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SAUDI TELECOM IMPROVES BUDGETING AND PLANNING PROCESSES

Arabian An ITP Technology Publication

May 2012 | Volume 25 Issue 5

Aligning business and IT strategies in the Middle East for 27 years

Developing ecosystem Microsoft addresses new platfoms, new OS, new communities 78

ORACLE ON ORACLE: WE DO IT CHEAPER AND BETTER 72

PLUS

Big data Rising to the challenge of the Petabyte age Assembling the enterprise Dell continues its enterprise portfolio build out Education everywhere American University of Sharjah takes learning beyond the classroom

George DeBono, general manager of Red Hat Middle East & Africa. Red Hat became the ďŹ rst open source company to hit $1 billion annual sales

Open source

How to make one billion dollars for free 60

END-USER EDUCATION THE WEAKEST LINK IN YOUR SECURITY SET-UP 90


/CONTENTS

May 2012 VOLUME 25 ISSUE 05 Fadi Abdulkhalek, vice president and cluster leader, Gulf states, Oracle.

72

ORACLE RUNS BETTER ON ORACLE 46

66

EDUCATION EVERYWHERE

DELL KEEPS ITS EYES ON THE ENTERPRISE

ACN finds out how American University of Sharjah is consolidating IT systems and taking education beyond the walls of the classroom.

Far from slowing down, Dell’s push into the enterprise IT space will continue, says Dave Brooke, general manager, Middle East.

Oracle’s chief in the Gulf says his company’s takeover of Sun is creating better products that are cheaper and easier to manage.

78

MICROSOFT EYES NEW ECOSYSTEMS

Microsoft’s Gulf GM reflects on his company’s twenty years in the region and says Windows 8 and cloud are key to its future.

May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

1


/CONTENTS

THE FRONT

07

29

35

96

/START

/COMMENT

/TRENDS

/AFTER HOURS

All this month’s key news and

CommVault, Gemalto and

A photo essay of the Middle

ACN meets Arun Tewary, head

numbers, including a look at Microsoft’s cloud strategy.

Canon discuss electronic security and big data.

East’s emerging mobile software developers.

of information technology at Emirates Flight Catering.

60

46

84

90

54 54

60

84

90

Find out how Saudi Telecom’s IT department is supporting its transition from monopoly to multi-national giant.

As Red Hat hits revenues of one billion dollars, George DeBono explains how open source has gone mainstream.

As data volumes grow, companies are searching desperately for new ways to store, retrieve and analyse information.

Security experts offer advice on how to deal with the weakest link in the security chain: the end user.

SAUDI TELECOM’S E-TRANSFORMATION

2

ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

OPEN SOURCE GETS RESPECTABLE

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH BIG DATA

END USERS: THE WEAKEST LINK


Registered at Dubai Media City PO Box 500024, Dubai, UAE Tel: + 971 (0)4 444 3000 Fax: + 971 (0)4 444 3030 Web: www.itp.com Offices in Dubai & London

SAUDI TELECOM IMPROVES BUDGETING AND PLANNING PROCESSES

Arabian May 2012 | Volume 25 Issue 5

An ITP Technology Publication

ITP TECHNOLOGY PUBLISHING CEO Walid Akawi Managing Director Neil Davies Managing Director Karam Awad Deputy Managing Director Matthew Southwell General Manager Peter Conmy Editorial Director David Ingham

Aligning business and IT strategies in the Middle East for 27 years

Open source

Developing ecosystem Microsoft addresses new platfoms, new OS, new communities

How to make one billion dollars for free

78

ORACLE ON ORACLE: WE DO IT CHEAPER AND BETTER 72

PLUS

Big data Rising to the challenge of the Petabyte age Assembling the enterprise Dell continues its enterprise portfolio build out

EDITORIAL Senior Group Editor Mark Sutton Tel: +971 4 444 3225 email: mark.sutton@itp.com Contributors Georgina Enzer, Keri Allan, Manda Banda

60

Education everywhere American University of Sharjah takes learning beyond the classroom

END-USER EDUCATION THE WEAKEST LINK IN YOUR SECURITY SET-UP

George DeBono, general manager of Red Hat Middle East & Africa. Red Hat became the first open source company to hit $1 billion annual sales

ADVERTISING Sales Director George Hojeige Tel: +971 4 444 3203 email: george.hojeige@itp.com Sales Manager Antony Crabb Tel: +971 4 444 3398 email: antony.crabb@itp.com

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STUDIO Head of Design Daniel Prescott Principal Creative Simon Cobon

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ALL EYES ON SAUDI THE CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES IN THE KSA IT MARKET (46)

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COMPONENTS SELLING OPPORTUNITIES FOR RESELLERS IN THE COMPONENTS MARKET (41)

Meet this year’s winners of the 2012 Channel Middle East Awards (28)

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HP RESTRUCTURES BUSINESS UNITS DISTREE LOOKS TO CIS REATAILERS OCZ, ASBIS PARTNER SAP TO INVEST $450M IN MENA ICC, EXITCOM IN RECYCLING PACT

An ITP Technology P Pub Pu Publication ub u blic icaat ic ati ti tion on

2012—My+&*

www.itp.net APRIL 2012

Building and delivering IT solutions for the Middle East

Vol. 10 Vo Issue. 4 Iss

90

PHOTOGRAPHY Chief Photographer Jovana Obradovic Senior Photographers Isidora Bojovic, Efraim Evidor Staff Photographers Lester Ali, George Dipin, Juliet Dunne, Murrindie Frew, Shruti Jagdesh, Mosh Lafuente, Ruel Pableo, Rajesh Raghav, Verko Ignjatovic, Stanislav Kuzmin 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

MAY 2012

Critical analysis for telecommunications executives

NATURAL OPTIMIST Paltel’s CEO on growth and challenges in Palestine p29

MARKETING Head of Marketing Daniel Fewtrell Marketing Manager Michelle Meyrick Deputy Marketing Manager Shadia Basravi

An ITP Technology Publication www.commsmea.com

EYE ON QATAR Competition and a buoyant economy are driving growth p39

FUTURE OF THE CIO

Telcos are looking towards managed services in a big way, and outsourcing is another major growth area.”

IT heads discuss the economic downturn, innovation and social media

VIRTUALISATION VIEW

VMware says there is now no reason not to virtualise

Rutger Reman, Ericsson

p42

Plus

ANALYSIS OPINION RESEARCH PRODUCTS CLINIC

APPLICATION

OVERLOAD

Middle East experts tell you how WAN optimisation can provide solutions to the region’s bandwidth challenges

Operators must secure a place in the fast growing apps industry

The Middle East’s Leading IT Magazines are read by The Region’s Most Important IT Leaders… To have your copy delivered directly to your doorstep, SUBSCRIBE online by logging on to:

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ITP DIGITAL Senior Group Editor Mark Sutton Tel: +971 4 444 3225 email: mark.sutton@itp.com Assistant Editor Georgina Enzer Tel: +971 4 444 3723 email: georgina.enzer@itp.com Digital Publishing Director Ahmad Bashour Tel: +971 4 444 3549 email: ahmad.bashour@itp.com Group Sales Manager, ITP.net Vedrana Jovanovic Tel: +971 4 444 3569 email: vedrana.jovanovic@itp.com 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 Masar Printing Press. Controlled Distribution by Blue Truck Subscribe online at www.itp.com/subscriptions 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.

ANZEIGE

The inner pages of this magazine are printed on

Steinbeis Charisma 100% recycled paper, Silk which has been awarded the Blue Angel label.

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Published by and Copyright © 2012 ITP Technology Publishing Ltd. Registered in the B.V.I. under Company Registration number 1402846.

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012


ELEVATE STORAGE agility and efficiency with the power of convergence. HP Converged Storage eliminates boundaries so you’re ready for what’s next. Increasingly, businesses are evaluating their legacy storage relative to its simplicity, efficiency, and agility in the face of unpredictable data center requirements. HP Converged Storage processors combines management orchestration across storage, servers, and networks with innovative federated, scale-out software and standardized hardware platforms. It’s modern scale-out storage architecture for the data center of the future. Read the white paper and learn how to break free from your storage limitations. hp.com/storage/converged_storage

HP Converged Storage © Copyright 2012 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.


SOFTWARE

Cloud version of Office set for June launch Office 365 trials advancing in region; SAP and Oracle looking at local SaaS offerings

A

round 20,000 regional end users are currently trialling Office 365, the cloud version of Microsoft’s office productivity suite. In June, the company plans to make the product commercially available to the end user community through local resellers. “At Gitex, we announced that we are going to make Office 365, our public cloud offering, available in the region,” said Samer Abu-Ltaif, general manager, Microsoft Gulf. “Today, we have over 20,000 users trialling the product and giving us very positive feedback about their experience.” Microsoft sees Office 365 as a perfect offering for SMEs that may want to minimise their investment in fixed IT assets. “It is very important as an enabler for them [SMEs] to leverage technology and use technology in the right way, and alleviate Abu-Ltaif: Cloud version of office will the pain associated with running and managing make sense for SMEs. their own IT,” said Abu-Ltaif. Microsoft recently confirmed to ACN that it is working with du and the Dubai Department of Economic Development to develop IT solutions packages for startups that include Office 365. Abu-Ltaif said that a “good number” of partners are working with Microsoft on Office 365 and that some of them are developing add-ons to the core cloud offering. “Some of our partners [have developed] solutions for private schools, for clinics, for pharmacies...,” he said. “They have put their own intellectual property and services on top of Microsoft.” Other software majors are also finetuning their regional Software as a Service (SaaS) strategies. Fadi Abdulkhalek, regional cluster leader, Oracle, confirmed that regional customers can now subscribe to cloud versions of Oracle’s ERP applications through local partners. The software sits in Oracle Corp data centres, however, and is not hosted in the region, but that may change. “We are in discussions with local partners to have their own setups and cloud services,” said Abdulkhalek. “With these kinds of offerings, economies of scale come into play and we’re doing some studies together with them to see if there is enough potential that justifies such investments for the region.” From the customer’s point of view, Abdulkhalek does not believe it matters where the SaaS offerings are hosted. “They can subscribe through the team here; it’s just that the service is [hosted] in the US. Whenever you need local intervention, the teams are

here locally to intervene, to help and support. For the customers, it’s transparent. Whether the servers sit here or in the US, does not make any difference,” he says. The numbers of regional customers subscribed to Oracle’s cloud-based offerings is currently small, though interest is high and the Oracle VP expects the numbers to pick up this year. SAP, which has cloud versions of a number of its products, confirmed it is looking at rolling out SaaS offerings through local partners. “We will be making some announcements,” said Sam Alkharrat, managing director, SAP MENA. “Business One [a mid-market ERP offering] has been in the market a while, but it’s been sold on premise and what we want to do now, and we’re talking to several service providers, is put it in the cloud and roll it out to the SMEs.”

May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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End users can’t be trusted

Sophos survey concludes end user education is essential A new study shows that 96% of IT professionals do not trust the end users in their organisations to make sound IT security decisions. The survey, conducted by security company Sophos, sampled IT professionals around the world, and found that around half have to fix security issues caused by end users at least once a week. The survey also showed that 26% of respondents thought that senior management commits the worst IT security offences, while 19% thought that the IT department committed the worst offences. The figures highlight the risks posed by end users, says Sophos, and the need to educate them on proper security procedures and practices. In response, the company has released a free training tool for IT professionals, ‘IT Security DOs and DON’Ts’, that provides a range of different educational materials that the IT department can use to educate

SECURITY

end users. The security kit includes a launch guide with quick tips for IT professionals to begin an educational program. It features IT security ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ posters and handbooks for end users with top 10 tips, reminder e-mail templates, a one page guide to help end users create strong passwords and a PowerPoint presentation for IT professionals to use for training. “We provide organizations with everything they need to protect their networks,” said Mark Harris, vice president, SophosLabs, Sophos.

Security guide: Sophos has put together a guide for educating end users.

PRODUCT FOCUS

Dell tackles massive data growth Dell’s PowerEdge R720xd rack server designed to tackle big data

The vendor claims the server’s Intel Xeon E5-2600 processing power and 24 DIMMs will help enterprises dramatically boost application performance.

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

The R720xd rack server has been built with 32-nanometer process technology with up to eight cores per processor, to enable super-fast processing.


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THE BIG PICTURE

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the World Wide Web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference. Berners-Lee has repeated his concerns about the rise of closed operating environments, such as those on tablets and smartphones, and increasing online surveillance. He has urged users to pressure social media sites to give them full access to their personal data.

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Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images

April 18 Lyon, France


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Banks face DDoS attacks

Three UAE banks said to have been hit in first quarter

Three UAE banks’ online banking services were the victims of DDoS attacks in the first quarter of this year, according to Bashar Bashairah, regional director of Fortinet. The attacks impacted online transactions and services and one of the banks was under sustained attack from cyber-criminals for a period of three to four days. All of the attacks were successful for short periods and did manage to take the banks offline for a few hours at a time, said

SECURITY

Bashairah: Web site outages cost money.

Bashairah. He estimated that due to the web sites being offline, the banks could have suffered heavy financial losses. “Bringing a bank web site down for even half a day still results in millions of dirhams of losses from web site transactions,” said Bashairah. Some of the banks that were victims of the attack were Fortinet clients Bashairah said that Fortinet was able to help limit the damage done by the attacks and the web sites were back online soon after the attacks occurred.

WORD CLOUD

After announcing its definitive agreement to acquire SonicWall back in March, one could have been forgiven for thinking Dell’s April would be far quieter on the mergers and acquisitions front. Nothing could be further from the truth though, as the vendor spent early April either signing off deals or announcing new ones. On April 2nd, Dell announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Wyse Technology, and on the 3rd it unveiled its acquisition of Clerity Solutions. On the 4th, the vendor took a rest before proclaiming its intention to purchase Make Technologies on April 5th. We plugged the vendor’s corporate announcements into Wordle to see what the online word cloud generator thought of them.

Dell acquires Make Technologies

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

Dell acquires Clerity Solutions

Dell acquires Wyse Technology


ADVERTISEMENT

Dell UPS: Powerful Protection The Dell UPS provides IT managers with a feature rich solution for power quality and power management at affordable prices. Read on to find out why Dell UPS solutions are the ideal choice for your enterprise.

What is the Dell UPS? A UPS will protect against fluctuations in power supply and even complete power outages. Even a reliable power supply will be subject to surges, sags, electrical noise, harmonics, load fluctuations, and other interference. “These anomalies occur daily and a typical business suffers between four and 15 complete outages per year,” says Ihab El Katsha, Regional Sales Manager, Software and Peripherals, Emerging Markets, Dell. “Even a brief power disturbance can trigger events that result in hours of downtime. The UPS prevents this by smoothing out the sags and spikes, as well as covering complete power failures.”

What makes the Dell UPS different? Dell UPS systems are built to the same high standards as all other Dell products. Each has been exhaustively tested and comes with top-notch support and a three year warranty that also covers batteries. You can rest assured your investment is protected. Our UPS solutions are available in tower (500Wto 2700W) and rackmount formats (1000Wto 5600W). Dell UPS systems can protect a single workstation or even a data centre. They feature a clear and user-friendly LCD panel, come with free UPS management software, and are designed to be very quick and easy to install in 19” racks.

What options does it come with? The Dell UPS has an array of options, including an External Battery Module (EBM) to increase battery runtime and a Network Management Card (NMC) to provide IP & SNMP functionality. The Network Management card allows secure access to the UPS through a Web Browser so that you can easily monitor and control the device. “The NMC also provides e-mail alerts in the event of power problems and reports events directly to SNMP management interfaces such as Dell Management Console, OpenView or Tivoli,” says El Katsha.

Ihab El Katsha, Regional Sales Manager, Software and Peripherals, Emerging Markets, Dell.

Tell us more about the management software The management software is bundled free of charge with every Dell UPS system. The software supports all major Windows and Linux platforms and also supports VMWare for virtualised systems. “There are never any license fees to be paid to use this software,” El Katsha says. “As well as alerting the user to power events through e-mails or network broadcasts, the software also allows the orderly shutdown of servers in the event of an extended power failure,” he concludes. Find out more about Dell UPS systems at: www.dell.co.uk/PowerUPS

May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Right now, we’re going through the process of upgrading all our computers to Windows 7. We see that taking 7-9 months. In a virtual desktop world, today you could be running Windows 7 and tomorrow you’d come into the office and be running Windows 8.”

GCC opts for SAP Business All-In-One

KSA construction giant looks to remodel its core business processes Alkharrat: GCC’s future is hugely exciting.

ASHI SHETH, DIRECTOR OF IT, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF SHARJAH

KPIs

640 620 600 580

APR 1

APR 9

APR 16

APR 23

560 APR 30

Apple TICKER: AAPL GLOBAL NEWS: Apple’s stock was back over the $600 mark by the end of the month after falling below it on April 16. On April 09, the stock had crossed the $630 mark. The stock has risen dramatically over the last year as revenue and net profit have surged. This, despite negative publicity over labour conditions in the Chinese

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factories where its products are made. Apple has also announced a plan to start distributing some of its enormous profits to shareholders. LOCAL NEWS: Regional buyers rushed to buy the latest iPad, even at massively inflated ‘grey market’ prices. PRODUCT NEWS: Latest iPad is rushing off shelves. An iTV and miniature iPad are rumoured.

ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

Saudi Arabian construction giant Gulf Consolidated Contractors Co. (GCC) is set to remodel its business processes with the deployment of SAP’s Business All-In-One. The construction company, which was formed by the merger of FAFCO, Petcon and the construction arms of Abdullah H. Al-Shuwayer, Al-Tamimi and AlJabr Trading, intends to deploy SAP to integrate and enhance core business processes. SAP’s All-In-One, which includes customisation for the construction sector, is designed for SMEs and branch operations, and has been created to allow for rapid implementation and faster return on investment. For GCC, the solution will cover business areas including project management, procurement and financial

END USER

A look at the performance of Apple over the month of April

control, environmental compliance, quality management and overall business transparency. “As Saudi Arabia and the Middle East region continue their rapid and visionary evolution, the construction industry laying the foundations for this bold new future must adapt to keep pace,” said Waleed A Abubshait, president, GCC. “This is a big challenge, but one we are well-placed to meet as long as we never lose sight of innovation in all its forms, most particularly when it comes to IT. Sam Alkharrat, managing director, SAP MENA, added: “By using SAP solutions to enhance its processes, empower its employees and maximise value wherever possible, GCC’s future is hugely exciting and something we are genuinely honoured to be part of.”


CLOUD MEETS

BIG DATA Learn more at www.EMC.com.

EMC2, EMC, the EMC logo, and where information lives are registered trademarks or trademarks of EMC Corporation in the United States and other countries. Š Copyright 2011 EMC Corporation. All rights reserved.


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PROJECTS

Arabian Computer News brings you a regional roundup of recently announced and ongoing enterprise IT projects

LEBANON

DUBAI

ELBank invests in mobile banking solutions

Dubai Department of Economic Development installs new Al-Futtaim contact centre

Emirates Lebanon Bank (ELBank) is to deploy a suite of banking solutions from CR2 in order to strengthen its operations and improve the level of service provided to its customers. By implementing CR2’s BankWorld Mobile and Internet Banking solutions, the finance house will also be able to manage its mobile and internet channel from a single platform. Once live, ELBank customers will have access to new mobile and internet banking services, including access to account information, short message service payment authorisation, and fund transfer capabilities. The service will be available to users from mobile handsets, tablets or any device with internet access.

EGYPT

Egyptian university overhauls network with HP The German University in Cairo (GUC) has overhauled its network and replaced its existing infrastructure with HP solutions. The university, which has over 8,000 students, has rolled out an HP FlexNetwork Architecture, which will integrate with its existing HP Converged Infrastructure solutions. Kit deployed as part of the project includes dual redundant HP 7510 switches, an HP 8212 switch, and 22 HP 5800 switches. HP Network Consulting Services provided installation and training support during the integration. The network will support critical applications for the institute, while offering easier network administration and lower TCO.

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

Dubai Department of Economic Development has installed a new contact with assistance from Al-Futtaim Technologies. The 20-agent contact centre will be based on an AlcatelLucent Communication platform, running a Genesys Customer Interaction Management Suite. The Genesys system captures, routes, reports and analyses voice, e-mail and other communications to ensure that customers are quickly connected, while also providing customer-related data to agents.

ABU DHABI

Abu Dhabi Educational Council deploys EMC’s Symmetrix VMAX storage technology Abu Dhabi Educational Council (ADEC) is deploying EMC’s Symmetrix VMAX storage technology. With the implementation, ADEC expects to improve availability and performance in its data centre. With EMC’s FAST VP feature, ADEC will be able to tier data depending on its importance, with higher priority information on flash drives and less critical on lower cost mediums. ADEC oversees, regulates and drives development initiatives in Abu Dhabi’s public and private schools, universities and colleges.

SAUDI ARABIA

Al Othman Towers adopts its unified communications Al Othman Holding Company’s Al Othman Towers are set to become ‘smart towers’ as the Saudi Arabian property installs Avaya’s deploy IP telephony and unified communications (UC) solutions throughout the new twin tower development in Khobar. When the vendor’s partner, SSBS, has completed the installation, tenant companies in the towers will get access to the UC solutions as a centrally-managed smart office service. The development also houses the Kempinski Al Othman Hotel, which will also be equipped with Avaya’s range of UC solutions tailored for the hospitality industry.


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BAHRAIN

Awal Gulf rolls out Infor10 ERP Enterprise Bahrain-based Awal Gulf has completed the roll out of Infor10 ERP Enterprise software. The maker of AC systems will use the ERP solution to manage business processes across its manufacturing plants and its supply chain. The Infor solution replaces an existing Baan deployment, with Infor selected due to its capabilities in warehouse management, serialisation, purchase requisition, and call management. The new system will run across all three of Awal Gulf’s manufacturing facilities in Sitra and Hidd, and will manage the entire financials, order management, warehouse and manufacturing aspects of Awal Gulf’s cooling products.

DUBAI

Dubai eGovernment upgrades GRP system Dubai eGovernment has hired Mahindra Satyam to update its government resources planning system from Oracle version 11i to R12. The upgrade covers the main systems Dubai eGovernment provides to government entities: HR, payroll, finance, purchasing & inventory and asset management. Users will soon undergo training in the new version that will last until July. The new software will then be tested until August and the system brought into full use by the end of October. According to a statement, the GRP system plays a vital role in achieving integration among government entities in Dubai. The systems consists of 25 ‘streams’ that provide a platform for the more efficient management of basic resources and human competencies.

SAUDI ARABIA

SMSA Express implemented a range of HP hardware solutions KSA-based SMSA Express Trans. Co. Ltd has implemented a range of HP hardware, including Integrity BL860c blades, ProLiant BL460 G6 blades, EVA4400 array and MSL2024 tape library. HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 consolidates the systems into a single virtualised solution. The platform hosts the company’s Oracle ERP and Siebel CRM systems. SMSA Express is the exclusive licensee of Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) in Saudi Arabia.

DEPLOYMENT

A regional enterprise project at a glance

User: United Arab Emirates University. Project: Create a private cloud network to connect 154 laboratories, 100 computer labs, 259 smart classrooms, 50 lecture rooms, 2 auditoriums and more than 20 meeting spaces. Systems Integrator: Visionaire. Kit: A range of education solutions from Arrive Systems including RoomPoint and InfoPoint. USP: Not only is the project ‘cloud’ en abled, it’s also ‘green’ as the Arrive devices use new Intel processors with improved energy consumption profiles. Why we like it: In addition to creating a campus-wide integrated educational network, the installation of media processor appliances means faculty no longer have to lug their laptops around campus. Battery operated microphones and energy consuming audio amplifiers have been replaced by ceiling mounted mics that amplify lecturers’ voices. What the client said: “UAEU’s planned focus on using green ICT as the key driver of its educational emphasis is paying off with the new and ‘green ICT’ campus providing faculty and students high performance access to UAEU IT services, the Internet and Ankabut.” said Dr Abdullah Al-Khanbashi, Vice Chancellor of UAEU.

May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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Etisalat supports Ajman Bank Telco will help bank in planning its IT strategies Etisalat has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ajman Bank to help it plan telecommunications infrastructure and develop IT strategies. Under the agreement, Etisalat will conduct a study of the bank’s business requirements, to identify where it can deploy new technology solutions to improve its banking services. The agreement was signed by Abdulaziz Taryam, general manager, Northern Emirates, Etisalat, and Mohamed Amiri, acting chief executive officer, Ajman Bank. “This signing of this agreement with Ajman Bank reflects our preparedness to implement strategic projects

END USER

that enable banks and other financial services in the UAE to use state-of-the-art telecommunications and IT solutions for their operations,” said Abdulaziz Taryam. Mohamed Amiri added: “Ajman Bank is keen to develop an integrated infrastructure that will enable us to provide our customers with the best services.”

Abdulaziz Taryam and Mohamed Amiri are to cooperate on IT.

Top 10 CIO Technology Priorities ACN analyses the analysts to find out what’s most worrying CIOs #

TOP 10 BUSINESS PRIORITIES

TOP 10 TECHNOLOGY PRIORITIES

1

Increasing enterprise growth

Analytics and business intelligence

2

Attracting and retaining customers

Mobile technologies

3

Improving efficiency

Cloud computing (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS)

4

Reducing enterprise costs

IT management technologies

5

Managing and delivering operational results

Enterprise resource applications

6

Attracting and retaining the workforce

Virtualisation – desktop, server and storage

7

Increasing productivity

Business process management tools

8

Improving business processes

Collaboration technologies

9

Expanding into new markets or geographies

Customer relationship management

10

Improving marketing and sales effectiveness

Legacy application modernisation

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

ITP.NET MOST READ 1 BT survey reveals BYOD risks 2 SAP applications certified for Oracle engineered system 3 Nawras hires Huawei for network upgrade 4 ISnSC R&D announces Cyber-Defence Centre 5 Angry Birds Space shatters records; takes top spot 6 Kaspersky Tablet Security now available 7 China now world’s biggest market for smartphones 8 Sony storms into ultrabook territory 9 RIM unveils BlackBerry 10 platform 10 Vertu up for grabs

COMMENT OF THE MONTH “Saudi Arabia, like the rest of the Arab Gulf states, has been preparing for this for some time now. They have developed the manpower, mostly woman-power. I am confident they will do the job just fine.” HAITHAM AWWAD COMMENTS ON REPORTS THAT KSA WILL BAN FOREIGNERS FROM IT JOBS


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35%

Customer demands drive banking technology spend Desire for more digital channels means finance houses must update both front and back-end systems

F

inancial institutions across the Middle East and Africa region continue to invest in information technology, with research house IDC claiming expenditure across the region totalled a whopping US $7.5 billion in 2011, representing a 6% year-on-year increase. Key markets driving this growth were the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where investment grew 13.7% year-on-year, and the United Arab Emirates, where year-on-year growth was 8.8%. What’s more, this investment is slated to grow yet further in 2012. “IT budgets are forecast to continue growing in 2012,” confirms Bijen Ramdas, senior research analyst with IDC Financial Insights, MEA. One of the primary drivers behind the continued investment is the need to enhance the customer experience. IDC identifies two key factors behind this, namely simple customer demand whereby users want to lever-

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age their mobile devices in order to carry out day-to-day banking, and secondly the increased threat to established customer bases by the influx of competitors that come to market with an established pedigree of customer-focused technology solutions. In addition to meeting the demands of an increasingly sophisticated and mobilesavvy customer base, financial institutions in the Middle East and Africa will also have to invest in upgrading their non-customer facing technology as increasingly stringent regulatory requirements mean systems have to comply. However, IDC points out that upgrading back end systems to meet both governance and mobile requirements will provide long-term benefits for banks. “The expansion of alternative digital channels and the adoption of cloud computing for storage purposes, for example, will positively influence cost efficiency,” says Ramdas.

ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

MOBILE PHONE SUBSCRIBERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA REGION

Penetration of banking services across the entire Middle East & Africa population

8.8% 13.7%

Saudi Arabia’s financial institutions spent 13.7% more on information technology in 2011 as compared to 2010

The United Arab Emirates’ financial institutions spent 8.8% more on information technology in 2011 as compared to 2010


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Tablet device penetration in the Middle East and Africa is expected to grow 205-fold from 2010 to 2015

Estimated Facebook and LinkedIn users in Africa

15M

Estimated Facebook and LinkedIn users in the Middle East

107.1%

Average mobile penetration rate for the Middle East region will increase from 97.7% at the end of 2011 to 107.1% at the end of 2012

Smartphone penetration in major markets like Saudi Arabia and the UAE will double over the next ďŹ ve years

50%

OF HIGH PERFORMING BANKS INCREASE THEIR YEAR-ONYEAR INVESTMENT IN IT COMPARED TO 36% OF NONHIGH PERFORMING BANKS

122.13 MILLION Iran will be the biggest mobile market in the Middle East with subscriptions forecast to increase to 122.13 million at the end of 2016

Sources: IDC, Informa Telecoms & Media, Aite Group, Mobile Monday

22M

May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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Oracle backs up engineered systems ZFS appliance supports Exadata, Exalogic and SuperCluster products Oracle has DATA CENTRES introduced the Sun ZFS Backup Appliance, a backup solution for its range of engineered systems, including Oracle Exadata Database Machine, Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud and Oracle SPARC SuperCluster T4-4. Oracle’s Sun ZFS Backup Appliance is designed to deliver up to 20 terabytes per hour full backup and up to 9.4 terabytes per hour full restore throughputs, one of the fastest published recovery rates among general purpose storage systems for Oracle engineered systems data protection. “Business operations are highly dependent on database availability, making fast backup and recovery an enterprise imperative,” said Phil Bullinger, senior VP, storage. “Oracle’s Sun ZFS Backup Appliance is purpose-built to

SECURITY WATCH A look at Symantec’s latest spam and malware analysis

SPAM CONTENT TYPES

work with Oracle engineered systems, taking advantage of hardware and software engineered together to deliver the speed, simplicity and savings customers need to protect their data and meet stringent recovery time objectives.” The Sun ZFS Backup Appliance’s fast backup throughput is based on backups of unique data, and does not require additional host-side software or CPU resources, according to Oracle. It is tested, validated and supported with Oracle engineered systems. The Sun ZFS Backup Appliance can decrease recovery time by up to 4x, the company claims, compared to published Oracle Database backup performance rates from NetApp and EMC. It also offers up to 3.9x lower total cost of ownership (TCO) over a three year period, according to Oracle.

BOUNCE ATTACHMENT IMAGE OTHER MULTIPART HTML TEXT 20%

40%

80%

100%

SPAM CATEGORIES INTERNET FINANCIAL PRODUCTS 419 LEISURE FRAUD HEALTH SCAMS ADULT

SPAM VOLUME

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison introduces Oracle engineered systems.

60%

TOTAL MESSAGES

SPAM

60 BILLION 50 BILLION

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

30 BILLION 20 BILLION 10 BILLION

FEBRUARY 2012

MARCH 2012

Source: Symantec

Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images

40 BILLION


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Dell’s Ultrabook arrives

XPS 13 offers thin and light alternative to notebook

WHY ERP PROJECTS FAIL

Source: BKD Technologies

No commitment from top management Poorly defined project requirements Poor ERP selection Inadequate resources Resistance to change or buy-in Miscalculated time and effort Poor fit between application software and business processes Unrealistic expectations for system benefits and ROI Inadequate training and education Poor project design and management Poor communication Ill-advised cost cutting

CLOUD COVER

The cirrus and stratus of ME cloud computing IDC Government Insights has discovered in its latest survey that regional governments remain disinclined to adopt cloud computing. Around 85% of respondents believe that cloud computing remains an immature/ developing technology, although 74% felt it has the ability to offer significant and tangible benefits. Concerns about cost and bandwidth were expressed by 72% of respondents.

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

Dell’s eagerly-awaited XPS 13 has now arrived in the Middle East. The XPS 13 is one of a new breed of ‘Ultrabooks’ – thin and light notebook PCs that tend to use flash storage instead of hard drives, boot up in seconds and offer longer battery life than conventional notebooks. The XPS 13 is no more than 18 millimetres thick and weighs around threepounds (without an adapter). It has a 13.3-inch screen and the battery can last for as much as nine hours on a single charge. The starter model offers an i5 processor, 128GB of flash storage and 4GB of memory, and costs AED 4,899. The i7 processor and 256GB of flash storage are additional options.

MOBILITY

Cisco and NetApp’s joint FlexPod platform has been validated by Microsoft for the updated Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track 2.0. FlexPod is a pretested system that combines networking, computing, and storage in a shared infrastructure, and is designed to help increase speed of deployment and lower the cost of ownership. Official validation for Private Cloud Fast Track 2.0 means end users can manage NetApp storage systems and Cisco UCS from within System Center 2012, Microsoft’s cloud and data centre management solution.

“The increasing mobility of professionals and the design-savvy, entrepreneurial market within the Middle East make the Dell XPS 13 – a system that is unlike anything else on the market today – an extremely attractive proposition,” said Pearce Clune, marketing director, EMEA Product Strategy, Dell. “The XPS 13 delivers both performance and sleek design while crossing the realm between work and play.”

Clune: XPS 13 is unlike anything else.

Viva, a Kuwait-based mobile telco has invested in HP CloudSystem Matrix, an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solution that combines hardware, software, and services. In the initial phase of the implementation, HP CloudSystem Matrix will enable IaaS by consolidating and virtualising VIVA’s Windows servers, and unifying services management. It offers multi-hypervisor support to help ensure that VIVA’s VMware ESX environment runs at maximum efficiency. Data center monitoring will allow the IT team to manage resources and optimise usage.


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Al Othman opts for Avaya Al Othman Towers to feature unified comms

Al Othman Holding Company, one of KSA’s major business groups, will deploy Avaya solutions at its Al Othman Towers development in Al Khobar. Avaya partner, SSBS, will deliver a range of solutions to the project, which houses offices in one building and the Kempinski Al Othman Hotel in the other. All offices in the HQ building will be equipped with Avaya’s IP telephony systems and will run advanced Unified Communications features, allowing tenants to set up business easily. With a centrally managed solution, Al Othman group can have a converged

END USER

system delivered end-to-end by SSBS for all communications needs of the tower. The Kempinski Al Othman Hotel will also be fully equipped with Avaya’s hospitality solutions. “The Al Othman Towers will be a signature development in Khobar and it is critical that this project delivers to businesses and visitors the most reliable, secure and highly available communications services – Avaya has given us the confidence that Al Othman Towers will be among the Kingdom’s most technologically advanced towers for the benefit of our tenants,” said Abdullah Al Othman, VP, Al Othman Holding.

CHECKLIST

CRM buying tips Try to choose a product that requires minimal customisation. Employees need to able to access the system remotely. Focus on ease of use; employees want to be up and running quickly. Check the system can be integrated with your ERP software. Find out what others think: read user reviews and consult your peers.

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May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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Cisco helps SMEs benefit from Cloud

SECURITY

Help AG and Excitor facilitate BYOD What is the story? Help AG, an information security consulting specialist, will distribute Excitor’s DME software solution in the Middle East.

New product portfolio aimed at small businesses and their IT providers Cisco has expanded its small business product portfolio with new wireless access points, routers, switches, unified communications and service offerings. According to Cisco, the new offerings will help small businesses get the most out of smartphones, tablets, and cloud applications and services. “With the proliferation of mobile devices and increased adoption of cloud applications and services in small businesses, having a secure and reliable network in place is business critical,” said Saeed Agha, regional manager, Cisco UAE. “The updated suite of our small business solutions and services provides customers with highly secure, reliable network technologies that are easy to deploy and manage. Today’s announcement further demon-

NETWORKS

What does it do? Allows mobile device users to access corporate mail and applications, but without compromising security. What was said? Stephan Berner, MD at help AG, said: “BYOD is fast becoming one of the key trends in the Middle East IT market. We have been approached by a number of our customers who are eager to implement BYOD but have genuine concerns regarding the security of such devices.”

Agha: New line gives SMEs a line of reliable networking products.

strates our continued commitment to providing cost-effective products to our small business customers,” Agha added. In addition to the new products, Cisco offers the OnPlus Service, a cloud-based service that will allow resellers to offer end users affordable network management services.

STORY IN NUMBERS

13.5% 27.5m

Overall number of PCs sold in Europe, Middle East & Africa region in Q1 2012 26

ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

YEAR ON YEAR GROWTH IN OVERALL PC SALES IN MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA IN Q1 2012

24.7%

6.04m

Number of PCs sold in Middle East & Africa in Q1 2012

Year on year growth in portable PC sales in Middle East & Africa in Q1 2012


/EDITOR’S COMMENT

Welcome to a new ACN As you may have noticed by now, this month’s issue of Arabian Computer News looks rather different from before. You’ll see more conceptual photography (how often have you seen the regional head of Dell leaning on a pile of bricks); more stats and information; and a cleaner, more spacious design that makes features more pleasing on the eye and easier to read. As an enterprise IT manager, you do business with a lot of companies and you are doubtless curious to find out more about their strategies for the region. So, from this issue onwards, we’re going to bring you more profiles of the companies that you already deal with, and those with compelling stories to tell. In this issue, we meet Red Hat’s George DeBono, who says that Linux has now achieved mainstream respectability. We also talk to Microsoft’s Samer Abu-Ltaif, who reflects on the company’s 20 years in the region and gives us more idea of what’s coming in the future. Dell’s Dave Brooke tells us how serious Dell is about becoming an end-to-end provider of enterprise solutions, and Oracle’s Fadi Abdulkhalek reflects on his company’s takeover of Sun and argues that it has resulted in better solutions for customers. 28

ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

We also take a look at what some of your peers in the world of IT management are up to. In this issue, we find out how American University of Sharjah embraced open source software, brought an end to server sprawl and is now taking learning outside the walls of the classroom. We also spoke to Saudi Telecom and discovered how it implemented a new budgeting system across several subsidiaries in different countries. At the front of the magazine, we’ve attempted to pack in even more useful information than ever before. You’ll find news on the latest product launches and contract wins, in addition to a raft of useful facts and figures from the regional and global analyst communities. I’d like to offer a big thank you to all my colleagues who helped bring this magazine together, especially photographers Isidora Bojovic and Jovana Obradovic; designers Simon Cobon and Dan Prescott; and deputy production manager Basel Al Kassem. For 27 years, Arabian Computer News has attempted to bring you useful information that helps you more closely align your organisation’s IT and business strategies. We believe that this redesign will continue to do that, in a format that is even more accessible than before. We hope you enjoy the new look and please send your feedback to me at: mark.sutton@itp.com. Mark Sutton Senior Group Editor


Safe is advantage. Safe is profit. Safe is outright liberating. But safe doesn’t come easy. Especially when the dark forces are plotting night and day. It requires that delicate combination of brains and obsession. A brutally effective, global team that can snuff out danger before it gets dangerous. That’s McAfee, the world’s largest dedicated security company. We live and breathe digital security. Our job is to stay one step ahead. We know that today real security isn’t about “where,” it’s about everywhere. Every device, every connection, every location, every second. It’s because we never sleep, that you can sleep better.

©2012 McAfee, Inc. All rights reserved.

www.mcafee.com/safe


/COMMENT

12345 thoughts on securing access Millions, even billions, of dollars are being spent on network security every year, yet end user error continues to be the biggest threat to electronic information security. Mohammad Ismail says organisations must have clear password and authentication policies, and should consider methods such as dual factor authentication and biometrics.

I

t never ceases to amaze me how, every year, millions of dollars are spent on network security architecture to protect enterprises from hacks and malicious attacks. Players from outside the network constantly patrol and probe for vulnerabilities and cracks to exploit. It turns out, however, that most vulnerabilities are actually created from within the network’s defences by user error. These holes in the security system can be easily plugged, thereby saving cash and valuable data. A little common sense and diligence is all that’s required. As people continue to choose ‘12345’ or ‘abcde’ as their network password, knowing full well the value of the information sitting on the network, we can come to the conclusion that security policies are either not present or more probably, not being followed. Further to that, I would recommend that IT managers and their executives adopt a ‘two factor authentication’ structure and look at it as an absolute necessity, rather than a luxury. Just recently, the Wall Street Journal reported on the ten year long hack of Nortel, and how that could have been easily prevented. Hackers stole passwords from executives and used them to gain complete access for almost a decade. Someone should have told their IT department about the need to change passwords more frequently. Believe it or not, 33 of the 78 compromised e-mail addresses used passwords that were either ‘12345’ or ‘123456’ – as simple as it gets. I have no intention of trivialising such events, or making light of the serious issues digital security professionals face in their dayto-day task of protecting networks. I believe we need to pause and think about what lessons can be learned from the headlines that never seem to go away. Here are five thoughts on how to better secure the user and their access to the network. • Use an additional user verification device. This is ‘something you have’, like a key card, fob or mobile device. A physical token is something you own. If you lose it, you must notify your supplier immediately. • Use a PIN with the device. This is ‘something you know’, like a one-time-password (OTP). One-time-passwords are unique codes valid for a matter of minutes to serve the purpose of logging in to somewhere securely.

Use your identity. This is ‘something you are’, or rather, something unique to you, like a fingerprint or your DNA. Biometrics are frequently used in high security environments. • Use a little common sense. Imagine someone trying to guess a password. The obvious choices are 123456, abcdef, abc123 and qwerty. By incorporating numbers and capital letters into passwords, you decrease the risk of basic passwords being hacked. • Protect your mobile devices. With cloud technology, we use multiple devices to access information from a single host. Remember to sign out and password-lock all the devices you use to access confidential information. I believe that a bit of common sense and more diligence from IT managers in making sure employees and executives alike have a password policy will go a long way in reducing these internal threats to corporate networks. Better still, make ‘two factor authentication’ a fact of life in your organisation and save money, secure your data and waste no more time.

Mohammad Ismail is Middle East area manager, online authentication and enterprise security, Gemalto.

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/COMMENT

Printers: From paper jam to business exposure Long gone are the days when printer problems were synonymous with paper jams. Nowadays, multi-functional devices (MFDs) used in document management systems are frequently shared across departments, teams, projects and even across companies by managed office providers. Naoshi Yamada shares his thoughts on what you can do to make printers and MFDs more secure. 1. REMEMBER PRINTERS AREN’T JUST PRINTERS MFDs are actually servers in their own right, providing a number of networked services; for example e-mail, file transfer (ftp), web and eFax servers, with some having significant hard drive storage as well. As such, they need to be treated in the same way, but are often not controlled to the same degree as corporate e-mail servers or company web servers. Organisations of all size should produce a configuration guide and ensure it is adhered to at all times. This will ensure all functions on the MFD are looked at critically, and can be enabled or disabled as required. It will also mean third parties fully understand the configurations and no not disrupt them.

Naoshi Yamada is deputy managing director at Canon Middle East.

2. PROTECT PASSWORDS Social networking has experienced explosive growth in the Middle East. With its rise in popularity, however, password theft has become even easier for malicious attackers. For example, password stealing Trojans and other malware can use fake password reset messages, which when activated then install on people’s machines. It is well known that one third of people use the same password for all web sites and corporate accounts, meaning once the attackers have it they can access not only the individual’s personal data but also their professional information. To ensure the MFD is a secure link in the information flow, organisations should disable default passwords and ensure employees have strong, unique passwords which are changed every 90 days for accessing their print jobs. These should ideally be 8–10 characters long, and include a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols rather than a dictionary word that can easily be remembered.

3. PREVENT PAPER-BASED LEAKS Nearly a quarter of security breaches are paper-based. It is really important for organisations to make sure their MFD is not a key contributor to this – ask yourself, how frequently are printouts left in the output tray or dropped into the recycling bin, without being shredded? Organisations can minimise the risk by using ‘Secure Job Release’, a function which means print jobs are locked in a queue

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on the device until the corresponding user PIN is entered. This will minimise the number of printouts left on the output tray, as documents will only be printed when they are required.

4. MINIMISE THE INSIDER THREAT One of the ongoing risks for security professionals is not just the threat of malicious attacks, but the insider threat. Be it a disgruntled ex-employee leaking information for money or a well-meaning current employee, or simply human error – the risk of someone who has access to confidential information can be difficult to protect against. For example, many organisations use sub-contractors who require access to the most up-to-date data to complete their work. Enabling the secure print options, including ‘Secure Job Release’ outlined above, prevents people stumbling on printed documents left on the output tray or illegally gaining access to an employee’s mailbox. A further configuration which can help protect against this type of threat is ‘Job Log Conceal’. This hides the details of recent print jobs so people can’t watch them, and also removes all traces after confidential jobs are printed so no data trail is left. Lastly, it is very important to consider what happens to the device at the end of its life. Would you simply throw away a laptop once you’d finished with it, or would you clean the hard drive to remove all your data such as photos and music? The hard drive of a printer must be wiped and securely disposed of at the end of its life.


/COMMENT

Making the most of server virtualisation With its obvious benefits, which include greater efficiency and reduced hardware requirements, IT departments have rushed to embrace server virtualisation. There is, however, one potential problem. According to Steve Bailey, organisations will not realise its full benefits until they modernise their data backup and recovery processes.

I

t’s no surprise that the adoption of server virtualisation technology is continuing to accelerate as enterprise organisations consolidate critical applications on virtual machines (VMs). It is a technology trend that cries out for a modern approach to data management. According to Commvault’s annual end user virtualisation survey, the three most cited primary concerns surrounding the deployment of data protection solutions in virtual server environments are cost, ineffective backups and lengthy and complex restore processes. CIOs are faced with the challenge of identifying and deploying solutions that better manage data growth, ensure their environment is protected, minimise risk of information loss or tampering, and confidently and reliably meet fiduciary and regulatory discovery requirements. But how do they implement all this in a way that allows them to deploy new technologies like virtualisation or strategies like data centre consolidation, while maintaining best practices around management of their information? The benefits of server virtualisation are compelling. IT execs rightfully love to tout lower power consumption, fewer boxes, improved operations and management and reallocation of budget dollars for projects that matter to the lines of business. But there is an elephant in the room. And it›s a particularly big one: Euphoriadriven over-commitment to a technology they don›t have the right infrastructure for. In the mad dash to deploy virtualisation, companies have hit a snag. A snag that could shut down their business – or at a minimum slam on the virtualisation emergency brake. There is a real concern about how to get their arms around virtual machine sprawl and then how to move data out of virtualised servers, store it, protect it and get it back without bringing the business to its knees. Many companies have rushed to virtualise servers, expecting their basic backup and recovery to just work, only to find it doesn’t. Then there are companies that want to do more server virtualisation, like deploy mission-critical applications on virtualised environments, but are reluctant to do so until they are assured business continuity is not affected. With more and more critical data residing in virtual environments, application availability is paramount. The risk of downtime is huge. But with backup windows shrinking and the demand for recovery increasing, it is all organisations can do to simply manage their physical environments, let alone their virtual ones.

Data growth has magnified the problem, adding more pressure to networks that are already overburdened. Today’s data centre challenges are enormous: How to manage growing data stores while still maintaining some level of efficiency across remote offices, the data centre, virtual and cloud environments? How to deliver complete virtual machine protection and recovery for improved peace of mind? How to meet recovery SLAs in real time to better compete in an ever changing business world? The need to modernise backup and recovery has been brewing, and growing, for several years now. Countless studies from leading industry firms have all indicated that re-architecting their legacy backup solutions is in the top three of budgeted IT projects. End users recognised that what they were using flat-out handcuffed them in many ways: infrastructure upgrades, OS and APP upgrades, fast access to data, staff to manage and maintain, and out of control costs. Modernisation of data management processes should take place before embarking on virtualisation rollout, or at a minimum, should happen simultaneously. If not, many of the shortcomings and problems inherent in your physical environment will plague your virtual environment as well.

Steve Bailey is regional operations director, CommVault Systems.

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mbsgulf@microsoft.com or


/TRENDS

MIDDLE EAST MOBILE MASTERS The region’s demand for mobile applications has never been higher – meet the software developers that are delivering the new wave of apps

SAVIO SALDANHA

CEO, MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA NAZARA

Game On

Games at the heart of getting market share in mobility for Nazara Nazara’s focus is firmly set on one of the largest sectors of the mobile app market, in mobile games development and distribution. The company has just expanded its games distribution deal for the Middle East with market leader Electronic Arts, and is aiming to reach 180 million users in the Middle East. Nazara has worked with Du and other regional mobile operators to create online games clubs, whcih Savio Saldanha, CEO of MEA region for Nazara, says not only increase operator ARPU, but also give a greater insight into customer behaviour: “300-400,000 people are opening up a game and playing it every month. That increases monthon-month. You download a game and it is always on your handset. Every time you open it we know.”

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/TRENDS

ZACK MORAD

CEO EURISKO MOBILITY

Open Windows Eurisko aiming to be first to market with a Windows 8 app, to build on success with MTV Lebanon Lebanon’s Eurisko Mobility, with a team of developers based in Beirut, can already boast of a good client portfolio from around the region and beyond, including STC, Banque Libano-Francaise, Hallmark and several media organisations. Zack Murad, CEO of Eurisko, says that the company has an end-to-end approach to mobile development, to deliver the right app for the client, and also has a strong focus on localisation. Eurisko is now looking to build on its success of a streaming app that it built for Lebanese TV station MTV. The developer aims to use its multiplatform expertise to deliver one of the first ever Microsoft Windows 8 apps worldwide. “We are one of the few doing Windows Mobile in the MENA region,” says Morad. “Microsoft Lebanon has been pro-active with us, and encouraging us to use their platform. We brought in Microsoft to demo Windows 8 for the COO of MTV, Jihad El Murr and he was impressed. He liked it so much that he gave us the green light to build the MTV Lebanon app for Windows 8. There’s a high likelihood it will be the first Windows 8 application in the world.”

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012


/TRENDS

Rising Demand Tawasol working with leading regional telcos to meet market demand for mobile apps Riyadh-based Tawasol has been developing mobile applications since 2007, and has built up a large client base, including consultation work with many leading telcos in the region, including Vodafone, Mobily, Du, Viva, Etisalat STC and Atheeb. Tawasol, which has a development house in Cairo, has also developed apps for clients across government, media and business sectors, and has developed a range of Islamic apps, including Ramadany, which got over 1 million downloads in the first week of Ramadan in 2011. Dr Osama Moustafa, CEO of Tawasol says that the company expects to see no let up in demand for mobile apps from the Middle East: “The demand is increasing rapidly as the number of mobile users has reached 300 million users in the Arab World. Mobiles have become the main communication tool for B2C communications, as well as spreading government electronic services – m-government.”

DR OSAMA MOUSTAFA CEO TAWASOL

May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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/TRENDS

ALI HOSSEINI

CEO NSI TECHNOLOGY

Mobile Money Organisations across the region are looking to mobile to boost customer service, and NSI is helping them to deliver Founded in 1999, Australia-based NSI Technology is a technology services provider with a background that includes application development and a client base of financial services, government and technology companies. NSI has a Dubai-based development team to target the region, is currently offering a range of mobility solutions primarily for banking and finance, with customers both inside the region and from without. Ali Hosseini, CEO of NSI, says that customer demand is driving the market: “Mobile initiatives are new in the region, but it is one of the fastest growing areas, and it’s forced by customer demand. Almost every organization in the region has started to think what they can do with mobile to deliver a better service or acquiring new customers.” Hosseini believes that areas such as customer management, business automation and learning tools are likely to have the biggest potential in future, along with locally focused games and book. NSI is set to launch a Dubai and Abu Dhabi focused augmented reality app, available soon.

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012


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/TRENDS

NABEEL EL-DUGHAILIB DIRECTOR PIXELBUG

AR Startup Gamification and augmented reality are driving mobile apps that aim to improve sales and customer interaction says pixelbug Mobile apps and augmented reality (AR) are a key focus for UAE start-up pixelbug. The company is an interactive technology agency, with the ability to deliver in a range of different competencies. With a corporate brand that was inspired by space-invader graffiti in the Paris Metro, pixelbug focuses on mobile apps that use AR and ‘gamification’ to improve data capture of customer details and drive interaction with client’s brands. Nabeel El-Dughailib, says the company has already completed an AR app for a company based in Qatar, and expects to see a great deal more interest in AR: “We are now in a stage where we have to educate the market and raise awareness about how AR can be used to solve real issues instead of just being gimmicky. We expect demand for AR in the region will increase by approximately 50-60% per annum.”

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012


RED HAT OPEN CLOUD MAKING YOUR IT VISION A REALITY Selecting a cloud architecture will impact your organisations FRPSHWLWLYHQHVVpH[LELOLW\DQG,7HFRQRPLFVIRUWKHQH[W \HDUV5HG+DW2SHQ&ORXGOHWV\RXOHYHUDJHDOORI\RXU SK\VLFDOYLUWXDODQGSXEOLFFORXGUHVRXUFHVWRJHWKHUÂ&#x2039;JLYLQJ \RXWKHpH[LELOLW\\RXZDQWSRUWDELOLW\\RXQHHGDQGFRQWURO you deserve. redhat.com/opencloud

Copyright Š 2012 Red Hat, Inc. Red Hat, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the Shadowman logo, JBoss, MetaMatrix, and RHCE are trade-marks of Red Hat, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. LinuxŽ is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries.


/TRENDS

MAHMOUD GHAZAL

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER PACT

Retail Reality Retailers expected to be big business for PACT, along with augmented reality apps The future of mobility is all about retail, content and augmented reality (AR) for Jordan’s PACT. Mahmoud Ghazal, business development manager says: “We believe the retail sector - shopping and CRM - will have significant growth in mobile. Retail is one of the biggest sectors in the region and retailers are in continuous search for the competitive advantage with their customers.” The developer has already had some success, with apps for iOS and Android, and it has now set its sights on AR apps, with the launch of ‘T3SHOOF’. The mobile application is the first vision-based AR browser in the region, and offers marketers the ability to create custom AR advertising campaigns. PACT is also developing custom AR apps and AR campaigns for enterprises, and has capabilities in iOS, Android, BB, Windows and J2ME.

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012


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MOHAMMED ESSAWI

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Local Leader Asgatech apps appeal to regional markets through localized content and local language expertise

All photography by ITP at The Mobile Show, Dubai, April 2012. With kind thanks to show organisers Terrapinn.

Asgatech has a long pedigree in the mobile application space, having been developing apps and solutions since 2003. The company, a part of the Teqneyat Group, has a strong focus on producing local content in local languages. “Our vision is to be the first choice for anyone looking for localized mobile applications in the Middle East and Africa. We have a strong base for mobile users looking for localized Islamic or Arabic mobile applications in all major mobile platforms as well as offering free applications funded by brand owners, celebrities and government service to Middle East and Africa mobile users,” says Mohammed Essawi, GM for Lower Gulf for Asgatech. Among the apps developed by the company are Islamic applications such as Quran, Hajj and Umra, Quran invocations, Boyoot Allah and prayer times guides, in addition to stock tracker apps, a relaxation app called ‘Stressless’, an Egypt election guide, Arabic language learning tool Arabica and Konooz puzzle game. Essawi says the company is able to develop apps in Arabic, English, French, Urdu and Farsi languages, and has recently developed a crossplatform mobile framework for brands, to make launching mobile applications easier.

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ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012


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/AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF SHARJAH

Ashi Sheth, director of IT: AUS is making learning software available to students 24x7 through desktop and application virtualisation.

EDUCATION EVERYWHERE ASHI SHETH, DIRECTOR OF IT, EXPLAINS HOW AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF SHARJAH IS TAKING LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM BY DAVID INGHAM May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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/AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF SHARJAH

Sheth: Virtualisation has helped AUS control server sprawl and improve resiliency.

lthough a relative newcomer to the UAE’s academic scene, American University of Sharjah has grown rapidly to accommodate around 5200 students in its four different schools. Ashi Sheth, the university’s director of IT, has been with the organisation for just over seven of the 15 years it has been in existence. Sheth joined the university in 2005 after four and a half years with an academic institution in California, prior to which he spent 11 years with a variety of private sector firms in the US. In his initial years at the university, he focused on consolidation of IT and putting in place a central roadmap for the organisation. Now, with core systems consolidated, he and his team are embarking on a number of initiatives to take learning outside the classroom. These include desktop and application virtualisation and the recording of lectures to allow playback and review later on. When Sheth arrived at AUS, there had been a high turnover of people in his position and a central IT strategy was lacking. IT was tending to being rolled out at a departmental level, with each school managing its own tech procurement. That meant duplication of effort and a failure to adequately use bulk purchasing power. For example, two schools might buy their own separate licenses for the same product, failing to combine their purchasing power to obtain volume discounts. “We had excessive licenses and excessive servers, and we couldn’t use our bulk purchasing power,” Sheth explains. One of his key early objectives, therefore, was to simplify and consolidate the university’s data centre. Out went SPARC Solaris servers and in came commodity machines running Linux. Storage was also consolidated, away from a lot of locally attached systems and one large SAN to a multi-protocol environment with redundancy and high availability. The university’s mail platform was switched from a Sun system to the open source offering, Zimbra. Although not a household name, Zimbra is popular in education circles and, according to Sheth, provides up to 90% of the features of a commercial mail platform at 20% of the cost. Since it runs on Linux, it was also a

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straightforward switch for administrators accustomed to the previous Sun messaging platform. Including students, applicants, alumni and faculty, the university is now running around 13,000 Zimbra mailboxes, making it one of the biggest Zimbra sites outside North America and Europe. Despite the choice of Linux and Zimbra, Sheth says he is not an avowed believer in open source. “I feel I’m picking the right tool for the job,” he explains. “I’m practical, I don’t pick something just because everybody picks it. “Picking something like Zimbra does have the potential for problems. It’s very easy to go out and find an Exchange administrator. It’s not as easy to find someone who’s even heard of Zimbra.” In fact, when it was selecting its new mail platform, the university was very close to going with Google’s hosted messaging solution. Then, just as it was down to a final shortlist, international internet connectivity in the UAE was heavily disrupted when cables were sliced in the Mediterranean. “That turned us off a hosted solution,” Sheth says. Since then, both Etisalat and du have invested in more links to the international internet backbone and AUS may look at hosted messaging again in the future. Like any organisation with a large and growing number of users, AUS has faced the challenge of server sprawl. From around 60 servers when he joined, the number in the data centre increased rapidly to around 140 and was growing at around 15 machines a year. Around three years ago, therefore, Sheth and his team embarked on a server virtualisation project that has helped dramatically reduce the number of systems in the data centre. “Today, we have over 200 virtualised production servers running across a 15 node environment, with replication and availability back-ended by storage,” the director of IT explains. “We’re expanding it within the next two months to a 20 node VMware environment supporting 250-275 production instances. Our data centre size is in the neighbourhood of 50 devices and the majority of those are appliances, such as e-mail scanners.” The university’s database servers have not yet been virtualised because of the way the databases are licensed. “The way some vendors license their database is total number of CPUs… and when you drop them into a virtualised environment, it’s total number of potential CPUs,” Sheth explains. “What that means is even though I’m only dedicating one or two CPUs to this database, if it can run across 35 of them I have to license all 35.” Software vendors, he be-


/AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF SHARJAH

“I’M PRACTICAL, I DON’T PICK SOMETHING JUST BECAUSE EVERYBODY PICKS IT.” 49


/AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF SHARJAH

Sheth: Open source software was the right thing for AUS.

AUS’S KEY IT INITIATIVES

lieves are aware of the problem and will start change their licensing models within a year to promote virtualisation.

Data centre converted to Linux operating system and Zimbra messaging platform, running on PC servers.

AUS ANYWHERE

Number of servers reduced through virtualisation of data centre with VMWare technology. Testing Windows 7 virtual desktops and preparing to roll out virtual applications; will enable 24x7 access to learning applications and gives IT full control over user access to applications. PanoLogic zero clients now being tested; may start to replace desktop PCs across campus. Deployed lecture capture system built on Cisco and LifeSize products; students can now play back lectures through university portal. Plans for a second data centre, hosted by a local partner, to complement AUS’s own; application hosting will be shared between the two.

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In addition to beefing up its data centre, virtualisation technology is allowing AUS to experiment with virtual desktops and virtual applications. Once rolled out, the services will further its ‘AUS Anywhere’ strategy, which envisions students being able to interact with educational software whenever and wherever they want. As Sheth explains, much of the educational software that students use is located in learning laboratories or libraries on campus. When those labs and libraries close, access to the specialised learning software is lost. Thanks to technology from Citrix, AUD students will soon be able to fire up a Windows 7 virtual desktop on their personal devices (be they iPads, Android tablets or PCs) and begin using the learning software that they’ve left behind in the library. “Half our students don’t live on campus and the half that do still need access all the time,” Sheth explains. “Most of our internet traffic pops up at 1.00-4.00am. That’s when our students are back in their dorm rooms. If they had the opportunity to continue working, I think they would.” With virtual desktops, not only would students be able to keep working, AUS could also control their access to the software. “You


/AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF SHARJAH

always have a working system that has the applications you need, when you need them,” explains Sheth. At it nears the rollout of the virtual desktop service, AUS is also carrying out trials of zero clients for internal use. These tiny devices, made by PanoLogic, are effectively dumb terminals that feature slots for a monitor, keyboard, mouse, USB stick and network cable. When plugged into the phone socket, they act as a window to a virtual desktop running on a server in the university’s data centre. “If we were ever to start talking about replacing desktops, this would be the ideal candidate,” says Sheth. “This is using computer power in the data centre and it is portable.” Although IT is only testing the devices, zero clients could start to replace desktop PCs if approval is given for a wider rollout. Sheth sees this potentially happening in the computer labs and in certain parts of the back office. Although marginally cheaper to procure than desktop PCs, the great benefit to be realised from zero clients is reduced desktop management, as Sheth explains. “Right now, we’re going through the process of upgrading all our computers to Windows 7. We see that taking 7-9 months,” he says. “I have 2500 computers to do and I have to schedule it around availability. We started in October/November and we anticipate that we probably won’t be done until August. In a virtual desktop world, today you could be running Windows 7 and tomorrow you’d come into the office and be running Windows 8.” Along with desktop virtualisation, AUS has been trialling application virtualisation and is approaching the rollout stage. This service will allow a PC user to log into a server and boot up an application without it being installed on their PC. “From your side, on your laptop, you don’t have all the DLLs that go along with doing a normal installation,” Sheth explains. “You have one file that is an executable, you launch that executable and you have access to the applications. You close the executable and access is closed.” As with virtual desktops, the university can control which applications a student can access and when. “If you want to run some licensed software, I can give it to you and then once the semester is done I can take it away from you,” says Sheth. “Licensing is maintained, everyone is using the same version of the software and everyone is using legitimate installations of the software.” One problem that application virtualisation deals with is version incompatibility. Some of the university’s users are running Office 2010, while others are on Office 2007 and others still on Office 2003. Moving files between these different versions can mean loss

“IN A VIRTUAL DESKTOP WORLD, TODAY YOU COULD BE RUNNING WINDOWS 7 AND TOMORROW YOU’D COME INTO THE OFFICE AND BE RUNNING WINDOWS 8.”

of formatting. With virtualisation, students have access to versions they are missing and the above problems are solved. Applications to be virtualised include MS office and a number of Adobe offerings. Creating virtual desktops for student use and replacing PCs with zero clients will inevitably put increased strain on the university’s data centre. Resiliency has been built into the existing centre, but Sheth confirms that the IT team is looking to set up a second one off site and is evaluating possible hosting partners. The UAE is the most likely location for the centre, since it is currently unclear under UAE law what can be hosted offshore and what must remain onshore. Once a partner is chosen, it would then be a question of deciding which applications remain in the university’s data centre and which are hosted externally. “There are some services that I would move off site – for example, our mail gateway, because we receive far more mail in than we send amongst ourselves,” says Sheth. “Maybe our ERP system would stay here because most of that traffic is localised. What I expect is that we’ll have dual live data centres and services will be split between the two.”

LECTURE CAPTURE Application and desktop virtualisation are two elements of the university’s ‘AUS Anywhere’ strategy. Complementing those initiatives is a major video collaboration project. The university has equipped

May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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Bring your own device: No problem, says Ashi Sheth.

a number of lecture theatres and seminar rooms with video cameras and microphones. If individual faculty members choose, lectures and seminars can now be recorded and posted on the university’s video portal for review by students. The initiative allows students to catch up on lectures they have missed and review what they have already seen. During the lecture itself, students can spend less time scribbling and more time focusing on the speaker, knowing they can review the lecture later. The idea of lecture capture remains slightly controversial in academic circles, since it could potentially discourage attendance and make faculty redundant. Sheth understands the concerns, but believes they can be overcome and the benefits of the technology realised. “If a student’s not expecting to come, he’s not going to come,” says Sheth. “The value of the classroom is still in the interaction. When a student is taking notes, they’re looking down more than they’re looking up. With the knowledge that they can go back and look at the lecture later, there is a chance for more interaction in the classroom. That’s where I think it’s value is and I think it will encourage a better classroom experience.” The number of faculty that have decided to capture lectures is so far fairly small, but Sheth believes the idea will catch on and there are other uses for the technology. The university’s debating team, for example, has used the technology to record its rehearsals and review its performance. The team has won prizes in a number of debating competitions. The video capture system is also set up so that lectures can be streamed live to digital signs located around campus and even directly to the web. “We have some pretty impressive speakers who visit this campus; why shouldn’t we make that available to others?” says Sheth. “We have everything we need to broadcast live, do video on demand, rebroadcast on campus and watch anywhere.” Sheth says the university’s network – 10GbE on the backbone and 1GbE to the desktop – is robust enough to support its initiatives. Around 10 Terabytes of storage are also being added to the data centre every year to support the growth in data. The IT team is keen, however, to expand the amount of bandwidth that connects the university to the public internet. Virtualisation, open source software and video collaboration are helping AUS to boost reliability and realise its ‘AUS Anywhere’ strategy. Ultimately, Sheth says, the most important thing about the technology is that it helps the university achieve its educational goals. “I don’t think our users care about the technology at the end of the day,” he says. “What they care about is giving the students every possible tool to succeed.”

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BYOD: NO BIG DEAL FOR AUS Bring your own device or ‘consumerisation of IT’ may be a growing headache for IT managers in corporations, but for academic institutions it seems to be the norm. Whether it be iPads, laptops, Blackberrys or Androids, AUS accommodates just about every kind of device on its network. “Higher ed has had this problem for a long time; corporates are now forced to deal with it,” says Ashi Sheth. “We don’t own student computers, we don’t have a laptop program, they bring truly whatever they want to.” The university’s approach, he says, is not to block access to the network and then start authorising users’ devices. Rather, the student or faculty member logs in with whatever device they choose and AUS continuously scans the network for anything that looks suspicious. “In the background, we have toolkits that watch the traffic that’s going across the network and as we identify things that look suspicious, they get automatically spun off and tested,” Sheth explains. “We have two different appliances that, depending on where it happens, will take the payload, run it and see what happens. If they see something that’s malware, they’ll flag it and prevent it propagating across our network.” AUS is currently looking into deploying a more comprehensive network access control solution. A number of different vendors provide appropriate solutions and the university is waiting for the opportunity to acquire systems for extended trials. The university’s current approach to BYOD seems to have worked so far. Sheth says there has not been a significant incident in three or four years. “For higher ed, it is not new,” Sheth says. “It’s something that we’ve had to take steps to address for at least a decade.”


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/SAUDI TELECOM

Bader S. Alsalman, director, enterprise systems, STC: A mix of Oracle applications has helped the telco reduce costs and improve reporting and budgeting across subsidiary companies.

SAUDI TELECOM MOVES FORWARD

SAUDI TELECOM COMPANY HAS GONE FROM NATIONAL INCUMBENT TO TELECOMMS MULTINATIONAL IN A FEW SHORT YEARS. BADER S. ALSALMAN, DIRECTOR, ENTERPRISE SYSTEMS, EXPLAINS THE PART HIS GROUP HAS PLAYED IN THAT TRANSFORMATION BY DAVID INGHAM May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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/SAUDI TELECOM

t’s been a busy few years for Saudi Telecom (STC), the country’s former telecomms monopoly. Since making its first investment outside its home market in the middle of the last decade, the company has transformed itself into an international operation, with investments in subsidiaries across the Middle East and Asia. Hand in hand with the acquisition of assets in countries as far apart as Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa, the telecomms operator has been quietly and effectively transforming its IT infrastructure. The change is partly down to strategic choices, such as a decision to phase out legacy applications, and partly down to the challenges thrown up by the recent spate of acquisitions. One of those challenges was budgeting and timely closing of the books at the end of each reporting period, as Bader S. Alsalman, director of enterprise systems, explains. “We realised we had and issue in terms of the accounting systems and the budgeting and planning across the group. Some manual processes were being used; for example, some subsidiaries were passing Excel sheets to STC Group, which then had to be entered into Oracle E-Business Suite [STC’s core ERP system] manually,” he explains. “So we decided to bring in a solution that would be suitable for all; it would be Web enabled, and have planning and budgeting functionality, forecasting and analysis.” At the end of each reporting period, it was taking too long to close the books and the company felt that it lacked adequate budgeting and forecasting capability. The decision was taken to deploy a product that could extract financial information from

each subsidiary’s accounting application and deliver it to STC headquarters, where it could then be merged with STC KSA’s financial data, analysed and interpreted. Hyperion Financial Management was the product ultimately chosen after a rigorous selection process. At STC, Alsalman explains, there are three stages involved in product selection, beginning with assessment of all potential solutions to determine their level of functionality. This is followed by benchmarking and analysis of third party opinion on the product, including the Gartner ‘magic quadrant’. From this, a shortlist of candidate solutions is drawn up. In the final stage, STC carries out a pilot implementation, analyses feedback and makes its final selection. “When it comes to mission critical systems, we have a very tough selection process,” explains Alsalman. Although Hyperion is now a part of Oracle and closely integrated with the E-Business Suite, it was still an independent company at the time STC was going through its selection process. “When we chose Hyperion, it wasn’t an Oracle product; it was the best in the market according to our selection criteria,” Alsalman explains. “After we started the implementation, Oracle announced its acquisition of Hyperion. After that, Oracle started to have streamlined integration between Oracle E-Business Suite and Hyperion Financial Management.” Implementation of Hyperion Financial Management took around eight months and was performed using Oracle’s Application Implementation Method (AIM) methodology. Although now superseded by the Oracle Unified Method (OUM), methodologies like AIM provide documentation templates that give teams a blueprint for managing projects successfully. To help smooth the implementation process, a steering group was formed at STC, made up of users from corporate headquarters in KSA and key users from the subsidiary companies. When necessary, users from the subsidiaries would visit KSA to share

“WE REALISED WE HAD AN ISSUE IN TERMS OF THE ACCOUNTING SYSTEMS AND THE BUDGETING AND PLANNING ACROSS THE GROUP.” 56

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/SAUDI TELECOM

“WE’VE REDUCED THE [BUDGET] CLOSING TIME TO DELIVER MORE TIMELY RESULTS TO INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL STAKEHOLDERS.”

Bader Alsalman: STC took the decision to phase out legacy applications.

feedback and receive training. “The project enjoyed full involvement from all subsidiaries,” Alsalman says. With Hyperion Financial Management successfully rolled out, the benefits have been many. The successful integration of Hyperion with each subsidiary’s accounting system means financial data is now delivered rapidly and error free to head office. “We can interact with each system, extract the data and report it to STC group,” Alsalman explains. “We have reduced the financial closing time.” Application security, he adds, has been improved, less time is wasted rekeying data and Saudi Telecom now has much more scope to analyse data, drill down into it and use it for forecasting and planning. The modules implemented so far cover budgeting, planning and data mining with Hyperion Forecasting to come soon. This last module will give STC new forecasting capabilities, according to Alsalman. “It will give you five year forecasts based on historical data,” he says. The rollout of Hyperion Financial Management is not the only initiative undertaken to improve transparency and efficiency at STC. In Saudi Arabia, the company leases space on thou-

sands of communications towers across the country and managing all the contracts related to these leases had historically been challenging for the company. “Managing the contracts for these rentals was a nightmare for us. At that time we used MS Access to handle all of them,” explains Alsalman. STC deployed Oracle Property Manager to help it get a handle on the paperwork related to the lease contracts. With Property Manager in place, STC has been able to automate invoice approval rather than having to manually enter and match lease invoices from communications tower providers. Tower providers are now paid in a timely way via electronic transfer instead of having to wait for cheques, hopefully written for the correct amount, to arrive. According to STC, processing errors have been reduced by 99% and the company’s contractual and financial risks have been reduced. “Oracle Property Manager gives you an overview of all rental towers and the lease periods,” explains Alsalman. “Once we receive an invoice, it can be forwarded and integrated with accounts payable and accounts receivable. We are now in a fully integrated system that can tackle these rentals.”

May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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/SAUDI TELECOM

“WHEN IT COMES TO MISSION CRITICAL SYSTEMS, WE HAVE A VERY TOUGH SELECTION PROCESS.”

STC’s upgrade to Oracle is “major”, says Bader Alsalman.

The next big project due for completion at STC is the upgrade of the core Oracle ERP systems, used for HR, accounting and supply chain management, to version 12. The upgrade is a major one, involving around 17,000 users. ‘It will give us more functionality in human resources and supply chain management; it’s a major upgrade, one of the biggest upgrades in the region,” says Alsalman. “We have a lot of modules, a lot of them customised, so it was a big thing to upgrade from Oracle 11 to 12.” For now, the STC subsidiaries around the globe will stay on their own ERP systems. A complete company-wide move to Oracle in the longer term, is not ruled out, however. “We are analysing the cloud capability and how we can analyse it. When it’s feasible we’ll consider having the subsidiaries, especially those that we own 100%, using the same platform,” Alsalman explains. Moving forward, STC aims to increase revenue from overseas operations to 50% of turnover from 33% now. Management has stated that a significant acquisition in 2012 is a possibility. With such ambitious goals to support, Alsalman and the 41 colleagues in his division are likely to remain busy.

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STC’S BIG SOFTWARE INITIATIVES Under Saudi Telecom’s ‘Forward’ and ‘Lead’ strategies, the company has phased out legacy applications and replaced them with ‘best of breed’ packaged applications. As a result of its acquisitions, STC has implemented Hyperion Financial Management to unify budgeting and forecasting across all subsidiaries. Implemented Oracle Property Manager to simplify management of communication tower lease contracts. Currently upgrading KSA operations to Oracle E-Business Suite version 12; adds new functionality and allows the option of moving to a cloud setup in the future. Subsidiaries currently retain their own ERP systems, but wholly-owned units may migrate to Oracle over the long term.


/RED HAT

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George DeBono, general manager, Red Hat Middle East & Africa, says that open source software is no longer kept a secret by IT departments that have realised the value of open source.

HOW TO MAKE ONE BILLION DOLLARS FOR FREE

/RED HAT

OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE HAS EMERGED FROM THE SHADOWS TO TAKE ITS PLACE AS A KEY PART OF THE ENTERPRISE IT MIX - AND ONE COMPANY HAS HARNESSED THIS GROWTH MORE THAN ANY OTHER BY MARK SUTTON May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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/RED HAT

Red Hat reached revenue of $1billion in FY2012, says DeBono, and is on track to build on that, particularly if it leverages its whole portfolio.

pen source software for long time was regarded as something of a techniesonly secret. While some engineers loved Linux for its stability and lack of bugs, for the IT manager or CIO, and certainly for company board members, the thought of running software that wasn’t paid for, wasn’t supported, and that any one could tinker with, was anathema. Open source was kept out of the way. But off the back of this ‘free’ software, Red Hat has somehow succeeded in creating a billion dollar a year business. While Red Hat had anticipated breaking the billion dollar barrier for some time, in its fiscal year 2012 results, it announced that it had smashed through the billion mark, with annual revenues of $1.13 billion, up 25% year-on-year. It wasn’t the only landmark figure for the company in the quarter either. Subscription revenue for Red Hat Enterprise Linux was up 25%, and the results marked 40 consecutive quarters of doubledigit growth for the company, a rare achievement for a software company, says George DeBono, general manager, Middle East & Africa: “We are the only player in the market that has been able to achieve that. Since 2006 the only software organisation that has had a larger growth rate than us is salesforce.com, and by their own admission, they are not a software company,” says “We clocked a billion, we are all pleased and excited about having achieved that. It is quite a significant milestone to be the first open source company to achieve that, and it really proves the relevance, and the true emerging importance of open source as a strategy for corporations,” he adds. The company has certainly made its mark in the IT industry with its professional open source business model, where paid professional services, maintenance and support create revenues while the core software product is free. From Cygnus Solutions, the first business to provide custom engineering and support services for free software, co-founded by Red Hat VP for Open Source Affairs Michael Tieman in 1989, to the release of the Linux kernel by , Linus Torvalds in 1991 and the launch of Red Hat Software as a company in 1995, the professional open source business model has taken some time to become accepted, but Linux has quietly per-

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vaded the industry. Today 80% of the Fortune 500 companies have deployed open source, DeBono says, along with over 80% of the world’s stock markets running their transaction systems on open source and 95% of all telecom operator switches and hubs and routers running on Linux. In the operating system space, Linux has firmly established itself. “If you look at the IDCs, the Gartners, they are all saying over the next few years, the OS level will devolve down to just two significant players, Linux being one of them. If you look at the market share data that they are putting out, Linux is the only one of the two preferred OS platforms that is actually growing share. We have other independent data that says five out of every eight projects in customer-land are now being fired off with open source as a key tenet, to be built on an open source stack. That for us is really heart warming news,” DeBono says. Red Hat is not just sitting back to count the cash however. DeBono points out that based on compound annual growth rates, the company will take three years to get to its second billion in revenues and less than two to get to the third, with that growth rate based purely on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux activities. Alongside of that, Red Hat has also diversified its product base, opening up more opportunities. Red Hat acquired JBoss, and its same-named open-source Java EE-based application server, for $420 million in 2006, and that middleware offering is now a growing part of its business. The company is also seeing traction through its Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation (REV) product, which offers a high performance enterprise virtualization solution for server workloads; and in October 2011 Red Hat acquired Gluster, an open source storage software company. DeBono says that if Red Hat manages to make the three billion mark without leveraging the opportunities around all these different product areas, then “in some ways, if we do get to three billion as only an infrastructure company, we have let ourselves down”. The company is also working on cloud solutions, both internally, and with the wider open source community. Red Hat plans to release technology in this space soon, and the company will often release solutions as early versions for the community, such as its OpenShift a free, auto-scaling Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution, which are then refined, and ‘productized’ by Red Hat. “Realistically, if we leverage the product mix right, and lever-


/RED HAT

“WE CLOCKED A BILLION... IT REALLY PROVES THE RELEVANCE, AND THE TRUE EMERGING IMPORTANCE OF OPEN SOURCE AS A STRATEGY FOR CORPORATIONS.” 63


/RED HAT

RED HAT: TIMELINE 1989: Founding of Cygnus Solutions, the first business to provide custom engineering and support services for free software. 1991: Linus Torvalds releases the first ever Linux kernel. 1994: Marc Ewing creates his own distribution of Linux, which he names Red Hat Linux. 1995: Bob Young buys Ewing’s business, merges it with ACC Corporation, and names the new company Red Hat Software. Red Hat Linux 2.0 released. 1998: IDC reports that Linux installations grew by 212% from the previous year, outpacing growth rates of all other server operating systems. 1999: Dell becomes the first major computer vendor to factory-install Red Hat Linux. Red Hat goes public, registering the eighth-biggest first-day gain in Wall Street history. 2001: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer calls Linux a “cancer” and an “intellectual property destroyer”. 2002: Sun’s Scott McNealy dons penguin suit for speech at LinuxWorld. 2003: Red Hat Enterprise Linux family of operating system products is launched. Red Hat posts profits for the first time. 2004: Red Hat Application Server—a server that works with other Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition 2.0 (J2EE)

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application servers from IBM, BEA, and Oracle—is released. 2005: Red Hat and HP debut the industry-first open source blade bundle. 2006: Red Hat teams up with the MIT Media Lab’s One Laptop per Child (OLPC). Red Hat acquires JBoss, Inc., the global leader in open source middleware. 2007: Red Hat enhances softwareas-a-service capabilities in Red Hat Command Center. Red Hat Partner Center launched to simplify sales and renewals of Red Hat and JBoss solutions. 2008: Red Hat advances its virtualization initiatives by acquiring Qumranet, Inc. 2009: Red Hat and IBM celebrate 10 years of global partnership. Red Hat is ranked as no. 1 software vendor for value and reliability for fifth time in CIO Insight study. 2010: Red Hat Cloud Foundations, a major new offering family delivering comprehensive solutions for planning, building, and managing Infrastructureas-a-Service and Platform-as-aService private and public clouds, is announced. 2011: Red Hat acquires Gluster, Inc., a leading provider of scale-out, open source storage solutions. 2012: Red Hat annual revenue hits $1.13 billion, up 25% year-over-year.

ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS May 2012

Red Hat sees growing sophistication from customers and partners in the Middle East.

age our people right – we are an open source company and the beauty of an open source company is that really it is about people, not technology. If we don’t get there in the right fashion, then as a business we have not done the right thing for our people,” DeBono adds. One interesting thing about Red Hat’s success is the scale of the company. Worldwide, Red Hat only employs 4,500 people, and the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, are all covered by just 15 people across three locations. The company is hiring in the region, DeBono says, but that growth is also supported by growing sophistication among its partner base. “From a partner perspective, our conversations with our customers are now moving higher up the organisational stack within the customer space, so it is opening more doors, which in turn creates much more opportunity for our partners to follow through,” he says. The regional customer base is also increasing in sophistication, and while DeBono says that the adoption rate is still at “a very early phase”, he believes that organisations are becoming more open to using open source and Red Hat solutions, in the main because their solutions help tackle the issues CIOs are facing, such as shrinking budgets and reduced head count.


/RED HAT

“WE ARE AN OPEN SOURCE COMPANY AND THE BEAUTY OF AN OPEN SOURCE COMPANY IS THAT REALLY IT IS ABOUT PEOPLE, NOT TECHNOLOGY.”

“IT budgets don’t get bigger, and if they do it is marginal, 1 or 2%. Effectively, CIOs, CTOs, IT management are getting just enough money to keep the business alive today, and forget about innovation for the future, or planning for the future. So if they can find ways of saving money, they are, by stealth, creating a future fund. The smart companies are recognizing that with the value that open source delivers from democratisation and commoditisation of the technology, it is also driving down cost, which if you leverage it properly, gives you a bucket of money that you did not have before. “Through proper use of open source software, you can get away with having fewer people doing some of the administration tasks, so its given you a future fund, and a team of people that you can also use as part of that investment strategy,” DeBono adds. In some cases where open source is delivering competitive advantage, companies are not so willing discuss their use of it, but in general there is more willingness to talk about it among end users, DeBono says. “It is no longer just sitting on a server, under somebody’s desk, because they know it is going to work, it is actually out in the open now.” In the Middle East, oil and gas companies have been early adopters of open source, and the financial services sector is also a key market for Red Hat, where customers appreciate the stability of the platform. Telecoms operators are also heavy adopters, and DeBono points to the example of the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and the ae Domain Administration (.aeDA), which has standardised its registry infrastructure on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. DeBono expects that the region will soon match more developed markets in the sophistication of its open source use. “I really do expect that within the next twelve months the delta between where we are and where the rest of the world is will radically shrink. Some of the projects we are seeing our customers fire off now in terms of infrastructure refresh cycles and what have you, are really giving me a lot of confidence that we are aggressively trying to catch up.” Another notable aspect of Red Hat is the enthusiasm its staff have for open source and the technology as a whole. DeBono says that in a previous role with Sun Microsystems, he became intrigued by the fact that whenever Sun executives were talking

about competitors, the only one that they were specifically naming was Red Hat. DeBono says the fact that for a hardware company like Sun to only be talking about a software company as a competitor raised his interest, and caused him to investigate Red Hat more closely, leading to him joining it in 2005. The enthusiasm for technology can translate into better success with projects and deployments, DeBono argues, particularly when customer’s IT staff are empowered with the right skills around the technology. “The energy our guys take out does translate back in pure energy for the customer. When the message hits the customer at the right time, the adoption, the success, the expansion, you can see it, you can feel it. “People often ask me, what makes some open source deployments more successful than others? The answer to that for me is really very simple – it is customer investment, end-user investment. If you just give open source to a team of people, they will struggle with it, but if you invest in the skills of the people, get them certified and trained, then the end result will be so much better for you as a business,” DeBono says. The main task facing Red Hat now, DeBono says is no longer getting large organisations interested in and using open source, but actually leveraging the expertise they have already built around Linux and open source. The company often finds within large customers that corporate users are operating in silos, and not sharing expertise across the organisation, which means they miss the opportunity to do even more with open source. “One of the big challenges that I am issuing to my team for our larger organisations is to bring the management team together. Sit them in a room, almost instigate an internal user group, so that they can share that knowledge, leverage the intelligence and generate their internal success, which in turn generates more opportunity for us to expand the product portfolio within those organizations, and gives our partner community much more opportunity to come back in and offer real value to those customers,” DeBono says. “The fun of this is not to install Linux, or JBoss, or the storage suite, the real joy here is to actually get in and deliver business value, to understand what keeps the CIO awake at night, and then to give him the solution to help him sleep through a successful implementation.”

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Dramatic transformation: Dell’s acquisitions and growth in enterprise solutions have changed the company, says Brooke.

BUILDING THE ENTERPRISE PORTFOLIO

DELL HAS BEEN ON AN AGGRESSIVE ACQUISITION PATH IN RECENT YEARS, WITH A FOCUS ON ITS ENTERPRISE PORTFOLIO. ACN SPEAKS TO DAVE BROOKE, GENERAL MANAGER OF DELL MIDDLE EAST, ABOUT BRINGING THESE NEW SOLUTIONS TO MARKET AND DELL’S VISION FOR THE CLOUD. BY MARK SUTTON May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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“TECHNOLOGY DECISIONS TODAY MUST NOT DICTATE THE INFRASTRUCTURE rom some perspectives, Dell might be regarded as just a PC manufacturer, albeit one that is fairly stable and profitable in comparison to its competitors. Business end users might be aware of its server business, or that it competes in the storage space. But anyone with an eye on the IT headlines can’t have failed to notice something about the Texan giant - Dell is buying. Following a management shake-up in 2006, the company has acquired companies as diverse as high-end gaming PC maker Alienware and US outsourcer and services company Perot Systems. In the fifteen months to mid-April 2012, Dell spent over $5 billion on acquisitions, including the announcement of three buys in just four days at the start of that month. Dell has not just been buying for the sake of it either. It has made strategic additions to its storage and data centre lines, and more recently, has been buying technologies around the cloud – spending around $2bn on cloud-related companies in calendar and fiscal 2011 alone. Dave Brooke, general manager for Dell Middle East says that customer perceptions of the company are changing as Dell brings these new technologies to its local customers and stakes a claim on a broader piece of the enterprise market. “If you look at our commercial business over the last several years, the transformation of Dell has been dramatic. A lot of people still see Dell as a company that lets you configure and buy a laptop on the web, but the engagements that we have and the discussions that we have with customers about their data centres, their security requirements, their storage requirements, that is where the strategy and build out is happening within Dell. “I think if we look at our existing customers, those that we are in communication with, I have no doubt that they see the end-toend value, I would love to be in a direct conversation with every customer out there. There is lots for us to get done, no question – it is what keeps management employed.” While Dell is still the leader in the Middle East in notebooks and PCs, according to IDC figures for calendar 2011, it is in the en-

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terprise where the company is seeing most growth. Dell has doubled its workforce in the Middle East in the past twelve months, Brooke says, and has already seen strong demand for some of the newly acquired technologies. Dell has had “tremendous success” in the region with enterprise-level virtualized storage solutions from acquistions Compellent Technologies and EqualLogic, he says, and is also integrating technology around data centre networking from Force10 Networks, into solutions for the region. “At a pure technology level, strategically Dell has been on a relatively aggressive acquisition strategy over the last several years, and we see those acquisitions as a key component to our

Dell is adding services capabilities to deliver advanced solutions to the region, Brooke says.


/DELL

COMPONENTS THAT YOU HAVE TO BUY A YEAR OR TWO DOWN THE LINE.” build out. Some of the acquisitions are purely an extension of what we sell - if we look at storage for example, it is a logical extension of the environment that we have been operating in for many years Alienware High-end Gaming PCs 2006 in the server space and the data centre, Everdream SaaS for remote service management 2007 and we have got a phenomenal storage SilverBack Technologies Managed services platform provider 2007 offering,” Brooke says. In order to deliver these new techEqualLogic iSCSI Storage Solutions 2008 nologies for the region, Dell has been MessageOne Cloud email 2008 expanding both its channel partner scope Perot Systems Consulting services, systems integration and outsourcing 2009 and capabilities, and its own services capabilities in the region. Dell now has KACE Networks Systems Management Appliances 2010 complete ownership of break-fix services Ocarina Networks Storage de-duplication 2010 across the Middle East, Brooke says, but Boomi SaaS/Cloud integration 2010 is also extending its range of consulting services in areas such as project manageScalent Technology Data Centre virtualization 2010 ment and customer engagement, with Compellent Technologies storage virtualization 2010 both local services resources and offshore SecureWorks Information security services 2011 capabilities, along with knowledge transfer and education for local customers. Force10 Networks High performance data centre networking 2011 Perot Services, acquired in 2009, has AppAssure Backup for virtualized, physical and cloud environments 2012 particular strength in healthcare IT serSonicWall network, content, email and web security 2012 vices and outsourcing, an area where the company sees synergy as national governWyse Technology Thin client devices and software 2012 ments in the region look to improve Clerity Solutions Application modernisation and legacy re-hosting solutions 2012 healthcare delivery. Make Technologies Application modernization software and services 2012 Another services proposition that Dell is looking to develop is around cloud computing. While Brooke declines to disclose details of Dell’s cloud projects that he says are under way with customers in the Middle East at present, it is SecureWorks, which it bought last year, in provision of security clear from the most recent acquisitions Dell has made, that cloud services such as definition of security policies, checking appliis foremost in the company’s plans. cation security for applications to be moved to the cloud, and “As we move into broader services, it is about the ability to managing security environments. Other buys on Dell’s cloud consult with customers, enabling customers to design, build, shopping list have included Clerity Solutions and Make Technoloimplement and deploy very sophisticated systems, in consolidagies, which both focus on application modernisation software and tion, virtualization, automation, building of private clouds, hybrid services, to help companies move legacy applications to the cloud, clouds, and enabling companies to start defining areas like their networking topologies, their security environments. There are a and Boomi, a cloud integration vendor. significant number of areas that we will be strategically building Another acquisition around the cloud which has gained Midout,” Brooke points out. dle East customers is Scalent Systems. Brooke says that Scalent is Dell is seeing good traction with some local customers around particularly relevant, as it fits with Dell’s own principles for cloud

DELL: KEY ACQUISITIONS

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Customer satisfaction is a key metric for Dell, and it tracks how many of its customers would recommend Dell to others.

computing, namely for companies to maximize use of their existing infrastructure and to use open standards-based devices. Dell has a longstanding commitment to open systems, and has also focused its infrastructure strategies on the x86 platform, where it says the proven platform can handle almost all workloads while offering superior price/performance. “One of the acquisitions that is particularly interesting, is Scalent, which we have branded internally as our Advanced Infrastructure Manager (AIM),” Brooke explains. “What that piece of technology allows you to do is build a private cloud using your existing infrastructure, it allows you to use multiple vendor technologies, as long as its x86, to effectively build compute power, and look at your compute power, your storage and your network capacity as a single pool, and manage and allocate those resources from a software layer. “The important thing for us is that it allows this convergence of infrastructure, it allows you to manage those three pools in an environment that is non-proprietary. It is a very important thing that we talk to customers about, that technology decisions today must not dictate the infrastructure components that you have to buy a year or two down the line. AIM is an open technology, if Dell doesn’t have the right solution, you can buy another open standard solution and bring it into your environment. “The other critical component is, it is not a rip-and-replace. It is important for customers to understand that when you deploy cloud infrastructure, you don’t have to throw away your existing investment, you can use it today in a cloud environment,” he adds. “Cloud is a very important element of our business, whether it is in designing the infrastructure, the process and road map to get to cloud-ready, having people on the ground to project manage with our partners, to get those deployments done and handed over, and to help make sure they are running effectively and efficiently into the future,” Brooke says. Dell is still fully committed to the end-client arena. Among its April acquisitions was Wyse, best known for thin- and zero-client devices and software, and the company has also recently launched its first Ultrabook, the XPS 13, which is reportedly selling three

“AT A PURE TECHNOLOGY LEVEL, DELL HAS BEEN ON A RELATIVELY AGGRESSIVE ACQUISITION STRATEGY OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS AND WE SEE THOSE ACQUISITIONS AS A KEY COMPONENT TO OUR BUILD OUT.”

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times faster than Dell had predicted. “If you look at some of the acquisitions or the intent to acquire [Wyse], it validates what we as a company have been saying. Michael Dell and the organisation have been quite clear – we are company that has been in, and intends to remain in, the end-user device market,” says Brooke. “They are an important element of our offering, they are an important element of what customers buy from us, so don’t expect us to withdraw from those markets. “We want to make sure that we continue to offer value to our customers end-to-end, from consumers to high-end corporates or governments. It is all about customer satisfaction and our ability to meet customer requirements and to remain relevant to our customers. Customers are the internal measurement of success to us.”


THE MOST CELEBRATED EVENT FOR THE MIDDLE EAST TELECOMS INDUSTRY Tuesday 4th December, 2012 The Westin, Dubai The 7th Annual Comms MEA Awards set out to celebrate and pay tribute to the telecoms industry professionals and operators that have shown outstanding performance and results in key market segments.

NOMINATION DEADLINE

THURSDAY 4TH OCTOBER

Sponsorship Opportunities Now Available

For advertising enquiries please contact: Natasha Pendleton +971 4 444 3193 natasha.pendleton@itp.com

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For more information please visit:

www.itp.net/commsmea-awards


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Oracle’s Fadi Abdulkhalek: Engineered systems equal quicker deployment and easier management.

ORACLE RUNS BETTER ON ORACLE

ORACLE’S TAKEOVER OF SUN IS GIVING CUSTOMERS BETTER PRODUCTS THAT ARE CHEAPER AND EASIER TO MANAGE, SAYS FADI ABDULKHALEK, CLUSTER LEADER, GULF STATES BY DAVID INGHAM May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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“THOSE ADOPTING ORACLE ON ORACLE ARE REAPING THE BENEFITS.”

hen Oracle, famous for its databases and ERP software, announced its intention to acquire Sun Microsytems in 2009, the move was a surprise to many in the industry. A leading software company accustomed to high margins and consistent growth was getting into the lower growth, lower margin hardware business. For Oracle, however, the objective was clear. By combining software and hardware, the company could offer customers a tightly integrated platform that would be more straightforward to manage and maintain than multiple vendor offerings. “Oracle has internalised the challenge of optimising the bits that have to work together and not offloading that to the customer,” explains Fadi Abdulkhalek, VP and cluster leader, Gulf States, Oracle. “If they choose the Oracle on Oracle story, the customer can focus on how they provide better services to their customers as opposed to worrying about how to integrate all these components together.” Now, just over two years since the merger went through, Abdulkhalek insists that regional customers have been receptive to the idea of Oracle software running on Oracle hardware, what the company refers to as ‘Oracle on Oracle’. “Customers always want to simplify the management process,” he says. “Our approach enables us to address some basic issues, which are improving operational costs and the way IT is run and managed. It’s overall a positive thing; customers that are adopting the Oracle on Oracle story are finding the rewards.” Data from Gartner suggests that local customers have bought fewer Oracle systems recently, but they are spending more each time they buy. The company sold 1214 server units in the MEA region in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the analyst, a year on year decline of 16.4%. Revenue from those units, however, rose 3.2% year on year to reach US $21.5 million over the period.

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Those numbers cover sales of new systems. Acquiring Sun means that Oracle has also picked up a large installed base of hardware customers. Many of these would have been running Oracle software on Sun platforms, but there will be still be an installed base not necessarily running the two together. “The strategy is not to force customers to put everything on one platform; obviously that’s what we’d like and what we’d push for, but the customer has a choice,” Abdulkhalek explains. Oracle’s message to customers is that they will find Oracle on Oracle systems more straightforward and cheaper to manage going forward than systems based on software and hardware from different vendors. “The trend in IT is to simplify management and to provide software as a service,” says Abdulkhalek. “There will be more focus on having a unified environment where you’re able to not only manage but control your costs over a period of time.” Oracle on Oracle systems may cost more to acquire than Oracle on something else, but Abdulkhalek says there are ways of controlling even the initial cost of acquisition. “With the latest database appliance, which enables customers to put in a ready made server with the storage and the database, they pay as they go based on the usage,” says Abdulkhalek. “So this machine not only addresses the simplification of running such an environment but also they will pay for it as they grow with it.” Merging two companies requires putting together two sets of employees and two channel networks. Employees in Dubai are still in different locations, but a plan is afoot to put everything in the same location. As far as the channel is concerned, Oracle has continued with its longstanding strategy of helping channel partners specialise. The company says it devotes thousands of man days each year to channel training. “We invest in specialisation,” says Abdukhalek. “Some decide to go with multiple products, some decide to go on specific products.” The specialisations tend to revolve around specific software products that are part of the Oracle portfolio, rather than being vertical in nature. For partners that may have previously been focused on hardware and those that may have been focused on software, there are rigorous training programmes that focus on building skills in those other areas. “Every year, we spend thousands of man days training the channel,” says Abdulkhalek. “We invest in the


/ORACLE

ORACLE’S ENGINEERED SYSTEMS Oracle’s engineered systems ‘pre-integrate’ hardware and software inside a single box. According to the company, the following systems are quick to deploy and easy to manage, which helps reduce ongoing operational costs. EXADATA DATABASE MACHINE A system designed to provide high performance for data warehouse and OLTP applications DATABASE APPLIANCE An integrated and redundant system of software, servers, storage and networking in a single box. EXALYTICS IN-MEMORY MACHINE A business intelligence platform comprising hardware and in-memory analytics software. EXALOGIC ELASTIC CLOUD Exalogic is hardware and software engineered together to provide a platform for Java applications, Oracle Applications and other enterprise applications. SPARC SUPERCLUSTER T4-4 A general-purpose machine that combines the SPARC T4-4 server running Solaris 11, Exadata Database Machine, and Exalogic Elastic Cloud.

channel programme and we don’t charge for it.” Avnet, one of its major regional distributors, has recently established a competence centre in Dubai that hosts an ExaData database platform and an ExaLogic middleware system (see box above). This allows partners to test the engineered machines and demonstrate their capabilities to customers. Abdulkhalek reports continued growth and increasing competition in the ERP applications market, along with growing interest in software as a service. Software as a service, which allows ERP applications to be offered through the public cloud, is particularly appropriate for SMEs and rapidly growing companies. Customers in the region can subscribe to Oracle applications through the cloud, though they are interacting with servers sitting in Oracle data centres outside the region. The company has looked at partnering up with companies that would host cloud

offerings locally, though it is still unclear whether such offerings would be financially viable. “We are in discussions with local partners to have their own setups and cloud services,” says Abdulkhalek. “With these kinds of offerings, economies of scale come into play and we’re doing some studies together with them to see if there is enough potential that justifies such investments for the region.” He sees possibilities for particular niche applications customised for the region or a particular vertical. Ultimately, however, it would have to make financial sense for a local company to set up a data centre infrastructure in the region. Otherwise, local resellers would act as the front end for a service that is actually hosted outside the Middle East. At the moment, customers interested in subscribing to Oracle applications as a service can do so through local sales teams. “The

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“THERE WILL BE MORE FOCUS ON HAVING A UNIFIED ENVIRONMENT WHERE YOU’RE ABLE TO NOT ONLY MANAGE, BUT CONTROL YOUR COSTS OVER TIME.” services are sold here, so whenever you need intervention, the teams are here locally to intervene, to help and support. It’s just that the servers are sitting in the US. For the customers, it’s transparent. Whether the servers sit here or in the US, does not make any difference,” says Abdulkhalek. The number of regional companies subscribing to such services is still small, but the Oracle VP says that there is interest and the cloud option is placed on the table when discussions are had with customers. “Whenever we address a customer with requirements, we put the options on the table for them to evaluate. For those that don’t want to invest in their own data centres, the cloud becomes an option. Some of them are not comfortable about security or having the data offsite, so it’s not an option for them.” After nearly 25 years in the region, Oracle Middle East sees itself as still very much in growth mode and increasingly focused on partner specialisation. Abdulkhalek says this is particularly important given customers’ increasing interest in analytics and

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business intelligence, for which Oracle has a range of solutions. “Today, with the availability of social media, bigger and bigger computers, and different types of software, data will grow exponentially,” he says. “But then the challenge is: How do I make sense of all this data? So business analytics will be key and offerings in the big data space will be key. In the future, that will be one of the main preoccupations of IT.” In this space, the VP says Oracle has done its job, integrating business intelligence features into the fabric of the application suites. “When you buy a suite, the BI is an integral part of it,” Abdulkhalek says. “Customers just need to invest in tailoring it and configuring it for their own use, rather than looking at it as a separate project. We’ve made it a natural part of the application.”


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Samer Abu-Ltaif says Microsoft is preparing for the launch of Windows 8, a re-imagining of the OS, complete with new ‘Metro’ user interface, visible in the background.

ASSEMBLING THE ECOSYSTEM

AS MICROSOFT PREPARES TO LAUNCH NEW VERSIONS OF ITS KEY PRODUCTS, AND MARKS 20 YEARS IN THE GULF, SAMER ABU-LTAIF, REGIONAL GENERAL MANAGER EXPLAINS HOW THE COMPANY IS EVOLVING SUPPORT ECOSYSTEMS AROUND ITS CORE SOLUTIONS. BY MARK SUTTON May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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his year is set to be another landmark year for Microsoft, with the launch of a new, ‘re-imagined’ Windows operating system, the arrival of the first smartphones from its tie-up with Nokia, and a major push into the cloud with one of its core application suites. Samer Abu-Ltaif, regional general manager, Microsoft Gulf, is not phased however. The company just completed its Open Door series of events for the region, bringing together around 3,000 business partners and IT professionals in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, and the events also hosted the celebrations of Microsoft’s 20th year of operations in the Gulf. The Open Door events provide an important forum for Microsoft and what it describes as its ecosystem, the wider network of local Microsoft business partners, customers and developers, who are all using Microsoft technology. While Microsoft itself has grown to an organisation with 600 employees in the Gulf, the wider partner ecosystem accounts for around 1,500 partner organisations. “We started in Dubai in 1992, and since then we have built a business and an ecosystem of partners that has made an impact on people over the past two decades,” Abu-Ltaif says. “We have created over the last 20 years in the Gulf, around 1,500 partner organizations, that work around Microsoft technologies and Microsoft innovations. You can imagine the job creation that is associated with that ecosystem, and the services that has created.” Support for these eco-systems is key for Microsoft’s success, he adds. The company supports its partners in a wide variety of ways. Events such as Open Door and the Tech.Ed developer-focused conference, which last year drew over 2,000 attendees in Dubai, provide a constant touch with partners, to keep them aware of product developments and provide educational opportunities. Microsoft IT professionals are also supported through the Microsoft Virtual Academy, which has provided free IT training to over 2,800 poeple in the region. Microsoft is also building support for its ecosystems by helping them tap into markets in new ways. For Windows Phone, Microsoft has established Yalla Apps, a regional developer portal that allows developers to upload their apps for download to the public, and

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“THERE IS A THIRST TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE RE-IMAGINING OF WINDOWS... AT OPEN DOOR, THE BREAKOUT ROOMS WHERE WE WERE SHOWING WINDOWS 8 WERE FULL.”

that also provides a forum for support for developers. Over 5,000 developers have contributed to the portal, and it has had over one million downloads since launch just over a year ago. Microsoft is also working on a Windows 8 store, which will also host apps, and will also look at hosting enterprise-level line of business applications on the store, to open up a new, non-traditional route to market for its business software developer partners. As these peices are put in place, so the company and its ecosystem are looking forward to the significant product launches it has scheduled for the near future, including Windows 8, the next version of its infrastructure and server management suite, System Center 2012, Windows Phone OS and Office 365, all of which are generating excitement in the region, says Abu-Ltaif. “There is a thirst to know more about the re-imagining of Windows, and what is in store,” he says. “At Open Door, the breakout rooms where we were showing Windows 8 were full, people were standing, they wanted to know more.” The latest iteration of the operating system, Windows 8, certainly has big shoes to fill. Windows 7 is the fastest selling operating system in history, Abu-Ltaif says, and sales remain strong today, with Windows 7 sales to businesses up by 8% in the first quarter of the year, and Windows 7 installed on up to 46.5% of all PCs, according to StatCounter Global Stats. With Windows 8 however, Microsoft is promising a whole new experience. The biggest change is the introduction of a new user


/MICROSOFT

Microsoft wants to harness ‘natural user interface’ devices like the Surface (pictured) and Kinect motion detection technology in education environments.

interface, called ‘Metro’. The Metro UI has been designed to enable touchscreen devices, and to give users a choice of how they interact with the device. Windows 8 will also be the first version to support ARM processors, to bring Windows to tablet PCs and other mobile devices, and also to allow developers to create applications that can run across the range of platforms, from tablets, to notebooks and desktop PCs. “What is most exciting, what we are hearing from people that have experienced it, they see the Windows 8 experience on multiple form factors, they can have a multi-touch interface, mouse and keyboard….the possibilities are enormous in terms of how people want to interact with the platform,” Abu-Ltaif says. Windows 8 is certainly gaining interest from the developer and

end-user communities, with over 500,000 downloads of the developer preview and over a million downloads of the consumer preview in their first 24 hours of availability, twice the speed of uptake of the Windows 7 preview. The server version, Windows Server 2012 is also in concurrent development. Abu-Ltaif won’t be drawn on a specific launch date, but the OS is expected to be available later this year, and it will be available in Arabic from launch. “There is a lot of progress here, there are a lot of engineers from Microsoft in the Arab world that are involved [with Windows 8], like they have been involved with all our products,” Abu-Ltaif says. Microsoft’s other big platform launch, for the new Windows Phone OS, is underway, but may take longer to reach the region. The company announced a major tie-up with Nokia in February last year, and while Nokia’s first handset using Windows Phone was released in October, it is not yet available here. Abu-Ltaif explains that the delay in bringing the Phone OS, and devices from Nokia and its other OEM partners, is necessary to ensure that the eco-system around the phone is properly developed. To that end, Microsoft is currently working with handset vendors, telecom operators and local application developers to put in place Gulf-wide availability of data plans, app stores and so on. “We are preparing the platform for it, I don’t want to have a launch that is not set up for great success,” Abu Ltaif says. “I believe that towards the end of the summer we should be very well on the way to launch in all markets with some very exciting packages.” Microsoft’s steps towards cloud are making stronger progress however. The company launched Office 365, which delivers Microsoft Office Professional and other applications as a cloud service,

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“THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF EFFORT FOR US TO LAND CLOUD IN THE RIGHT WAY, AND I AM VERY HAPPY THAT THE RECEPTION IS POSITIVE, AND SIGNALLING THAT THERE IS VALUE SEEN IN CLOUD.” as a free trial version for Gulf users at last year’s Gitex Technology Week, and it has attracted 20,000 users since then. “I think Office 365 is definitely a very significant component of the innovation that we are bringing to the region. We have laid the ground here in the Gulf region in preparation for cloud computing. Today we have over 20,000 users that are on trial now, using the product and giving us very positive feedback around their experience,” Abu-Ltaif comments. Microsoft is now planning for a full launch of a paid-for service for the region at the start of the summer. Office 365 represents an opportunity for small to medium enterprises, Abu-Ltaif says, to help them access technology in an affordable way without the headache of managing their own IT. It also represents a strong opportunity for Microsoft partners and telcos in delivering solutions. In a Forrester Research study of cloud computing readiness, Microsoft rated top for positive end-user perception in the UAE, and Microsoft says its partners have made strong progress in preparing for cloud. Microsoft has a number of partners that are offering applications focused on specific verticals on top of Office 365., and it has also announced a partnership with the Dubai Department of Economic Development and telecoms operator Du to deliver an SME-focused ICT bundle that includes cloud. “There has been a lot of effort for us to land cloud in the right way, and I am very happy that the reception is positive, and signalling that there is value seen in cloud,” Abu-Ltaif says. Another aspect of Microsoft’s operations and support for the wider ecosystem, is its activities in education. Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program, which aims to increase and improve the usage of IT in educational environments, has reached over 290,000 educators and students in the region. The Microsoft IT Academy program, launched in the UAE with the Ministry of Education, has involved 250,000 students across 200 high schools

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in the Emirates, and the company has agreements with many of the universities in the region to work in different areas of development, such as the Education Alliance Agreement, signed last year with the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). Under the agreement, the HCT will host the first Microsoft Learning Centre in the region, to provide a resource centre and laboratory for faculty and students to use Microsoft products such as Windows Phone 7, Windows Azure, and the motion detecting-Kinect sensors and the interactive touchscreen PC Surface. Microsoft is keen to adapt these new technologies to the classroom, Abu-Ltaif says, and to build on its existing education initiatives. “We intend to continue that journey, and create some new initiatives, primarily in education, going forward. It will be around changing the experience of students and teachers in the classroom, more in view of what we call natural user interfaces, like Kinect and Surface. The technology exists, and we are developing the blueprint for us to integrate these things and map them to the curriculum, map them into the habits of today’s generation of students and the culture. The technology can scale, a dream classroom is reality today,” he says. Another educational programme within Microsoft is the annual Imagine Cup. The global competition, now in its tenth year, tasks students with using technology to tackle different development and social problems. This year the company is holding individual events in each country in the Gulf, with 1,700 students participating in the UAE alone. Last a team from Oman took second place worldwide. Abu-Ltaif says the competition is an important part of Microsoft’s commitment to supporting young talent to drive future growth and prosperity. “Young people have a very positive approach, they have a ‘make it happen’ approach to the way they leverage new technology. We are very keen to enable them and guide them, so that they can be in a position to realize their aspirations.”


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MAKING SENSE OF BIG DATA

NEW SOURCES OF DATA EQUATE TO NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES, BUT WITH THE EXPONENTIAL GROWTH OF DATA THERE’S A NEW CHALLENGE FOR COMPANIES – HOW TO STORE, MANAGE AND EXTRACT VALUE FROM IT IN A COST EFFECTIVE WAY BY KERI ALLAN May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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Bath: Falling RAM prices are making in-memory computing more viable.

he ‘big data’ explosion that is unfolding is a result of three broad drivers that are coming together to produce “the perfect storm”. These are a growth in technology, people adopting said technologies, and of course, business needs. “Data is no longer a by-product of running a business, it is the raw material needed to stay in business and compete effectively,” explains Jason Bath, head of business analytics, database and technology, SAP MENA. “Businesses want to get their hands on as much detailed data as possible in order to extract information, get insight, and make actionable business decisions. Detailed customer behaviour across multiple touch points is captured and analysed,” he adds. “Enterprise applications are able to generate extremely detailed data; for example, mobile operators typically generate billions of call detail records in any given month. “Emerging technologies, changing behaviour and the competitive business landscape are all forces that are coming together to produce the perfect data storm.” New sources of data equate to new business opportunities, but with the exponential growth of data there’s a new challenge for companies – how to store, manage and extract value from it in a cost effective way. Bath advises companies to consider relating the storage tier to the value of the data, use advanced database compression features that will save on data centre real estate and energy costs and avoid creating multiple copies of data. “New applications are driving the demand for extreme performance and real-time access to information while, at the same time, increasing compliance regulations are driving the requirement to retain historical data. Therefore the need to match the storage technology to the value and access patterns of data becomes critical in achieving a balance between performance and cost,” he explains.

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“For example, a real-time social media feed of customer sentiments following a major product launch needs to be analysed frequently and may be best stored in a high performance inmemory database, while rarely accessed archival data retained for compliance purposes may be more economically stored in traditional high density disk drives. “However, with the rapid decline in the cost of memory, which today already offers lower cost-per-performance compared to traditional disk drives, it is becoming more cost effective to store databases entirely in memory. By looking at the rate at which the cost of memory is declining, it is predicted that by 2017, it will cost the same per capacity as disk drives.” Many companies, including IBM, Oracle and SAP, are providing solutions that incorporate these kinds of strategies, which they hope organisations will turn to as they try to make the most out of big data in an economical fashion. “Our position with respect to technology investment is that it has to be supportive of a company’s business objectives and must demonstrate an overall lower total cost of ownership,” says Ismael Hassa, sales director, Oracle. “Hence, a modular, scalable approach to next generation analytics is the recommended way forward,” he adds. “The departure point for any company embarking on the quest to gain control of big data is to work with experienced


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Sid Deshpande: Data scientists are now heavily in demand.

people and proven technology with the outcome of firstly understanding the requirement and its impact on the business, conduct capacity planning with the goal to grow as needed and ensure investment protection along the way.” It is these new technologies that allow organisations to perform meaningful analysis of large amounts of data, in turn providing business value. “Big data technologies describe a new generation of technologies and architectures, designed so organisations can economically extract value from very large volumes of a wide variety of data by enabling high velocity capture, discovery, and/or analysis,” says Philip Roy, director, data computing division, EMC. “This world of big data requires a shift in computing architecture so that companies can handle both the data storage requirements and the heavy server processing required to analyse large volumes of data economically. New ‘information taming’ technologies such as deduplication, compression and analysis tools are driving down the cost of creating, capturing, managing, and storing information to one-sixth the cost in 2011 in comparison to 2005,” he adds. “New emerging technologies can perform powerful analytical computing for analysing data at rest, or analysing data in real time with micro-latency. Rather than gathering large quantities of data, manipulating the data, storing it on disk and then analysing it (analytics on data at rest), other platforms allows us to apply analytics on the data in motion,” continues John Banks, director of IBM Software Group, Gulf Business Machines. “With the ability to handle big data effectively, we would have the ability to manipulate the data and in-flight analysis is performed on the data. This analysis can trigger events to enable business to leverage just-intime intelligence to perform in real time, yielding better results for the business.” But what skill sets and capabilities do businesses need to have in place in order to make the most out of their big data? “The starting point of any big data project should be people and processes,” says Sid Deshpande, senior research analyst, Gartner. “The key first steps to be taken include hiring qualified data scientists and big data professionals, whose numbers

Roy: Regional organisations are starting to look at big data solutions.

“EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES, CHANGING BEHAVIOUR AND THE COMPETITIVE BUSINESS LANDSCAPE ARE ALL FORCES THAT ARE COMING TOGETHER TO PRODUCE THE PERFECT DATA STORM.”

are disproportionately low to the high interest in the market and are, therefore, in high demand. Also, evaluating the business case and specific outcomes of the proposed big data project, before thinking of re-architecting internal IT from a people/processes/ data management standpoint to avoid investing in tactical projects and to make it more strategic to the business.” Indeed, the emerging role of the data scientist is becoming a key role for companies dealing with big data. They possess

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analytic, technical and business skills, which allow them to ‘get their hands dirty’ with big data, and to extract relevant and significant business insight. “If you imagine a Formula One race, these are the guys who sit behind a computer during the race, constantly analysing data being streamed from the race cars on the track, doing complex real-time analytics and advising the driver via his headset on what to do at every turn and every stretch of the track,” says Bath. “They analyse huge amounts of data quickly and provide information that the driver can act on in order to win the race. These are exactly the kind of skills companies need to develop in order to leverage big data.” Big data analytics is an emerging discipline in the Middle East and many vendors believe that the region still lacks the experience, skills and technologies necessary to leverage it, though they believe this is changing quickly. Gartner, however, predicts that through 2015, 85% of Fortune 500 organisations will be unable to exploit big data for competitive advantage. This may be because they don’t expect companies to integrate their big data strategies very well. “There is a small but emerging and rapidly growing segment of big data projects that serve as an extension to on-premises enterprise business intelligence (BI) projects, but they often deliver incremental value rather than being completely integrated into the organisation-wide BI strategy,” Deshpande explains. “Gartner has observed that despite significant amount of interest among large enterprises, the early deployments were either tactical, one-off projects or extensions of traditional BI strategies with additional analytics and data processing. A completely integrated big data strategy is almost nonexistent among enterprise users, and Gartner expects this situation to continue

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until viable solutions and proof points emerge.” Clearly views are mixed as to the future success of big data, but for the Middle East, early adopters are appearing and so the seeds have been sown. “Many of the enterprises we meet with have strong regional or even global ambitions. These ambitious enterprises are very focused on investing in sustainable competitive advantages, and thus we think they’re very likely to investigate big data opportunities in the near future,” says Roy. “I wouldn’t want to hazard a specific timeframe – it’s more of a general tendency. I think with each year we’ll be able to point at progressively more Middle Eastern enterprises that have started their journey towards achieving big data proficiency,” he concludes.

BENEFITS OF BIG DATA ANALYTICS These tools enable organisations to derive real value and create revenue streams from unstructured data. “The data itself provides valuable insights into customers and their relationships with companies: ones that, if extracted properly, can generate new sources of revenue,” says Philip Roy, director, data computing division, EMC. “Several industries will have different benefits from big data analytics,” continues John Banks, director of IBM Software Group, Gulf Business Machines. “For instance, in terms of the finance industry, companies would be able to perform real-time mediation on all call records daily as well as unlock the valuable insights embedded in call centre voice recordings. “Different companies will enjoy benefits that are specific to their industry, however, across all industries, companies will experience certain common benefits. With big data analytics, companies will have the ability to analyse social media data in conjunction with customer buying data. “Additionally, big data analytics would enable marketing service providers to better understand their customers and deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.”


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A security system is only as good as its weakest link, and that is almost always the end user. With consumerisation of IT and BYOD, the end user as a security risk is only increasing.

PEOPLE ARE THE PROBLEM

FIREWALLS, ANTI-VIRUS, ANTI-MALWARE, DUAL FACTOR AUTHENTICATION… ALL OF THESE WILL IMPROVE SECURITY, BUT WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE WEAKEST LINK IN THE SECURITY CHAIN - PEOPLE. BY KERI ALLAN May 2012 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS

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Teksoz: Educate users, but don’t overwhelm them with everything all at once.

ne of the most persistent messages from security experts is that any security infrastructure is only as good as its weakest link, and that is almost always the end user. With consumerisation of IT and bring your own device (BYOD), the end user has even more potential to cause security breaches, and as a recent survey by Sophos highlighted, 96% of IT professionals do not trust their end users to make sound IT security decisions. But the survey showed that they had their reasons: 48% of respondents said that they fix security issues caused by end user negligence at least once a week. So what are end users most guilty of doing? “Not complying with security policies,” says Tamer Aboualy, CTO, security services, IBM Middle East and Africa. “Some easy examples include unauthorised installation of software, configurations and use (i.e. putting corporate information on social media and letting family members use their own devices), not complying with software updates and software patching, being fooled by phishing exploits and sharing passwords,” he adds. Essam Ahmed, regional pre-sales manager for McAfee agrees: “Some common mistakes that can lead to very risky security violation and identity theft are clicking on offers that appear too good to be true, and re-pinning them so they are propagated further. Users should never click on a link in a spam email or IM from someone they don’t know, and they also need more awareness to check URLs before clicking on them, to see that the address is going to a well-established site. If it is a shortened URL, use a URL preview tool to make sure it is safe to click on.” Education is key to keeping these risks to a minimum, but with so many threats out there, what are the teaching tactics CIOs should be using?

PERSISTENCE “End users need to be taken through the most common ways for threat actors to target them. This includes teaching people what counts as sensitive data that needs to be protected, acceptable

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usage policies, security policies and how to identify and avoid threats. It’s about creating best practice among end users,” highlights Don Smith, director of Technology, Dell SecureWorks. “Securing Internet and email usage,” continues Haritha Ramachandran, programme manager, ICT practice, Frost and Sullivan Middle East and North Africa. “End users should be educated on how to keep one’s account secure, risks of identity theft and how to redress the situation if they find themselves with a hacked account.” Experts say that educating end users is key to avoiding security threats, but what practical tactics can the CIO use to deliver that education and make it stick? Continuous end user education is key to reducing security risks. Not everything can be covered in one session, plus it’s important to keep reminding the end users of the risks and their role in keeping them to a minimum. “Trying to do everything at once is a common mistake,” says Bulent Teksoz, chief security strategist, emerging regions, Symantec. “Just like any project, user education on security must be well planned. The content is extremely important, as is the way it is delivered. It must be relevant to the overall business and the business function the users are in.” It is recommended that courses are held at regular six month intervals, but as Matthew Cheung, principal research analyst, Gartner highlights, don’t bombard staff too much or they’ll become immune to the message. “Too frequent security newsletters or reminders should actually be avoided – these will lower the immunity of staff as they will tend to ‘ignore’ these issues. Send alerts or important notices when there are virus outbreaks in order to ask end users to heighten their security awareness,” he notes.

“MAKE SECURITY AWARENESS PART OF AN EMPLOYEE’S PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN.”


/SECURITY

WHAT TO TEACH Educate end users about threat actors and how they target them. Securing Internet and e-mail usage. How to resolve the issue if an account is hacked. Don’t share or simplify passwords. Know what to do if a device is stolen. Avoid using USB between business and personal computer, but if necessary, make sure USB storage is encrypted.

MIX IT UP

MAKE IT PERSONAL

Use the different kinds of tools at your disposal to educate the end users in different ways. “There are various ways to provide education to the end-users: video education modules, instructorled classes, quizzes and tests,” notes Aboualy. “An important factor to remember also is to enable the administrator to know that the end users have attended the education and have passed the quizzes.”

The most effective way to get security education to stick is to ‘make it real’ and show what can be achieved with the different attacks. “Take employees through a real example of someone clicking an email which looks authentic,” says Dell’s Smith. “Then show them what happens in the background and what power this gives the attackers. Making it personal and telling people how to protect their own data and act on social media adds value by highlighting the real risks and how it could impact them as well as their employer. It will become second nature as people adopt the same practices in both their personal and professional lives,” adds Smith. “One of the worst losses is the loss of a lifetime of pictures of near and dear to ensure one remembers the need to secure their system. So boiling the threat down to something the end user can relate to personally can make sure they remember to do the same at work,” adds Ramachandran.

USE SPECIALIST PROGRAMMES Many security specialists and vendors provide security education services that may help CIOs get the message across to their end users. Sophos, for example, has developed a programme that assists IT professionals in teaching their colleagues. With materials including an education programme launch guide, posters and handbooks and a training PowerPoint presentation, such tools may help CIOs to develop a top programme for delivering their security education. Many organisations also provide training to users of their technology. “We organise regular seminars and training delivered by both us and our partners,” says Sebastien Pavie, regional sales director MEA, SafeNet. “This year there will be a particular focus on security for storage, server, virtualised and cloud environments as well as advanced user authentication,” he notes.

TIE IT IN TO PERSONAL PERFORMANCE One way to get information to sink in is to make it part of an employee’s personal development plan and look over it during staff performance meetings. “Maybe CEOs, CIOs and HR can tie in personal performance and rewards with security training,” says Cheung. “This could be a very innovative idea,” he notes.

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TOP TACTICS TO MAKE IT STICK Make security education continuous with routine reminder courses. Mix it up: Educate in different ways. Take advantage of specialist programmes. Make it personal. Tie it in to personal performance. Make it important. Enforce security policies appropriately. Control access. Make sure you have a strong security programme in place to start with!

MAKE IT IMPORTANT Perceived importance of a policy is key in making it work. The more importance a policy is given in terms of implementation and enforcement, the more likely it is to succeed. “Hence, it is really important for CIOs to emphasise the importance of security in the company and constantly enforce it, i.e. have a mock hack into someone’s account and make an example out of it so that people realise how vulnerable they are and are more vigilant,” says Frost and Sullivan’s Ramachandran.

ENFORCE POLICIES APPROPRIATELY As more employees connect their personal devices to the corporate network, companies need to modify their acceptable usage policies to accommodate both corporate owned and personally owned devices. “Management and security levers will need to differ based on ownership of the device and the associated controls that the organisation requires. Employees will continue to add devices to the corporate network to make their jobs more efficient and enjoyable so organisations must plan for this legally, operationally and culturally,” says Teksoz. Most importantly however, setting policies only works if they are enforced and kept at the forefront of an end users mind.

THE CIO’S ROLE Education is important, but it is only one part of a security programme. CIOs and security teams need to protect users from

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themselves, as processes and technology can be put in place to control what information they can access and what actions they can take. In order to minimise risk, users should only have access to the information they need to do their jobs. “Part of the programme should be an analysis of the data, how it will be classified and who will have access to it,” says Aboualy. “For example, now everyone needs admin, but you would be surprised how many corporations give everyone admin on account of lax security compliance methods.” Investing in end user education can also help with threat detection. Michael Spohn, principal security consultant at McAfee Foundstone, says that threats tend to come to light either through alert network security personnel, third party notifications or end user complaints to the help desk. A more security-aware workforce is more likely to spot unusual behaviour, improving your ability to react to threats. “The CIO’s role is not only to educate his team but to also provide the proper security and tools to assure that the organisation’s information is safe, beginning with device inventory, which is an essential first step to defining, securing, and managing mobile infrastructure,” continues Teksoz. “Visibility requires protecting devices across multiple networks, and includes scanning for current security software and operating system patch levels in addition to model and serial numbers, and other information about the hardware device. This, along with education, will help reduce the risks of lost or stolen data from mobile devices.”


/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: ARUN TEWARY HEAD OF IT AT EMIRATES FLIGHT CATERING AND ‘ERP GEEK’. How did you end up where you are now? By chance (good though). Graduated as a mechanical engineer, joined Tata Steel as a programmer (Cobol) – and that was the historic day when civilization got a very dedicated IT professional in the form of Arun Tewary. Headed to Essar Steel (as GM, IT), where we carried out the successful implementation of SAP R/3. Moved to Al Futtaim Dubai – biggest ERP implementation and headed the IT department of the Group as GM, STS. Later moved to Emaar Properties where we implemented Oracle eBusiness Suite. Joined EKFC, where we implemented JD Edwards ERP and am still going strong as VP (IT) and CIO. Did I leave out any major ERP? I overheard someone calling me ERP Geek (or was it ERP Guru?)

What is your biggest mistake? Was sleeping when Bill Gates started his midnight endeavours on computers in the college labs.

What is your management philosophy? My team is my family. And for a cohesive and united family, trust and mutual respect are essential ingredients. Complete transparency is my way of life, ‘quality deliverables in a timely manner’ is the motto. Talking ‘nonjargon’ is the language of communication. Calling vendors partners is the business approach. Open door is a standing policy. Workplace should be a place of enjoyment. Competence, sincerity and exceptional throughput are mandatory requirements. No micromanagement – natural 360 degree communication.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact in 2012? It has to be seen in two parts. One is the ‘propaganda impact’ in media and seminars – it will continue to be cloud computing. The other one is the real influencer on the ground. 2012 will be driven more by approach and framework and less by technologies. Information management, virtualisation and automation with the help of smart technologies like RFID and smart devices will have significant influence on the industry. At the same time, the industry will continue to explore deeper in the area of Big Data.

What was your first computer, and when did you use it? Burroughs B6800 (green screens). Year? (It would reveal my age!). What is your greatest achievement? Yet to come.

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What is your fondest memory of working in the Middle East IT industry? There are many. For example, going live with an ERP project: A transaction was to be entered in the system by the CEO in one of the most prestigious showrooms of this organisation. Early morning we carried out some real transactions (I had bought small batteries). But, when the CEO hit the Enter key, the system would not work – finally it worked after 10 minutes (no, I did not lose my job). I was recognised as one of the Top 10 CIOs in the Middle East in 2011 by ACN.

GETTING PERSONAL Nationality: Indian Years in the industry: Enough Favourite food: Mughlai Holiday destination: Seychelles Music: Ghazals Dream car: Don’t see cars in dreams Gadget: My writing machine from MontBlanc Piece of advice: To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first. And, whatever you hit, call it the target!

What’s the best way to deal with stress? Get de-stressed!! (Mode is person specific). For me – a long walk.


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ACN - May 2012