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July 2012 | Volume 25 Issue 7

July 2012 | Volume 25 Issue 7

Rising to the Surface A look at analyst reaction to Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 tablet device

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

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

ACN 100 Forum

CIOs have their say Is BYOD unsafe, is cloud the future and does certification matter? Regional IT chiefs have their say on the biggest issues in tech





Access anywhere Citrix wants to help businesses transform the way they work



July 2012 VOLUME 25 ISSUE 07


IT managers and analysts gathered at last month’s ACN 100 Forum to debate the big IT issues of the day.

ACN 100 Forum

BYOD: THREAT OR OPPORTUNITY? Can IT departments embrace BYOD without compromising security? Senior IT figures explored the issue at last month’s ACN 100 Forum.


SEEING THROUGH THE CLOUD IT experts debate what cloud computing is, how organisations can best utilise it and what needs to happen for it to really catch on.













All this month’s key news and

StarLInk, help AG and

A look at what projects the

ACN meets Henry Martinez,

numbers, including Masdar’s recent IT rationalisation.

CommVault discuss malware, big data and cloud computing.

region’s hotel IT managers have on the go.

VP, sales engineering, Vision Solutions.










Analysts like the look of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, but wonder whether or not it will be a success.

Citrix believes its virtualisation technologies can help transform the way companies work.

Preparation and a willingness to invest upfront are required to make virtualisation projects successful.

Greater awareness is driving companies to draw up disaster recovery and business continuity strategies.







Distributing Emerging Technologies, Region-Wide

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An ITP Technology Publication

May 2012 | Volume 25 Issue 5

Open source

How to make one billion dollars for free




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

End user

Making the perfect delivery



DHL Express UAE adds regional IT innovation to its global network

Praveen Sashi, head of IT for DHL Express UAE, has overseen a 32% reduction in IT costs over two years



ERP outlook Despite the strength of the big two, mid-market developers are thriving



EDITORIAL Senior Group Editor Mark Sutton Tel: +971 4 444 3225 email: Contributors Georgina Enzer, Keri Allan, Manda Banda ADVERTISING Sales Director George Hojeige Tel: +971 4 444 3203 email: Sales Manager Ankit Shukla Tel: +971 4 444 3482 email: STUDIO Head of Design Daniel Prescott Principal Creative Simon Cobon

4 2^‡G* ,y7c‡G*gœ{G* JUNE 2012 Vol. 10 Issue. 6

Building and delivering IT solutions for the Middle East

Private cloud Mobily develops its own cloud with help from Devoteam



An ITP Technology Publication

Keeping tabs AccessData helps companies keep track of information leaks



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


New platform, new possibilities Nokia fights back with Windows Phone


Education everywhere American University of Sharjah takes learning beyond the classroom

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

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

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

June 2012 | Volume 25 Issue 6

An ITP Technology Publication





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JUNE 2012

Critical analysis for telecommunications executives

An ITP Technology Publication


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

EYE ON OMAN The country’s telecoms sector is growing rapidly

Saad al Barrak on how he transformed Zain p34



It is a most exciting time to be in our industry, and I am thrilled that it is happening to us at this time, at this moment in this region.”


Ross Cormack, Nawras







Automated solutions take on increasingly complicated network management tasks


Virtualisation leaders analyse why virtualisation is a musthave trend

MAKING THE LEAP Middle East IPv6 experts explain how to move from IPv4 and what companies need to know about IPv6

Telcos must focus on addressing the issue of OTT competition


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Masdar consolidates IT and cuts costs Around AED 15 million in IT costs saved over year and a half, says acting head of ICT


he IT department of Masdar estimates it has saved around AED 15 million over Srivastava: “We started the last year and a half by rationalising questioning its IT infrastructure and renegotiating each and every application.” terms. When it began reviewing its IT strategy in 2010, the company identified several challenges, including too many applications, products out of warranty and excessive telecomms costs. Out of a myriad of applications, the organisation has so far phased out more than half a dozen. “We started questioning each and every application, looking at how this application is adding value back to the business,” saaid Alok Srivastava, acting head of ICT & senior manager, IT applications, Masdar. “We started identifying certain components that could be merged into our better platforms. For example, certain processes and certain approvals, we started migrating them into Oracle.” Key to understanding the value of an application was understanding how much was being spent on licensing and how much a product was costing to support. This applied not only to applications that were phased out, but also ones that remain in active use. For example, the IT team has been able to save around half a million dirhams each on licenses for Oracle and Documentum, two of the organisation’s key application platforms. “We identified one and a half million dirhams of losses on licenses that we deployed and were not used,” explains Srivastava. “If any user comes to us now and asks for Visio, MS Project or Oracle, we ask them why they need it and share the budget with them. That has changed the user’s mentality, they don’t just come to IT and demand things. Now they are becoming aware of the cost associated with those requests.” Vendor optimisation has also been a big focus, with savings of around AED 4.5 million achieved. Web site hosting charges have been cut by 80% as a result of negotiating lower rates and consolidating hosting with a single provider within UAE. Some outsourced jobs, such as Unix administration and ERP support, were brought in house and negotiations were opened with vendors. “A few high cost vendors were replaced

with low cost and more effective vendors,” Srivastava says. The number of server boxes in the data centre has been reduced and the level of virtualisation increased. Multiple SANs have been consolidated, which has helped reduce backup times. One of the biggest individuals areas for savings has been telecomms. Previously under the control of general services, telecomms was brought under IT and since then around AED 4.5 million has been saved. “We deactivated a lot of connections, which saved us a couple of million, and we started negotiating with [operators],” explains Srivastava. As a result of those talks, Masdar has secured lower rates, increased bandwidth and obtained a number of free Blackberry devices from its provider. Rolling out those new devices has reduced the volume of support calls. “When you analyse your user call volume, the major issues you will find are with the laptops or mobile phones that are more than three years old,” says Srivastava. He says that in addition to reducing costs, several other benefits have been realised from the review of IT. Overall IT security has been improved and user complaints are dealt with more quickly. The morale of the IT team has also increased, along with its standing within the organisation.




Google launches its own tablet Nexus 7 is Google’s attempt to crack market dominated by iPad It will run on the latest version of Android, Hot on the heels of Microsoft’s tablet announcement 4.1, and should run for nine hours on a single (opposite and page 28), Google has announced battery charge. The price and form factor suggest it will plans to launch its own branded tablet product. The Nexus 7, which is made by Asus, will be a head on competitor for Amazon’s Kinhave a seven inch screen, 1280 x 800 display, dle. Time will tell if it can make an impact in a front facing camera for conferencing and a market segment dominated by Apple’s iPad. Wi-Fi connectivity. It runs on a Tegra 3 processor and will supCan Google make inroads port near field communication. into the tablet market? The Nexus will come with either 8GB or 16GB of storage and will retail for a bargain basement US $199 or $249 (depending on storage size). It is expected to be on sale by the end of July in North America. It will also have a mini USB port, 1GB of RAM, a gyroscope, GPS and microphone. It will be 10.45mm thick and weigh around 0.7 pounds. Mathew Sumner/Getty Images



Fujitsu adds Tesla GPUs to servers Fujitsu claims Primergy CX400 S1 offers superior performance The CX400 features up to four half-wide dual socket server nodes plus up to 24 storage drives in a single 2U enclosure.

The server features Nvidia Tesla graphics processing units (GPUs), enabling higher levels of performance than CPU-only systems, according to Fujitsu.

Applications it’s designed for include structural mechanics, fluid dynamics, seismic modeling, molecular dynamics, data mining and crash simulations.



Combining discreet CPUs and GPUs in a single system shifts parallel computing tasks to the GPU and keeps program logic aligned with the CPU.



June 18 Los Angeles, USA

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shows off the company’s forthcoming tablet, the ‘Surface’, during an event on June 18. Microsoft is going against type by launching its own Microsoft-branded, Windows-based hardware. With its 10.6 inch touchscreen, Windows 8 and a detachable cover that doubles as a keyboard, the company hopes to finally give Apple’s iPad some serious competition.



Raising cyber crime savvy Zayed Uni students study digital investigation software AccessData is to help Zayed University teach its students about digital forensics and cyber security. AccessData’s Forensic Toolkit 4.0 (FTK) will be installed in the uni’s labs where students studying the Masters in Digital Forensics will gain hands on experience of the software. AccessData will look to recruit graduates from the course and place them in relevant projects across the region. The need for digital investigation skills in growing in the Middle East, according to


Brooks: Cyber crime on the rise in the region.

Geoff Brooks, regional sales manager, AccessData. “The Middle East has seen cyber crime increase at an alarming rate in recent times,” he said. “These sophisticated and malicious attacks can have a crippling effect on organisations as well as the country as a whole when directed towards critical national infrastructure.” The company’s products keep tabs on data in any of the three states: data at rest on drives; volatile data in RAM; and data in motion on wireless and fixed networks.


Some call ‘them and light’. Others use the ‘Ultrabook’ term coined by Intel. Whatever terms they use, fat is out and thin is in when it comes to notebook PCs. Not only that, vendors are also trying to increase battery times and reduce startup times in an effort to make laptops appeal to potential tablet buyers. Some manufacturers have dispensed with clunky hard drives and used super thin, super light (and rather expensive) flash storage instead. ACN took three recent announcements from major laptop vendors — Samsung, Asus and Lenovo — and plugged them into Wordle to see what the word cloud generator thought of all this thinness and lightness.

Samsung Series 9



Asus TAICHI and Transformer Book

Lenovo ThinkPads

Don’t underesƟmate your aƩacker. They only need to be lucky once.

Secure your business with help AG. help AG is an information security service and solutions provider. Known for its unmatched technical expertise and support services, help AG understands the correlation between technical and strategic information security and brings you the best solutions available on this planet.











Combined performance of the world’s top supercomputers continues to surge he global resource of supercomputing power continues to surge ahead, with the total combined performance of the Top 500 supercomputers worldwide more than doubling over the past year. According to TOP500. org, which ranks the top 500 supercomputing systems worldwide against the Linpack Benchmark, the top 500 supercomputers have a combined computational power of 123.4 Petaflop/s, up from 58.7 Petaflop/s in June 2010. A Petaflop/s or Pflop/s represents a quadrillion floating point calculations per second. The latest list shows there are more systems than ever breaking the 1 Petaflop/s performance barrier, and more systems using multiple core processors and accelerators and co-processors to boost performance. The leading supercomputer in the world is the IBM



BlueGene/Q system, named Sequoia, which is installed at the US Department of Energy. Sequoia registered performance of 16.32 Pflop/s, knocking Japan’s K Computer, which had performance of 10.51 Pflop/s, off the top. However, only one supercomputing system in the Middle East is powerful enough to rank in the top 100 systems worldwide, and only three in total make the list. The IBM-based Shaheen Blue Gene/P Solution, installed at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, ranked 85th on the list, down from 39th place last year, after originally ranking 14th on its entry in June 2009. The Shaheen system registered maximum performance of 190.9 teraflops. Two other systems installed at Saudi Aramco have fallen outside the top 100, but still rank in the top 500.


Number of supercomputers breaking the Petaflop barrier










Top 3 supercomputers worldwide

RANK 1 2 3

NAME Sequoia K Computer Mira

TYPE IBM BlueGene/Q Fujitsu Q system

NAME Shaheen No name No name

TYPE IBM BlueGene/P HP cluster Dell cluster

Intel SPARC Supercomputers by processor

IBM Power AMD Opteron

Linux BSD Mixed

Supercomputers by operating system



POWER 16.32 Pflop/s 10.51 Pflop/s 8.15 Pflop/s

Top 3 supercomputers in the Middle East

RANK 85 470 471

123.4 Pflop/s



Percentage of Top500 systems using processors with six or more cores

COUNTRY KACST, KSA Saudi Aramco, KSA Saudi Aramco, KSA

POWER 190.9 Tflop/s 63.42 Tflop/s 63.15 Tflop/s


Increase in total computer power of the Top 500 in the last six months

2400% Increase in total computer power of the Top 500 in the last five years


Number of supercomputer systems using accelerators or co-processors








“When I started looking at it [cloud computing], I realised there’s a lot of resemblance to the old timeshare model of the 70s and early 80s where you outsourced your IT and a bunch of people shared the same hardware. Essentially, the industry has just rebranded it.”

HP tries to take control of Big Data New analytics offerings help businesses make sense of their data mountains



A look at Microsoft’s fortunes since its Surface announcement

Shihabi: Big Data is a challenge and an opportunity. 31

HP has introduced a range of offerings designed to help companies better manage and analyse data. According to research commissioned by HP, only 2% of executives said their organisations can deliver the information they need at the required time. “Big Data presents big opportunities, and challenges, for organisations today,” said Eyad Shihabi, managing director, HP Middle East. “HP’s powerful information optimisation solutions deliver the technologies and expertise required to help organisations succeed in this new era – by tackling any data type, source or environment.








Microsoft TICKER: MSFT GLOBAL NEWS: Microsoft stunned the IT community on June 18 by announcing the launch of its own tablet computer, known as the ‘Surface’. This is the first time Microsoft has released its own personal computing device running Windows, a job previously left exclusively to hardware partners. Analyst and media response to the Surface was favourable,


though many speculated that it was intended as a spur to PC makers, whose Windows-based tablets have failed to sell. Whatever the qualities of Surface, it remains to be seen if it can grab market share from the iPad, the dominant device in the burgeoning tablet market. LOCAL NEWS: The company is starting to make the cloud version of Office available in the region.


Whether on-premise, in the cloud, or hybrid, HP offerings allow organisations to turn big data into growth, opportunity and competitive advantage.” One of the new offerings takes advantage of Apache Hadoop, an open source, distributed data processing technology. HP App System for Apache Hadoop is a turnkey appliance designed to speed up the analysis of Hadoop workloads. It is integrated closely with Vertica 6, the latest version of the HP Vertica Analytics Platform, which is designed to allow companies to connect to, analyse, and manage any type of information located in any location using any interface. As part of the Vertica 6 release, Vertica is expanding its distributed computing framework to include support for the parallel execution of the advanced R analytics language natively within Vertica. HP has also unveiled a new Autonomy solution, Optimost Clickstream Analytics, which providing marketers with a single, consistent view of online customer visits, conversions and engagement. The solution leverages the Vertica Analytics Platform and Autonomy IDOL to provide marketers with access to clickstream data, enabling them to aggregate, combine and analyse the information any way they choose.



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



Pan Emirates to roll out Infor ERP and SCM

Mobily deploys cloud with BMC and Devoteam

Home furnishings company Pan Emirates is deploying Infor ERP and SCM solutions. The company will roll out Infor10 ERP Enterprise and Infor10 Supply Chain Execution to improve order management, procurement, inventory management and customer relationship management. The deployment, which will serve 70 ERP and 30 SCM users, is being carried out by Pan Emirates’ long term technology partner ITWARE, and Infor supply chain execution specialists SPAN. Pan Emirates will also deploy a tablet-based CRM application to allow sales staff and store managers to check availability and reserve products from the shop floor.

Mobily has completed the rol out of a private cloud, which allows its internal business units to self provision database and web servers. The cloud caters to 2000 users at the Saudi mobile operator. The project, which took five months to complete, is based on BMC’s Cloud Lifecycle Management (CLM) technology, which enables configurable cloud services. Users can access a graphical catalogue of the nine different services available, to select between a choice of Windows or Red Hat Linux operating system, Oracle and Microsoft SQL for databases, and Apache or IIS for web servers. Users are also presented with pricing for each service, so they can see what each option will cost. The cloud enables user groups across the company to self provision computing resources as required, giving them quicker access to resources, easier scaling up or down of resources, and improves the overall utilisation of the company’s IT infrastructure. The implementation of the cloud was carried out by Devoteam, which had already worked with Mobily on a number of projects including PMO management and Business Services Management.


Cyberoam boosts security for British International School Cyberoam has provided British International School Of Al Khobar (BISAK) with its Cyberoam CR200i network monitoring appliance. The solution allows the school to monitor and control internet usage, while protecting the network against intrusion attempts and DoS attacks. The school has seen a decrease in bandwidth taken up by spyware on the network and is able to block P2P activity and instant messaging. Access to harmful web sites and undesirable content is prevented. The solution allows full oversight of network activity and allows restrictions to be placed on individual users.




Topaz hires SonicWall to speed up network Dubai-based Topaz Energy and Marin has deployed an array of SonicWall products to help it speed up its enterprise network. The company, a marine and engineering solutions provider needed to improve 16 remote offices’ access to central IT systems. The company has so far deployed a range of VPN, firewall, e-mail security and backup & recovery systems, including the CDP 6080 and ES 5500 NSA. Plans are currently underway for Topaz to install the Aventail E-Class SSL VPN, which will facilitate remote connectivity to enterprise systems.



Gulf Air sets up DR centre Gulf Air has set up a disaster recovery centre (DRC). The new centre is located 15km away from its Muharraq headquarters, where the main data centre is housed. According to a statement, the centre has been designed and set up to ensure the continuity of the airline’s daily functions and provide a convenient temporary workspace for Gulf Air staff if the main facility is unavailable. The DRC is secured 24x7 with security guards and monitored by CCTV cameras. The DRC consists of a backup data centre with resilient power and communication links. There is a business continuity room equipped to allow key users to maintain critical functions independent of the main HQ.


A regional enterprise project at a glance


Gemalto helps make Oman e-government services secure Gemalto has been appointed by Oman Information Technology Authority (ITA) as the prime contractor to secure the country’s e-government services. The company will implement a range of new security measures for the ITA, including authentication and digital signatures using the eID card, as well as mobile authentication using a mobile handset. This initiative is designed to allow citizens and residents of Oman to securely access e-government services. Gemalto will deliver the complete Coesys eGov2.0 software together with training, support and maintenance. Omanis will be able to securely carry out administrative procedures online and digitally sign official documents and electronic forms without the need to physically visit government offices.


Mashreq opts for EMC storage Mashreq Bank has turned to EMC Symmetrix VMAX solutions to handle its growing storage requirements. The bank has seen its data grow by 30% each year as it increases its retail presence, and was struggling to scale its storage infrastructure and control costs. The bank has now consolidated its IT infrastructure onto EMC Symmetrix VMAX enterprise storage, delivering a range of benefits, including 30% better storage utilisation, 15% better performance of data centre infrastructure, greater automation of storage and better scalability.

User: Ajmal Perfumes. Project: The Dubai-based perfume maker is installing a new ERP system across its business operations. Supplier: 3i Infotech. The product: ORION Enterprise 10.6 ERP system, including manufacturing, retail, supply chain and HR modules. The objective: The solution will help Ajmal Perfumes to track activity at its manufacturing plants and consolidate information in realtime across various locations. It will also help enhance customer relationships and supplier relationships throughout manufacturing and retail outlets around the globe. What the customer said: “We look forward to the implementation of the Orion Enterprise solution, which will allow us to enhance customer relationships, while providing a holistic view of the entire business at all times,” said Abdulla Ajmal, general manager, Ajmal Perfumes.




SBM builds network for KSA Project integrates branches of Justice Ministry Saudi Business Machines (SBM) has completed a comprehensive network infrastructure project for the KSA Ministry of Justice. The systems integrator worked with Cisco, Schneider, ABC Company and Juffali. The network links the ‘Information Centre of the Project Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz’ (L-R) Essam and 230 branches of Al-Shiha, SBM, the ministry, courts and with Minister of Justice Dr. public notaries across Mohammed the Kingdom. Al-Issa. The project was completed in nine months, and includes IT security to prevent network intrusion, and an integrated call centre to handle enquiries from citizens and technical support staff. SBM also


deployed video conferencing solutions for the Ministry. Essam Shiha, VP of sales at SBM said: “We are delighted to be working with the Ministry of Justice in this huge project, and we are proud to be part of this success, which will help to transfer transactions and work affairs efficiently and instantly through the Ministry of Justice.

7 AUS appeals for investment in new technologies 8 Winners of MIT Arab business plan competition announced

Norton by Symantec names five scams and spams to avoid “LIKE-“ OR “LIKE” CLICK“SHARE-BAITING” JACKING




Scammers will ask the user to Like or Share a Facebook Page to access special privileges or content. After ‘liking’, the user will be forwarded to a survey that asks the user for personal info, where the author makes money for every view.

The user will install a Facebook application, but it will be malicious and take over the user’s page, giving the attacker the ability to post on the user’s wall, access the user’s messages and chat with the user’s friends.

The user will get the promise of an interesting video or website but will need to copy and paste the information into the address bar of the browser. Selfexecuting scam will then post spam on the user’s behalf.

Ever see an interesting story or shocking status update? Beware, these are generally hoaxes created to be passed around Facebook. The goal of hoaxes is to either generate traffic to a spam site or simply to troll other users.



1 Etisalat launches rollover minutes 2 RIM posts first quarterly loss in seven years 3 Microsoft enters tablet arena with Surface 4 Top networking professionals honoured by NME 5 Huawei to launch Windows 8 smartphone 6 Port of Fujairah deploys Oracle E-Business Suite

What not to do on Facebook

These pages have hidden “Like” buttons – for example, behind a video play button, there’s a “Like” button. Some pages will even ask the user to click multiple times, generating multiple “Likes” with each click.


9 More UAE schools to introduce cutting-edge technology 10 Qtel and Tata fortify partnership

COMMENT OF THE MONTH “Kudos to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT’s unlimited support has helped numerous people around the globe who otherwise would stagnate due to lack of funds.” JULIET LOPEZ PRAISES MIT’S ENTERPRISE FORUM ARAB BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION FOR ENTREPRENEURS

.‫ ﻳﺒﻘﻮن ﻣﻌﻨﺎ‬.‫ﻧﺬﻫﺐ إﻟﻴﻬﻢ‬ We go to them. They stay with us. ‫ ﻣﻼﻳﻴﻦ‬7 ‫دﻋﻤﻜﻢ اﻟﻤﺴﺘﻤﺮ ﻋﻠﻰ ﻣﺪى اﻟﺴﻨﻮات اﻟﺨﻤﺲ اﻟﻤﺎﺿﻴﺔ ﻣﻨﺢ‬ .‫ ﺑﻠﺪ* ﻧﺎﻣﻴ( ﻓﺮﺻﺔ اﻟﺤﺼﻮل ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺘﻌﻠﻴﻢ ا!ﺳﺎﺳﻲ اﻟﺴﻠﻴﻢ‬28 ‫ﻃﻔﻞ ﻓﻲ‬ Your continuous support for the past five years has given 7 million children in 28 countries access to quality primary education.

Photo by Dubai Cares in Boghé, Mauritania (2012)


Inside the Flame Capabilities of Flame malware still emerging as analysis continues

Modules used by Flame Gator When an Internet connection becomes available, it connects to the C&C servers, downloads new modules, and uploads collected data



hile the Flame malware attack only targeted a few thousand users at most, and seems to have been successfully neutralised, once security companies finally spotted it, the analysis of the malware is still uncovering some very interesting facts about this sophisticated spy tool. Flame is best described as a cyber-espionage toolkit, written partly in the Lua scripting language with compiled C++ code linked in. The malware was controlled by a worldwide network of command and control servers (C&C), registered to false names and addresses, mainly in Europe. Data was regularly sent from compromised PCs to the C&C servers through a covert SSL channel. Flame has a range of capabilities, including being able to steal documents, take screenshots of user’s desktops, spread via USB drives, disable security vendor products, turn on PC microphones, turn on Bluetooth and search for nearby Bluetooth devices and intercept network traffic. The malware also has the capability to analyze the hardware, applications, and security software on an infected machine, and then download


corresponding modules to exploit what it found. Flame is able to identify which antivirus software, if any, is in use on a host machine, and modify its behaviour to avoid detection, a factor that lead to it being live for several years. Although the complete Flame package weighs in at 20MB, it is likely a much smaller version was initially downloaded, with further modules then being covertly downloaded over time. Flame also appears to have been in development for a considerable amount of time, with version numbers ranging from 2.020 to 2.243 discovered, and clear differences between versions. If the developers were following the usual naming conventions, that would indicate that the detected version of Flame is a second generation of the malware, and that there are possibly hundreds of variants Whoever was behind Flame, which still remains unknown, was also quick to cover their steps. Researchers found a removal tool that was sent to a ‘sinkholed’ C&C server which had been taken over by a security company, presumably as a means to remove the malware, while the C&C network also shutdown in June.


Tracks Bluetooth devices around the infected machines and turns the infected host into a discoverable Bluetooth beacon

Microbe Records audio from existing hardware on infected PC

Infectmedia Selects methods to infect media such as USB drives


Total number of infections


Command & Control Domains


Full size of Flame package 20x larger than Stuxnet

Limbo Creates a backdoor account to access other machines on the network domain

Frog Infect machines using pre-defined user accounts

Munch HTTP server that responds to “/view.php” and “/wpad.dat” requests

Snack Listens on network interfaces, receives and saves NBNS packets in a log file

Security to detect antivirus programs and firewalls

Preferred Pre ed file type types targeted


Other 2.212 2.241


Infections by different versio versions of Flame



196 IRAN

2008 Possible inception date 2.242




Mid-May 2012 ITU asks for help in analysing Wiper

March M arch 2008 Flame Flam Fl a e C&C am ddomain omain registration regi g st s ration bbegins be gins


April 23, 2012 Wiper, malware referenced by Flame, attacks Iranian oil facilities

May 28, 2012 Kaspersky Lab indentifies Flame

June 2012 C&C servers send code to remove Flame from some infected PCs

Possible P os ss sib iblle e ways way ay of initial ini nittiia all infection inf n ec ect of

Sources: Kaspersky Security Network (KSN), Kaspersky Securelist, OpenDNS

Infected systems by operating system





Oracle makes its big cloud announcement


A look at the threats that were discovered by Kaspersky in Q1

Larry Ellison touts “most comprehensive” cloud on Earth Oracle has CLOUD rolled out what CEO Larry Ellison describes as the “most comprehensive” cloud on Earth. Oracle’s hosted offering comes in three parts: Oracle Cloud Platform Services, Oracle Cloud Application Services and Oracle Cloud Social Services. “Almost seven years of relentless engineering and innovation plus key strategic acquisitions. An investment of billions. We are now announcing the most comprehensive cloud on the planet Earth,” said Ellison. “Most cloud vendors only have niche assets. They don’t have platforms to extend. Oracle is the only vendor that offers a complete suite of modern, socially-enabled applications, all based on a standards-based platform.” Oracle Cloud provides sub-

Kaspersky has released its latest report, ‘IT Threat Evolution: Q1 2012’. The report provides an overview of threats detected in the first quarter. Sample data from the report follows.

scription-based access to a range of services, which are managed, hosted and supported by Oracle. It is hosted on Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic, the company’s engineered server platforms. The products on offer include various business applications and platform services, including ERP and CRM applications, hosted databases, shared analytics dashboards, document collaboration, site hosting and others. Oracle also unveiled a set of social services, including Oracle Social Network, a collaboration and social network for business; Oracle Social Data Services, for aggregating data from social networks and enterprise sources; and Oracle Social Intelligence Services, to enable marketers to analyse social media interactions and interact with customers.





Q4 2010

Q1 2011

Q2 2011

Q3 2011

Q4 2011

Q1 2012

NUMBER OF NEW MALWARE RECORDS FOR MAC OS X Although the number of malicious programs for Mac OS X is currently significantly smaller than that of malware for Windows, it is obvious that cybercriminals are seriously interested in Mac OS. 6000



Oracle Cloud: It rocks, according to Larry Ellison.

Q3 2011

Q4 2011

Q1 2012

Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images




In Q1 2012, Kaspersky detected over 5,000 (5,444) malicious programs for the platform. The total number of malicious programs targeting Android has increased ninefold in the past six months. For a look at the report, visit: en/analysis/204792231/IT_Threat_Evolution_Q1_2012


TABLET HABITS IDG Connect recently spoke to 3124 IT and business professionals worldwide about their tablet habits. It discovered that: 71% own a tablet and most of these have an iPad. 44% of those who don’t own a tablet would buy an Android device. 27% of those who don’t own a tablet would buy an iPad. 64% of iPad owners use the tablet daily for work. 58% of Android owners use the tablet daily for work. 71% of Blackberry tablet owners use their tablet daily for work.


The cirrus and stratus of ME cloud computing Red Hat has announced the general availability of JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6. JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6 features a new cloud-ready architecture, new and improved management capabilities and upgraded usability. It provides developers and enterprises with a way to help enterprises build applications and deploy them to users through the cloud.



Cisco: Internet to quadruple Growth rate could be even greater in Middle East The amount of IP traffic travelling across the global internet will quadruple by 2016 from now, according to Cisco’s ‘Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast (2011-2016)’. Forecast IP traffic in the Middle East and Africa could grow even more: eightfold between 2010 and 2015, a compound annual growth rate of 52%, the Cisco report predicts. The Middle East’s IP traffic in 2015 will be equivalent to six billion DVDs per year, 505 million DVDs per month, or 691,466 DVDs per hour. In 2015, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross the Middle East and Africa’s IP networks every three hours. “Times are certainly changing with VNI data projecting that there will be 72 million internet households generating more than 200 gigabytes per month in 2016, and 19 billion networked devices. The network is more important today than any time in history, as more and more people rely on it everyday to live their lives and run their businesses,” said


Microsoft and BSolutions have joined forces to offer Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a hosted offering across the Middle East & North Africa. Microsoft Dynamics CRM will offer a combination of marketing, sales, customer services and analytical tools. The cloud-based offering will cost $40 per user, per month or $34 per user for a 25 user bundle. BSolutions offers the option of an Arabic user interface and Arabic speaking technical support. “Our CRM solutions support business expansion and growth by bringing about sales automation and better customer care, which we aug-

Rabih Dabboussi, general manager, Cisco United Arab Emirates. Growth is being driven by an increasing number of devices, including tablets and smartphones; ever increasing internet penetration; development of broadband networks, peer to peer networking and consumer demand for online video.

Dabboussi: Humanity is ever more reliant on networks.

ment with our own developed add-on features and industry-specific solutions,” said Mina Nagy, BSolutions product manager. EMC has acquired privately held Syncplicity, a developer of cloudbased file management solutions. The company provides native cloudbased sync and share capabilities required by enterprise customers. Its solutions have been built to enable sharing and collaboration, while maintaining security and compliance levels. Syncplicity joins EMC’s Information Intelligence Group.

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Cloud version of Office reaches KSA


Intel gives the PC market a boost What’s the story? Intel has released its third generation Core processors for desktop and laptop PCs.

Alfalak Company is licensed to resell Office 365 to enterprises in Saudi Arabia

What does it mean? Around 30 new Ultrabook devices are now expected to enter the market; these are ultra-thin and light laptops that offer longer battery life and shorter startup times compared with normal laptops. What was said? “With these new 3rd generation Intel Core-based Ultrabook devices, mobile computing as we know it today will suddenly seem old fashioned,” said Nassir Nauthoa, Intel’s general manager for the GCC countries.

Alfalak Electronic Equipment & Supplies Company has become the Authorised Microsoft Cloud Licensing Distributor for Microsoft Office 365 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This means the company will now be the official reseller of the cloud version of Office, known as Office 365, in KSA. “Microsoft Office 365 unlocks new possibilities for local businesses to boost their productivity globally through powerful cloud-based applications that allow them to work securely and communicate in real-time from almost anywhere,” said Ahmed Ashadawi, president and CEO, Alfalak Electronic Equipment & Supplies. Rather than installing Office on PCs, Microsoft Office 365 is based on a subscription model with users interacting with the software through the


Ashadawi says Office 365 allows businesses to work anywhere.

internet, or cloud. It offers the full range of office productivity features, including e-mail and calendars, conferencing, file sharing, applications, mobility and security. Microsoft has been conducting trials of Office 365 since least year and is now rolling out the product commercially. It sees Office 365 as perfect for SMEs keen to minimise their investment in fixed IT assets.


11.9% Year on year fall in EMEA server revenues in Q1, 2012




YoY decline in Middle East & Africa server revenues in Q1, 2012


Source: IDC


Analysts react to Microsoft tablet


nalyst reaction to Microsoft’s newly announced tablet device has been mixed, with most commentators predicting that Surface could sell well into businesses, but with reservations about its consumer potential and its impact on the wider industry. In general, the hardware aspect of the Surface is regarded as a success, but analysts feel that Microsoft needs to sell the overall user experience. “Hardware-wise, Microsoft has done a very good job of launching a device that is exciting and different, but it needs to deliver what it has been promising with the new Windows 8 strategy,” said Francisco Jeronimo, European research manager for Mobile Devices, IDC. “Consumers will not buy, and especially not pay a premium for, the Surface until they understand the additional value they can get compared with the iPad and how the device inteHere’s what it looks like: An attached keyboard marks the Surface out from grates with their PCs, gaming other tablet competitors. consoles, Windows Phones, etc. The entire eco-system, and not unlinked pieces of it, is what will make Mi“There are no surprises in the software – crosoft’s proposition attractive.” the Surface tablet uses the same two desktop Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at and RT versions of Windows 8 we’ve been Ovum was more sceptical, saying that while hearing about. As such, nothing has changed the large installed base of Windows might there and it still looks like a huge break with the past on the surface but with a jarring mean the device is attractive to business, switch back to the old desktop world hidden Microsoft will need to deliver a stronger beneath,” Dawson said. software experience and better integration “In theory, it delivers all the benefits of to gain traction with consumers.



Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Design and features of Surface praised, but analysts unconvinced it can unseat iPad in consumer space without demonstrating value

both the tablet-optimised environment and the classic desktop approach and apps, but in reality the versions available to try at the moment are a horrible mishmash of the two worlds that is likely to be confusing for the consumer,” he added. Microsoft will introduce two versions of the Surface: Surface for Windows 8 Pro, an Intel-based tablet that runs the edition


SURFACE MODELS Surface for Windows RT ARM processor, Windows RT, 10.6-inch touch display, 676 grammes, attached keyboard, 720P display; Wi-fi, 3G/4G unlikely, likely to be price competitive with iPad. Surface for Windows 8 Pro Intel processor, Windows 8 Pro, 10.6-inch touch display, 903 grammes, attached keyboard, 1080P display, Wi-fi, 3G/4G TBC, likely to be price competitive with Ultrabooks.

of the upcoming Windows 8 operating system designed for Intel based PCs; and Surface for Windows RT, a tablet running on ARM microprocessors. The latter will not be backwards compatible with previous Windows applications. The Surface tablets sport a 10.6-inch touch display, larger than the iPad, and a built-in stand that allows it to be sat upright. Surface for Windows RT weighs 676 grams while Surface for Windows 8 Pro weighs 903 grams. Pricing had not been disclosed by press time. Unlike the iPad, the Surface will come with a removable keyboard and track pad, allowing Microsoft to argue that it is a viable tool for corporate and personal productivity, as well as a content consumption device. David McQueen, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, expects to see interest in Surface among business users, provided Microsoft can change the perception of tablet devices as being more than just devices for consuming content. “Tablets have been finding their way into

the enterprise, despite being mainly classed as consumption rather than productivity devices, and it will be interesting to see if a Microsoft tablet changes that perception. If it has the requisite Windows Office applications available from launch – across both device types and suitable peripherals to make input easier – at a price point that is competitive, then I do see it displacing notebooks and netbooks in the office,” McQueen said. “However, there may be a problem with fragmentation owing to ARM-based and Intel-based versions of the same Win8 tablets, and possible differences once other vendors launch products, which may stymie the market in a way that has caused Android to suffer to some extent. However, this may be addressed in future Windows releases that pull together full support for the enterprise and are also optimised for touch and gesture control,” he commented. McQueen added that Surface has some features that differentiate it from other tablet devices, such as the kickstand and detachable keypad, but that price point, screen size, memory and applications would be essential differentiators for consumer markets. McQueen also pointed out that the Surface would likely be the first Win8 device to market, and would put Microsoft into competition with its OEM partners. Surface could play a role as a showcase for the benefits of Windows 8 and the tablet format, in a similar fashion to Google’s ownbrand Nexus phones, but Microsoft would have to have a market-ready proposition. “By taking this approach, Microsoft needs to make sure it hits the market running as it is essential the tablet is properly marketed and shows its full potential if it has any hope of displacing Apple’s iPad in certain segments,” he said. If Microsoft is going to take a more

closed approach to its route to market, Jeronimo said, then the company may need to tap more experience in the supply chain, possibly through an acquisition of an existing hardware player. Dawson predicted the move could mean trouble for Microsoft. “On the hardware front, what does it say about the tablets Microsoft is seeing from its OEM partners as it gets ready to launch Windows 8, that they felt they needed to launch their own tablet?” he said. “Either they are not happy with the devices out there, or they are not satisfied with only taking a licence fee from selling Windows-based tablets. Either way, it is a huge vote of no confidence in its OEM partners, who should rightly feel slighted. It is rarely a good idea for an OS owner to start competing with its OEM partners, and this does not feel like an exception.”

WHAT THEY SAID “The entire eco-system, and not unlinked pieces of it, is what will make Microsoft’s proposition attractive.” Francisco Jeronimo, IDC. “It is rarely a good idea for an OS owner to start competing with its OEM partners, and this does not feel like an exception.” Jan Dawson, Ovum. “If it has the requisite Windows office applications available from launch – across both device types and suitable peripherals to make input easier – at a price point that is competitive, then I do see it displacing notebooks and netbooks in the office.” David McQueen, Informa Telecoms & Media.




Investment needed in local tech says AUS Locally developed technology innovations have commercial potential, but lack investment support, according to university professor


merican University of Sharjah (AUS) is appealing to venture capitalists to invest in helping locally developed technologies to become commercial propositions. Faculty at AUS say the university has developed numerous patents and technologies, but it needs financial support in order to be able to bring them to market. The university is particularly keen to get support for its Sleep Apnea Monitor (SAM) application, a mobile app developed by computer engineering students at AUS. Running on Windows and Android devices, the app can help in assessing and monitoring whether a user has sleep apnea, a condition where a person has restricted airways, and reduced breathing while sleeping. The SAM uses the mobile device’s



built-in microphone and accelerometer to measure breathing and movement patterns, along with GPS, to record data that can indicate whether the patient has the condition or not, to allow them to seek further treatment, and to allow researchers to study wider patterns of sleep apnea. In addition, doctors can remotely monitor users through a website, which is interfaced with Google Maps to keep track of user locations, and their analyzed records, and track local patterns of sufferers. “We are now ready to take the app to the next level and commercialise it for mass use, but funding remains essential,” said Dr Fadi A. Aloul, associate professor, computer science and engineering. “The solutions developed at AUS are designed to support different local and regional business sectors, by providing them with the innovation needed to compete Venture capitalists with global organishould recognise and sations. That is why support local talent, says Aloul. it is time for venture capital firms in the region to realise the local talent and invest in locally developed technologies, which stand up to global competitors,” he added. The application has undergone extensive testing by AUS, and has won several awards, including a du Mobile Development Award; second place in the Microsoft Imagine Cup UAE competition; second place in the

7th National Mobile Contest organized by Khalifa University and Khalifa Fund; third place in the IEEE (the world’s largest association for the advancement of technology) Engineering Day Competition as well as first place in the AUS College of Engineering Senior Design Competition. Aloul hints that there is a potential treasure trove of innovation sitting in the AUS computer labs. “AUS has numerous patents and technologies developed on campus that people still don’t know about,” he continues. “The support of public and private organisations is crucial to bringing these technologies to life and positioning the UAE as a science and technology development hub among advanced nations. We extend an invitation to all organisation to visit our labs and learn more about our technologies.” An engineering student from AUS recently won the top prize at the first Nokia University App Challenge with a mobile application that helps users find restaurants across the UAE. Nabeel Kassim, a third year electrical engineering student at AUS, in partnership with his friend Zulqarnain Mehdi from Troy University, created BonAppetit, a Nokia app that helps users search for restaurants and other eating places by cuisines and locations. The app also allows users to contact the restaurant directly. BonAppetit won the top spot in the challenge, beating entries from almost 200 other students from eight universities in the UAE. Ten apps were shortlisted for the award ceremony from the 22 apps that were submitted. The winners were awarded US$5,000 in cash, a summer internship at Nokia UAE and a study tour to the Nokia Research Centre in Finland.



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A leading bank reduced loan default calculation times from 96 hours to just 4. A major retailer reduced the time it takes to optimize store-specific pricing each week from 30 hours to 2.


Milaha boosts its analytics capabilities Qatar’s Milaha rolls out IBM Cognos to harvest data from across its diverse businesses and turn it into powerful business intelligence reports


ilaha, the Qatar-based shipping, logistics and maritime services company, has completed the deployment of IBM Cognos TM1, to greatly improve the company’s analytics capabilities. The project, which was carried out in partnership with systems integrator Gulf Business Machines (GBM), involved integration of a wide range of data from diverse systems, to provide Milaha with fast and detailed business intelligence across all of its operations. Milaha, which was formerly known as Qatar Navigation, has operations in diverse areas including maritime and logistics, trading, real estate and investments. The aim of the project was to bring together data from across all of these operations, into a single business intelligence application that is easy to use for staff, and provide up-to-date analytics information. The Cognos TM1 solution captures actual financial data that can be easily analysed for decision making, including current month data, coming from Milaha’s Oracle ERP System; along with non-financial metrics and data, pertaining to the company’s marine and logistics operations. In contrast to the financial data that resides in the Oracle ERP System, this data is taken from Milaha’s operational systems. The company selected GBM for the project, which included installation and development, along with training for users. IBM Cognos TM1 was deployed on an HP Proliant server at Milaha’s head office, and in total, the project took 17 weeks to deliver, including two weeks of developer and end user training. “The project’s primary aim was to provide Milaha an automated solution to ex-



OLAP IN BI Online analytical processing (OLAP) technologies are a critical aid in business multi-dimensional analysis. Companies use multi-dimensional analysis to get maximum value from their business intelligence by providing users with quick insight into the complex relationships between a variety of business performance indicators and trends. Multi-dimensional analysis may, for example, show revenues over time in a certain region under a specific set of circumstances. OLAP technology presents this complex data in ways that are simple to understand and manipulate, and gives enterprises the ability to react more quickly than competitors to new intelligence. OLAP consists of three basic analytical operations: consolidation (roll-up), drill-down, and slicing and dicing – taking specific sets of data and analysing them from different view points. Leading OLAP-based systems use graphical interfaces and integration with familiar productivity applications and client suites, which help users not just to analyse the data, but to understand it properly as well.

Chebib: IBM Cognos TM1 is sophisticated, yet easy to use.

tract their data, report on it, and budget. They needed a sophisticated, yet easy to use, system to analyse their data. The multidimensional OLAP functionality of IBM Cognos TM1 fitted their requirements very well. With this solution, Milaha is now able to look at the information in a different manner and analyse it in any way they need. In addition, Milaha’s user base was looking for a tech-easy solution which the business could manage, instead of relying on their IT department, which was the case for their ERP system,” explained Soubhi Chebib, country general manager, GBM Qatar. “The implementation required creating the planning and forecasting model as per Milaha’s business processes, at the same time making it simple enough to be easily used enterprise wide by each department,” Chebib added. “The biggest benefit to Milaha comes in the form of time savings. In the past, it was time consuming to run multiple reports, cut and paste in Excel, manipulate data, and so forth. Previous to the deployment of this project, it would take much longer for Milaha to complete the necessary processes; however, with the implementation of the project it can now pull out all necessary information from the multiple source applications within seconds. Milaha will now have the ability to have access to statistical data that wasn’t readily available before, from one system,” Chebib said.


Milaha has diverse operations in shipping, logistics, trading and real estate, and investments, and steering all of these successfully requires managing different data sets drawn from across the business.

Another important aim of the project was to be able to utilise it for budgeting. Milaha already had an existing budgeting solution that allowed highly focused management of budgeting across the company’s different business units. The company also has a large general ledger, manpower in excess of 3,000 people and considerable annual capital expenditures. To accommodate

this, GBM and Milaha invested considerable time in customising Cognos TM1, with multiple testing phases, to ensure it provided the right capabilities to all business units. Sami Shtayyeh, vice president, financial planning & analysis at Milaha, commented: “We didn’t want to lose any functionality that we had with our previous budgeting solution. In addition, we also wanted to en-

hance the system and process. We wanted linkages from our manpower and capital expenditures budgets direct with the financial budget. As a company, we budget to the lowest level ie. individual, account number, capital requirement, hence capitalising on linkages was critical.” The BI application now gives Milaha much faster access to reports, as well as access to reports on data that wasn’t previously easily accessible. The flexibility of Cognos, and its strong integration with Microsoft Excel, also meant that the solution is able to easily provide reporting to users in different formats, so that they can get to the data that is most relevant to them. “Many finance professionals can’t work without Excel – having a strong interface with Excel makes it easy to view live data, and at the same time utilise all the other aspects of Excel for analysis. In the past, our reports had always been static, and to update or change them, we had to run new reports. That is no longer the case,” Shtayyeh adds. “We can quickly view results on different hierarchical levels, over various timelines, using multiple dimensions. This is the main benefit of a multi-dimensional OLAP tool. Milaha has multiple business units, each with several responsibility centres. Different managers want to view their results in different ways. Some prefer to look at detailed results by account number, by responsibility centre, through different time periods. Others prefer to view high level results at the business unit level. We can now accommodate both, very quickly. “In the end, the system is really about enabling us to make better decisions, more quickly. We have not achieved the end state, but implementing IBM Cognos TM1 has helped move us in the right direction,” Shtayyeh concluded.




Mobile markets keep everyone guessing Developments in the mobile sector over the past few weeks look likely to bring more change to what is already a highly volatile market. Google announced the latest version of its Android OS, and dipped another toe in the hardware market, with the release of its own-branded tablet. Apple remains tight-lipped as ever, although the buzz is building around iPhone 5, which is rumoured to launch in August. But the really interesting news came not Google and Apple, the two challengers turned leaders in the mobility sector, but rather from the past leaders RIM and Nokia. To look at RIM first, it’s becoming increasingly hard to see a future for the company in its present form. Last month RIM announced a 33% drop in revenue, and that its BlackBerry 10 handsets have been delayed until the start of next year. For the company that once set the bar on enterprise mobility, it looks like a fatal delay. I’ve spoken to more than a few mobile developers who are deserting the platform, and IT managers are turning away too. As business end users increasingly choose their own devices, they just aren’t willing to wait for a new BlackBerry. There are plenty of other devices to choose from, and businesses are rolling out Mobile Device Management solutions to accommodate those choices. RIM’s CEO Thorsten Heins has warned of more belt-tightening, but RIM needs a radical solution that will likely involve opening its platform or selling off the hardware business to continue. A more interesting picture is painted by Nokia. The Finnish phone giant also announced in June that it was ‘sharpening’ its efficiency measures – ie. cutting more jobs, shedding R&D, manufacturing and business units. I don’t think the picture for Nokia is quite all doom and gloom – but it is going to need to line up the ducks if it’s going to make a comeback. For a start, unlike RIM, Nokia’s hero phone, the Lumia is available in several markets, and getting good reviews. The partnership with Microsoft, and switch to Windows Phone OS, looks like a good move, even if the two companies haven’t been able to deliver the Lumia to the Middle East yet, and good reviews haven’t translated into strong sales. Nokia’s integration with Microsoft is appealing to business users, how-



ever, because it promises to fit with their Office deployments and applications. It is also a plus for developers, by giving a familiar platform to work on. The next step however will be critical, with the shift to Windows 8. Windows Phone 7 isn’t upgradeable to 8, so anyone looking at Nokia Windows phones at present, can either buy now and get stuck on 7, or wait for 8 – and there are no guarantees of when 8 is coming, or if it’s going to deliver everything that Nokia and Microsoft hope it will. Nokia needs Windows 8 sooner rather than later, and it needs it to be good. Microsoft’s decision to release its own tablet range based on Windows 8 could also be a boost to Nokia, in terms of showing what a tight integration between hardware and software can deliver, and in proving a commitment to the wider ecosystem. Nokia also needs to maintain an effective investment in R&D. The company was a famous big spender on research, but the cutbacks have included the loss of some R&D facilities. In a highly competitive market, Nokia needs to capitalise on the strengths it has in technology like location-based apps, and to continue to add new technology to differentiate itself. The Android market is looking a bit homogenous, but to compete with Apple, it has to provide the ‘wow’ factor. So if Windows 8 Phone actually gets to market in a reasonable time frame, and delivers on all its promises, if developers commit to the Windows platform and Nokia retains its ability to crank out standout handsets, then we could still be looking at a three horse race in the mobile sector. Or perhaps not. Nokia chairman Risto Siilasmaa recently hinted in a television interview that the company wasn’t quite betting everything on the Windows OS. Siilasmaa wouldn’t be drawn on details, but he hinted that Nokia has an alternative in case Windows 8 is not up to scratch. What that alternative might be, and whether Nokia really has an alternative to making a success out of Windows 8, remains to be seen.

Mark Sutton Senior Group Editor

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Cyber attacks and their implications The hackers have been at it again. The Flame virus was discovered on computers in the Middle East and then LinkedIn passwords were hacked. Nicolai Solling looks at the implications for the region’s internet users.


he Middle East, which has already seen a dramatic rise in malware attacks over the last year, recently fell victim to the much talked about Flame virus. Another major security breach that has drawn tremendous media attention has been the leakage of over 6.5 million user passwords from the business networking site LinkedIn. The intentions behind these two attacks as well as their implications and impact are, however, vastly different. Let’s first gain an understanding of the much talked about Flame virus. Kaspersky Labs, which first discovered the threat, described it as the ‘most complex piece of malicious software yet .’ It has now been revealed that the virus gains entry to Windows PCs by exploiting a vulnerability of the Windows Update Service. All Windows updates require a security certificate signed by Microsoft. By providing a certificate that appears to belong to Microsoft, the Flame virus bypasses this restriction. The PC then downloads what appears to be a genuine Windows update that is in fact the loader for the Flame virus. Once the loader has downloaded the virus, cyber criminals gain the ability to take screenshots, listen in to conversations though the system mic and even capture video though an attached webcam. As we have found out more about the virus, however, we have been relieved to learn that the extent of its distribution is limited. If you are running updated anti-virus and follow the normal practices, you will be safe. Going forward, we are likely to see more and more advanced versions of the virus. It may have a different name, but this isn’t the last ‘Flame’ we shall see. Unlike Flame, which was targeted, the hacking of LinkedIn accounts has the potential to affect a larger group. Reports from the company, which had 161 million registered users as of March, suggest that over 6.5 million passwords have been leaked. As a security measure, LinkedIn, as well as most other internet companies, does not store passwords as clear-text but instead use a technique called Password Hashing. Hashing is a mathematical operation which converts the clear-text password into an irreversible hash-value of the password. This means that when you log in, it is the hash-value of the password that is actually being sent to the application, which is then compared to the hash-value stored in the database. So in spite of these hash-values being leaked, users are still safe, right? To some extent, this is true, because decoding a hash is normally a tedious trial-and-error type process which requires trying all possible combinations of characters. So in theory yes, your clear-text password has not been leaked, but here is the problem: today there are databases available which allow hackers to compare a hash-value

and then recreate the clear- text password. So what can users do to protect themselves? The first and most obvious thing would be to change their LinkedIn password. Also, while on LinkedIn, users should check their profiles to make sure that no changes have been made. In particular, check the e-mail addresses that have been linked to the profile and ensure that only authorised addresses are in this list. In the coming weeks, users will probably come across websites that allow them to check if their LinkedIn passwords were leaked. A word of advice would be to first change your LinkedIn password and then use this service to check if your old password was leaked. Be sure to never type in your new password as you do not know who is monitoring the site. Finally, make sure you develop your own password policy. This would involve changing your password at least once in two months and using passwords that use a combination of lower case, upper case, special characters and numbers. Users tend to re-use passwords across sites. This is absolutely unacceptable as a single compromised account may lead to all other accounts being jeopardised. As the number of internet threats grow in terms of volume and sophistication, users have to be increasingly aware of the consequences of their actions. As these threats hit closer to home, users can no longer afford to adopt the ‘it will never happen to me’ mentality. It is time to take charge of your online presence and remember – a hacker has only to be lucky once.

Nicolai Solling is the director of technology services at help AG.




Securing data in the cloud Businesses must retain total control over their data if they are to be confident using the cloud. As vendors start offering more data security-centric platforms, SMBs will embrace the cloud, say Avinash Advani and Kuber Saraswat.


loud is the great leveller of our era; it allows organisations of any size to draw on resources of any capacity, for a fraction of the cost and little or no capital expenditure. No wonder todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s SMB market, which is the largest growing segment of business globally, is so readily looking at cloud adoption.With the advent of new work practices to meet the challenge of a dynamic business environment, the physical perimeter of the office is now diluted. Practices like work from home, remote access, and collaborative working with business are forcing businesses to extend their contact points and presence beyond the physical office. Businesses now expect their information to be immediately available and ready for use. The competitive edge in business today is derived from this speed of access to information. From the point of view of an SMB, the cloud provides them with data storage, scalability, computing power and more at an excellent cost/benefit ratio and saves them the effort of setting up the infrastructure and the resources to manage the same. So what has been preventing mass adoption of cloud by these companies? Some of the common concerns surround the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information in the cloud. Concerns relate to unauthorised data access, data segregation, backup and recovery, and auditing of data access. It has been found that the many widely used and renowned cloud storage solutions have significant weaknesses, such as no online recycle bins, no automatic removal of local files when they are uploaded into the cloud, no automatic upload of files based on file type, no restriction on what type of device a user can connect from, and essentially no digital rights management functionality at all. Effective cloud security means adopting a data centric security model, which means that the security is now applied to the data itself. By using this kind of an approach, the control over the data is passed back to the data owner directly. Since the approach works by applying security to the data itself, it also unlocks benefits such as watermarking, secure deletion and data expiry. With users accessing the cloud over myriad devices, it becomes essential that users and data owners are able to persistently encrypt data with a single click and have the ability to make this data accessible to authorised users on all devices. Such a solution will support confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Sensitive, protected data can be shared with colleagues, customers, suppliers, advisors



Avinash Advani is director of business strategy, StarLink.

and partners, while retaining the ability to monitor who does what, when and where. Data centric solutions are normally architected with online secure storage provided by a virtual vault where users can save files, making them accessible through any web browser. Space for each user can be easily managed by a group administrator. By integrating digital rights management, granular data sharing capabilities can be enabled for users, giving the ability to select who can access data, with what rights and for how long. Since it is a cloud-based solution, it is critical that high grade encryption be used. Care should be taken to select only technologies that deliver high performance throughput, or else it will adversely impact users of small form factor devices. Auditability should be a feature in such a system, so that activities performed on protected files are constantly monitored regardless of where the activities are performed. Other important aspects of the environment should be the ease of creating, adding, or changing users and their related access rights. Detailed reports about who does what, on which type of device and when with auditing and monitoring capabilities are a necessary feature that will help the owner effectively track their hosted data. A cloud solution with the above mentioned features will promote secure centralised collaboration. Additional features that can be considered or used through an integration or mashup service can be watermarking, secure streaming, one time passwords and IP restrictions. This would enable organisations to choose how they store and share their information. It can bring together the best of both worlds by allowing SMBs to securely realise the benefits of the cloud and maintain complete control over their data.


A new approach to Big Data The amount of data we generate is growing at unprecedented levels and IT managers are struggling to find ways to structure and analyse it all. Simon Gregory looks at what can be done to bring our data under control.


hilst Big Data brings with it a lot of ways to create information that offers real business value, it also presents new challenges for the IT department. It appears that there just isn’t enough time, resources or budget to manage, protect, index and retain massive amounts of unstructured data. The negative side effects of Big Data, which include risk, complexity and cost, clearly need to be met head on if the positive benefits are to win out. Unfortunately, legacy data management methods and tools aren’t up to the task of managing or controlling the data explosion. Originally created to solve individual challenges, multiple products have been deployed to manage backup, archive and analytics and this has resulted in administrative complexity. This has created information silos and lack of reporting across these platforms ultimately reduces data visibility across an organisation and impacts the ability to introduce effective archiving strategies. Traditional solutions also have two stages for each protection operation – scan and collection. In order to perform backup, archive and file analytic operations, each product must scan and collect files or information from the file system. Synthetic full, de-duplication and VTL solutions may have been introduced to try to reduce repository problems, but a lack of integration capabilities causes these solutions to fall short in the longer term. Typically, incremental scan times on large file systems can also require more time than actual data collection. Regularly scheduled, full protection operations then exceed back up windows and require heavy network and server resources to manage the process. It’s a vicious circle. There is an alternative approach, which is to adopt a unified strategy that collapses data collection operations into a single solution to enable the copying, indexing and storage of data in an intelligent, virtual repository that provides an efficient and scalable foundation for e-Discovery, data mining, and retention. Such an approach also enables data analytics and reporting to be performed from the index in order to help classify data and implement archive policies for data tiering to lower cost media. The advantages here are immediately clear. Built-in intelligent data collection classification will help to reduce scan times, which in turn allows companies to maintain incremental backup windows. Improved single pass and data collection for backup, archive and reporting also helps to reduce server load and operations. Integration, source-side de-duplication and synthetic full back up then further reduces the network load whilst a single index in-

stantly decreases the silos of information. Instead of moving the pain point, a converged solution will create a single process that has the potential to reduce the combined time typically required to back up, archive and report by more than 50% compared to traditional methods and will deliver the simplified management tools required to affordably protect, manage and access data on systems that have become ‘too big’. What companies should be focused on is the use of one platform that will enable those working with the information to intelligently manage and protect enormous amounts of data across a number of applications, hypervisors, operating systems and infrastructure from a single console. A policy-driven approach to protecting, storing and recovering vast amounts of data whilst automating administration will always be the best way to maximise IT productivity and reduce overall support costs. Eliminating manual processes and seamlessly tiering data to physical, virtual and cloud storage helps to decrease administration costs whilst increasing operational efficiencies, enabling IT departments to do more, with less. A single data store would empower businesses to streamline data preservation and eliminate data redundancy during the review process which is now considered to be one of the major causes of skyrocketing data management costs. The ability to more easily navigate, search and mine data could fundamentally mean that Big Data is finally viewed as an asset to the business, not a hindrance.

Simon Gregory is business development director, CommVault.





How the hospitality sector harnesses new technology to make its guests feel at home



Customer focused Understanding what the guest wants is a vital part of the IT function for Hyatt Technology in hospitality delivers many different functions, but for Souroush Nazemi, IT is an essential tool for the most important role in any hotel, understanding what the guests want, and delivering it to them quicker. The IT services available at a hotel play an important part in where guests decide to book, Nazemi says, particularly with the younger generation of digital natives. At the same time, hotels need to be careful not

to simply add systems or gadgets that will overload staff and guests, but rather should make sure that they use solutions to gather guest information, and use that to enhance service and customer relations at every interaction. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Guests expect the hotels to know their stay history and desires. They expect the hotels to know them from the time they enter the building and provide that human touch in which each and every guest is special, memorable and greeted well.â&#x20AC;?






Centralising Services TIME Hotel Group looks for cloud flexibility to support operations and focus on the guest Small equals flexible for the TIME Hotel Group, according to Thomas Huber. As a smaller chain, with six hotels in the UAE and an upcoming project in Egypt, TIME looks to centralise services and administration, so its hospitality systems are hosted on a private cloud, accessed via thin clients. The group was also the first adopter of Microsoft’s Office 365 in the hospitality sector outside of the US. The cloud ethos fits well with the sector, where IT is always in competition for budget with more immediate guest facing expenditure, Huber says, but the role of IT in guest satisfaction is coming to the fore. Services such as wireless throughout the hotel, on-premise IT support for guests, more information available on mobile platforms and flexibility for guests to use their own devices are all areas that TIME is focusing on to keep guests happy. IT can even make a difference in unexpected areas. TIME is applying green policies to its operations, not only because energy is the second highest expense in its hotels, says Huber, but because many corporate customers have policies only to book with ‘green’ hotels.




End to end experience Technology is involved at every step of the guest’s interaction with Al Murooj Rotana Hotel For Lijeesh Rajan technology has become the foremost component in how hotels can differentiate themselves and deliver guest services. In an always-on era, technology and connectivity is no longer a luxury as guests want to stay connected. More than that, technology plays a role in the whole experience the guest has with the hotel. “In the hospitality industry, you will touch the guest from finding the right hotel, booking, check-in, entering the room, within the lifts, through a welcome note via TV, internet access, telephone, mobile applications, meeting rooms, the list goes on,” Rajan says. The hospitality IT function has to implement solutions to improve the guest experience, and support the rest of the team. At Al Murooj Rotana, Rajan has delivered projects including a Centralized Guest Internet Management solution; and Flash scanners in the Guest Reception points to ensure faster check-in processes and enhanced credit card payment processing, all of which aim to improve the guest experience.





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Guest demand Radisson Blu brings focus on business guests that demand constant connectivity Keeping up with the demands of connected guests is a big part of the IT manager’s role, says Rushdy Mubarak of the Radisson Blu Hotel, particularly as the hotel caters to a lot of business travellers. Delivering free, reliable wi-fi is essential, as guests have become dependent on the internet using it constantly in everyday life, he says, so it is a constant process of keeping up with supply while controlling the cost. The hotel is also looking to cater to expanding requirements of business travellers, such as a current project to provide video conferencing to room phones. Another vital aspect of hotel systems is protecting customer data, says Rushdy. Hotels process sensitive data such as credit cards, which means adhering to demanding industry standards on security. “We are very focused on making sure all of our guests information is secure and that we’re 100% PCI Compliant. This is important as we have to protect against misuse of guest’s credit card transactions and of course protect ourselves from external attacks,” Rushdy says.





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Integrated IT Enabling guests to BYOD and creating the next generation experience at Kempinski For Prasana Rupasinghe of Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, the IT function in hospitality has gone far beyond guest wi-fi and televisions and into how IT can support business strategy. The winner of the Hotelier Middle East IT person of the Year 2011, Rupasinghe oversaw a move to Google Apps for the hotel, which delivers much more powerful staff communication and collaboration at 65% of the TCO of the previous solution, along with projects to boost staff communication, and to cut telecoms costs. On the service side, Rupasinghe says mobility projects that enable guests to use their own devices to access hotel services will change how hotels interact with guests and bring a new level of customer service: “I believe that we are stepping into an era of adopting digital experience into our hotels.”






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ACN 100 Forum

Debate participants (left to right): Ashi Sheth, director of IT, American University of Sharjah Olaf Acker, vice president, Booz & Co Graham Cambridge, head of IT, Emirates Investment Authority





Participans agreed that BYOD is a reality, or soon will be, whether IT managers like it or not.

t’s one of the major trends in enterprise IT, but bring your own device (BYOD) is causing CIOs some major headaches. Can they really maintain enterprise security while opening up applications and data for users to access at will? At last month’s ACN 100 Forum, Graham Cambridge, head of IT, Emirates Investment Authority; Ashi Sheth, director of IT, American University of Sharjah; and Olaf Acker, vice president, Booz & Co debated the issue in a session moderated by Haritha Ramachandran, program manager, ICT practice, IDC. Haritha Ramachandran (HR): How are opportunities for improved mobility changing user expectations and raising the bar for IT services delivery? Olaf Acker (OA): The bring your own device trend, mobility and social media are all coming together and it is a little bit overwhelming for some of our CIO clients. We recently surveyed 150 global decision makers in the IT space and a couple of hundred end users to understand where’s the friction between what the IT department want to push and what the end users want. Originally, mobility was only a few users in sales and the senior management. When we talk mobility today, everybody has some kind of mobile device. It is no longer something we can confine to a user group; it’s a broader issue you have to deal with as a CIO. It covers more users, more devices and more us-



age cases. This is now a multi-dimensional challenge. On the one and, it’s a great opportunity; on the other, it’s adding cost and complexity. We should also not forget that the user may see something as a great opportunity, but when we ask the executive, they would say it just adds cost. It’s very important to figure out what usage case makes sense, who are the users that would benefit, and if it makes sense from a business perspective to add complexity to an already complex IT landscape. HR: Ashi Sheth, as a director of IT, what is your practical experience of BYOD? Ashi Sheth (AS): From the academic sphere, where I’ve been for the last ten years, we’ve been facing this issue for that entire time. Our students came to our campus and they bring their Xbox, iPhone, Blackberry; I’m certain my students have devices before the general population does. The model in academia is contrary to what most corporate models are. In the corporate sector, when it comes to sharing information, you prevent everything and then you give what you’re supposed to give. Academics see it the absolute opposite way: Share everything and protect what you have to. That transforms into whether I can prevent a device operating in my environment. I can’t because at some point a facility member will say I need iPad HD and iPad 2 is not sufficient. It would be the worse case scenario for someone in IT to say that is unacceptable. We see this shift from a different perspective and we have got more accustomed to it because we have faced it for the last ten years, at least.


BOOZ & CO: NO STOPPING BYOD In its survey of CIO and end user attitudes, ‘The Consumerisation of Corporate IT’, Booz & Co discovered that BYOD is increasingly a reality for today’s organisations. Today, 40.7% of the devices used by information workers to access business applications are ones they own themselves, including home PCs, smartphones, and tablets such as Apple’s iPad. Amongst the CIOs surveyed, only 33% saw reduced cost as one of the key benefits of BYOD. Increased employee productivity was a benefit according to 58% of respondents and increased availability of employees was a benefit according to 68%. Increased employee satisfaction was cited as a benefit by 76% of respondents. Compromised security was seen as a potential drawback by 84% of respondents. Amongst those that cited security as a concern, 92% said data theft was a worry, 72% said they feared an increase in malware and viruses, and 68% were concerned about data loss. Increased complexity was a concern for 72% of respondents and accidental use of unlicensed software was a worry for 60%. The report concluded that companies making the shift to support BYOD will see real benefits in the form of lower costs and happier employees. Companies that don’t make the move face a future in which BYOD spreads by stealth.

HR: From the government side, is this a good or bad move? Graham Cambridge (GC): I think the most interesting point is the engagement we’re getting with users and the realisation of the benefits of technology. We’ve spent years trying to convince people that using this technology will bring benefits, but now you’re no longer convincing someone that this technology will benefit them. It will be foolish of us not to capitalise on this newfound interest in what technology can bring and we have to face up to it because the generation that’s coming through wants this. Ultimately, however, as CIOs, we’ve got a responsibility to the business to manage risk and security and that’s the biggest challenge in making this happen. I think the technology’s there to enable us to have both. It’s feasible for us to manage this risk effectively, we can tier things. In our case, we’re doing this with iPads and iPads

for meetings. At the moment, we’re predominantly consuming information on the iPads, but it’s done securely; it took a while to get everybody in the senior team comfortable that the security was appropriate, but the benefits are clear and I think it offers so many opportunities. HR: You said there’s risk versus benefit; what are the benefits? GC: It’s not about cost. You will have to spend a bit more money to support another platform and deploy tools to make it secure. The opportunities are that people are finding new ways to work, they’re being more creative and we’re saving paper so we can head towards a paperless environment. Again though, if you don’t tackle the security angle correctly you are at risk and you have to be very clear with everyone how that works, who owns what, which apps are the user’s and which are the business’s.




“THE BIG STUMBLING POINT IS HOW YOU DEFINE WHAT IS TOO MUCH CONTROL AND WHAT IS TOO LITTLE CONTROL.” AS: In my case, the data that I have to protect and have most control over is financial and academic (grades). Trying to make sure that data is not being shared or made public is really key. We do a significant amount of training with faculty, helping them to understand that if they want to work with this portable device while away from campus, these are the additional steps that you have to be aware of. It requires a lot of training with faculty and students to make them understand that they can be compromised. It’s a heavy training process in order to make sure everyone is aware of what the potential flaws are and what they can do to help protect themselves.

HR: What is interface or app that users would most value? GC: You’ve probably experienced the CEO who can’t use any technology you give him and breaks everything. The iPad’s done quite a good job of demonstrating that it is possible to create an interface that’s easy to use and enjoyable to use. I think on the technology front, if your platform is a webbased system, you can create different views that work on different devices. Again, what iPad has highlighted is the importance of user experience and how things need to be very quick, simple and intuitive, and hopefully that will translate to Web applications as much as the devices.

HR: What does the market say in terms of security; is it something they’re investing in? OA: When it comes to security, that was the number one concern in our survey. On the other hand, you could argue that a cloud device, like an iPhone or iPad, could be superior to the old world where you would give every executive or salesman a notebook. If he’s in the firm for three to five years, on the hard drive you have three to five years of company data. These are risks that CIOs face and they often recommend that executives travel with cloud devices and access data over a secret channel through the internet when they need it. You could argue that this transformation might not be a bad thing. On the other hand, we have way more devices to manage. Multi-device management is a software Haritha Ramachandran, category that’s pretty hot. We all have to IDC, was integrate devices into our portfolio that the debate moderator. weren’t there a few years ago. The biggest challenge besides security is the user interface, because when people bring their own device they are not only used to that device but also the user interface of that device. You need to not only figure out how you make the right tools available to employees on these devices, you also need to figure out how can you ensure it’s also as usable as all the private software that these guys have on their devices already. It’s about security on the one hand, user interface on the other hand and management of the devices.

HR: There are lots of applications that are free and lots that are paid. How can applications be made more secure from the device perspective? AS: Talking about it from the device perspective, a lot of it depends on how much control you can apply to the device. From the user perspective, they’re going to choose whatever’s simplest for them and they will try fifty apps in order to find two or three that do what they really need it to do. The best I can hope for is to identify where there could be flaws and it comes back to training the community. I’m not going to be able to succeed by blocking apps; it’s going to be more helping users to understand what the repercussions are.



HR: How much control is too much control and how would you pick those fifty apps that make your worker more productive. AS: If you ask any faculty member, any control is too much control. What’s realistic is to ask: what are we going to gain from control? Every day, a few hundred new applications enter the app store. We would have to dedicate staff to it and there would have to be people whose sole job would be to download apps and keep running them. In my group, I don’t have enough people to do that. The big stumbling point for corporations and many government agencies is how you define what is too much control and what is too little control.


Basharieh says BYOD requires control of access as well as devices.


HR: Olaf, from talking to CIOs, what is an optimal solution? OA: When people bring their own device, you cannot lock them into a walled garden. If they’ve bought an Android tablet, you cannot say they can only use 20 apps. As a company, you could lock down devices that you supply to your users, but that’s the opposite of BYOD. What we’re seeing is that enterprises carefully select battles and break it down into manageable chunks. So they don’t make the whole IT stack that is available on the desktop or notebook available on the tablet, but they make carefully selected apps available and these work in secure domains separate from the others. A simple example would be expense accounting where you can take photos of receipts and send claims to the back office for processing. This does not expose all of the company information on the tablet. It’s not as if you make the whole SAP suite available. You pick select functionality that makes sense on the iPhone or tablet, make it available but you do not compromise the full stack at the same time. You need to figure out what usage cases you want to make available, and how you can package these usage cases into apps or mobile front ends that can be accessed on the browser. Then, you have a realistic balance between what you need to enable to empower your people and the security restrictions that you want to keep in place.

Fortinet has conducted a survey that reveals the extent of the challenge posed to corporate IT systems by what it calls ‘first generation BYOD users’. The company, which makes money by selling security solutions, discovered that security is given low consideration by younger employees using their own devices. More than one in three of those surveyed would contravene a company’s security policy that forbids them to use their personal devices at work or for work purposes. The survey took place between May 31 and June 12, and was conducted by independent market research company Vision Critical. The survey involved 3872 graduate level 20-29 year olds in full time employment in 15 countries, including the UAE. The first generation of BYOD workers understand the risks posed by BYOD to their organisation. Forty-two percent of the survey sample believe potential data loss and exposure to malware to be the dominant risk. In the UAE, there is greater awareness, with 44% of respondents acknowledging the risks in potential data loss and exposure to malicious IT threats. More than a third of respondents (36%) admitted they have or would contravene a corporate policy banning the use of personally-owned devices for work purposes. It is close to a third (30%) for UAE respondents. Of the 15 countries surveyed, the figure is highest in India where 66% admitted they have or would contravene policy. When asked about policies banning the use of non-approved applications, the figure remains approximately the same, with 30% of all respondents admitting they have or would contravene policy. The majority (66%) of respondents consider themselves – not the company – to be responsible for the security of the personal devices they use for work purposes. This is three times the number of respondents who believe responsibility ultimately rests with their employer (22%). An even higher percentage of respondents in the UAE (72%) believe that they are ultimately responsible for the security of their own personal device when used for work purposes, compared to 15% who believe that it is the responsibility of the organisation. “The survey clearly reveals the great challenge faced by organisations to reconcile security and BYOD,” said Bashar Bashaireh, regional director, Fortinet Middle East. “Organisations cannot rely on a single technology to address the security challenges of BYOD. The most effective network security strategy requires granular control over users and applications, not just devices.”






ACN 100 Forum

Debate participants (left to right): Paul O’Kirwan, IT director, Dubai Mercantile Exchange Nigel Hattersley, regional IT director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Travers Nicholas, vSpecialist manager, EMC





Mohamed Jamal-Eddine, Abu Dhabi Ports & Customs, was the event moderator.

t could change the way businesses consume IT, but what does cloud mean and what do CIOs really think of its potential? At last month’s ACN 100 Forum, Paul O’Kirwan, IT director, Dubai Mercantile Exchange; Nigel Hattersley, regional IT director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts; and Travers Nicholas, vSpecialist manager, EMC, debated these issues in a session moderated by Mohamed Jamal-Eddine, systems engineer, Abu Dhabi Ports & Customs. Mohamed Jamal-Eddine (MJE): Gartner defines cloud computing as ‘a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to external customers using Internet technologies’. Do you agree with this definition? Nigel Hattersley (NH): I think the definition is sound; however, cloud then needs to be broken up into what is private and public and the definition itself is extremely broad. It’s open for a lot of discussion on what the actual definition means. Paul O’Kirwan (POK): When I started looking at it I realised there’s a lot of resemblance to the old timeshare model of the 70s and early 80s where you outsourced your IT and a bunch of people shared the same hardware. Essentially, the industry has just rebranded it. It should be part of your strategy: Do I want to outsource? Do I want to stay in house? But it isn’t really a new concept; it’s just a new label as far as I’m concerned. Travers Nicholas (TN): We think of three different attributes.



You operate a pool of resources that can be shared and you can leverage the resources for any of your different applications and workloads; you operate it as a service; and you pay for your consumption, rather than paying for something that you may not consume, or at the opposite extreme, not paying enough. MJE: In your opinion, which companies will most benefit and which will least benefit? TN: I believe all businesses can benefit. From a small business perspective, what we’re seeing in the United States at the moment is that most technology startups are not investing in any infrastructure, they’re going straight into the cloud. They’re buying services where all their servers can be hosted in the cloud and if they need a CRM systems they’ll got to salesforce. From the small business perspective, operating in the cloud is a big benefit. From an enterprise perspective, we’re seeing the emergence of hybrids, where customers are building their own internal clouds and then leveraging external clouds such as EMC is a customer of and we also operate a large private cloud in Durham, North Carolina where around 90% of our infrastructure is virtualised and operating as a service.



MJE: Nigel, yours is a large business. Do you benefit in the same way as a small business? NH: It depends on the application or data that you are looking at putting into the cloud. From a technology perspective, in the hotel industry today we are governed quite strongly by PCI compliance requirements, which relate to credit card data, and for that type of data, we still need to own it. But, we can still put it into a private cloud, so we own space in a data centre. There are other things like e-mail or procurement systems, HR systems that can go into a much more public environment where we can buy a service directly from a vendor who hosts that themselves. We use both components, whereas I would understand that startups could just give their entire business to a single company. MJE: What is the main driver that pushes you towards the cloud? POK: One of the main drivers is that it’s not having to maintain that entire infrastructure, in terms of data centre technology. Having servers is one thing, it’s all the support and particularly in this region all the cooling and the other stuff you need to maintain a proper data centre. If you look at your costs, that’s the really expensive bit; servers are not that expensive. If you could outsource that to somebody where you’re sharing that cost with lots of other companies, it does make sense – if you can do it, if it’s part of your strategy and you’re allowed to by regulation. I think one of the key driving factors is the environmental cost, not necessarily the processing and CPU cost. NH: When we do a big project for cloud, over five years there’s not a lot of financial gain in going for the cloud. But there is definitely a productivity gain and I think a risk gain in giving those services away for somebody else to manage. If I buy a server and maintain it, and pay the licenses for all the software that resides on that server, compared to how much you pay for another company to host it and provide the service over the internet, it’s still comparable. There’s not a huge amount of difference, but giving away the pain of doing all that work adds a lot of productivity within the business. TN: I think it depends on which phase of migration you’re in. For example, from an EMC internal IT perspective, we went through a transition starting six or seven years ago where we migrated our physical servers into a virtualised environment, we migrated from a Unix architecture to an x86 architecture, we built our own private cloud. The majority of our cost savings were realised in the first phase of virtualisation. As soon as we added business processes, chargeback, self service and automation, that wasn’t

necessarily about a capex or opex reduction. That was, as you say, about business agility. We can now respond faster with new applications, if someone has an idea, that idea can now be realised quicker. We can build things faster as a result of this transition. MJE: If someone’s starting a new business, do you recommend they go 100% cloud? TN: Coming from a technical background, I think it’s hard to say you should definitely do this or that. What I would say is that if you’re putting your infrastructure in a cloud, make sure it’s an open cloud; make sure it’s something you can get out of if you need to. One of the big challenges the industry has today is there are so many people building these uber-clouds that provide all sorts of great technology for application development, or server hosting, or private VPNs, but once your applications and information are in them you can’t get back out. The second thing is information protection and information latency. If you need a certain level of governance over information, keeping it private might be the answer.

WHO CONTROLS YOUR DATA? Paul O’Kirwan has looked into using cloud storage services and has assessed several providers. His key concerns when looking into the services revolved around the security of his data and who has control over it. “I was recently looking at using S3 as a storage facility and I gave up investigating this,” says O’Kirwan. “What I was looking for is whether data is encrypted before it leaves my server and is encrypted on Amazon. It’s a minefield in terms of the client connectivity to cloud storage.” Like Nigel Hattersley, he believes that usage of cloud services will eventually become widespread, but practical concerns like those above need to be overcome. “I think a few things have to happen to ensure that data is stored in an encrypted format where you have the key and not the cloud provider,” he says. Also, with so many service providers being US-based, there is the question of which third parties are legally entitled to access your data. “If your cloud provider has servers stored in the United States, the provider could be forced to hand data over and you have no control over that,” he says. O’Kirwan says he will only be satisfied if data is encrypted leaving his company’s machines and he keeps the encryption keys. “Once that happens, I think cloud computing will just take off,” he says.




ATTITUDE COUNTS MORE THAN CERTIFICATIONS When hiring for the IT department, CIOs are far more likely to look at evidence of team participation and experience than check the number of certifications they have, according to CIOs at the ACN 100. “The value that we look for is that they have the experience and the knowhow, but if someone comes with a certification by itself, no, it has little value,” said Hossam Elkobrosy, head of IT infrastructure, National Bank of Abu Dhabi. While CIOs agreed that new hires do need to know how to do the job, having team skills is more important that a certification. “What I struggle with now is finding new recruits that have management skills, who have the ability to speak in a group, speak their mind, to offer solutions,” said Nigel Hattersley, regional director of IT, Starwood. One of the ways to ensure that graduates have these team skills is by implementing compulsory internships at universities and colleges, said Paul O’Kirwan, IT director Dubai Mercantile Exchange. He also said that graduates may know development tools, but often not the code itself. “If you have been using Oracle development tools or any other structured tool, you know how to designs screens and forms, but you really have not been exposed to basic coding and writing and compiling,” said O’Kirwan.

MJE: If you go towards public cloud, do you recommend that all services are hosted with the same cloud provider or split? POK: I don’t think that makes a great deal of difference in my decision making. You’re essentially assuming that these big vendors doing this know what they’re doing in terms of redundancy, resiliency and the rest. So, having finance in one application and sales somewhere else, for me it wouldn’t a big factor. The question for me would simply be ‘Do I put this application in the cloud, or don’t I? and for me that’s more of a regulatory thing – am I allowed to in the first place? I would simply look at who’s doing best in terms of that particular application and put it with them. MJE: What are the main risks in going to the cloud? POK: The main risk you are facing these days is you are assuming that the internet is going to be available to get to your cloud. Not



that long ago, we’ve seen it fail. What are you going to do? Your core business applications are on the cloud. Here, you’ve only got one service provider. It’s one thing that people tend to overlook: How do I get to the cloud if the internet’s not there? NH: Read your contract very, very closely. It’s one of the things that we discovered when we started doing this in Europe. That initial negotiation that you have over service levels, it is vital that you get it right. If you’re putting everything into a cloud, it’s very likely that you’re going to be signing a three to five year contract and you need to make sure there are terms for an exit, if necessary, and also to make sure that you’re getting the service you’re paying for as often as you need it. MJE: Is public cloud always less secure than private cloud? NH: Private cloud is probably more secure than public cloud.


Security, availability and service level agreements are all factors that must be looked at closely when moving to the cloud.

That assumes you’re managing your own private cloud’s security. It depends on what level of security and encryption you’ve put in place. TN: From a security perspective, it depends on your approach to security. The perimeter security model doesn’t work any more. The new perimeter is the end user and that end user needs to be protected in such a way that not only are you defending them from attacks, you’re also analysing what they’re doing to ensure that you detect an anomaly when it occurs. MJE: Does the end user experience differ with the cloud? TN: I think it can definitely have a big impact on the end user experience and it comes back to the business model. Operating this as a business means you get what you pay for and if you pay a significant amount of money for a significant amount of resources you can have a great experience. What too many of us have not got a grasp on is how we interface between the end user and our infrastructure group who are either building a cloud or determining which public cloud provider we host our service with. That relationship is critical because that is how we determine what service level is required. If we build it wrong and we buy it wrong, we will have a worse experience. POK: In the very first session this morning they were talking about bring your own device. You’ve got DropBox, you’ve got SkyDrive. The challenge from an IT perspective is that your employees are starting to use this technology anyway and company data is filtering our of your organisation into these end user clouds that you have no control over. It is a challenge to manage that going forward. From an end user perspective, whether my email is in the cloud or physically on a server in the office isn’t go-


ing to make a great deal of difference, but you do run the risk of losing information to the cloud that maybe you don’t want to. You need to consider blocking access to these third party services. NH: We see services provided over cloud that we can prove have a much higher uptime than a locally hosted service. But whether or not the perception of the user is the same is debatable. In ten years, they’ll forget what it was like to have things hosted on premise. I firmly believe that cloud computing is being adopted very fast, everywhere, and there is no avoiding it. We can guess what the future will bring, and very rarely are we right these days, but my guess would be that in ten years time there will be very few locally hosted applications in any business. TN: The EMC view on this is that there will be hundreds of thousands of private clouds and thousands of public clouds. Our customers and general users of technology want choice; they want to be able to choose where they put their applications and if they have an issue with a particular provider they want to have the freedom to move. NH: The other thing to bring into this is that as we sit in Dubai and talk about availability of cloud computing, we need to take into consideration the enhancements from the ISP perspective. Etisalat and du have brought in huge change in the way they deliver internet services and maybe that’s not still quite there in the other GCC countries, but there’s been a vast improvement. I think that will continue, which will continue to provide opportunities for cloud computing in this part of the world.






Look closely: Aaron White, regional director, MEA, Citrix, demonstrates Windows 7 running virtually on his personal iPad.





Aaron White fires up the Windows 7 desktop, via Citrix Receiver, on his Apple widescreen monitor.

itrix is certainly no newcomer to the world of enterprise IT (it was founded in 1989), but it finds itself in greater demand now than ever before. The thing driving this demand is a modern workforce, equipped with tablet computers and smartphones, that wants access to applications any time and from any place. One of the ways companies can potentially achieve this is through desktop and application virtualisation, which is where Citrix comes in. Its technologies allow end users, wherever they may be and whatever device they are using at the time, to fire up the applications and access the data they use at work. The interaction with the applications and data, however, takes place entirely virtually, through the internet, or cloud. No software or data is loaded onto the user device itself. “There are a number of different usage cases for desktop virtualisation. One thing really driving it is the advent of slate computing. Executives want to use them, but not all the applications are available natively, so Citrix would allow access to those applications,” says Aaron White, regional director, MEA, Citrix. “Two or three years ago desktop virtualisation was seen as ‘let’s get rid of these towers under the desk’ and use thin clients instead. That’s one usage case, but we can now give you access to applications on anything. Any application on any device, that’s what we’re trying to get to.” One of the big benefits of virtualisation, that it empowers employee mobility, is potentially common to all industries, but it is not the only factor driving it. Keeping applications and data on the server, and off client devices, is also inherently more secure, whether the device is an iPad, laptop or desktop PC. Running applications virtually off the server also means they are always available and do not need to be deployed locally (think installing Microsoft Office on every PC in your organisation). As White explains, different industries have different reasons for embracing virtualisation. “Financial institutions have a high level of concern about data that could leak from the data centre onto a laptop. They want to display pixels on a screen and keep the data centralised,” he says.



“Talk to an education institution and they have different challenges. They are more concerned about delivering learning applications to students who are part of generation 2.0. They’re used to working with slates and don’t want to be sitting in a computer lab; they want to be accessing the application over a wireless network.” “Then if you look at an airline, they have their HQ in one place but offices all over the world, so how do they manage up to 300 outstations? When they need to roll out new applications, [with virtualisation] they don’t have to fly people all around the world to install those applications.” To illustrate what Citrix technology can do, White demonstrates Windows 7 running through virtualisation on his personal iPad. Simply firing up Windows 7 on the iPad via an application called Citrix Receiver is useful enough, but this seemingly isn’t enough for end users. Recently, Citrix introduced a product that can change the way Windows applications look to make them easier to use on a tablet. “For certain applications, what we are able to do is reskin the icons to make them more finger friendly or stylus friendly and reposition things on the screen to make a better user experience,”

PRODUCT SNAPSHOT: Citrix Receiver: Client software that lets you access enterprise data, applications and desktops from any computing device including smartphones, tablets and PCs. XenDesktop: Transforms Windows desktops and applications into an ondemand service available to any user, anywhere, on any device. XenApp: Enables any Windows application to be virtualised, centralised and managed in the data centre and instantly delivered as a service to users. AppDNA: Enables enterprises to discover, automate, model and manage applications for faster application migration, easier application virtualisation and streamlined application management. XenClient: Desktop virtualisation for corporate laptops and makes PCs more manageable, reliable, and secure.




Healthcare, education and banking are key markets for desktop and application virtualisation, says Aaron White.

CITRIX SNAPS UP BYTEMOBILE Citrix’s most recent acquisition is Bytemobile, a provider of data and video optimisation solutions for mobile network operators. The purchase gives Citrix a foothold in the core infrastructure of more than 130 mobile operators in 60 countries around the world. According to Citrix, the move supports its broader strategy of powering mobile workstyles and cloud services. The Bytemobile technology portfolio includes applications that include video and web optimisation, content caching, policy control, traffic management, mobile analytics and deep packet inspection (DPI). Its products help operators deal with the explosion of non-voice traffic on mobile networks. “The cloud and mobile revolutions are rapidly converging, and mobile operators are at the heart of this convergence,” said Klaus Oestermann, group vice president and general manager of cloud networking at Citrix. “With the integration of Bytemobile technology, products and intellectual capital, Citrix will be uniquely positioned to be a leader in the global mobile data and video infrastructure market in the LTE era.”

says White. “Our attitude is not just: there’s Windows and it’s virtualised, we’re taking user experience very seriously at Citrix. “The icons will look different, the native menus too just to make it easier for you to click on things, move windows [and] resize windows.” White believes that around 99% of applications can be run virtually, addressing one of the issues that used to be raised in relation to desktop and application virtualisation. The possible exception, he says, is soft ware that requires a high level of 3D graphics. “We have some technologies that specifically address that now, so we’re able to host graphics cards in the data centre and utilise the rendering power in the data centre to provide a very good display for the user,” he says. Such a usage scenario, he believes, would appeal to an oil company or architectural firm that traditionally has a lot of high powered workstations at users’ desks. White also explains that licensing works the same in the virtual desktop world as it does in the world of locally installed



software. “Microsoft typically licenses by CALs (client access licenses),” he explains. “It’s the same.” Models based on concurrent numbers of users also remain the same in the world of desktop and application virtualisation. Citrix itself uses a concurrent user model. To try to help make life easier for IT managers, Citrix has been developing what is known as storefront technology. This allows individual businesses to create their own app stores that contain the applications used and approved by the company. When users log into the company network via Citrix Receiver, they fire up their work applications from that storefront. “From an IT perspective, there’s no provisioning to be done except initially,” says White. “If I leave the company, I can be deprovisioned from the system. There’s a massive reduction in IT’s overheads when it comes to managing day to day access.” The theoretical benefits of desktop and application virtualisation, in terms of increased mobility, security and lower PC management overheads, are clear. Getting there, however, isn’t quite as straightforward as installing Citrix Receiver on the cli-



ent device and enabling software on the backend. Extra server capacity needs to placed in the data centre and there needs to be sufficient bandwidth in and out of the data centre. White says that Citrix has developed the expertise to assess customer needs and make appropriate recommendations about data centre capacity. “Once we understand the user types and applications, we make recommendations on sizing of backend infrastructure to deliver good levels of performance,” he says. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, so we have some expertise in this.” He says that desktop and application virtualisation definitely requires extra servers, but the need is not “extraordinary”. Bandwidth requirements depend on the type of applications being used; he estimates at least 50-60 kb per user for typical office applications. Users streaming video or using more graphically intensive applications may require more. WAN optimisation technologies can be used to try to keep bandwidth requirements down. An external factor that has held back cloud computing in the Middle East in the past, and could similarly impede virtualisation, is internet availability. An employee wanting to fire up company applications and access company data from home can’t do his job if the internet is down. As recently as two years ago, the UAE experienced lengthy outages when undersea cables were sliced. White acknowledges the problem, but feels that internet connectivity has improved a lot and continues to get better. “When I speak to operators, they understand their importance in delivering services to their huge customer base,” he says. “Two or three years ago, they probably weren’t quite ready, but now I think they are and judging by their plans, they want to be in the forefront of delivering cloud services, being seen as the next Amazon or Rackspace. There’s a

big opportunity for them to do those things and that can only happen if they have the right infrastructure.” White detects growing interest in desktop and application virtualisation across the region and he says adoption has increased significantly in the last twelve months. “It’s unusual for us to take to customers that do not have this on the radar,” he says. “They’re talking about mobility and application availability and the answer is desktop virtualisation.” In addition to the banking, healthcare, education and aviation sectors, he feels any company working with outsourcing partners could benefit from it. “If you have contracted in a number of companies to provide services, you need to give them access to your intranet, but you don’t want anything to leave your data centre,” he says. “The answer is virtualised desktops and applications. Wherever those outsourcing partners are, they can be as productive as if they are in your data centre.” Citrix’s turnover crossed $2 billion last year and the company has set its sights on reaching the five billion mark. Turnover grew 20% year on year in the first quarter of 2012 and Citrix Citrix technologies allow users to interact continues to add more bits and with enterprise pieces in an effort to complement applications and data from any device. its current offerings. Recent acquisitions include ShareFile, a service similar to DropBox, but one that is “enterprise ready” with better security and control, according to White. In April this year, it snapped up Podio, a social platform designed to promote collaboration and communication in enterprises. White believes that any organisation wanting to make applications and data more readily available to users and partners is a candidate for desktop and application virtualisation. “It’s not just about thin client computing any more; it’s a portion of it, but it’s about delivering the right applications to the right person at the right time,” he concludes.










Tayan: Long term cost control is what makes virtualisation appealing.

irtually all enterprise level companies have tried some sort of virtualisation of their server environment, and the technology is making increasing inroads at the SMB level. According to research from VMware and Canalys, across EMEA (including the UAE) the adoption of virtualisation is accelerating. As it currently stands, of those that have adopted virtualisation, 48% have virtualised the basic IT infrastructure of their businesses, and over the next two years, 75% of these are expected to expand their virtualisation programs to include business-critical applications and more. Many SMBs may be cautious about ‘going virtual’ but as Adam Wolf, sales director of BIOS Middle East highlights, the benefits to be had make taking any risks worthwhile. “There are the usual barriers to entry, yes. These are things like upfront investment in infrastructure, and staff training. However, the reduction in the total cost of ownership alone outweighs these concerns,” he explains. “[Plus] many of the big names in virtualisation, such as VMware, EMC and NetApp offer solutions that are specifically targeted at SMBs.” “I think the factor holding back most SMBs when it comes to virtualisation is cost,” continues Samer Ismair, MENA systems engineer at Brocade. “For such organisations, virtualisation may seem to be an expensive solution during the implementation. But they need to realise that it is an investment which pays for itself in the long run. “Running fewer physical servers means less cooling, less power

requirements, fewer software licenses and lower maintenance overheads. Furthermore, with the subscription model, allocating budget to virtualisation projects is now much more feasible even for SMEs,” he says. Once that fear of the unknown has been overcome and companies are ready to take the leap into virtualisation, it is important to identify which infrastructure(s) will benefit the most. George DeBono, general manager, Middle East and Africa at Red Hat, believes there are two main considerations. “The first is to look at the infrastructure that the organisation already has in place right now. If it so happens that the infrastructure is running at very low capacity for most of the month, then that is rife with potential to be virtualised as you can then bring more workload onto that box,” he says. “The second consideration deals with future planning in the case where the organisation is looking for new infrastructure to deploy. Then, from a load perspective or from a configuration perspective, the organisation really needs to make sure that it is looking for a combination of both hardware and software virtualisation.” “This is because hardware, which is predominantly chip based, has been designed to leverage system performance while utilising some of the software virtualisation technologies. Similarly, in the case of software virtualisations, these solutions look to make the most use of hardware virtualisation.” If companies are willing to put in the time and money to ‘go virtual’ it is also important for them to learn how to get the most from the environment. Firstly, the IT team needs to have a well thought out plan in place which will help guide them through the entire process. “Success is always in the planning; too many firms rush into virtualisation solutions without fully understanding the benefits they want or need to realise to achieve alignment with the goals of business,” says Chris Hazel, chief information officer, MEEZA. “We all need to have a clear set of benefits for virtualisation which could be cost reduction or greater agility; the question needs to be how much of a reduction or how much extra agility means success? Decide how will this be measured.”




DISPELLING THE MYTHS We asked the experts what myths about virtualisation they’d like to dispel. Here’s what they said: Size matters “A common myth is virtualisation is only for large firms with expansive server estates and a multitude of IT staff. The reality is that some form of virtualisation can help most firms even with small server estates. If in doubt, nearly all vendors will allow free proof of concept (PoC) assessments so you can validate any strategic decision,” says Chris Hazel, chief information officer, MEEZA.

Companies also need to understand basic changes that virtualisation might bring. Osama M Al Omari of Devoteam warned: “Whilst virtualization has introduced more utilization and reduced costs, it still has aspects that need to be monitored closely. One example is power consumption, in most cases, virtualization requires more energy to run servers, this by itself imposes the requirement of more cooling and hence more energy.” Hazel urges IT managers to know their environment inside out so as to have a baseline for moving forward with projects. Virtualisation of the server estate will also alter the network’s dynamics, so consider the congestion that may be created and the impact on storage each time you make a change. “If you’re taking a layered approach to virtualisation through servers, networks and storage, you need to be able to track the development and status of your whole environment, not just the virtualised elements,” Hazel says. “A former CIO once told me ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it, if you can’t control it you can’t manage it, if you can’t manage it go home because you don’t have a job’. Never be pushed into assumptions when virtualising an environment; the senior management must demand visibility.” Many solutions can also be fine tuned to benefit a company even better. As Goksel Topbas, server and tools business group lead at Microsoft Gulf, notes, there are many tools out there to help with this task.

Virtualising will kill my company if it fails “If anything, virtualising actually reduces that risk. By virtualising your infrastructure, you are actually removing the ability for a hardware failure to cause downtime. So that fear is actually holding companies back from achieving increased availability of their key applications, especially as many of those key applications are at the core of their business’s ability to function,” says Adam Wolf, sales director of BIOS Middle East. I need more staff “Virtualisation is an additional skillset, not a new department or team. Capable IT staff with core experience in server, network or storage management will easily adapt to the virtualisation concepts. Utilise the vendor: many now have online training and management interfaces that simplify overheads,” says Chris Hazel. Virtualisation won’t work for a lot of software “Virtualisation is proven to run virtually any workload. Most customers use Windows-based applications. These are easy to move into a virtual environment,” Adam Wolf says. ERP can’t be virtualised “A common misconception is that demanding applications shouldn’t be virtualised. With vendors now achieving one million I/O PS on a single server with multiple VMs, most applications can be virtualised. However, it should be noted that to run tier-1 applications in a virtual environment you will need tier-1 equipment and support, so keep an eye on the costs,” says Chris Hazel.




THE BIGGEST MISTAKES TO AVOID “The biggest mistake would be to start virtualisation without thinking of the end goal and without careful assessment, planning and implementation,” advises Goksel Topbas, server and tools business group lead at Microsoft Gulf. “Focus on workloads, and understanding the future needs along with system management and operations will greatly help to succeed in getting the real benefits.” “As with any new technology project, selecting the right partner for the implementation process is critical to success,” adds Samer Ismair, MENA systems engineer at Brocade. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew at any one point in time. I would always recommend starting with the proof of concept for a smaller application that isn’t mission critical and then slowly move across to larger implementations. In addition to mitigating the risk factor, this helps build skill and knowledge,” says George DeBono, general manager, Middle East & Africa, Red Hat.

“As an example, Hyper-v is part of Microsoft Windows Server and it’s free. It can really help to build scalable, advanced, virtualised infrastructure along with System Center Server,” he says. “SMEs can adopt the same enterprise scalable technology with no additional cost, but proper planning, assessment and implementation will play a key role to get the greatest benefits out of this.” Plus, in recent years many major vendors have taken steps to simplify the process of fine-tuning. “EMC has developed reference architectures called VSPEX,” says Wolf. “VSPEX are pre-validated designs for the virtualisation of servers and desktops using EMC products. They are also designed to work alongside other major networking, server and virtualisation vendors’ products. This means customers don’t need to be concerned with solution design. They simply have to pick the workload that is right for them and order the solution with the components they require. Everything after that is plug and play. In a virtualised environment, time to market, research and development, and uptime are all improved.” In the case of virtualisation, the financial benefits are well proven, with hundreds of thousands of organisations having already



DeBono: Only buy extra hardware if what you have isn’t working near full load.

embraced the technology and reaped the rewards. “It’s that ability to manage the costs that make virtualisation the sort of technology smaller businesses need to be considering,” notes Sam Tayan, regional manager, VMware MENA. “At a time when we’re all trying to keep costs under control, anything that can help manage outgoings in any part of the business could be the difference between success and failure,” he concludes.





Organisations in the Middle East have slowly gained awareness of the need for business continuity, but awareness does not always equate to preparedness.





Bailey: Multinationals must comply with local BC requirements.

isaster recovery (DR) is gaining significant ground in the region as organisations begin to prioritise data protection and focus on good corporate governance and overseas regulations. Research from eHosting DataFort has shown that companies across the Middle East are looking to improve their DR capabilities, with nearly 25% of those surveyed planning to commission an external data centre service provider to create a disaster recovery site. Awareness of business continuity (BC) management and DR is definitely increasing in the minds of senior management; however, maturity and readiness of companies’ programs still needs to improve. A recent EMC report found that 82% of companies surveyed across the Middle East, Turkey and Morocco are not very confident that they can fully recover systems and data in the event of a disaster and 64% have lost data or suffered downtime in the last 12 months. “Customers are aware of the need for disaster recovery; however, they need to relook at their overall strategy,” highlights Walid Gomaa, business unit and sales manager, HP Storage Division. “We see some policies and documents are in place but when it comes to real implementations, things are different. “This gap can be addressed by creating a comprehensive strategy supported by documentation about the why, how, when and where; then testing it to ensure that when there is a need to switch to the disaster recovery site, the strategy is proven to be working,” he adds. The growth of interest in DR/BC is partly due to worldwide events over the last decade, which have driven businesses to think differently about ‘what we do in the event of’ scenarios. “We believe that any time there are significant social, political, geological or weather related events that occur in a region, companies re-evaluate their IT risk management strategy. This has occurred in other regions as well, such as Japan after



IS CLOUD MAKING DR EASIER? The quick answer to the above question is yes. Many organisations, however, are not yet aware of the benefits and adoption is slow. It can especially be of use to smaller companies. “Cloud based storage and DR solutions are particularly well-suited to smaller firms which face challenges with budgets and extensive IT resources,” says Sachin Bhardwaj of eHosting DataFort. “Some of the main benefits of using the cloud include more flexible pricing options and faster recovery, with easier, more frequent, and less expensive testing. Since spending on BC/DR solutions in organisations has remained stagnant at around 5% of IT operating and capital budgets for the past several years, it’s not surprising that enterprises are looking for a solution that can do more with less,” says Steve Bailey, regional operations director, CommVault. Walid Kamal, senior VP, technology security, risk and fraud management at du, believes cloud can make things easier, but reminds people that it is only a tool. “It frees you of dependence on a particular server and allows you to backup and store data globally. It promises a very high level of availability, aiming to deliver services anytime, anywhere. However, it makes us highly dependent on network uptime, which itself is a risk,” he notes.



last year’s earthquake and Europe during their times of social change,” says Richard Cocchiara, IBM distinguished engineer, global practice leader for IT Risk Consulting. Since the start of the Arab Spring, specialists in the region have seen an increase in the number of DR/BC initiatives from different industry verticals. “The Arab Spring has had a mixed effect on the Middle East market,” explains Nizar ElFarra, presales manager, EMC. “Many establishments across different verticals have hastened their decision to invest in DR and/or disaster avoidance solutions that range from rudimentary backup and restore techniques to more elaborate active or active/main DR setups. The instability in the region has caused a lot of companies to start hosting their systems outside their borders or even have a complete disaster recovery solution outside the Middle East,” ElFarra adds. eHosting DataFort found that the Arab Spring has made Dubai and the UAE as a whole an attractive option for relocating offices, operations and locating secondary DR sites. “In the current sensitive political scenario in the Arab region as well as the erratic economic conditions around the world, the UAE has emerged as an obvious safe haven, providing comfort through a host of opportunities that boost investor confidence and attract a large influx of people eager to set up business here,” says Sachin Bhardwaj, head of Marketing and Business Development, eHosting DataFort. “Additionally, its strategic geographical location and strong infrastructural network are key contributors to the increase in foreign direct investment in the ICT sector. The political insecurities in the region served as a good wake-up call to Middle East enterprises on the importance of investing in a DR/BC strategy for the long term.” More companies have also started to realise the need for a holistic view of BC as opposed to a more simplistic IT infrastructure view, but there is still a real mixture of strategies used – showing there’s clearly still room for improvement. “[Around Y2K], organisations invested in technology backup. As practice matured, organisations realised that people, facility and business environment play an equally critical role. This led to transformation of DR programs into BC programs,” says Walid Kamal, senior VP, technology security, risk and fraud management, du. “We see a real broad spectrum of strategies,” adds Adam Wolf, sales director, BIOS Middle East. “There are companies

DISASTER RECOVERY STRATEGIES: KEY STEPS Act now - Don’t be trying to retrieve a situation after a disaster has happened. Immediately identify the resources that need most protection and build on the plan from there. Reduce the risk of loss - Ensure anti-virus subscriptions are up to date and data critical to the running of the business, such as customer records, is adequately protected. This reduces the risk of cyber theft and accidental deletion. Backup - Have key data, such as customer records and financial information, backed up regularly – not only to an internal backup drive, but also to an external location. Bandwidth may make external backup costly, so organisations need to ascertain what is most critical and prioritise. Many organisations could free up more bandwidth than they realise by having stricter internet usage policies. Educate - Not all employees are power users, but they should know the basics of computer security and what to do if information is deleted or cannot be located. Test - Updates may not be administered automatically and data backups may not occur when they’re supposed to. Remember to regularly check that these things are happening as they should. Review - Regularly revisit disaster recovery plans, especially in the light of hardware or software changes.

that equip their directors with sat-phones in case the network goes down, such as in Egypt during the Arab Spring. Other companies draw up contracts with similar businesses to use specialist equipment, rather than making the costly investments twice. More often than not, companies do take business continuity seriously.” Globally, more DR/BC regulations are appearing. These are still in their early stages and companies are having to find their feet when it comes to compliance. Regulation is undoubtedly important in promoting DR/BC, as many companies will only





Gomaa: Customers are aware of the need for disaster recovery.

invest when they absolutely need to or are told to, but a level of confusion is added when companies have to deal with varying standards from around the world. “Multinational organisations based in the Middle East are having to create business continuity programs that will allow them to adapt to the regulations of the country in which they do business. That is why there is such activity around creating standards and procedures,” adds Steve Bailey, regional operations director, CommVault. “Some global industries like finance have been pushed by US regulations to ensure their business continuity if they operate in the US, regulations which have impacted the business continuity in the global operations of these companies,” adds Paul-François Cattier, global vice president Datacenter, Schneider Electric. While companies do respond to regulatory requirements, they respond even more to business pressures. Cattier believes that it’s always better to raise an issue, educate, guide and promote voluntary actions than to enforce regulations; however, when this option doesn’t work, “regulations will be efficient in ensuring the needed business continuity”. Cocchiara believes that in the end BC will become a matter of business survival and growth: “That is what will really drive companies to implement an IT risk management strategy.”



SOME OF THE OPTIONS… Many existing technologies exist can take care of a company’s business continuity and DR needs. Walid Gomaa of HP’s Storage Division highlights some of the main options. Available technologies that can help include local data replicas, clustering of the server and storage, backup to disk and replication of disk to disk systems.” Some technologies can help you save cash when brought together. “By combining virtualisation and enterprise storage, you can create the flexibility to implement cost effective disaster recovery,” highlights Adam Wolf of BIOS Middle East. “By virtualising applications, they become infinitely more portable, allowing for cloud disaster recovery, remote backup, and consolidation strategies. “In the virtual world, servers and data are one. Enterprise storage allows you to cut the data into blocks and move it to other locations, even with low bandwidth. Additionally, WAN optimisation helps reduce the provisioning of internet lines. Coupling these technologies can give companies the maximum reduction in total cost of ownership for implementations,” he explains.

Monday 15th October, 2012 Dubai, UAE

RECOGNISING EXCELLENCE IN ENTERPRISE COMPUTING Have your achievements acknowledged at the 8th annual ACN Arab Technology Awards 2012




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Arabian Computer News delves below the corporate strategy to understand what really makes the region’s IT leaders tick.

HENRY MARTINEZ VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES ENGINEERING AT VISION SOLUTIONS How long have you been working in the industry? I began working with countries in this region about 20 years ago, first developing local manufacturing resources and later developing partnerships for the delivery of IT infrastructure technologies – both in hardware and software. What is the best and worst thing about the networking industry in the UAE? The best thing is the people: bright, motivated, fearless. The worst thing: challenges due to velocity and asymmetry of infrastructural growth in the region. There are also sometimes very difficult environmental conditions for remote hardware. Walk us through your typical day I contact and meet with business partners and large enterprises to review their high availability and disaster recovery needs, then architect solutions to meet their business and budgetary needs. We then make presentations and/or train supply-chain stakeholders to manage or assist in implementation. In parallel, I am continually grooming our own team to keep them up-to-date with industry trends/skills and practices. Proudest achievements in your career so far? Making the world a better place through a string of successful engineering projects. Beginning in aerospace, through consumer electronics and into IT infrastructure hardware and software products. Vision Solutions’ software makes the world’s businesses more resilient and thus able to serve their customers, employees and families even better. Which product or innovation should the IT industry watch out for this year?



Economics for cloud-based computational and storage resources coupled with virtualisation will enable a new category of businesses that will lower the hurdle for IT startups and lower required mezzanine investments for those moving out of the VC incubator to a full-fledged member of industry. This means more room for innovation and business creation with lower investment risk and a reduction of regional advantages due to access to capital. This can really expand the power of innovation to all parts of the world in a new way. Comparing the IT industry in the region to other countries, do you think it measures up or is lacking and why? A few years back, I would have said it relied too heavily on large multi-national organisations that were not native – meaning the technological culture might not be sustainable or take root. Today, I am pleased to see the UAE has made excellent investment in education wherein the up-andcoming, freshly educated UAE citizens are carrying much more of the strategic, rather than just tactical, initiatives. Which IT company do you admire and why? Amazon. Remember, they started as an IT company and have become a global supermarket able to deliver an amazing selection of things, virtually anywhere, standing on the shoulders of many aggregated businesses and logistics companies. They courageously took a difficult trail knowingly, with an attitude of, “if Amazon can’t do it, then it can’t be done.” Who do you look up to in your career and why? Andy Grove – for the microprocessor. They harnessed lightning and used it to teach sand how to think.


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.

ACN - July 2012  

Arabian Computer News (ACN) -June 2012 - Volume 25 - Issue 7 "84 Pages" ITP Technology Publishing, Dubai, UAE

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