.


Just before we went to press, Microsoft announced that it would be running a

Jordan signs first advertising deal with Google in region

IBM mobile datacentre hits the road in Middle East tour



system. The idea, it hopes, is to culti-

Jordan has signed a $10m advertising agreement with Google to plug the kingdom as a location for investment and tourism. The three-year deal, signed by the Jordanian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, will see Google use its advertising platforms to promote Jordanian companies and products. As part of the deal, Google has also pledged to invest $2.5m in the local IT sector. “This is a breakthrough deal which we aim to duplicate throughout the region” said Ari Kesisoglu, Google’s regional manager for the Middle East.

IBM has embarked on a regional roadshow with its Portable Modular Datacentre. The PMDC is a new offering from IBM, and consists of a complete datacentre installed in a standard shipping container, to provide a fast deployment alternative to a static datacentre. The company says that the PMDC is ideal to provide computing power to companies that have run out of space at their premises or that need to deploy computing power in the field, or as a disaster recovery solutions that can replicate the a company’s computing environment in case of an emergency.

vate a generation of developers that

competition for budding Middle East software developers to create applications for its Windows Phone 7 operating


Arabian Computer News | January 2011

are loyal to its plaform over its rivals like Apple. It’s not wrong to do that either, as much of its Cupertino-based rivals success is down to the quality and breadth of its App Store.

ACN VIEW: If Microsoft manages to generate a developer base in the Middle East, we could see WP7 speed ahead in the smartphone stakes...when they finally launch it in the region.



UAE: UAE companies will now be able to have virtual board meetings with colleagues around the world

Database goes cloud with

with the introduction this week of Etisalat’s new TelePresence service. The TelePresence room in Dubai

Software-as-a-service giant looks to take on Oracle in its own back garden, as it expands it expands into new market

World Trade Centre will be the first such facility in the UAE, and is one


of 23 international facilities set up in

CRM-as-a-Service provider Salesforce is to take on Oracle with a new cloud database., the company’s new databaseas-a-service solution will provide a cloudbased solution for a range of usages. Salesforce says the new service will scale to meet user requirements, and will support all languages and devices, allowing developers to use it as a back-end database for any type of application. While the service will be based on Oracle’s database engine, will use other software around it, and will have all customers concurrently using a single set of services, rather than Salesforce setting up a new instance of Oracle for each customer. will provide services including database elasticity, replication,

major cities around the world, such as New York, London, Mumbai and Shanghai. UAE: Droid Shield, an innovative enterprise platform for managing Android-based devices created by UAE-based Mohamed Hamedi is poised to hit the Dubai marketplace. Hamedi developed the idea of Droid Sheild after noticing a lack of enterprise capabilities and solutions for Android devices in the UAE market. This led Hamedi to look at what kind of features people would want in an enterprise application for Android, and how he could create a solution is Salesforce’s latest service.

load balancing, backup, disaster recovery, availability and automatic system upgrades. Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, announced the new database offering at the company’s annual user group meeting in the US.

to meet those requirements. UAE: Dubai-based entrepreneur Ayman Irshaid has soft-launched AreebaAreeba, a new social networking site aimed at Arab professionals and companies. Irshaid, who has invested some $300,000 in the venture, said he designed the website to address a perceived gap in the market for an online space for Arab professionals. Irshaid said that it is also designed to help businesses and professionals to interact. UAE: Dubai Healthcare City has announced the launch of an Arabic version of their patient website. The new Arabic site is designed to make it easier for Arabic speaking people to find doctors and healthcare services. The new DHCC website allows users to search for doctors using a number of criteria, including language, gender, medical specialty and health and insurance coverage.

Avaya snaps up emergencyphone contract with Jordan TECHNOLOGY

Avaya Government Solutions has provided a new state of the art, emergency call centre to authorities in Amman, Jordan. The call centre will provide a city-wide emergency telephone system which allows authoritiesto give swift and reliable assistance to the public. The solution was delivered by the Avaya subsidiary and by MicroAutomation, based on best practice architectures and systems from US deployments. The project was funded by the US government under its counter terrorism and narcotics program.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

iPad gets its first enterprise grade security application TECHNOLOGY

Juniper Networks has released a new security application for the iPad, the Junos Pulse App, which is designed to enable secure remote access and connectivity to all enterprise resources. The App is available for free download on iOS 4.2 from the Apple iTunes App Store. “Our customers have started to deploy iPads to enable the productivity of their mobile workforce,” said Sanjay Beri, vice president and general manager Access and Acceleration Business Unit Service Layer Technologies Business Group at Juniper.



Chrome will lead to careless computing Leading expert warns enterprises on risks of new Google OS


Microsoft had an amazing month during December, seeing its shareprice climb by over 10%, though it was largely on the back expectations surrounding strong Christmas sales of its Xbox 360 console and Kinect devices.


A LEADING FIGURE from the software industry has attacked Google’s new operating system, saying it will “push people into careless computing”. Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, told UK newspaper The Guardian that Google’s form of cloud computing meant a loss of control over data. The operating system is based on the GNU open source operating system that Stallman and the Free Software Foundation created. Chome OS is designed for those users who spend most of their time on the internet, but could easily be adopted by enterprises looking to cut costs. However, Stallman said that as Chrome OS forces users to store their data in the cloud, rather than locally, there is a risk enterprises using the system could lose ownership of their own data. “In the US, you could even lose the legal rights if you store your data in a company’s machines instead of your own,” he told the newspaper. “The police need to present you with a

Microsoft to bring Tech.Ed back to the Middle East EVENTS

MICROSOFT IS BRINGING its Tech.Ed event back to the region for a second time. Tech.Ed, Microsoft’s leading IT education event, will return to Dubai from 8th to 10th March next year. The three day event will be held again at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, and will include over 200 technical sessions and instructor labs, covering a wide range of technologies and products. This year Microsoft has also introduced a day of pre-conference seminars on 7th March, which will focus on providing a deep dive into high interest subjects. Speakers confirmed for the event so far include two highly-rated past Tech Ed presenters strategic consultant Rafal Lukawiecki and infrastructure and security architect John Craddock.


Oracle was also booming with an even bigger rise in its shareprice – up 10.91% – thanks to its victory over rival SAP in its recent courtcase, and the subsequent damages payout. All prices correct as of December 16th 2010

Google’s new Chrome OS poses a number of threats to data, claims IT expert Stallman.

search warrent to get your data from you; but if they are stored in a company’s server, the police can get it without showing you anything. They may not even have to give the company a search warrant. “I think that marketers like cloud computing because it is devoid of substantive meaning. The term’s meaning is not much substance, it’s an attitude. Perhaps the term ‘careless computing’ would suit it better,” he added.

































Tablets delaying PC sales BUSINESS

GARTNER HAS CUT its estimates for the size of the global PC market for 2010 and 2011 after it said it was becoming increasingly apparent tablets were having a significant impact on sales of PCs. As a result, it cut its 2010 growth predictions from 17.9% to 14.3%.

Gartner warned tablets have slowed PC sales.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

Similarly, the analyst firm cut the predicted growth in 2011 from 18.1% to 15.9%. Gartner said the prediction directly reflect growing consumer interest in tablet and smartphone devices as their primary computing device. It said while the market is no where near an inflexion point, the growth of mobile devices was causing longer lifecycles for standard PCs (both desktops and laptops), while other factors such as declining disposable incomes were only exacerbating problems facing vendors. The company also warned that while the consumer market was currently showing the strongest signs of shifting towards tablet devices, there were signs in the enterprise market that sales of PCs may begin to be affected as tablet trials move into full scale roll outs.


NCR chief to take the helm at Avaya Mohammed Areff to head up the vendor in the Gulf as managing director following departure of Roger El Tawil in 2010 BUSINESS


WHAT: Tech Ed Middle East WHERE: International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Dubai, UAE WHEN: March 8th to 10th 2011 ABOUT: A three day conference aimed at technical professionals who frequently deal with Microsoft technology during IT implementations throughout the Middle East. REASON TO ATTEND: Aimed at both developers and IT professionals, the conference goes into a lot of detail about Microsoft’s latest products and how you can better implement them in your, or your clients’, businesses. MORE DETAILS: You can visit the event site at

AVAYA HAS APPOINTED Mohammed Areff as managing director for its operations in the Gulf region. Areff, previously with NCR Corporation, will replace Avaya veteran Roger El Tawil, who is leaving the company to join his family’s business. In the new role, Areff will work to build on Avaya’s presence in the region, and to capitalise on the company’s strong growth so far. “Mohammed Areff is ideally positioned to capitalise on the momentum created by Roger, and will help us drive and deliver more customer value and respond to the current evolution in real-time business communications and customer service,” Nidal Abou-Ltaif, area vice president for emerging markets at Avaya. “His expertise and understanding of the Middle East’s business needs will enable us to benefit customers from a strategic and cost perspective as we solidify our regional enterprise business.”

Areff’s expertise and understanding of the market will be crucial says Nidal Abou-Latif.

Orange targets growth in cloud sector BUSINESS

French telecom operator, Orange Group, has said that it is aiming to generate €500m ($660m) in revenue from the nascent cloud computing sector by 2015. Rudolf Sarah, regional cloud director, EMEA, Orange, said that “many components” will contribute to the company’s target for cloud computing. “There will be network led components, infrastructure services such as hosting on a cloud base, and software as a service,” Sarah said. He added that he expects cloud computing in the enterprise sector to start moving into the mainstream in 2012. “By 2012 we will reach the tipping point, and we can just look at how Europe and the US are doing now. 2011 is going to be a key year for most markets.”

SARAH: 2012 will be the tipping point for cloud.

Sarah also believes there is significant potential for cloud computing in the Middle East. He said that in the GCC countries, the financial crisis had forced companies to look

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

at more flexible IT strategies that allow for rapid growth and contraction, without leaving firms burdened with costly IT equipment. “Cloud will have a tremendous offering, and especially the mobile cloud,” he said. He also hinted at tablet and smartphone devices playing a much larger role in the adoption of cloud services, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world. “You will see the conjunction of the traditional cloud, which has been internet led, with applications that are going to be designed for mobiles and smartphones. We are going to see a slow convergence.” The global market for cloud services is expected to reach some $149 billion by 2014, according to a recent report by US research firm Gartner.





Oracle CEO Larry Ellison claims HP’s servers are slow and expensive.

“We think the HP machines are vulnerable. We think they’re slow. We’re going to go after them in the market place with better software, better hardware and better people, and we’re going to win market share.” Oracle CEO LARRY ELLISON certainly isn’t one for pulling

Richard Stallman

any punches, especially where market rival HP is concerned.

Founder, Free Software Foundation

Speaking on the database software giant’s latest earnings call,

It takes a brave man to stand up to Google and call it out over its latest product, but that’s precisely what the founder of the Free Software Foundation has done by voicing concerns about the security of data in the cloud, especially on Google’s new Chome OS operating system. Speaking to The Guardian n newspaper in the UK, Stallman said that the fact the majority of Google’s storage capacity is in the US, means the chances are that some or all of your data is being stored there. Aside from the implications that has for companies that are not allowed to store data outside of a specific geographical location, it also means that an enterprise’s data may be subject to US laws and therefore seizable under US law. Just something to think about.

ing higher-priced, high-performance server systems and would

Ellison made it perfectly clear that he is only interested in buildleave the low-end, commodity business to you know who.

“Will Netflix kill cable providers? It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world? I don’t think so.” Time Warner CEO JEFF BEWKES thinks Netflix rise as an alternative way of consuming media is over. He and his colleagues said that ”they will now aggressively try to tilt the economic balance between Netflix and content creators back towards the media conglomerates.” Our opinion? This will soon be a major problem for Middle Eastern content providers. Will the media conglomerates tip the balance back in their favours? Honestly? I doubt it.

“No matter what you do with the business units, unless you can merge the two IT systems, you cannot have two banks operate as one. You simply can’t. Otherwise you’d have customers from one bank not being able to be served by the branch of the other.” NAUSHAD KERMALLI, Emirates NBD’s deputy general

Richard Stallman is best known as the founder of the Free Software Foundation.

manager ITO strategy (planning and implementation) and group operations processing, on why a banking mega-merger simply won’t work without the right back-end IT strategy.


Arabian Computer News | January 2011

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Fujitsu Technology Solutions suggests that there are lingering concerns over the cloud.

Former NCR boss Mohammed Areff to take over the communication vendor’s operations in the Gulf with immediate effect.

MOST READ 1 UAE leads ME in FTTH rollout 2 Etisalat steals show at awards 3 Holiday Gift Guide 4 Abu Dhabi hosting UN ICT event 5 Facebook profile changes coming





SAP found guilty of ‘massive and prolonged’ infringement of Oracle’s software patents.

Study finds that more and more people are using social media to generate business.


MOST READ ACN STORIES 1 Salesforce launches 2 Orange reveals cloud targets 3 IBM shows off mobile datacentre 4 Non-x86 server sales slump 5 Ericsson to double ME revenues


There is more than enough supply of engineers and CCIEs struggling to get the jobs Cisco is talking about. This is because of poor classification.” Reader Ismail voices his anger at Cisco’s recent claim that there aren’t enough qualified networking professionals in the region, claiming Cisco’s poor qualifications are to blame.


The number of Androidbased Galaxy Tablets Samsung has sold globally since it went on sales in October Source: Samsung



Do you consider you enterprise’s IT infrastructure to be cloud ready?

10% 36% Yes


54% Cloud ready?

Over half of CIOs asked aren’t sure if their IT infrastructure is cloud ready, while only 10% are confident is it.

Sales of non-X86 servers saw a huge slump during the third quarter of 2010, as more and more enterprises moved towards using cheaper and easier to manage X86-based servers Source: IDC


Arabian Computer News | January 2011


PCs vendors risk losing out to tablets GARTNER BUSINESS

The latest figures from Gartner have shown that consumer devices, such as the iPad, are having a marked impact on sales of traditional desktop PCs. The information paints a bleak picture for desktop vendors, especially as Gartner suggests that many of the sales are due to enterprise sales, as much as consumer sales. “PC market growth will be impacted by devices that enable better on-the-go content consumption such as media tablets and next generation smartphones,” said Raphael Vasquel,” research analyst at Gartner. “These devices will be increasingly embraced as complements, if not substitutes, for PCs where voice and light data consumption are desired. It’s likely that desk-based PCs will be impacted over the long-term by the adoption of virtual desktops, which can use other devices like thin clients.” “These results reflect marked reductions in expected near-term unit growth based on expectations of weaker demand, due in no small part due to growing user interest in

409m 352.4m




media tablets such as the iPad,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “Over the longer term, media tablets are expected to displace around 10% of PC sales by 2014.” Gartner pointed much of the blame for declining sales at the industry’s failure to innovate; something that had prevented desktop vendors from being able to compete against the features of tablets. “PCs are still seen as necessities, but the PC industry’s inability to significantly innovate and its over-reliance on a business model predicated on driving value through price declines are finally impacting on the industry’s ability to induce new replacement cycles,” warned George Shiffler, research director at Gartner. “As the PC market slows, vendors that differentiate themselves through services and technology innovation rather than unit volume and price will dictate the future,” he continued. “Even then, vendors will be challenged to keep PCs from losing the device ‘limelight’ to more innovative products that off better dedicated compute capabilities.

Server demand signals switch to x86 IDC BUSINESS REPORT

Server vendors can expect strong sales during the fourth quarter of 2010 as pent up demand is finally released thanks to significant planned upgrades by governments, telecoms companies and enterprises in the banking sector. The latest figures from IDC suggest that, while they remain down on 2007’s peak, server sales are recovering. However, the analyst firm was quick to point out that unlike in 2007, x86-based servers are now leading the charge. In addition, technologies, such as cloud are driving demand for servers, revealed the company. “Cloud is increasingly turning into a driving force for the server market place,” commented Nathaniel Martinez, research director in the Enterprise Server Group for IDC EMEA. “Telcos, service providers and hosting companies of all sizes and across

4.9 %




6.1% Oracle





28% IBM


Arabian Computer News | January 2011

land are engaging in datacentre consolidation projects and at the same time, investing in additional server capacity to support new offering centred on cloud computing.” “The EMEA server revenue growth is a positive indicator that the market is gaining traction and benefitting from refreshment activity in the hardware area. Banks and to a lesser degree insurance companies are currently engaged in server refreshes and adding new server capacity,” said Beatriz Valle, senior research analyst in the Enterprise Server Group for IDC EMEA. However, despite these increases, server markets are still a long way from their peak in 2007, when revenue recorded was $5.4 billion. Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMA) shipped 147,000 units worth $743.50 million in Q3.



2010 Review With another year over, Arabian Computer News brings you its rundown of the biggest stories of 2010, month-by-month.


Arabian Computer News | January 2011


JANUARY During the first month of the year, Dubai’s government was celebrating the successful launch of its mPay electronic payment service, with the news that it had processed over $400k in transactions during 2009. Toshiba was also predicting that enterprises in the Middle East would return to purchasing PCs after a stagnant year. Little did Toshiba know the impact that Apple announcement of the iPad would have on PC sales...

APRIL During April, HP launched its $1.2bn bid for mobile device vendor Palm. The company, which had been struggling to make a profit, was snapped up by the world’s largest hardware manufacturer. April was also the month that Qatar joined other countries in and around the Middle East and North Africa in calls for full Arabic web addresses to be brought in after Cyrillic became the first nonLatin script to become supported.

JULY July saw IBM warning CIOs that they must wean themselves off the major hardware dependency they had developed and look to technologies like virtualisation to make better use of the resources they already had. July was also the month that Japanese telecoms giant NTT bought local cloud specialist Dimension Data as part of its plans to increase its presence in the local marketplace.

OCTOBER October was the month of GITEX, the region’s biggest technology trade show, and it didn’t disappoint. Vendors showed off a number of firsts, including Microsoft giving attendees the opportunity to be amongst the first in the world to try out its new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7. October also saw the industry’s top execs and CIOs decend on the Burj Khalifa for the sixth annual Arabian Computer News Arab Technology Awards.

FEBRUARY IT services outfit HCL was in Dubai proclaiming its importance as an entry port, not just to the Middle East, but also Africa. The company’s founder, chairman and chief strategy officer Shiv Nadar said that the company viewed the two regions as crucial to its future. February also saw Google revving up its plans for the region, announcing that Arabic versions of its popular programs were in the works.

MAY Juniper launched a savage attack on rival Cisco during May, accusing it of being overambitious with its plans for its Unified Computing System initative, and stating it is too complex for the company to pull off. May was also the month the first Arabic domains went live, with Eygpt the first country in the Middle East to receive a Arabic-script top-level domain. The UAE’s first Arabic-script web address also went live in May.

AUGUST HP announced a major breakthrough in datacentre design during August, with the company going as far as to say that its new ‘butterfly’ construction method could reduce build-out costs by half. It was also the month that Google killed its Wave service. The online application had been aimed at consumers, but more than one analyst suggested that Google should have aimed it at enterprises from the off.

NOVEMBER November saw a number of major technical innovations, with both Microsoft and Facebook hinting at the future of the enterprise. Microsoft was first up with the news that it was launching its cloud-based Office service in the Middle East, while Facebook followed up later in the month with the news that it was launching a new messaging service that was designed to replace the traditional webmail services of Google and Microsoft.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

MARCH March saw Cisco announce a major deal with the Bahraini government to help the island emirate bolster its internet speeds, and lower connection costs. It was also the month that saw the United Arab Emirates named as the region’s most ICT-ready country, thanks to the presence of many of the world’s largest IT companies and a high quality education programme. However, it was also accused by EnivroServe of missing tonnes eWaste.

JUNE A severe lack of skills for the modern digital economy threatens the Gulf ICT market was the message from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore in June. The Middle East director for the IDA said that a combination of generally poor training and smaller populations was putting pressure on the region’s businesses to find adequately trained staff, and that the Gulf risked falling behind if it wasn’t addressed quicky.

SEPTEMBER September saw Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority launch a radical new approach to IT operational costings, by moving the emphasis away from the infrastructure costs, to the amount each department uses that infrastructure. It was also the month that the world’s second largest supermarket chain introduced online shopping to the Middle East, with the launch of the service at its UAE stores.

DECEMBER At the beginning of the month, HP revealed the latest version of its application lifecycle management software, but unlike previous versions, this one offers the real chance to revolutionise Arabic software development. It was also the month that Google unveiled its much anticipated cloudcomputing operating system Chrome OS. However, it was immediately met with concern over the security of data on the public cloud.



Abhijit Pendse

Are you overstocked? Staff are the highest fixed cost in any company, and IT departments are no exception


ize of the IT department is always a bone of contention. A lot of CIO’s feel that their organisation is unique and has special technology needs and thus justify more resources in the IT department. The business functions tend to feel that IT is overstaffed and needs to get its act together to cut the flab. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. So how should CIO’s determine the right size of the IT department? And what needs to be done to operate at the optimum size? An IT department is typically aligned to four main areas: infrastructure – which includes help desk and system administration, support and maintenance of applications, project management and miscellaneous functions, such as information security, quality control and so on. While there are no mathematical formulae to tell you the exact number of people you need in each of these functions vis-a-vis the number of users or systems, there are benchmarks and best practices which the CIOs should be cognisant of. Let’s take a look at each of these areas. Infrastructure: Usually 30-40% of the IT staff resides in this bucket to support the computers and network infrastructure (CNI). If there is one area in IT where


exhaustive analysis has been done, it is this one. Modelling tools have also been developed by some of the consulting and hardware vendors to help arrive at staffi ng numbers. Industry benchmarks (ratio of IT resources to the end users) exist for the various areas in this bucket. The typical numbers of IT resources required are 1:100 for helpdesk, 1:125 for system administrators, 1:125 for hardware maintenance and 1:300 for configuration management. If these ratios are combined, overall ratio for the Infrastructure comes to around 1:40 to 1:60 which suggests that 1.5-2.5% of the total staff of the organisation is required in the Infrastructure area. Application support and maintenance: This bucket typically has the maximum IT staff and comprises of 40-50% of the total IT staff. This would include the external resources such as contractors, consultants and system integrators. Project management: This function is unique in its nature and the strength may vary depending on the underlying projects. In a stable environment, it is 10% to 15 % of the IT staff. Infomation security and QC: These are typically small functions with not more than 5-10% of the IT staff.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

Overall if the ratios are rolled up, the total employees in IT as a percentage of the total organisation strength comes to around 4% to 6%. Most of the organisations in Middle East have IT headcount in this range. Anything above this range the CIOs should be worried and anything below, the CIOs needs to be cautious. The key things to consider when benchmarking the IT department are the size of the organisation, the IT initiatives under execution and the maturity of the core systems (ERP, core banking etc.). Smaller organisations have higher percentage of IT resources as they do not have the advantage of economies of scale. Also if there are any large transformations projects, IT teams tend to be bigger. Unstable core systems also result in larger support teams. However the trump card in getting the size right is correct implementation of IT processes. Processes in key areas such as support and service delivery management, change management and project management if implemented correctly not only contain the size of the IT department but also ensure stability of the function. Abhijit Pendse is a Senior Engagement Manager at Cedar Consulting International



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Arabian Computer News | January 2011


Fiscal fusion The merger between Emirates Bank and the National Bank of Dubai was one of the largest ever in the Middle East. In a exclusive interview, Emirates NBD speaks for the first time about the challenges and successes merging the IT systems of the banks. By Ben Furfie hen the official news agency of the UAE announced that Emirates Bank and the National Bank of Dubai were to merge, the news took not just consumers, but the Central Bank, Dubai Stock Market, the media, and even the public relations departments of each bank by surprise. Sources within the establishment, as well as the two banks confi rmed to Arabian Computer News’ sister title Arabian Business that the deal had been agreed with the blessing of the emirate’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum “at the wish of the banks to create a strong banking body”. The merger created the largest financial institution in the region, leapfrogging the National Bank of Abu Dhabi in terms of assets. However, while the media and analysts debated the impact of the merger – not just at a local level, but also an international level – the IT departments of the two banks were meeting to work out how to manage the mammoth task of integrating the systems. “No matter what you do with the business units, unless you can merge the IT systems, you cannot have two banks operate as one.” As an anecdote, it vividly explains the headache that faced Naushad Kermalli, who at the time had recently been chosen to lead the integration of the two banks’ IT systems as senior vice president, business technology relations and IT post merger management. Kermalli, who these days is the deputy general manager of ITO strategy (plan-

ning and implementation) and group operations processing, doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to the scale of the issue, especially as it was him and his team that drove forward the idea of not just merging the two banks’ IT systems at the same time as the general merger, but overhauling the core banking systems – essentially the heart of the new bank’s IT operations. “Some people thought: are you crazy!?” he reveals. “The merger itself was complex enough – why should we, in addition to that, undertake a core banking replacement?, they would ask.” However, as Kermalli reveals, the IT team wasn’t starting from scratch when it came to implementing a new IT core. Prior to the announcement of the merger, Emirates Bank had already embarked on an upgrade of its core banking systems. “Banks will not simply replace core banking every few years,” he says, emphasising the scale of the project. “You need a generation, a quarter of a century sometimes – the last time Emirates Bank changed its core system was 25 years back.” The fact that Emirates Bank was already in the process of evaluating a core banking system undoubtedly sped up the process, but as Kermalli reveals, the system Emirates Bank had originally settled on wasn’t always guaranteed to win the fi nal contract. “When the merger was announced, we said stop. We had already identified, we had architectured the solution in terms of how we wanted it done. But now we said wait.” The main reason behind the delay, Kermalli reveals, was down to Emirates Bank’s IT department not knowing how different the core banking

Arabian Computer News | January 2011



The bank’s iconic creek-side headquarters is just one of its operations centres throughout Dubai.

We were aware it would take two years to merge, so we didn’t want to choose an app that would be out of date once the merger was complete.” system actually was. While it was known that National Bank of Dubai was running a Misys solution for its core banking systems, it – as are all banks – was incredibly secretive about the actual details of the solution: no surprise as the core system is where the most sensitive and valuable data is stored and processed, and the information hackers and criminals can reek most havoc with. This lack of information on NBD’s IT systems, Kermalli reveals, cast doubt on whether the core banking system Emirates Bank had been working on prior to the announcement would survive. “Right from the time the merger was announced, the two teams – IT and operations – of the banks got together to look and decide fi rst and foremost to take an inventory of all the applications and systems that Emirates Bank had, and all the systems and applications and infrastructure that the National Bank of Dubai had,” he says. “We had to go through everything and fi nd out what business line and which business function each of those applications served. That took about three to six months to do, and it ended up being a long blueprint of the two bank’s entire IT and operations infrastructure.


“When we had completed the inventory, we said ‘okay, what are the commonalities of these applications, where they serve similar types of business functions within the banks,” he continues. “We listed those, we identified those. Then we looked at the


1 1


Saudi Arabia


132 UAE



Arabian Computer News | January 2011

processes and looked at which applications should survive and which should be retired. You cannot have two applications performing the same function, obviously.” It’s not hard to see why Kermalli was chosen to lead the integration between the two banks. He has an immediate presence, one that exudes an aura of positiveness, as well as keen intelligence. “We were acutely aware it would take two years to merge, so we didn’t want to choose an application or a system where the moment the merger is complete, you need to start looking for a replacement. Once we had concluded the inventory and function analysis, we asked ourselves whether we should continue with the replacement of the core systems, or if it was good enough, merge Emirates Bank into the National Bank of Dubai’s systems. However, NBD’s systems failed our tests. Both of the systems were not of a nature that would give the merged bank the advantage it sought post-merger,” he says, banging his fist on his desk to drive home the message. One of the key benefits of the new core banking system was that it would allow the new bank to separate the core and the general ledger, explains Kermalli. “We realised we shouldn’t use the general ledger within the core banking, because we knew we were going to expand – who knows, there could be potential acquisitions, or other mergers – and we didn’t want to fi nd ourselves in a straitjacket again.” That move to replace the general ledger, as well as the core banking systems, meant that the then newly formed Emirates NBD was able to avoid many of the issues that other banks have faced when trying to merge existing IT systems together. “No matter what you do with the business units, unless you can merge the two IT systems, you cannot have two banks operate as one,” stresses Kermalli. “You simply can’t. Because if you don’t, you still have customers of this bank being serviced through this system, and the customers of the other bank being serviced through another system. Everybody knew that the systems and their merger was extremely crucial – it was the backbone to ensure that the two banks could operate as one.”


We knew that we needed some quick wins to let the customer know that we had embarked on the journey, and that we were on our way.” However, while the IT department, led by Kermalli, was busy dealing with the complex task of merging two large banks, the board was becoming acutely aware of the need to show customers there was progress. “Time was passing,” he explains. “We knew that we needed some quick wins to let the customer know that we had embarked on the journey, that we were on our way, and we were ready to give them a flavour of the advantages of being serviced by this merged bank.” The fi rst fruit of this initiative, as he reveals, was Emirates NBD’s website. “At that point, it was little more than a shell; it was designed to direct transactions to the National Bank of Dubai or Emirates Bank. It was completely transparent to the customer, but they were able to start feeling that the merger was on its way. That’s how the chairman wanted it; we needed to show to the market that these are the quick wins he had been talking about.

“We also managed to link the ATM networks. It was important that we sorted that out, because if you look at it this way, today as an Emirates NBD customer you get charged if you use another bank’s ATM. Obviously the two banks were still separate at the time, so if they were use their Emirates’ card in an NBD machine, they would have been charged. By linking them as part of the same circuit, it eliminated the charges – that was completed long before the merger was actually completed.” The size of the team involved in the merger was also mammoth. According to Kermalli, nearly 500 people worked on the project – the bank’s full IT team of over 300 staff, operations management, business people, as well as vendors. That size of team was necessary for the company to be able to handle the merger in the way it wanted to. “We had to make sure that it was completely transparent for the customer. Yes, you got

Arabian Computer News | January 2011


People were involved in the merger, including Emirates NBD’s IT and operations teams, and vendors


The size of the combined bank’s IT internal team


The number of branches the merged bank has in the United Arab Emirates


International branches in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Singapore




After our success with the migration of Emirates Bank’s systems, we were confident we could merge NBD’s systems over one weekend.”

a new account number, but you did not have to make any change whatsoever. You didn’t need to remember your new account number, you could still continue to use your old account number. It was completely transparent. Your ATM card, your credit card: we were so adamant that there should be no change, none at all, that could have an impact on the customer.” However, the move itself was far from simple. As Kermalli explains, Emirates NBD’s IT department chose to move Emirates Bank’s system over to the new core banking solution fi rst in July 2009. It took them seven attempts before they successfully moved all of its customer

TIMELINE OF THE IT MERGER March 2007 Emirates Bank and the National Bank of Dubai announce plans to merge. January 2008 First signs of the IT merger appear as Emirates NBD launches online banking. July 2009 Emirates Bank customers are the first to have their accounts moved to new the merged bank’s new core banking system. November 2009 National Bank of Dubai’s infrastructure merged into new bank’s core systems.


information over without any errors. “Move them. Check them out. Are they all right? Is there anything else missing? No, these are some of the issues, some of the differences,” jokes Kermalli. “You had fi nance people, business people, and operations people all going through the maze of documents, on an account-by-account basis, customer-bycustomer. No. Clean it up, re-do it. Second time. Third time,” he continues, thumping his fist against his desk. “Eventually, we perfected it for Emirates Bank. We then needed a couple of months to observe the core banking system – it’s exactly like a heart transplant. Once the transplant is done, you’ve still got to observe the patient for the new couple of weeks to see how they respond. It was the same thing for the bank.” By the time it reached November 2009, Kermalli and his team were ready to move the National Bank of Dubai’s customer details over to the system. That challenge dwarfed the issues they faced with Emirates Bank. “After our success with the migration of Emirates Bank’s systems, we were confident that we could merge the National Bank of Dubai’s systems over one weekend. One weekend,” he repeated, stressing the scale of the challenge. “It was necessary for us to move it on Thursday afternoon and be done by Saturday morning in time for opening. If we couldn’t open on Saturday, well. You can imagine the consequences,” he says. “We considered going to the Central Bank and asking if we could not open the bank for one day because of it being a major merger, but everybody said no, and that it would send out negative feedback. If we started it, and something went wrong, you’d be up the creek without a paddle.” In order to minimise the risk of failing to complete, the team decided to strip back as many functions as possible, “It’s like when you move into a new house. There are things you need straight away, and there are things that are nice to have, but not vital. You don’t delay your move because you don’t have them on day one,” he jokes.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011


The number of weekends it took to integrate NBD’s systems into the new core banking infrastructure


The total number of times it took Emirates NBD to perfect moving the core banking data over to the new system


The number of awards Emirates NBD received related to its new core banking system


The total number of branded ATMs the bank has active today around the United Arab EmiratesSource:

“During the entire process of the merger, we said that it wasn’t just an opportunity to upgrade the IT systems, but also move the operational processes of the bank. Many things moved from being processed in branch to our central processing facility in Barsha, Dubai. That helped to streamline the merger process. That office is now essentially the engine room of the bank. All inputs come through from the branches, from the automated channels and from the corporate banking units.” But was he ever concerned that he and his team might have failed? “We were so confident that we could open the two banks as one that we also had the launch of the new logo and brand. On that fi rst day. In the morning. Unveiling of the brand. Imagine,” he says breathing in heavily. “ had all the journalists there,” he laughs.



Arabian Computer News | January 2011




With 2011 shaping up to be the year of cloud computing, EMC is preparing to step into the limelight as one of IT’s top-tier firms. But with the various issues cloud computing faces in the Middle East, including confusion, scepticism and a lack of infrastructure, can the vendor really find the magic formula to make cloud click in the region? By Ben Furfie C is a company that stands on the precipice of global domination. With 2011 increasingly looking like the year when widespread use of cloud computing technology is realised, the IT services vendor is ideally placed to be catapulted to the very forefront of the IT industry, alongside the likes of HP and Microsoft. For years, the company has always found itself as the bridesmaid of success, but never the bride. The one who did all the hard work, but doesn’t get the attention. However, as the self-professed leader in the three major components of cloud computing – storage, security and virtualisation – the Massachusetts-based company’s day in the white dress may fi nally be upon it. Indeed, the company’s plans for 2011 reflect the belief it has placed in this year being the one in which cloud technology fi nally matures. “At the end of last year, we launched our certifications in cloud computing,” reveals the recently promoted vice president and general manager for EMC Turkey, Emerging Africa and the Middle East, Mohammed Amin. “We’re going to have a real programme to help the customer raise their knowledge of cloud computing. We’re doing this for the good of the community; I mean, we’re not sure if it will necessarily convert to purchases of EMC hardware, but that’s not point. We just feel it is the right thing to do for the community.” As Amin explains, the company’s programme of educating the market goes right the way back to

the very beginning of cloud computing. And that sustained programme of education is beginning to pay dividends for the company, he adds. “From my experience in the Middle East, there was a lot of resistance to the concept of cloud computing even as late as early 2010 when we were presenting our offerings to customers in the region. I would say that the percentage of those who we spoke to last year that are still sceptical about cloud computing is less than a third. It has been reduced by around 70% in my opinion. It’s getting less and less everyday. In fact, what it reminds me of is how people approached the internet at the turn of the millennium. Ten years later, and everyone uses it without even thinking about it.” Despite that, Amin is quick to stress that the company recognises the main stumbling block to cloud adoption is cost. “What I’m hearing from customers is that they recognise the safest way to enter the cloud is through a private cloud, but that the cost of building one is often too much. That’s the main reason that they believe the concept won’t take off.” So how does EMC combat that viewpoint? The answer is that they don’t. “Rightly, many of those dissenting voices have recognised that to get the best return from a private cloud infrastructure, they will need to share their resources. Now that’s not ideal for us either, because in an ideal world we’d be able to sell the hardware and solutions to each customer, but we recognised that that simply isn’t going to be possible. That’s why when I meet customers, I reassure them that the concept has been around for a long time. What has changed is that the

Arabian Computer News | January 2011



security ID technology has matured to a point that sharing information on the cloud is safe,” he adds. The other approach the company is using to help people feel more confident about cloud technology is raising awareness of where they are already using it. “When we encounter resistance, we ask if they are using Google’s services other than search or marketing – more often than not, they’ll reply yes. When they do, we inform that in that case, they’re already using cloud technology. It’s about taking what is still very much an abstract concept and relating it to the existing technology in enterprises to make it easier for CIOs to understand.” Another area that EMC is keen to push is the cost savings that come with the adoption of cloud computing. “We’re not saying that cloud computing will save a CIO $1m or $100m, because those are arbitrary figures,” stresses Amin. “What we are saying to customers is that our research has shown that the average enterprise currently spends 72% of their IT budget for the year just maintaining their existing infrastructure. So that’s operating expenses, such as maintenance, service retainers and the biggest, which is of course staff costs. That means only 28% of their IT budget is left for



The percentage of customers that are no longer sceptical about the cloud


The average amount of the IT budget spent on OPEX by CIOs Source: EMC Middle East

new initiatives. What we’ve found though is by implementing a private cloud, the cost of infrastructure actually goes down to about 55%. That means a CIO could suddenly fi nd 45% of their budget being made available for innovation. That’s a huge number considering the average size of an enterprises’ IT budget. An increased budget will not only allow you to invest more in new technologies, but it will also allow a quicker time to market, as well as giving them a advantage over rivals.” Amin says that there is a secondary benefit; one that could come in useful if as

I believe that cloud computing isn’t just important for EMC, it’s important for the entire IT community and its future in the Middle East.”


Arabian Computer News | January 2011

some economists predict, the world slips back into recession. “Even if the economy does go back into negative growth, and IT budgets are cut further, because your OPEX is still lower, and so you may be left with more money to innovate anyway. Any company that hasn’t adopted cloud will be worse off for sure.” Another area that Amin is pleased about is that the company has managed to supply many of its existing customers with a cloudready infrastructure – even though some of them don’t realise it. “I believe that cloud computing isn’t just important for EMC, it’s important for the entire IT community and its future in the Middle East. The truth is that most of our products and services are already cloud ready. That means some our recent customers that have bought our products have bought a cloud-ready infrastructure – even if they don’t know they have, the fact is that they have. If they come back to us and say they are ready for the cloud, we’ll be able to make their day by helping to realise they’re already there,” adds Amin. EMC isn’t planning to rest on its laurels either. “It’s very important for us to continue investing in our research and development. It’s going to be even more important going forward as we look to raise awareness of cloud computing,” says Amin. “Our plans to hire not just account managers, but also service professionals is a reflection of that commitment to our customers in the Middle East.”


The future enterprise In an instant-on world, enterprises are being forced to adapt and evolve, but what can CIOs in the Middle East do to cope? s things go, the internet has done the world a number of favours. Never has it been so easy to find relevant information, and tools like email have shrunk the world to the point where a message that might have taken three weeks to reach the far-flung corner of the world can now be sent in less than three milliseconds. However, the culture of immediacy that has built up around it has created numerous headaches for CIOs around the world. Whereas in the past, an issue with an IT system could have been dealt with quietly and at a pace that suited the IT department, they need to be rectified almost immediately or an enterprise risks a damaging blow to its reputation via social media such as Twitter and Facebook. The frustration and headaches that such forms of communication have created for enterprises was vividly displayed by the problems that plagued airlines, including the Middle East’s two supercarriers, Emirates and Eithad, during December’s snowpocalypse in Europe. A lack of communication between Eithad and BAA led to passengers bound for London Heathrow being diverted to Manchester, around 250 miles to the north. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines also came in for a raft of negative press during the crisis for failing to keep its customers up to date with the current status of its flights to Europe and the UK. Regardless of whether it was an issue with Emirates’ IT systems or its general business processes, it shows the challenges facing enterprises in these days of an instant on, constantly connected world.


These challenges have left CIOs facing a number of questions about their enterprise’s ability to deal with such situations. How can my enterprise speed up decision making to ensure that it not only remains competitive, but relevant? How can it get its products and services to market quicker? How can we ensure that when there is a problem, it can be dealt with as quickly as customers expect? It was this issue that HP addressed at its 2010 Software Universe conference, which it held in Barcelona (which was itself caught up in the first act of the snowpocalypse, with even HP managing director and enterprise business lead for the Middle East, Eyad Shibabi getting caught out by the snow on the way back from the event). Although aimed predominately at software development houses and those enterprises that house their own software development departments, the event offered a tantalising glimpse at the enterprise of the future. The main theme of the event was that of the instant-on enterprise and how its partners could help their customers to enable that. Small things, such as being able to speed up software quality assessment might have been aimed at software developers, but even enterprises that don’t have their own internal development teams can still benefit from products such as HP’s Sprinter, if only because it will enable IT teams to automate a lot of the time consuming tasks associated with debugging and trialling of software. The reward of speeding up testing and time to market should be obvious for any CIO. Less time spent using valuable resources – i.e. your staff – handling mundane tasks like entering data, debugging and repeating, the process until the issue is no longer apparent. “Technology has never been in such a strong position,” says Jan Zadak, senior vice president and

Arabian Computer News | January 2011


Arabian Computer News | January 2011



ARABIC DEVELOPMENT The biggest announcement at this year’s HP Software Universe event was the release of Application Lifecycle Management 11 (ALM11). Focused at software developers, the application is designed to speed up a number of processes in the development stage. The latest version of the software brings developers into the mix, along with the traditional areas of Q&A, debugging and testing. What makes the latest version so important to the local market is its ability to shrink team size to an absolute minimum, raising the possibility to create a thriving software development community focused on Arabic development within the Middle East, and away from the support companies that are usually necessary to support such development programmes. Having spoken to numerous development houses when I worked on UK videogames trade title MCV, I know that the biggest drain on a company’s resources when it comes to development is debugging and testing, and while videogames are a form of entertainment, many of the challenges that exist during their digital creation are exactly the same as those that face developers of enterpriselevel applications. Once HP’s ALM11 impacts the region, and competitors catch up, we could see a new dawn in the development of enterprise software focused on the Arabic market.


managing director for HP EMEA. “However, the proliferation of technology has also produced a number of problems, especially for the CIO. Change is now instant, and if enterprises are not able to adapt and change instantly, they will face challenges. Our purpose is to enable enterprises to compete in this new world, especially as there are a number of competitors who are emerging leveraging this new approach to working.” He points to three major trends that are driving the change. “Evolving business models, technological advancements and a changing workforce are all issues that are facing enterprises today. They have resulted in a number of changes that we, as a solution provider, must address.”Zadak adds enterprises needed to be strong in five crucial areas, but that currently, software is holding CIOs back from being able to achieve all of them. “Flexibility, automation, security, insight and speed are all crucial for the enterprise of today. Applications and services need to be able to adapt, scale up and down. “Assets need to be secured, while facing the realities of a new world of mobility and collaboration. CIOs need to be able to not just gain insight, but use it, and most importantly, they need the speed and agility in their software platform to be able to use and benefit that insight,” he added. On the issue of security, he said that current models were under stress from two trends. The first is that the next generation of workers were going to come from a generation that have spent their entire life online. “They work wherever they are and they collaborate online with ease. It is this generation that will soon be entering the workforce and will pose a number of challenges for those enterprises that fail to prepare.” In response to that, he says enterprises will have to move towards business models that allow rapid changes to take place, not only in terms of adopting new technologies, but also when dealing with situations. “Change has become instant. Both corporate enterprises and governments must become instant-on enterprises to be able to adapt and thrive in this new world.”



Of CIOs have budgeted at least a quarter of their budget towards application modernisation


Of CIOs have set aside more than half their budget to application modernisation


Of CIOs have come across software management won’t let them replace Source: Forrester Research

The second, explains vice president, strategic marketing, software products, software and solutions at HP, Paul Muller, is that the old methodologies of security are outdated. “The simple fact is that the enterprise has changed from a place where you keep people out, to a place you have to determine who to let in and who not to let in. Mistakes happen, and when they do, they’re often disastrous. We have to change the way that we look at security. We now have to let people in, and because of that, the old approach simply won’t work anymore.” This approach will require a way of ensuring that software is kept up to date and is as flexible as possible and is fit for purpose,” added vice president of product marketing for HP Software, Mark Sarbiewski. “The purpose of the software we talked about at the conference is to essentially act as the glue between the multitude of layers of applications and the hardware, in order to make the CIO’s life easier, and to enable smoother operations.”

“Change has become instant. Both corporate enterprises and governments must become instant on enterprises to thrive in this new world. Arabian Computer News | January 2011



Arabian Computer News | January 2011


A taste of something better After years of strong growth, Dubai-based Chef Middle East found itself struggling to keep on top of business. With operations in five locations throughout the Middle East being managed using little more than accouting software, the company turned to Microsoft to help it bring in the ERP system it desperately needed. ne of the most common reasons a business fails is because its IT systems failed to grow with it. Chef Middle East was determined they wouldn’t be next. “We didn’t really have what you would call a true ERP system,” revealed Satheesh A Nair, IT manager at Chef Middle East. “We had software that performed many of the functions that the ERP system does – main-

ly through our accounting software – but we didn’t have a through and through ERP system.” The lack of a true ERP system, he reveals, was hampering the plans that management had set out for the company. As such, it fell upon the IT department to look for one that would match the requirements of the business. “Despite pressure from above, we were keen not to jump into the first solution we found, get stuck and then not go anywhere,”

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

PROJECT BRIEF Organisation: Chef Middle East Industry: Catering Challenge: To introduce an enterprise resource system to manage its regional operations in the UAE, Oman and Qatar Solution: Deployment of Microsoft’s ERP solution Dynamics AX



The use of seperate servers at each location led to a situation where each office was using different codes for the same products.” he says. “So we decided to get the basics right first, and then move onto the more complicated, but powerful things an ERP system allows. We eventually settled on Microsoft Dynamics because it was the one that – from what our research told us – best suited our requirements.” However, just because it was the best fit, didn’t mean that there weren’t issues for the company. “We were moving from simple accounting software to a fully fledged ERP system. It was a big jump, and that’s why we wanted to take it slowly. We couldn’t afford any mistakes,” he adds. “We focused on integrating Microsoft Dynamics into one single part of our business – partly because we didn’t want to raise expectations of what the software could do, and then disappoint because it didn’t do what we’d promised.”

ABOUT CHEF MIDDLE EAST With five sites spread around the Middle East, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat, Doha and Umm-al-Quwain, Chef Middle East is one of the fastest growing catering companies in the region. It has experienced rapid growth in the past couple of years, spurred on by new contract wins. The company was founded in 1995 and supplies the hotel, airline and shipping industries. It is also one of the biggest importers of food in the United Arab Emirates.


Many of the things the company was planning to use the ERP for were intended to simply and streamline the business’ five offices. “Our systems were ran separately in each location,” reveals Nair. “It was the same software, but they weren’t linked with each other. Dubai had its own server, Abu Dhabi had its own, and so on. We basically wanted the connectivity, management and the stock management capabilities of an ERP solution, because with our business, if stock levels go below a dangerous level, then we have problems. As it was, there was no way for us to develop trends across the company; at least not without time consuming research.” However, it wasn’t only Chef Middle East that was to benefit from the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics. “Our customers too have seen the results of the integration. As a food company, expiry dates are very important,” adds Nair. “So we wanted that to be tracked too, so that we could ensure that we are giving the customer the correct expiry date, even after the product has left us.” However, as Nair explains, the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics as the company’s new ERP was only a small part of the overhaul the company underwent. “The separate servers had led to a situation where the product codes were different within the company. To give you an example, in Dubai Lipton’s Ice Tea was ‘8’, while the same product, the same box, even the same number of pieces per box in Abu Dhabi was labelled as ‘c’. The situation was similar at our other sites too,” he adds. That careful approach to slowly integrating the ERP into the business meant the biggest problem the IT department came across was the issue of training. “We have around 50 users in total who interact with the software,” reveals Nair. “Of that number, around 35 to 40 of our staff are considered constant users.” That many users presented the company with a logistical headache when it came to training. But luckily for the company, the user-friendliness of the solution meant that the biggest challenge most people had with adapting to the

Arabian Computer News | January 2011



The number of months it took to complete the rollout of the ERP


The total number of users on the new ERP system, including managers


The total number of sites that Chef Middle East operates around the region Source: Chef Middle East

new software wasn’t a technical issue. “The biggest hurdle was getting people used to the idea that Microsoft Dynamics brought in business processes. With the old software people weren’t necessarily following any processes or workflows,” explains Nair. Maintaining those business processes is one of the main focal points for the IT department, according to Nair. Unlike many rollouts, the company deliberately chose to eschew heavy customisation of the solution. “We’re still a growing company. While cost was an obvious attraction of Dynamics, we had to ensure the solution we went with would allow us to grow,” he says. “We avoided customisation partly because of costs, but also because if in two or three years we needed to upgrade to a new version of Dynamics or any other solution, that customisation would only create headaches. It’s certainly not the main reason why we avoided customising it, but its certainly one of the biggest benefits looking down the line in terms of management our IT infrastructure and assets,” he adds. “We had originally given ourselves five months to integrate it and roll it out,” he adds. “However, we managed to complete it within just four months, and at launched it at our offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Umm alQuwain and Muscat on the same day, while our Doha office went live shortly after.”


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Intelligent banking When the Central Bank of Lebanon brought in new compliance rules, the First National Bank of Lebanon began a three three-year ce rules year process to ďŹ nd and integrate a business intelligence solution. CFO Antoine Wakim explains why the company went with Misys.


Arabian Computer News | January 2011


PROJECT BRIEF Organisation: First National Bank of Beirut, Lebanon Industry: Banking and finance Challenge: Introduce a business intelligence system in order to make better use of the information the bank generates daily Solution: Misys Business Intelligence Project length: Three years


n these days of instant decisions and rapidly changing business environments, it’s increasingly important for organisations to have the most accurate data available, as quickly as possible. When the First National Bank of Beirut decided that it was time to invest in a business intelligence solution, it was quick to recognise that it would be a long-term project, one that it couldn’t – and shouldn’t – rush. The bank, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has grown from a small family-owned bank to one of the largest in Lebanon with a multinational board. The bank’s size is now such that the company feels it is large enough to justify a fully-fledged business intelligence system. In addition, it needed to fi nd an effective way to monitor its performance and ensure full compliance with the Central Bank of Lebanon’s new directives. The company conducted a lengthy evaluation of four business intelligence packages, but eventually settled on Misys Business Intelligence, reveals chief financial officer at First National Bank, Antoine Wakim, the driving force behind the implementation.

ABOUT FNB OF BEIRUT First National Bank was founded in 1991 as the Bank of Commerce. In 1994, the bank was taken over by a consortium of businessmen from across the Middle East. In 2002, it merged with Societe Bancaire du Liban, which grew the company by 40%. 20 years after being founded, the bank has 20 branches across Lebanon and deals with a diverse portfolio of products, across personal and commercial banking.

“As the foundation of our MIS programme, Misys Business Intelligence will help our managers to monitor our bank’s performance closely against our established operational targets,” says Wakim. “One of MBI’s greatest strengths is its ability to provide the proper level of detail to a particular user so that they see the exact type of information needed to make critical decisions.” Despite recognising that the project would take a number of years to implement, the company was keen to avoid unnecessary delays in the new system going live. “One of the significant feature [in choosing MIB] was the speed at which it can be implemented, which will enabled to derive business benefits faster than through other alternative,” he says. Another reason for the time it took to implement the new system was that the software wasn’t the only thing that needed integrating. “While, the scope of the project was a business intelligence solution, it did require some restructuring of our company databases, as well as some new hardware – in particular new servers. “The main business benefit of the project is that it allows the First National Bank group to create a data warehouse for the information that we generate daily. The new business intelligence system from Misys will allow users within the company to manipulate the data, and view it in multiple dimensions – which ever is the best way for them to fi nd the information they need to be able to do their jobs,” he adds. “The system will be used exclusively by the bank’s management,” reveals Wakim. “In terms of the exact people who will be using it, it will mainly be senior management with some of the bank’s middle management using it where needed.” The new system will be used across the bank’s three main offices, including its headquarters, which is based in the Beirut itself according to Wakim. The new servers that were introduced were largely brought in to accommodate the new system across the sites. While the software is being delivered by Misys, Wakim is quick to point out that the system is another layer that sits on top of the bank’s existing systems in order to pull together the information being generated. According to Wakim, the solution will pull data from Infosphere, IBM Banking Data

Arabian Computer News | January 2011



The number of branches that Beirut’s First National Bank has nationwide across Lebanon


The number of employees working at the bank

FROUD: Misys’ business intelligence solution has been designed to be deployed quickly.

Warehouse and its solutions from its Cognos subsidiary, and Microsoft’s SQL server. Despite the project being almost three years in the planning, the actual integration only took only six months – something Misys put down to the amount of planning and mature approach to the project by First National Bank’s executive team.

VENDOR VIEW “Typical business intelligence projects can take over a year to implement and come with various risks and complications. Our new solution allows banks to deploy efficient BI architectures in just a matter of months.”

Roy Froud, Director, Misys MENA



Project watch Every month, Arabian Computer News brings you a round up of the latest projects from around the Middle East, as well as key facts, in an easily digestable format so you can keep on top of the latest developments in this rapidly moving industry.


Arabian Computer News | January 2011


SAGIA, SAUDI ARABIA: COLLABORATION IMPLEMENTATION The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) is to improve its workforce collaboration resources, with the deployment of Cisco’s WebEx. The investment authority will use the IP-based collaboration and meeting solution to enable employees and other stakeholders to communicate with each other, share documents, presentations and so on throughout the organisation via the service. SAGIA says that intends to use a number of different WebEx applications, including WebEx Meeting Center, WebEx Event Center, WebEx Training Center and WebEx

Support Center. WebEx is delivered as Software-as-a-Service through Saudi Telecom Company in the Kingdom, so that users just need to subscribe, and can then access it through a computer or most smart phones and an internet connection. IN NUMBERS


The number of people using Cisco’s WebEx platform around the world. Source: Cisco Press Release

SAUDI WATER COMPANY, SAUDI ARABIA: IT INFRASTRUCTURE The National Water Company of Saudi Arabia has announced that consultuancy firm Accenture has been appointed to design and deploy IT solutions to support its water and waste water services in Riyadh and Jeddah. The deployment is part of the drive by the National Water Company, which was created in 2008, to deliver a modern water infrastructure to Saudi Arabia. Riyadh and Jeddah are the first cities to that the company will connect. Under the deal, Accenture will design and deploy a solution based on Oracle systems, which will include customer

care and billing applications, an online customer portal, enterprise asset management and middleware. Accenture will also provide support for the first year of operations, and will develop a change management program to help National Water Company to switch to new business processes.



The number of customer service centres the firm currently operates. Source:

Arabian Computer News | January 2011




2011 Predictions To ring in the New Year, Arabian Computer News gathered some of the world’s top vendors and analysts together and asked them to reveal what they think will shape the enterprise technology market in 2011. To ďŹ nd out what they think will happen, read on.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011




torage and security will be the main focus for Symantec during this year, with the vendor predicting that trends such as mobility and cloud computing will have a major impact on the way that CIOs manage their enterprise’s IT infrastructure. The challenges that the instantanenous world of today will pose to CIOs, and the danger that it poses to IT infrastructures is predicted to be the biggest headache of 2011. Mobility and virtualisation, and the challenge in adapting to the new business processes they will enable and force upon enterprises are key areas of concern. “Given today’s stagnant and declining IT budgets, it’s imperative that organisations achieve more value from their IT spending,” says Johnny Karam, regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “By understanding the challenges, risks and threats, organisation can plan and implement strategic technology initiatives, such as virtualisation, mobile security, encryption, backup and recovery, archiving and cloud computing to protect and manage their information more efficently.”


or Intel, 2011 is all about tablets and the consumerisation of IT According to Intel, a combination of the two will blur what it means to be a consumer or enterprise product. “Tablet computing, in a multitude of form factors and operating systems, will inundate the market,” Intel said in its 2011 forecast. “Expect to also see hybrid tablet/netbook products as an Intel-based Dell prototype unveiled at the Intel Developer Forum or the new 11-inch Macbook Air that looks and feels like a combination of the best of netbooks with the best of tablets.” It also believes that the consumerisation of IT will continue at a strong pace. “2011 will mark the point where we see a blurring of consumer devices and enterprise devices,” it continued. “We saw it in 2010 with iPhones and Droid phones brought inside the corporate firewall. Employees will want to use their personal solutions for work productivity and employers will want to augment the corporate environment with the devices to drive productivity. Virtualisation, anti-theft technology, remote management and security will contribute here.”


ocial networking and an increase in the consumption of media in the workplace will drive the need for CIOs to adapt their network infrastructures to cope, according to Blue Coat’s Nigel Hawthorn. “More businesses will consider social networking a key business tool and will begin implementing policies to allow social networking communication,” says Hawthorn. However, he warns CIOs must be prepared to strictly control the aspects of social media employees are allow to use. “Control the use of social media games and other applications,” he recommends. Another area that is likely to pose problems for CIOs is the increased use of video services in the enteprise, both for work, and for leisure. “High definition live and ondemand video will become more prevalent on the web, creating more sizable ‘video floods’ that can take over enterprise WAN links and Internet gateways.” In addition, he warns that the use of tablets, smartphones and other portable devices will add pressure to corporate networks and their access points.

Johnny Karam is regional director for Symantec

Taken from predictions given by senior Intel

Nigel Hawthorn is vice president of marketing

in the Middle East and North Africa

executives to US media

EMEA for Blue Coat Systems


Arabian Computer News | January 2011



DC belives 2011 will be the year a number of key trends come to fruition, especially as IT budgets recover following the recession. “In 2011, we expect to see these transformative technologies make the critical transition from early adopter status to early mainstream adoption,” says Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst at IDC. “As a result, we’ll see the IT industry revolving more around the build-out and adoption of this next dominant platform, characterised by mobility, cloud-based application and service delivery, and value-generating overlays of social business and pervasive analytics. In addition to creating new markets and opportunities, this restructuring will overthrow nearly every assumption about who the industry’s leaders will be and how they establish and maintain leadership.” According to IDC, the platform transition will be fueled by another solid year of recovery in IT spending. It forecasts worldwide IT spending will be $1.6 trillion in 2011, an increase of 5.7% over 2010, with hardware, software and service spending expected to lead the way.



artner has warned that 2011 will see a number of disruptive trends becoming even more of a concern for CIOs. Occurances of cyberwarfare are expected to increase, both from nation-funded efforts to cyberterrorism like that inflicted by groups like Anonymous and 4chan. In addition, it predicts that the way budgets will be allocated will move towards a savings/reward infrastructure where “new revenue generated each year by IT will determine the annual compensation of most new Global 2000 CIOs. “With costs still under pressure, growth opportunities limited and the tolerance to bear risk low, IT faces increased levels of scrutiny from stakeholders both internal and external,” says Darryl Plummer, managing vice president and Gartner fellow. “As organisations plan for the years ahead, our predictions focus on the impact this scrutiny will have on outcomes, operations, users and reporting. All parties expect greater transparency, and meeting this demand will require that IT become more tightly coupled to the levers of business control.”

he fuss around cloud computing is only expected to increase during 2011, as it moves from being an early adopter technology towards being embraced by the mainstream. Because of that, research agency Ovum is prediciting datacentre construction and management will become major topics of discussion for CIOs going into 2011. “There appears to be a strong level of interest in datacentre transformation,” says Kevin White, research and consulting director for Ovum Mena. According to White, a push toward virtualising the hardware datacentres and within the enterprise will mean there is an equal impact on the software side of enterprises. “In a series of discussion groups facilitated by Ovum, we found roughly 40% of CIOs have an active virtualisation programme mapped out for 2011. However, he warns there is still doubts over the extent to which it will reach the end-user. “Efforts are mainly centered at the storage and server level, but the potential of desktop virtualisation and datacentre hosted virtual application streaming is also under consideration for some,” he adds.

Frank Gens is a senior vice president and chief

Darryl Plummer is a managing vice president

Kevin White is a research and consultuing

analyst at IDC

and fellow at Gartner

director at Ovum


Arabian Computer News | January 2011

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ew would argue that 2011 is going to be an interesting year. There are going to be a number of challenges, but equally opportunities, that will face CIOs, both in the private and public sectors across the Middle East. In my own opinion, there will be things that will be easier for CIOs this year, but equally, there will be a number of new trends that will appear that will cause them no end of headaches and frustration. If I had to pick the three biggest trends that will impact you next year, then they are cloud computing and the consumerisation of technology, mobility and perhaps most importantly for the Middle East, a young demographic that is markedly different in both culture and work methods to the current generation of CIOs and business leaders. This last point, I feel, is incredibly important to address because it ties in very tightly with those other two major trends. The new generation will not accept the old ways of working. Try telling an 18-yearold that they can’t work in the way with computers that they have found to be most efficent, and not only will they likely ignore you, but they will potentially open up your enterprise to a number of threats that don’t have to exist.


Besides, the whole reason why they will want to work that way is because having grown up with computers, they know that is the best way. It may be hard to accept that these young employees may know more than you, but the fact is, you most likely didn’t grow up around computers, and certainly not in the way that they have. Secondly, it ties in with the increasing focus on enabling mobility. A number of CIOs are already ahead of the game in this area, and several vendors are are also geared up to help enterprises catch up. The most important thing about mobilisation isn’t that it is there to help your employees to work all of the time – it’s there to help them be more efficent. That means that CIOs are going to have to work closely, not only with the employees themselves, but also the members of the board that deal with business processes, because it is perhaps one of the biggest changes to the way enterprises and their employees will interact with the IT infrastructure of your firm. We’ve already seen a glimpse of the future with Apple’s iPad.

Last, but not least, is cloud computing and the consumerisation of technology. The latter ties in with the point I made about the iPad just a moment ago. It’s crucial to remember that Apple’s wonder device isn’t designed as an enterprise product. The former is possibly one of the biggest changes the industry has ever seen, and tied in with the other two trends, it has the potential to transform the industry into something totally unrecognisable. However, I won’t bore you with the details of cloud computing. What I will say however, is that cloud’s biggest stumbling block is – and will remain for sometime – the confusion that surrounds the technology and how to implement it. Those enterprises that crack that particular wallnut, and tie it in with mobility and embrace the knowledge and enthusiasm the younger generation has for technology will find themselves at the forefront of not only the Middle East’s technology sector, but the whole world Ben Furfie, Editor, Arabian Computer News

Cloud computing’s biggest stumbling block is – and will remain for sometime – the confusion that surrounds the technology.” Arabian Computer News | January 2011



Arabian Computer News | January 2011


School’s in Cutting-edge IT technologies are having a profound effect on the nature and provision of education and training services in the Middle East. By Aaron Greenwood he development and application of IT in the education sector is not only transforming the way in which students learn – and are taught – but they are also having a huge impact on the way many learning institutions are ran. Just 15 years ago, providing universal internet access to students was barely a consideration of most Middle East higher education institutions. Now, elite institutions are locked in a race to provide cutting-edge services ranging from teleconferencing to virtual classes, in a bid to not only provide their students with the best learning experience, but also to guarantee a valuable point of difference to rivals. “The traditional classroom model supports a one-to-many teaching concept,” explains Salim Ziade, general manager of HP PSG Middle East. “However, research shows that knowledge retention rates using this model are sub-optimal. “The application of IT in a classroom environment supports new approaches to learning. Classroom management software combined with advanced hardware encourages a combination of team work, discussion and self learning. Teachers can also develop new ways of engaging students.” “The way we learn has changed,” adds Mohammed Areff, Avaya managing director for the Gulf. “Today, students have access to some of the best institutes worldwide, without having to leave the region. Remote learning and extended campuses have transformed the delivery of education.” At the forefront of this trend are universities, such as those supported by Qatar Foundation, a non-profit institution founded in 1995.

Qatar houses more higher education institutions per head of population than any other country in the Middle East, many of which are satellite campuses of prestigious American universities such as Georgetown and Weill Cornell Medical College. The Qatar Foundation oversees an area in ‘New Doha’ that houses the major universities. The Foundation’s commitment to positioning Qatar as a centre for learning is reflected in its ambitious approach to ensuring these facilities boast a cutting-edge IT infrastructure. Qatar Foundation Education City-based Texas A&M University and Georgetown University are but two of these facilities to have implemented advanced IT technologies across classrooms, lecture halls and other areas within their campuses. The Georgetown University School of Foreign Service was the first organisation in the Middle East to install a Polycom RealPresence Experience high definition videoconferencing system. In practice, the technology enables Georgetown students in Qatar and Washington DC to interact in realtime in a virtual environment. In terms of interior design, both classrooms are mirror-images of the other, even down to the physical placement of desks, seating rows and the dimensions of each classroom. The system enables lecturers to present course notes and other data in both locations. The technology also enables professors and other class leaders to make virtual eye contact with students in the remote location, thanks to strategically placed microphones and a unique twin-lens camera system, which blends and processes the resulting images in a panoramic environment. The system also employs HDX audio processors with the signals handled via DSP, separate to the codec, all operating over IP ensuring zero latency.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011



REALITY CHECK While the impact of cutting-edge IT on many learning institutions in the Middle East has been profound, for others the current economic reality has forced them to reconsider their approach to the adoption and implementation of many applications and services. For many, providing adequate resources for IT support remains the key priority. “The cost of ownership is always a key consideration,” says FVC’s Prasad. “Typically, students require significant levels of IT support and that places a bigger burden on costs from a service management perspective. 24x7 support becomes necessary as the widespread use of laptops, tablets and mobiles, which are more prone to issues and can strain campus helpdesks.” Of greater potential concern is investment in infrastructure that proves redundant or of little use to students and administrators. “Issues arise when educational institutions invest in IT without understanding how they best fit into their overall infrastructure,” says Omar Amjad, technical solutions manager for eHosting DataFort. “Certain technologies may not be required, and in some cases can even prove counterproductive. An lack of planning is the main challenge in this regard.” Emirates College for Advanced Education’s head of IT Ian McKenzie

The university uses the facility on a daily basis, explains Cheong Eng Siong, Georgetown University’s audio-visual manager. “Most afternoons you can’t get a slot,” he jokes. “It’s definitely proven its value. In addition to working with our main Washington campus, we also regularly link up with universities in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is difficult in terms of securing quality broadband links within these countries, but quite often we’ll try and locate satellite links to ensure we don’t have any drop-outs. Ideally, we’d run a 4Mbps line.” Siong believes videoconferencing technologies such as the RPX system are forcing a seismic shift in the delivery of higher education services in the Middle East. “Students here are collaborating with their peers based in the US on tutorials, and receiving lectures from US-based professors all in a real-time virtual environment. With this type of technology available locally, it means Qatari students are provided access to the same standards of training and education as they would if they relocated overseas for their studies,” he adds. The increasingly pervasive nature of these and other cutting-edge technologies has forced many education providers to address existing network limitations, claims Mahesh Vaidya, CEO of ISIT Middle East. “IT requirements in terms of technologies and storage capacity are changing in the education sector,” he says. “Demand for capacity is growing and network enhancements are often required... most institutions would do wellto maintain 25% excess capacity.” Ian McKenzie, head of IT at Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE), agrees that ensuring network scalability has become a core priority for most education institutions. “In addition to be being stable, secure and sustainable there is a much greater need for systems to be scalable. The days are long past when a fairly rigid plan could be devised where a yearly calculation was performed to give the number of servers and amount of storage required,” he says. McKenzie says ECAE is also considering deploying desktop virtualisation to improve



The speed required to maintain a decent video conferencing connection


The recommended excess network capacity universities should maintain its responsiveness when updating and maintaining classroom and lab PCs. “Moving to desktop virtualisation will allow us to make newly acquired software available in days as opposed to having to wait until the next round of desktop imaging,” he says. Cloud computing also looms large as a priority for institutions across the region, particularly given the long term cost savings the platform promises when compared to wholesale infrastructure development. “Many institutions are moving towards cloud based e-learning and web-based collaboration applications, such as SaaS,” says Guru Prasad, general manager of Strategic Partnerships for FVC. “The use of social media and YouTube is also gaining popularity as a means of driving educational initiatives. Ultimately, while IT technologies are in many cases changing the face of modern education, McKenzie stresses that institutions should not lose sight of the fundamental practice of delivering learning to students. “I think it is important to remember IT is simply a tool and how it is applied will essentially govern its impact on education. The idea of constructivist learning is supported by technology by involving students in creating and interacting as part of the learning process,” he says. “That said, a good teacher doesn’t need technology to make this happen. IT just opens up a new level of potential for students to engage in learning on and off campus and in realtime or asynchronously.”

also warns those working in the education of the perils associated with pursuing a particular IT strategy without the support of management.


“CIOs need to find that compromise between risk reduction and spending and accept that risks cannot be truly eliminated. Arabian Computer News | January 2011


Rising stock What they currently lack in regional presence, they more than make up for in potential. Welcome to Arabian Computer News’ Rising Stock: your guide to the emerging companies making their mark in the Middle East.

Reducing internal threats Internal threat management is becoming an increasingly important area of research for the big security companies. But there is already a provider on the market, and it has CIAdeveloped technology powering its solution. ACN speak to Overtis VP Mike Hibbert.


HIBBERT: Internal threat software isn’t a removal of trust.


ecurity vendor Overtis is hoping that it can storm the Middle East market with its latest solution Vigliance Pro. The software is described as an insider-threat solution by the vendor, and the company is confident that it can offer enterprises and CIOs in the region something that nobody else offers. “If you look at where the biggest security breaches have occured in the past three years, they’ve all been internal,” said vice president for emerging markets at Overtis, Mike Hibbert. “It might have been through employees deliberately leaking information, accidently through losing a laptop with sensitive information on it, or through infecting their computer with a virus or malware.” Hibbert says internal threats are often overlooked, because firms don’t like to consider that their employees might be working against them. “It’s very difficult to protect your infrastructure from outside threats. They’re evolving constantly, and require constant updates for your systems to remain protected,” says Hibbert. “Defending against internal leaks however is a lot easier, but it is often overlooked because enterprises often feel like it is a betrayal of trust if they begin bringing in internal threat solutions.” Hibbert says

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

that this is not only a dangerous situation to put an enterprise in, but also fails to recognise that employees are already considered the biggest weakness in the security chain. He argues that Overtis’ solutions don’t remove the ability to trust employees, just their ability to abuse that trust. “If you look at our solutions, we can block application functions, such as copy and paste, saving as, renaming and exporting of files,” he adds. “However, that doesn’t mean that you have to block it. Vigilance Pro’s rules don’t have to be set as a firm yes or no. The software can be set to notify the user that their action has been allowed, but that it is against IT rules and that security has been informed of the incident. It may be the case that senior management needs to access account information at random times, but with IT being notified of when it is accessed, it means the company can follow best practice.

MIKE HIBBERT CV EMPLOYMENT February 2009 – Present

Vice President, Emerging Markets at Overtis 2006 – February 2009

Director, EMEA, Marshal 2001 – 2005

Director, EEMEA, NetIQ 2000 – 2003

Director, Business Development


On the radar



The percentage of leaks due to employees


Of companies don’t restrict employee IT access “In addition, we can also help enterprises to manage and prevent misuse of other methods of sending data out of company, such as FTPs, email and even social media,” reveals Hibbert. “The latter is increasingly important to note. More and more companies are looking to use social media, so using blanket bans won’t work anymore. Take Facebook for example: we can allow people to post information from their account, but block their ability to send messages by placing a Javascript object over the message button and disabling the tab button. It’s smart approaches that allow enterprises to continue functioning, without risking data leakage,” Hibbert says. It also has the ability to manage endpoint security, in addition to the softpoints. “The fact is, more and more, people are bringing their own devices in to work, whether that be USB drives, portable hard drives or even their smartphones. They all have the capability to be abused. The reality is that more and more people are taking work home with them. It’s good for the business sometimes, but equally, it creates many opportunities for staff to abuse that power and leak data. However, if you’re a CIO or head of information security, you’re not going to want to spend resources – be that your own time, or that of your employees – authorising every attempt to export data. It’s one of the biggest advantages of Vigilance Pro – the user can assign each individual user a setting – in addition, each property can be set as a group, individual or company wide. “It means the IT team doesn’t need to authorise every single action and waste time doing so,” adds Hibbert.

Company: Vu Technologies Specialist area: Telepresence

Company: FireEye Specialist area: Malware security

US-based telepresence provider Vu Tech-

FireEye Inc, a Malware Protection Systems

nologies is in the process of recruiting part-

(MPS) software creator has set foot in the

ners in the Middle East, with the intention

Middle East and plans to expand across

of bolstering its business in the region.

the region. The company plans to concen-

The company, which is a sister company

trate its expansion on the key Middle East

of Zenith Infotech – the back up, disater

markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia

recovery and cloud computing special-

(KSA), Egypt , Turkey in the first phase of

ists – is currently building up its network

expansion before hitting the African market

of partners to offer enterprises and SMBs

in South Africa. “Our geographical growth

in the Middle East easy access to telepres-

map will help us strengthen our chan-

ence solutions.

nel base in each region,” said Ray Kafity,

“We are looking to the Middle East channel to help address our coverage of

regional sales director, MEA. “We want to grow our reseller base in

the market, as well as handle customer

these countries, expanding the reach of

support issues,” revealed chief executive

modern malware products to all business-

of Vu Technologies. “The idea is that any

es in these countries.” FireEye. During the

customer of our partners will be able to

second phase of expansion, FireEye plans

walk into any office and ask their counter

to grow its presence across the Middle East

party to do likewise.”

by 2012.

Move of the month Mi-Fone Alpesh Patel, CEO and creator of the

Patel has shrugged off the problems

rapidly growing low-cost mobile phone

of manufacturing sensitive electron-

producer Mi-Fone has revealed that they

ics products in the arid and often dusty

hope to begin building their UAE mobile

environment of the region, saying they will

phone plant by August 2011 and has said

learn from those who have already adapted

the problems with manufacturing in the

to the environment here in the UAE. “Our

region can be easily overcome.

processes will be certified to ensure all envi-

“We have plans in that all our feasibil-

ronmental conditions can be met. There is a

ity studies have been completed. We now

lot of industry in areas like RAK, Jebel Ali so

wait to decide on the location that suits

we will be learning a lot from them in how

our requirements. We are currently also

to adapt to this environment. He is also ex-

waiting to finalize the financial terms for

cited about the prospect of using the UAE’s

this local investment,” Patel said.

most abundant resource, the sun.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011



Recruitment Your monthly round-up of the latest executive appiontments, announcements and regional vacancies from the across the industry.

HP to target software market Vendor hopes Tayfun Topkoç will be able to repeat Turkish success across the region


P has promoted Tayfun Topkoç to regional director for its software and solutions division in the Middle East. Topkoç will be responsible for developing the division’s sales, marketing and channel strategies, as well as providing consultancy and support services for its enterprise clients across the Middle East. Prior to being promoted, he worked as country manager for HP Software and Solutions in Turkey; a role he had held since 2007, during which time he increased the divisions market share from 11% to 42%. The BUSINESS SOFTWARE ALLIANCE has announced that JAWAD AL REDHA has been promoted from co-chair of the software body in the Gulf region to full chair, with immediate effect. Al Redha has over 20 years of experience with the intellectual

property rights management and has worked with numerous companies and governments in the region. “It has been a challenging, yet highly rewarding journey for me at the BSA, and in my new role I look forward to continue making valuable contributions to our work in the region,” said Al Redha on the news of his new role. “The BSA, with the support of governments and authorities, is working to protect intellectual property and ensure sustained growth of the regional economies.” HTC has announced the appointment of NEERAJ SETH as marketing manager for the MENA region. Seth will oversee the firm’s marketing strategy in the region, and will seek to replicate the company’s success in Europe and the US in the Middle East. He previously worked as marketing manager, mobile phone, MEA for Samsung.

Topkoç will be responsible for building up HP’s software and services business in the region.


to pull all of these together. The course

tion and Entrepreneurship Centre is to host

has been tailored to be relevant to Abu

its first Cisco entrepreneurship training

Dhabi, and the University will also have

course starting tomorrow.

contributions from guest speakers. The

The ‘Starting a Business’ course aims

was developed to foster entrepreneur-

training in the skills of how to start and run

ship for economic and social prosperity.

a business. The course includes elements


Cisco Entrepreneur Institute program

to give would-be entrepreneurs practical

ADU Enterprise became an accredited

such as choosing the right type of busi-

trainer and course provider of Cisco

ness, an understanding of legal require-

Entrepreneur Institute in 2010. The Inno-

ments, accounting, management, and

vation and Entrepreneurship Centre was

marketing, and how to use a business plan

formed to develop entrepreneurship,

Arabian Computer News | January 2011


J Jobs of tthe h month IT Supervisor A local company based in Abu Dhabi is looking for an IT supervisor. The candidate will be responsible for configuring and supervising the office network, performing daily back-ups, researching better ways of improving internal processes and dealing with employees’ IT issues. Skills: Four years relevant experience and a degree in IT. Familiarity

Arref has been tasked with maintaining Avaya’s growth rate.

with all levels of technical support, as well as a knowledge of database

New assignment

and website management.

E Each month Arabian Computer News hears fr from a Middle East IT executive or CIO who is ju just starting out on a new venture.

NOC Manager A telecommunications and IT services provider is currently seeking to recruit a networks operation centre

Name: Mohammed A Areff

manager in Kuwait. The candidate

New role: Managing D Director – Gulf Region,

will be responsible for ensuring the

Avaya Middle East

surveillance of all team members

Previous role: Operations Director, NCR

and effective implementation of

Middle East

nesses with this technology, and to contributing to this space. Secondly, today Avaya is at a critical juncture in its history, offering tremendous growth opportunities of which I wish to be an integral part of.

process across the company,

What does your new role involve?

What can Middle East CIOs expect from

Skills: Fluent in English, while Arabic

I will work closely with Avaya customers in the region’s telecoms, financial services, tourism, and government sectors among others. While I continue to enhance customer value for Avaya’s solutions and build on our growth momentum for our business units, I am also tasked with taking the company to the next level of consultative business approach with our customers.

Avaya this year?

the end-to-end fault management

is a plus. 10-15 years experience in telecoms and an understanding of the regulatory environment.

Senior IT Infrastructure Pro A leading bank in Qatar seeks to hire a senior IT infrastructure professional for their operations. The ideal

How much of your time are you expect-

candidate will have a university

ing to spend travelling around the Gulf?

degree in Computer Science or

The Gulf market represents a huge opportunity for Avaya and its collaboration solutions portfolio. As such, I expect to spend at least half my time travelling in and around the Gulf states.

Information Systems with a specialisation Network Engineering. Skills: A minimum of 10–12 years related experience is required. Candidates with professional certifications, such as CISSP, CISM, or ITIL,

What made you take the role?

will stand a much stronger chance

Primarily, there are two aspects that made the role interesting: Firstly, collaboration is an exciting opportunity for our customers and I wanted to be part of enabling busi-

of being considered for the role.

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

Avaya’s promise to the Emerging Markets is to offer customers the most cutting edge communications tools and services, which deliver value to help achieve productivity goals and allow for innovating communications in their own special way. Avaya is all about enabling businesses – large and small, with communications systems that change the way they do business. Customers can look forward to the best technology in the industry backed by the unbeatable value-add that we offer. What is your message to those CIOs?

Information technology represents a strategic growth beacon for every organisation today. Cost reduction is not a sustainable way to enhance profitability, however, innovation is. Innovation will give your organisations the top line, the bottom line and the brand image that makes your customers stay and grow with you.



Johnny Karam

After hours Arabian Computer News delves below the corporate strategy to understand what really makes the region’s CIOs and IT leaders tick. This month: Johnny Karam, regional director for the Middle East, and North Africa at Symantec. How did you end up where you are now?

What is your greatest achievement?

I’ve been with Symantec now for five years, but I ended up here by receiving a call from the ex-general manager of the region asking me for breakfast. I wasn’t in the software business before this – I was more on the telecommunications side of things – and so I met up with him, and he told me about Symantec and Veritas joining up and said he was looking for someone to join him on the enterprise side of the business. He wanted someone from the telecommunications side of things and I’ve been with the company since then, watching it grow.

It’s still to come, but if I was to stop here, I know it’s a cliché, but who said that a cliché isn’t always right, it would be my family.

How many people do you manage and

What is your biggest mistake?

I didn’t learn music at a young age. I’m a big fan of music – I’m very passionate about music, and I have an excellent ear for music, but unfortunately, I never learnt an instrument when I was young.

the biggest impact on the market in 2011, and why?

ing in the industry?

The ability to help organisations – specifically schools and universities – and raise

What’s the best way to deal with stress?

What is your fondest memory of work-

GETTING PERSONAL Nationality: Lebanese Number of years in the industry: 15 Favourite Food: Thai food

Projecting myself into the future. So what I do with myself is think: ‘In 12 months from now, how will I feel about this?’ And it has a great soothing feeling, because it tends to put things – small things – into perspective.

Holiday destination: Asia Music: Blues

How do you relax in your spare time?

Dream Car: Maserati

Chilling around friends and family. Anything that’s social. The social aspect of life is very important to me in order to relax. That can be with friends, my wife, or my children. It doesn’t really matter.

Gadget: iPad Book: Le Petite Prince Movie: One Flew Over the

What was your first computer, and when

Cuckoo’s Nest

did you first use it?

Piece of advice: Use fear to push

Oh! It was an Atari. God, what year was that? I can’t remember. Ha! It was a long time ago!

you forward, not hold you down.


Which technology do you think will have

I think the adoption of cloud will have a big impact of how people will position the plans for their business during 2011. Not everyone will necessarily move into the cloud, but they will be thinking about it one way, or another.

what is your management philosophy?

I have approximately eight managers reporting to me, all of them with their own teams. My management philosophy is hands off. I like to give directions and bring everyone towards the same goal, but I trust my managers to execute those strategies themselves. Having said that, I am quite close to the work itself so that I can jump in and make adjustments before it’s too late.

awareness amongst children of the risks that are out there on the internet. For me, I was a volunteer in the Red Cross and a boy scout before that, so the social part of business is very important to me.

Would you like to take part in ACN’s ‘After Hours’ section? If so, please contact:

Arabian Computer News | January 2011

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ACN - January 2011  

Arabian Computer News (ACN) - January 2011 - Volume 24 - Issue 1 "60 Pages" ITP Technology Publishing, Dubai, UAE

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