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on the

advance EMW’s Serjios El-Hage on the systems integrator’s plans going forward

vendor focus

hot products

partner watch

In-depth with Infor’s top channel exec at the Inforum customer conference

Linksys beats Wi-Fi dead zones with its new RE2000 range extender

Logicom’s rejuvenated battle plan for taking on the Middle East

managed print services: the next big thing

training and certification: the ins and outs

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© Copyright 2013 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.

CONTENTS ISSUE 197 // May 2013

Highlights 6

cover feature

News We help you catch up on all the major news and announcements in the regional channel community.

ANALYSIS 16 Shooting for the moon

After officially launching its new revolutionary, high-density server, Moonshot, in London last month, HP took to Dubai to show off its industryleading fleet.

18 Tooling up

Teradata is pitching a new approach to big data, which allows organisations to embrace the technology in an easier and more affordable way.

Year of change and transformation?

partner watch 30 Exploring new horizons

Logicom has recently moved to a new headquarters with a larger warehousing facility, and plans are in the pipeline to expand into new segments and geographies. Demetris Demetriou, General Manager, talks about growth.



Ten years young

32 Top marks With many partners viewing technical support as a value-add, the issue of training and certification is a hot topic. We investigate the benefits of certifying staff, and how the channel can leverage training programmes.

38 Taming printer chaos

Managed print services (MPS) has emerged as the best growth bet for print hardware vendors and a huge opportunity for the channel as enterprises are eager to adopt the nextlevel printing envrionment. We look at how the channel can cash in.

Ten-year-old systems integrator EMW has weathered the economic storm to emerge as a top player. CEO Serjios El-Hage talks about going forward.

Hot products Prestigio unveils multipad tablet

BlackBerry Q10


54 may 2013

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

EDITORIAL Publisher Dominic De Sousa Group COO Nadeem Hood

Editorial Group Editor Jeevan Thankappan +971 4 4409109

Signs of recovery

Contributing Editors Ben Rossi Joe Lipscombe Online Editor Tom Paye

Advertising Commercial Director Rajashree R Kumar +971 4 440 9131 Key Account Manager Merle Carrasco +971 4 440 9134 Sales Manager Nasir Bazaz +971 4 440 9144

Circulation Database and Circulation Manager Rajeesh M +971 4 440 9147 Production and Design Production Manager James P Tharian +971 4 440 9146 Designer Analou Balbero +971 4 440 9104 Digital DIGITAL SERVICES Digital Services Manager Tristan Troy P Maagma Web Developers Erik Briones Jefferson de Joya Photographer and Social Media Co-ordinator Jay Colina +971 4 440 9100

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

As the new year came in, we reported how the channel is bullish about 2013 after an almost disastrous 2012. Now, you can see the confidence slowly seeping back into the channel and good omens for steady growth all around. As we move into the second quarter, most distributors in the region have reported double-digit growth for the first quarter of this year. Though some issues, such as declining margins and the credit crunch, still plague the channel, most have read the writing on the wall and were quick to move into new lines of profitable business. A case in point is mobility. Look around and it’s hard to find a distributor who doesn’t already have a mobility play or plans to do so. The prolonged slump in the PC market has forced even the mosthardened components or peripherals distributors to hitch their wagon to the mobility wave. It is estimated that around 700 million smartphones were shipped in 2012 alone and the mobility tide shows no signs of ebbing. Mobility is probably on the agenda of eight out of 10 CIOs, and Gartner believes that 25 to 30 percent of users are going to access enterprise apps on a smartphone or tablet. For channel partners, mobility is an excellent business opportunity to maximise margins by helping their customers to provide mobile access to remote workers. In tune with the worldwide trend, SMBs are the early adopters of mobility in the Middle East as well, and I am sure many SIs are looking at the integration opportunity in this space. Another prominent trend in the channel now is the number of distributors looking to tap the hugely underserved African market. With Levant and Egypt still being volatile, most of the big disties are looking to expand into the emerging African market. But it’s not going to be easy to crack this market because Africa is not a singular entity and is actually made up of 53 countries, each with different characteristics, dynamics and needs. Though political troubles, natural disasters and poor economic policies have slowed down the African market, the prospect for the channel is absolutely bright if you can get a handle on the varying regulations, import rules and cloudy business processes.

Published by

Registered at IMPZ PO Box 13700 Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 440 9100 Fax: +971 4 447 2409 Printed by Printwell Printing Press © Copyright 2013 CPI All rights reserved While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.

may 2013

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highlights News

Mindware to distribute Lenovo Think product range Lenovo has appointed Mindware as an official distributor of its Think product range, according to a recent Mindware statement. The agreement will see Mindware distribute products such as the ThinkPad Edge and the ThinkPad Classic for the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. Having been a part of the PC industry for almost two decades, the ThinkPad range has sold over 60 million units worldwide. The range is well known for its design consistency, reliability and durability. The range has come up with a number of firsts for the PC industry, including the first spill-resistant keyboard, and the ability to create light units without compromising on performance. The ThinkPad Classic is designed for large businesses, government and education entities, while the ThinkPad Edge is designed for SMBs. Mindware hopes to target the SMB segment with this new Lenovo partnership.

FVC partners with Sangoma Valued-added distributor FVC recently announced a partnership with Sangoma, a provider of hardware and software components that enable or enhance IP communications systems. This distribution deal adds more clout to FVC’s unified communications and service provider offerings, as well as giving Sangoma the chance to reach a larger customer base, a statement from FVC said. “We are delighted to


Reseller Middle East

represent Sangoma in the region,” said K. S. Parag, Managing Director, FVC. “These solutions will help our partners offer their customers fully integrated Polycom and Microsoft Unified Communications solutions in a very efficient and costeffective manner.” Sangoma’s product line includes VoIP gateway appliances, Sessions Border Controllers, SS7 Gateways, Transcoding Hardware and Microsoft Lync Express Appliances.

may 2013

“We are excited to be partnering with Mindware to increase the availability of our Think range of products in the Middle East,” said Mohammed Hilili, General Manager, Gulf, Lenovo. “Today, 95 percent of businesses registered in the UAE and 93 percent of businesses in Saudi Arabia fall into the SME category, whilst overall in the Middle East and North Africa, SMBs are recognised for their contribution of 28 percent of the region’s income. “What is important for these entities to note is that technology can be the make or break of a strong business operation – a fact as relevant to a sole trader as to the most complex multinational organisation. At Lenovo, we ensure our business products always help increase productivity and mobility without compromising on functionality and security.” Lenovo’s channel strategy for the region rests on working closely with distributors such

as Mindware to bring local insight and ensure brand differentiation. Local partners also help Lenovo drive the best customer experience at the point of sale. Mindware has pledged to use its extensive reach to help Lenovo educate on and increase the sales of its Think products, starting April 2013.

Nanjgel gains Elite Partner Status with McAfee

Jude Pereira, Managing Director, Nanjgel Computerlinks partner Nanjgel has recently skilled up on McAfee solutions in order to gain Elite Partner Status, opening up a new chapter in relations between the vendor, Computerlinks and Nanjgel. Elite Partner status is the highest tier in the McAfee SecurityAlliance programme, and it demonstrates a firm commitment to customer satisfaction, compentency and revenue growth. Benefits

of being an Elite Partner include qualified leads, an assigned partner support account manager and a named channel account manager. According to Jude Pereira, Managing Director, Nanjgel, the success in gaining Elite Partner Status is just the beginning of a long relationship. He also praised the vendor’s partner programme and products. “We’re at the early stage of our relationship with McAfee – after successfully gaining Elite Partner Status, we are now focusing on developing pipeline,” he said. “McAfee’s approach to supporting partners is very important to a business like ours. A vendor is crucial to achieving our goals and McAfee’s Partner Connected

alongside the Security Connected Solutions is precisely what we require.” Security Connected is McAfee’s recently introduced open framework for integrating security technologies – an industry first, according to McAfee. It delivers unsurpassed realtime visibility and analytics, as well as a unique predictive capability that is enabled by McAfee Global Threat Intelligence. Even before the release of Security Connected, Nanjgel has proven itself as a highly capable partner. The value-added reseller has successfully sold solutions such as McAfee Data Loss Prevention, Mobility (BYOD), Vulnerability Manager, Risk Advisor, Email Gateway, Web Security, and Endpoint.

Computerlinks in distribution pact with Skybox Security Computerlinks has entered into a distribution partnership with Skybox Security, which provides security risk management solutions for global enterprises. Serving the Middle East, Computerlinks will bolster Skybox’s presence in the region, enabling Skybox to satisfy growing market demands for its next-generation security solutions and further reinforce its continued commitment to the region as a growth market. Skybox Security provides automated, non-intrusive tools that detect, prioritise, and drive remediation of critical risks such as exposed vulnerabilities and firewall configuration errors. The company has experienced tremendous growth, including 100 percent year-over-year revenue growth, in 2012, and continues to build worldwide momentum with rapidly expanding channel and business development in the EMEA region. As cyber threats escalate, large enterprises and government and defence agencies worldwide see the value of deploying next-generation solutions that automatically turn volumes of network security data into a prioritised list of actions to help prevent cyber-attacks and ensure continuous compliance with information security regulations. Computerlinks will help Skybox increase its channel footprint and add significant momentum to Skybox’s sales, service and support capabilities as it seeks to accelerate penetration and increase market share. “We sought a strategic partner to help us capitalise on the market opportunity in the Middle East —  a distributor with a proven track record of taking innovative and disruptive technologies to market, building

Lee Reynolds, Managing Director, Computerlinks, MEA

channel momentum, and providing valueadded services,” said John Quinn, Sales Director, EMEA Channels, Skybox Security. Commenting on the agreement, Lee Reynolds, Managing Director, Computerlinks, Middle East and Asia said, “It’s increasingly rare these days to find a technology that lives up to its next-generation billing and truly disrupts the market. Skybox’s integrated approach encompassing network security management, vulnerability management and threat management represents a great opportunity for our channel partners to be able to differentiate themselves in the market as enterprises look to keep pace with the advancements in threats seen in our Region. We look forward to working with the Skybox team and growing its business across the region.”

WD reports $3.8b revenue for last quarter Western Digital has reported revenue of $3.8 billion, hard-drive shipments of 60.2 million and net income of $391 million, or $1.60 per share, for its third fiscal quarter ended March 29, 2013. On a non-GAAP basis, net income was $514 million, or $2.10 per share. In the same quarter last year, the company reported revenue of $3.0 billion, net income of $483 million, or $1.96 per share, and shipped 44.2 million hard drives. Non-GAAP net income in the year-ago quarter was $619 million, or $2.52 per share. The company generated $727 million in cash from operations during the March quarter, ending with total cash and cash equivalents of $4.1 billion. During the quarter, the company utilised $243 million to buy back 5.2 million shares of common stock, a statement said. On February 14, the company declared a $0.25 per common share dividend, which was paid on April 15. “Strong execution by our HGST and WD subsidiaries drove outstanding results in the March quarter as we continue to capitalise on the secular growth of digital data,” said Steve Milligan, President and CEO, WD. “Overall industry demand was in line with our expectations. In our business, we saw strength in enterprise, stable performance in client and consumer electronics, and some anticipated seasonal softness in branded products.”

Almasa partners with LG for digital signage systems Almasa Value Distribution, an Almasa Holdings company, has announced a regional partnership with LG to address the visual communications needs in the Gulf region. As part of the agreement, Almasa Value Distribution

will incorporate LG’s display technologies into digital signage systems aimed at various verticals including retail, hospitality, government and transportation.  Roger El Tawil, Executive Director of Almasa Value Distribution, stated, “There

is tremendous unaddressed potential for integrated signage solutions in the region. Almasa ‘s partnership with LG will give the customers a source for innovative and tasteful digital signage options that are specifically tailored for the environments and

business goals of verticals such as retail, hospitality, public sector and transportation. Together, we anticipate robust demand from hospitality and retail leaders who appreciate the value and returnon-investment that a bespoke signage solution can deliver.”

may 2013

Reseller Middle East


highlights News

Distree opens new Asia office in Taipei DISTREE Events has opened a new office in Taipei to meet increased demand from local ICT and consumer electronics brands for its services. The new office will be led by Ivy Lin, Regional Sales Manager for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, DISTREE, a statement said. The new office will provide a local contact point for Asian brands and will inform the regional channel community about upcoming DISTREE events. “The pace of innovation in key Asian markets ensures that new brands continue to emerge,” said Lin. “DISTREE Events allows these companies to scale up their channel reach across the globe and build efficient and effective routes to market in fast-growing economies.” DISTREE currently stages five regional events each year, allowing brands to meet face-to-face with top distributors, retailers and resellers across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Logicom appointed as HP printing distributor

Sajith Raj, Regional Distribution Manager, Logicom

Logicom Dubai has expanded its existing HP Personal Systems agreement to include Printing. Logicom Dubai already has the rights to distribute HP commercial desktops, notebooks and workstations in UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Yemen and Iraq. Logicom will distribute HP Inkjet Printing Solutions, Laser Enterprise Solutions and Large Format Printers through its extensive network of partners in both the traditional and corporate channel across the

UAE, GCC and Iraq. Logicom will also be looking to expand its presence in the retail market with the addition of the HP Printing product portfolio. Regional Distribution Manager, Sajith Raj, commented, “The addition of HP Printing to Logicom’s product portfolio complements our offerings to resellers. Our biggest strength has always been channel breadth and a diversified regional reseller base which caters to different verticals of the industry. We have accepted the challenge

to make HP Printing a success within our current HP portfolio and are confident we will make this happen.” Logicom will work with HP to create awareness and develop their network of partners through channel development, engagement initiatives, knowledge share and training programmes. “Through this further expansion of HP’s already close working partnership with Logicom Dubai, we are able to extend the reach of our printing offerings further than before, bringing the innovation and technology HP is known for to a wider range of key partners and customers, said Salim Ziade, General Manager, Printing and Personal Systems, HP Middle East. The addition of HP Printing to Logicom’s product portfolio forms part of Logicom’s strategy for 2013 that will see the distributor grow its product offering and reach across the region.

Shifra completes security roadshow Value-added distributor Shifra has completed a Middle Eastern roadshow with partner-vendors Proofpoint, Centrify and Stonesoft. The roadshow, dubbed ‘Protect and Probe Advanced Targeted Attacks’, visited Kuwait, Doha and Dubai in order to showcase the latest technologies and product releases, as well as provide technical and networking sessions. Shifra said the idea was to highlight the solutions to better equip companies with robust protection from increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, and to address the security challenges faced by most companies in their IT infrastructures. “The roadshow we organised with our vendors proved to be highly successful, not


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

only in terms of the number of participants, but the initiative to reach out to partners and customers and impart the information that will help them address the challenges and demands of the market today,” said Ahmed El Khatib, Managing Partner, Shifra. “Through these events, we hope to reassure our vendors, partners and customers that Shifra will always be at the forefront in delivering the IT security needs of the channel,” he added. According to Gartner, IT spending in the Middle East will reach $192.9 billion in 2013, marking a 5.5-percent increase from 2012. The region’s software spending is forecast to grow by 7.1 percent over 2012 this year, and will be driven by several factors – particularly security, said Shifra.

Ahmed El Khatib, Managing Partner, Shifra

El Khatib believes that companies will spend plenty of cash in order to enhance their IT security infrastructure, as it becomes more critical to the reliable flow of the business.

highlights News

Comstor achieves all four Cisco accreditations

Renton D’Souza, Divisional Director at Comstor

Comstor, the dedicated value-added distribution arm for Cisco solutions of the Westcon Group, has achieved all four of Cisco’s newly established architecturecentric ‘specialisation badges’. This will now enable Comstor to focus on each of Cisco’s Architectural Plays and in turn to drive this focus into the channel. Resellers

FVC opens office in Kenya FVC has opened its new office in Nairobi, Kenya, to better serve its partners in East Africa. The new office offers sales and presales support to FVC’s existing partners across East Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. “As a company, we believe in being close to our partners’ markets to be able to understand their needs better and ensure that we add value to both them as well as their customers,” said K. S. Parag, Managing Director, FVC, at the opening event. “The African continent is continuously embracing new technology and investing in infrastructure. This means that we need to be here providing the necessary technology and support to our channel partners to help them achieve their goals.” FVC has also joined its partner, Sight and Sound Computers, along with Orange Telekom and ESBC, to open a telepresence centre in Kenya, offering video conferencing rental facilities to local businesses.


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

and customers will benefit from Comstor’s core competencies in these architectures and gain access to Cisco solutions through a qualified distributor. “The Middle East is a mature IT market and we are seeing that customers no longer demand point products or even solutions. Instead, they are interested in seamlessly integrated turn-key solutions, which is precisely what Cisco is now addressing with its new architecture-centric approach. We are award-winning partners for this global networking leader with a deep understanding of all its networking, collaboration, security and data centre solutions. The achievement of these architecture badges not only further strengthens our expertise in these fields but also instills more confidence in our partners and customers about our capabilities,” said Renton D’Souza, Divisional Director, Comstor. In order to become a Cisco-accredited distributor in the four architectural plays,

Comstor had to meet stringent requirements, which included training and certification of both its sales and technical personnel. In addition, to ensure a complete understanding of the networking vendor’s underlying solutions in each architectural play, the value-added distributor was required to purchase Proof-ofConcept (POC) equipment, which is to be used to enable the channel. Commenting on Comstor’s new capabilities, Renton said, “We now have in excess of 10 sales and three technical staff that have been trained and certified by Cisco. Furthermore, the POC equipment from Cisco gives us unmatched hands-on expertise. For example, the data centre POC kit permits our technical staff to gain in-depth knowledge of Cisco servers and data centre switching products. While this has represented a significant investment on our part, we are confident that it will greatly enhance the services that we provide to our customers.”

Intertec appoints new management team

Intertec Systems has made senior additions to its leadership. P A Sathyaseelan, a hightech industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience, has been hired as Vice President of Sales, while Joseph Hanna has been hired as Vice President of Infrastructure Services.

Sathyaseelan, better known as Sathya, will be responsible for growing the sales for the Gulf. He will also work with the management on new initiatives across the GCC and India. In his previous role at Dell, he headed the enterprise hardware and software services as Executive Director.

Joseph Hanna is an IT professional with over 25 years of progressive experience in the ICT industry and was previously engaged with Gulf Business Machines (Oman), as Integrated Network Solution and Sites Services Manager (INS). Prior to working at GBM, he has worked for more than 20 years in CNS (computer network systems ). “Sathya and Joseph have an extensive track record of growing larger SI operations and delivering results. With their presence, Intertec will work to broaden its customer base in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent, and work on initiatives to win more large value projects,” said Naresh Kothari, Managing Director, Intertec Systems LLC.

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highlights News

QDS partners with CommVault

Mohammed Tamimi, Channel Manager, MENAT, CommVault

IT solutions provider Qatar Datamation Systems (QDS) has announced a partnership agreement with CommVault

to promote the data management vendor’s Simpana solutions in Qatar. Under the agreement, QDS will sell, implement and service CommVault’s product suite across all market segments and verticals in the emirate. Mohammed Tamimi, Channel Manager, MENAT, CommVault, said that QDS represented one of the “strong partners” that can grow CommVault’s business in the Middle East. “The IT market in Qatar is booming, and we needed a partner with a strong presence and understanding of the local market, a high level of technical skills and a wide network of customer contacts,” he said. “QDS is a company that satisfied all these requirements.” Through the new partnership, then, QDS will be responsible for promoting the latest release of CommVault’s singular data

management platform, Simpana 10. The vendor hails the software as a great leap in data and information management. Mohammed Alam, General Manager, QDS, said that Simpana 10’s capabilities would play well to the Qatari market, where effective data management is becoming more important. “Big data is fast becoming a challenge for enterprises in Qatar, and customers are looking to invest in technology that meets the demands of the business with a flexible and adaptable strategy that will best accommodate future requirements,” he said. “CommVault’s world-class information and data management product suite addresses these requirements perfectly. We have the knowledge and expertise to promote CommVault’s products and are confident that customers in Qatar will respond well to the technology.”

K.S.A: 13th May 2013 U.A.E: 15th May 2013


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highlights News

HP rolls out cloudbased mobility management solution

Mohammed Tamimi, Channel Manager, MENAT, CommVault HP Enterprise Services has announced a cloud-based management solution that delivers secure, anytime, anywhere access to applications and data from any mobile device. HP Enterprise Cloud Services – Mobility meets the demands of balancing the responsibilities and requirements of IT with the challenges and expectations of users. This new cloud solution is part of HP’s Converged Cloud portfolio, which provides enterprises with the essential foundation of technologies and services to confidently build, operate and consume IT services. The solution also allows users to download approved enterprise applications from a secure storefront, upload files to support collaboration and synchronise files between the HP cloud infrastructure and any mobile device. Mobile data is encrypted in transit and at rest, covering the device as well as the cloud infrastructure. Providing the ability to configure cloud file storage that can scale up and down, as well as offering local storage options that address data sovereignty and compliance requirements, are additional benefits of HP Enterprise Cloud Services – Mobility. “Mobility in the workplace continues to be a key focus and concern for IT executives,” said Bassem Bouzid, Regional Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Services, HP Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa. “HP Enterprise Cloud Services – Mobility leverages HP’s strong cloud portfolio by providing clients with a mobility service that provides the highest level of user experience and productivity while minimising risk for IT.”


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

Epson opens Saudi office to drive regional expansion As part of its growth and expansion plans in the Middle East, Epson has opened its first office in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Located in Riyadh’s Al Olayya Street, the new office was inaugurated by Hiromi Taba, President of Epson Europe B.V., in the presence of Jean-Marie Lacroix, Vice President Sales, Emerging Territories (CISMEA), Epson Europe B.V., Khalil ElDalu, General Manager, Epson Middle East, representatives from the media and Epson’s channel partners. Speaking during the event, Hiromi Taba said, “The Saudi Arabian market is vital to Epson’s ambitious expansion goals in the Middle East, and being the biggest market in the region it was imperative that we have a strong presence in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia’s technology sector in particular has been witnessing steady growth in recent years and with the opening of our office in the country we aim to take our commitment to deliver top quality technology solutions that specifically address customer requirements, to a whole new level.” “Our new office in Riyadh enables Epson to get closer to our customers and offer them an excellent standard of pre and post sale services, which are critical aspects of today’s dynamic market environment. Our plan for the Saudi market revolves around a balanced focus on both the corporate and consumer segment,

Hiromi Taba, President of Epson Europe B.V.

although the educational sector will receive particular attention given the government’s major emphasis on this sector in recent years. Moreover, the opening of our Saudi office will also be strategically significant as we constantly strive to introduce latest technologies and as we pursue our target of sustaining our market leading positions in key product categories such as projectors, dot matrix printers and system devices,” added Taba. Epson also revealed that it would be appointing more Saudi Arabia-based channel partners into its channel partner programme which aims to reward partners for their consistent performance.

Paramount ties up with eHosting DataFort The UAE-based managed services provider eHosting DataFort (eHDF) has been appointed by IT security company Paramount to provide a ‘cloud safe’ solution for its growing list of customers. Providing high-end servers, with a storage capacity in excess of 12 terabytes (TB), eHDF will complement the data backup needs of Paramount›s

existing clientele, as well as invite potential customers to invest in back-up and recovery from the cloud. Commenting on the deal, Yasser Zeineldin, CEO, eHosting DataFort, said, “SMEs in the UAE and the Gulf region are huge contributors to the regional economy. They are becoming significantly more sophisticated in their business strategy and

are investing in the latest technologically advanced systems and processes. Our hosting platform offers a unique ‘cloud safe’ solution to companies that seek to build and expand on their existing business.” The software solution was designed by Paramount engineers with its implementation being successfully completed at the eHDF data centre in just 20 days.


Shooting for the moon After officially launching its new revolutionary, high-density server, Moonshot, in London last month, HP took to Dubai to show off its industry-leading fleet. The IT giant has recently hinted that more and more executive board members would be visiting the Middle East in order to demonstrate its commitment to a region it recognises as crucial. Contributing Editor Joe Lipscombe has the details.


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

I’ve been back and forth across the globe this year with HP, and one of the key messages that it has consistently pushed is that – despite some reports – innovation is still well and truly alive down at HP labs. However, while present at its most recent event in London, HP stopped the talking and Moonshot was shown to the world. The next-generation, energy-sipping, high-density server is the culmination of six years of work from within HP labs. A project that strongly confirms that HP has been deep in thought, and dogged in development throughout a period which some would describe as slow and tedious. Also, this is one major victory for the company which doesn’t need to be attributed to Whitman, the guiding light who has taken so much praise recently for her firm-gripped approach to turning this oncegreat company around. This is a baby of total innovation, total necessity and total quality from deep within the R&D department. And boy, is HP a proud daddy. Paul Morgan, Industry Standards Server Manager, Hyperscale Business, HP, said that this project wasn’t something that HP woke up and thought of; it has been years in the planning and proves, with roaring evidence, that HP is still at the forefront of innovation, and always has been. “This is our moment in the sun and we’re going to enjoy it. We’ve been talking about this at a conceptual level for around four years, and it’s been on the roadmap for around two years, so to get it out there now is a really great feeling,” he said. “This isn’t an updated version of a traditional server – this is a completely new design and breed of software-defined servers. Be clear, this isn’t an evolution; it’s a revolution.” Moonshot completely revolutionises the traditional data centre, something that HP isn’t unfamiliar with doing. In 2005, it released the first blade server, which quickly became the standard for all its competitors – a situation which it expects to see again in the years following the release of Moonshot.

Moonshot has been delivered as a way of addressing space and energy constraints caused by next-generation IT trends such as cloud, mobility, big data, and social. A shifting style of IT that COO Bill Veghte believes only comes around every couple of decades. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this is one of the biggest IT shifts we’ve ever seen,” he said. “And HP is uniquely positioned to tackle these challenges for its customers.”

need this. What we’re doing today won’t work tomorrow. Managing complexity and improving step-by-step isn’t good enough. At a time like this, you need to revolutionise, and Moonshot, we think, does that.” The Middle Eastern vision In less than a week after the official Moonshot launch, HP packed up its bags and made its way over to the Middle East – a sure-fire sign that this region is as high

"I think customers are ready for this. In the past, when the blade came out, we had to create that market, because we were the first ones there and we were the only ones at the time to see the benefit. With Moonshot, however, it's not like that - we need this." The meaning of Moonshot But what does Moonshot mean to a business? Well, for a start, it boasts some pretty impressive numbers. The system delivers new infrastructure economics by using up to 89 percent less energy and 80 percent less space while costing 77 percent less than traditional servers. What’s more, Moonshot can support up to 1,800 servers per rack while only occupying one-eighth of the space required for traditional servers. David Chalmers, Hyperscale CTO, believes that Moonshot, for the correct applications, is the revolutionary step forward that customers need in order to keep progressing into the next style of IT. “Moonshot isn’t an evolution of our traditional servers – that’s not enough to claim innovation today. Moonshot is actually taking us to a whole new place,” he said. “I think customers are ready for this. In the past, when blade came out, we had to create that market, because we were the first ones there and we were the only ones at the time to see the benefit. With Moonshot, however, it’s not like that – we

on the priority list as it’s ever been. And with good reason. As Veghte says, it’s a place without legacy, giving businesses the ultimate opportunity to build around an entirely new IT concept. And this situation has led to extra demand for updated software services, such as software-defined data centres and software-defined servers. “It’s a fantastic opportunity here. That’s why I am here and that’s why we’re investing here. Eyad [Shabibi, Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa] has done such a fantastic job here and our expectations of him are very high – because he’s got a darn good team,” Veghte said. “We’re not hiring the next industry veteran who’s been in the business for 20 years; we’re hiring the smartest graduates in the region. And they’re doing the same in places like Saudi. Whether these people are at HP in five or ten years doesn’t matter. At the moment, it’s about training these graduates to be developers in this new style of IT – something which is beyond my kind now.” //

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Reseller Middle East



Stephen Brobst, CTO, Teradata

Tooling up Teradata is pitching a new approach to big data, which allows organisations to embrace the technology in an easier and more affordable way. But Middle East IT executives must still up their knowledge of the necessary tools. Ben Rossi reports from Teradata Universe in Copenhagen. The Middle East’s IT industry must up its awareness and knowledge of Apache Hadoop and SQL-H if it wants to capitalise on the true value of big data. That was the general message at Teradata Universe in Copenhagen, where big data was very much top of the agenda. Stephen Brobst, CTO, Teradata, acknowledged that the average IT executive in the Middle East may or may not know what Hadoop, and certainly doesn’t know what SQL-H, means to them, but they are both things that should now be in their vocabulary. “Hadoop is something they ought to understand because open-source technology allows you to change the economics on gathering very large data,” he said. Big data is gradually transitioning as a buzz term to a top priority for senior IT executives across the Middle East, who are looking to extract value from their data.


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Apache Hadoop is an open-source framework that allows organisations to process large amounts of data, regardless of its structure, at a low cost, and has largely been attributed to driving the growth of the big data industry. However, Hadoop has presented the industry with challenges related to security, standards, and most significantly, a lack of talent in data science. “I do a fair amount of work in the Middle East and there are definitely countries that are more sophisticated than others – specifically in Saudi, Egypt, and to a lesser extent, the UAE,” Brobst said. “They are starting to explore the opportunities for using big data and open-source technologies to change the economics of dealing with this big data. “By big data, I don’t only mean highvolume data, I mean diversity of data from non-traditional sources like web log and OSS data. From a CIO perspective, it’s about

changing the economics to allow them to get access to order-of-magnitude more data without having to pay order-of-magnitude more cost to their bottom line.” Teradata used its event in Copenhagen to unveil Teradata Enterprise Access for Hadoop, a solution which makes it the first company to offer business analysts streamlined and selfservice access to Hadoop. The solutions allows organisations to reach directly into Hadoop to find new value from data analysis and enable quicker and smarter strategic decisions, the company said. It enables data scientists to escape application development and work on highvalue activities. They can also gain a better understanding of the data lineage. “Teradata Enterprise Access for Hadoop empowers organisations to dig deeply into files and data residing in Hadoop and combine the data with production business data for analyses and action,” said Scott Gnau, President, Teradata Labs. “The result is an analytic environment capable of meeting the operational and strategic needs of thousands of users, running hundreds of applications, on any data, at any time.” Teradata also introduced the Teradata Active Enterprise Data Warehouse 6700 platform, which adds a fabric-based hyperspeed nervous system and a new core analytic brain to the Teradata Unified Data Architecture. These new innovations enhance the ability of organisations to exploit all their data regardless of its type, the data company said during the announcement in Copenhagen. Eric Joulié, Vice President, Teradata EMEA, provided some insight into Teradata’s channel strategy for the Middle East. “In Egypt, it’s a direct model, so operates as a subsidiary,” he said. “We are also doing the same thing in Saudi, where we are investing and opening a new country office. This is ongoing. We expect to be ready by June, and we already have people working on-site on back-end and development. “For the UAE, we are working with our distributor, NCR. So we have a mixed strategy. The Middle East is an important development region for us. Last year, Egypt was very successful, despite the political situation, and we are looking to grow significantly in Saudi as well.” //


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ANALYSIS eSolutionsMaximo

At maximum capacity IBM’s rugged reseller, eSolutions Maximo, took the fight to competitors last month when it rolled up in Dubai for its Middle East User Group Conference. With political powerhouses, top executives and hundreds of customers in tow, the company arrived bearing the message of maximising enterprise assets – something that the region is short of doing, according to Gaby Matar, Group Managing Partner.

Gaby matar, Group Managing Partner, eSolutions Maximo

eSolutions Maximo made it clear from the off – this conference was about ensuring that clients can take maximum value from enterprise infrastructure and assets. It’s a keen topic in the industry at the moment, as vendors believe that many clients are over-spending on solutions without utilising the operational effectiveness. Maximo laid out an impressive agenda focused on industrial equipment, facilities, transportation, and IT assets. The company stated that the priority was to improve uptime, availability and reliability to its customers – who certainly came out in force. Gaby Matar, Group Managing Partner, eSolutions Maximo, believes that business has never been so good, and the solutions and products on offer have helped companies all over the Gulf to really accelerate their business. Maximo has seen a 28.5-percent


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year-on-year growth in the MENA region, something that Matar believes demonstrates the value and appreciation of its enterprise management portfolio. Maximo covers five areas in the region; oil and gas, IT, facilities, utilities, and transportation. “Our wide range of offerings can bring so much value to market in so many different ways,” he said. “Some are only using Maximo for the production line, others are simply using it for the facilities. They have all types of assets in any one system and the benefits are truly great, and the turn-out today demonstrates that. However, the key to this event is that we know that each of these customers can benefit a lot more from our system.” It would appear as though the customers are fully aware of the rumble coming from the Maximo camp. Matar explains that the MENA event is in fact the second largest Maximo gathering outside of the United States. “We have 30 subject matter experts from IBM supporting this event; that speaks volumes. I can confidently say that some customers in this region are using Maximo far better than larger accounts in other areas around the world,” he said. But the regional contact list isn’t a modest one for Maximo. Matar and his team have some extremely high-profile names on their books, including Dnata, Dubai Airports, and the RTA, as well as the oil sector of Abu Dhabi, and some Saudi Arabian accounts. Of course, having such clients may put a stern amount of pressure on Maximo to deliver. But Matar claims that the feedback from the event itself, as well as the overall performance of Maximo over the last few years has been extremely positive. “They know that we are adding value,

and that’s the key. We’re qualified, we have great consultants, we’re always available, and this has gained us happy customers. We couldn’t be happier to have these on board as a reference. Dubai Airports, for example, stood up in front of everyone on day one and said everything I have just said, to the entire conference. Having that reference is very telling – we couldn’t be happier,” Matar explained on the final day. “On top of this, the value they can all take from this event just adds to that. The things we’ve been able to discuss with them over the course of the two days has improved their awareness and skill sets to be able to deliver better results and take more from the Maximo system. We don’t rest on our laurels; we have a great track record for providing after care.” It’s not often that a company can calculate immediate ROI from such a large event, but on the surface, it appears as though customer interaction and discussions have produced quite a buzz. Matar believes that granting the opportunity for customers and clients to get together and share success stories, as well as concerns, will really aid them to progress and move forward. “This is, of course, great for us. If one customer tells a success story about how they overcame an issue and the listening party has that very same issue then they can approach us with that concern, and we can provide them with that solution. This is why these events are so valuable to everyone. You’ve seen that here.” Maximo reported that around 10 percent of the clientele present was in fact new customers and Matar said that the feedback has been so good that he is confident Maximo will again build on its customer base following the event. //

opinion Condo Protego

Are you being served? Good customer service needs vision, people power and a super-sized portion of empathy, says Condo Protego CEO Andrew Calthorpe. With noses to the grindstone and eyes on the bottom line, it is easy for the region’s IT players to end up in positions with plenty of customer service blind spots. Many would no doubt bristle at the accusation but, judging by the conversations I’ve been having of late, the lack of true, value-added customer service is still more elusive than it should be. In the VAR community, bad service can come at any point in a project’s lifecycle. Yet some businesses may not even realise they are getting a less-than-satisfactory deal due to a history of low expectation. Suffice to say, a fair few have been operationally hamstrung because a VAR has cut corners with one-size-fits-all solutions. Snappy sales talk can make anything fly at the time, but increasingly that is not going to cut it in the long run. At Condo Protego, we conduct a detailed customer feedback exercise after every completed project. Over the past 12 months, 100 percent of our clients stated that designled data storage and protection strategies result in tangible business value. The assertion was unanimous across such diverse worlds as banking, insurance, education, energy, manufacturing, and government. While this is, of course, a nice vindication of how we have always done business, it is also vivid and instructive snapshot of how today’s business leaders think. Decision-makers are no longer IT novices. They are discerning experts, they want to be involved in strategy and they want value for money.


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Andrew Calthrope, CEO, Condo Protego

They will certainly not stand for a perfunctory gameplan and a hope-for-thebest mentality. Where once there may have been a general sense of detachment, there is now a surging demand for something far more immersive and vital. More than ever before, there is a market hungry for the VARs that can move beyond just selling products to also craft multifaceted strategies that have the potential to extend well into the future. This will call for unprecedented levels of project-specific collaboration. Clients are no longer happy with generalists; they want specialist input. This means assembling and deploying tightly configured teams fit for purpose at any given moment. The industry is demanding a new breed of customer service that isn’t predicated on empty promises, but is instead entirely

driven by a desire to identify and understand critical business problems. Key to enduring success here is to treat every project as a continually evolving entity that requires huge reserves of both human and technological care. One of the recurring gripes I’ve heard when pitching to new clients – and in casual conversations with industry experts – is the distinct lack of adequate post-implementation support. Just because the deal is done, dusted and up and running, doesn’t mean it is all over. VARs need to stop treating projects in a hit-and-run fashion, and clients need to be actively engaged. On every-level, business is about people. As business demands become increasingly complex, it is surely the open-minded and cooperative VARs that will win the day. //

cover story EMW

Ten years young Having been in business for 10 years now, systems integrator EMW has weathered the economic crash to emerge as one of the Middle East’s top players. We speak with Serjios El-Hage, CEO, about the firm’s plans going forward.


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What would you highlight as some of the major achievements of EMW over the last year or so? Last year, we were the five-year winner of best systems integrator, which is good. The other thing I would say is the employee retention. Employee retention with us is over 90 percent, which is great. This is our tenth year in the business. This is very satisfying because, you know, when you build a team, over the years, people change, people want to do this, but so far, we’ve been lucky that most of the team we built has been with us over all these years. Also, which is most important, our customer base has expanded. Most of our business is geared towards enterprise. And over the last 12 months, we’ve been able to add more and more customers – high-end customers – especially in the media. We’ve had OSN, and we were able in the last 12 months to add Abu Dhabi Media Company, so we do a lot of business with them. As a matter of fact, our top three customers are in hospitality, which is basically how we founded the company, because we work very closely with the Jumeirah group. And then the second would be media, and the third would be education. What kinds of trends are seeing over the regional IT landscape? Obviously, you have to talk about the cloud. But the way we look at it is we have the pure-cloud model, where everything is hosted. However, being in this region,

you’re kind of limited to certain service providers. And unless these certain providers open it up, or try to bring the hosting closer to them, it’s a pretty tough sell. So what we decided to do is we looked at kind of a hybrid model, where you have on-premise and off-premise. And most of the customers we have, the enterprise customers, they want us to do a

Are you going for more public sector or private sector business? To be honest, most of our business, like I mentioned, it’s kind of split. I would say you have the private sector, you have the public sector, and you have the sort of in between – the semi-government entities. For example, Abu Dhabi Media is something that’s semi-government. We

“To be honest, the experience prior to opening EMW about 10 years ago, the role of a systems integrator used to be definitely vendor-agnostic. You go to a systems integrator, and you don’t ask him what sort of solutions, or what sort of vendors you work with.” study of how prepared they are in case the cloud services open up here, what sort of preparation they need to do to make sure all the services are within the cloud. We’re focusing on call centres, contact centres, and another focus area is in managing mobile devices. We started with this about two and a half years ago. We were one of the first ones to introduce it to the region. And we see it more and more in enterprises now, especially from the CSO-level down, because they want to use their own device, whether they have an Apple iPad or a Samsung Note or Android, so it’s a different model.

work across the three markets, definitely, because we’re technology driven. And then you have another size of customers which have business environments, so we’re trying to cater more to the business community rather than the IT. What do you see as the role of a good systems integrator in the Middle East? Is it different to other parts of the world? To be honest, from the experience prior to opening EMW about 10 years ago, the role of a systems integrator used to be definitely vendor-agnostic. You go to a systems integrator, and you don’t

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cover story EMW

ask him what sort of solutions, or what sort of vendors you work with. However, in this part of the world, you have to have synergies between yourself, the vendor and the customer. Some vendors are preferred by some customers. As a systems integrator, you have to focus on the customer needs first and foremost, and then from that you can decide what sort of vendor has the best solution that will fit into those customer requirements, out of the vendors that they want. Now, when you get what’s called an approved vendor list, one vendor could have the best solution in that particular area. However it won’t be on the approved list, and then you’re not able to position it. We see a lot of this mainly in hospitality. You have the local brands, which are more flexible, and then you have the international brands, which have an approved vendor list which comes from their headquarters. Not only do you have to be capable technically, you have to be able to speak to the vendors, you have to be able to speak to the business people, and you have to also have the right team in place. You can work with all these different stakeholders but if you can’t deliver - and consistently deliver - it’s not going to work. Sometimes there are exceptions, but most of the time, and luckily with our customers, we’ve kind of been able to show them both sides of the aisle, if you will, and then we will leave it up to them to choose which

vendor or which solutions that they need to position there on the premise. What’s your relationship with the vendors like? This is also very important. Even if the vendor is listed, or an approved vendor, then depending on if you’ve been involved in the project early on or not, then they have another caveat, which is to be certified. If you’re certified, what level certification do you have? Currently, we hold the top certification with every vendor we work with. Once you empower your employees and you get them to a certain level of certification, automatically your certification with the vendor goes up. And we’ve been able to maintain this over the years as well. There are two aspects – you have to be able to maintain the certification from the technical level, but also from the revenue level. What about managed services? We have three or four bids on the table right now for managed services. If you asked me how long it’d take to get that off the ground 10 years ago, I’d probably say not at all. But the way things are going, with the market conditions now, with the cuts that are going on, and the level of expertise in the market, we see more of it coming on board. Do you think the Middle East’s IT industry is still in growth mode?

“If you look at two years ago versus now, there’s definitely a good potential. Most of the projects that were put on hold have been put back on. The sentiment, in general, has changed. There are a lot of announcements, and things are definitely on the upswing.” 26

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If you look at two years ago versus now, there’s definitely a good potential. Most of the projects that were put on hold have been put back on. The sentiment, in general, has changed. There are a lot of announcements, and things are definitely on the upswing. Trying to keep up with it, getting the right people in place, trying to align yourself the right way, is what the next 12 to 24 months will see. As far as the strategy and all the reports you read – IDC, Gartner and all this – everybody is pretty much saying the same thing. If you don’t adapt to this new change, you’ll be left behind. Do you work all across the Middle East, or is it just in the UAE? Mostly we focus on the UAE. We have customers that are regional, and we support them from here. The reason why we do this is because they want to work with us, and they want one point of contact. And the other reason is, to expand outside, there are some legal issues. You have to get past a legal entity to the way you do business, with sponsorship and all this. We took the decision about three years ago just as the downturn was coming. We said, “Okay, maybe we should go back, regroup, refocus on the UAE.” And that’s what we’re doing and it’s been successful. Are there any projects that you’re really proud of? The masterpiece is the Rixos Hotel – that was the last one we’ve done – because we’ve done everything, from infrastructure. And it’s not a one-vendor solution. We had to work very closely with the Rixos Group to make sure that it’s been successful. The other one would obviously be Jumeirah. It is on the forefront of new technological developments all the time. These are unique opportunities. Even though the revenue will not be substantial, but the uniqueness, and making sure the solution works, or gets results, especially when your customer is asking for it, that’s very satisfying. //

SI watch Al Rostamani Communications

Striving for excellence  Al Rostamani Communications, part of a biggest business conglomerate in the UAE, is one of the top 10 systems integrators in the region with a track record of executing some largescale projects. Mohammed Zameer, General Manager of the company, speaks about the changing face of the systems integration business. We are the only SI who is equally strong in all these four domains. Where did the growth come from in 2012? Telecom and ICT, especially from storage and virtualisation. We are a certified VMware partner and we work very closely with Fujitsu, as well. We have executed some big projects in the banking and hospitality sectors.

Mohammed Zameer, GM, Al Rostamani Communications

How do you see the regional systems integration business evolving and your role in it? We have been in business for almost 11 years now. We are not the master of anything; our range is very wide because our business is split in half into telecom and IT. And in IT, our breadth is very wide because we are into all aspects including cabling, security and voice. Thanks to our exposure to the telecom market, our business was unaffected even during the recession because telecom spending didn’t slow down. The last year was challenging in the sense that there was too much competition for the business. Also, the business has changed because of the disruptive technologies coming to the fore. We just can’t afford to do business like the way we used to do earlier; it was dominated by products and that model isn’t going to work anymore. In the near future, users many not even be worried about integration because they are moving from a Capex to Opex model. You can’t go and tell a customer that you have this product to sell.


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Does most of your business come from infrastructure? I’d say both infrastructure and telecom. There are many systems integrators in the region who are well entrenched in both these segments and it was consciously developed by us. Any reason why? These are two completely different markets. Absolutely—in terms of size of projects, sales cycles, business processes, etc. But one advantage is that the technical expertise required for both enterprise and telecom is almost similar. So if you have a good technical support team that can be mobilised at short notice for telecom projects, you can deploy them for enterprise business as well once the telecom project is over. This give us lot of leverage. What would you say your key differentiator is compared to competition? We don’t compare ourselves to the likes of GBM because they are in the different league. But, if you look at the local players, many of them are involved in infrastructure, ICT, voice and security.

You said customers are moving to an Opex model. What will be the impact of this on SIs? We will die if you don’t change. The business model today will be non-existent soon and the next phase of growth is going to come from cloud, BYOD and LTE. I don’t see any space for any of the technologies or products we are selling today. Are you looking at managed services? We are already offering managed services and have invested heavily in a network operations centre and a disaster recovery centre in Abu Dhabi. Does it help being part of a big group? Yes, we are able to leverage the group strength and the Rostamani brand name is very visible across the UAE. That is why, when we look for partners, we always choose from the top three because I believe these top three will take 80 percent of the market. We don’t want to struggle with the 20 percent. Do you see a big demand for security? Yes, in the aftermath of the breaches we had recently in the region. But, unfortunately, security has always been reactive and I don’t see many customers taking a proactive approach. I think that’s got to do with the fact that the results of security investments aren’t always very tangible. //

partner watch Logicom

Exploring new horizons  Dubai-based distributor Logicom has recently moved to a new headquarters with a larger warehousing facility, and plans are in the pipeline to expand its business into new segments and geographies. Demetris Demetriou, GM of Logicom, talks about the plans for growth.


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How was 2012 for you? It was indeed a challenging year with a lot of geo-political issues around the region that created uncertainty in the channel. It cost us our expansion plans in the region. However, things turned around in the last quarter of 2012 when we started seeing signs of recovery and we have had a very good first quarter this year. We have added some new lines of business, mainly the printing business of HP, and we have seen big growth coming out of the networking business and commercial business in all the brands we represent. Which are the major brands that you represent? HP, Cisco, APC, Kingston, Western Digital, to name a few. In total, we have 12 vendors in the portfolio and we are planning to expand that this year and also get into new lines of business such as mobility. What are your expansion plans? We started expending into Iraq and Libya last year and have dedicated business development managers to grow these geographies. We have plans to expand our business into the northern part of Iraq, but we are waiting and watching how that country is evolving. We see a lot of potential for ICT in this country. Saudi is another major focus area for us and we have been operating there since 2006. In 2010, we invested heavily in that market and now have 50 people in Saudi alone. Over the next two to three years, we expect Saudi to be the biggest growth market for us. Many broadliners are now foraying into value-added distribution. Do you have any such plans? We have been doing value-added distribution for the last six to seven years, mainly with our Cisco business. We offer pre- and post-sales, consulting and PoCs. During the last two years, we enhanced our VAD business team, though we don’t have a different unit within Logicom. Additionally, we are offering value products

such as servers and storage from HP, data centre solutions from APC and, more recently, NetApp. All these products require consultingled selling rather than just box selling. You are already doing networking and storage. Which are the high-growth technology areas you are focusing on? We are focusing on security and already have WatchGuard in our fold. We are looking to sign up two other brands for the security business, including anti-virus. We are looking at large-format printers, which has a huge potential in verticals such as media, advertising, and architecture. How about technologies such as virtualisation? We have been very keen watching the cloud and virtualisation market for the last two years and we are now in the process of finalising our strategy. We are also working with our partners, Cisco and NetApp, to move towards cloud computing. In addition, we have invested heavily in two data centres, one for our internal use and another devoted to virtualisation technologies so that our partners and end-users can carry out POC and test these applications. Would you also look at offering some of these technologies in the as-a-service model? We are exploring all the options and our aspiration is to offer managed services to our reseller partners. How many reseller partners do you have at the moment? Within the Middle East, we have around 3,500 reseller partners, out of which 2,500 are active. What is the value proposition you are offering to these partners? Apart from the normal services such as credit, stock availability, we are moving up the value chain and offering them consulting absolutely free of charge. We design solutions together and enable their techno-commercial teams. We do Logicom technology forums every quarter in each country where we have a presence to bring together vendors and

partners for knowledge sharing. We are creating flexible credit schemes for them so that they can take more projects on board. We also work very closely together to drive different products into different segments, and encourage them to specialise to offer more value to their customers. Vendors often rely on distributors to drive training and certification in the channel. What are you doing on this front? We are very sensitive about this, and one of our top priorities is enabling the channel. Not only do we train the techno-commercial teams of our partners but go the extra mile and train their finance and logistics teams to be more efficient. We have training facilities and demo labs within our HQ in Jebel Ali and Karama office in Dubai. Are you looking at the services opportunity? Yes, as the product margins are very thin. For the next two years, we are looking to expand into specialised services in order to avoid conflict with systems integrator partners. We have the technical know-how to execute complicated services projects. Do you have any plans to expand your geographical footprint? Yes, we are going to expand our presence into the African market. It is a very interesting market but challenging at the same time. We’d focus more on Central and East Africa. What do you think would be the effect of cloud on the distribution market? Cloud is a buzzword. But in the region, we haven’t seen cloud picking up yet. We have better traction in the private cloud than public. However, three to five years from now, cloud is going to transform the distribution business as we know it today. You will see the vendor landscape change as well; some small and specialised brands will emerge stronger and bigger ones will lose their edge. The BYOD phenomenon is going to be more widespread and the mobility trend will accelerate further. We think it’s the right time to invest in this segment and you’ll hear from us very soon. //

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feature Training and certification

Top marks  With many partners viewing comprehensive technical support as a value-add to customers, the issue of training and certification is a hot topic. We investigate the benefits of certifying staff, and how the channel can leverage vendor training programmes to deliver better results.


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may 2013

The concept of value-added reselling or distribution has reached its zenith in the Middle East. Since the economic crash of 2008, channel partners have woken up to the fact that sales and revenues on their own are not enough to remain competitive in the marketplace. That said, “value” is a difficult word to define – what constitutes extra value in a world where every partner claims to offer it? To many, a large part of added value comes with offering the right technical support. This, of course, depends on having properly trained and certified staff. And because the idea has paid dividends for many of the region’s big players, the channel, it seems, is gripped with a desire to have as many properly certified staff as possible. What’s more, vendors are increasingly blocking upper-tier partnerships to firms without properly certified staff, meaning, to get to that gold level, partners are having to skill up. “You hear a lot of people talking about value-added distribution – what does it all mean?” asks Mario M. Veljovic, Operations and Services Director, Aptec. “What is the value that you create? Value can be bringing a product from A to B – that’s a value, and we can do that extremely well. But it comes to really creating a channel, building a channel, enabling a channel.” According to Veljovic, building and maintaining a channel comes down to enablement, and by enablement, he means having skilled, trained and certified staff. The channel has woken up to this, he says, and what’s more, vendors are aggressively pushing training and certification programmes in the Middle East. And Veljovic says there’s a very good reason for this. “The situations you find vendors being in when they come to the Middle East or, probably, any emerging market, is that they find the customers, the users, want the technology. And the vendor says, ‘I have it,’ but there’s no-one to implement it,” he says.

“You need to train your end-users how to use it at the end, because they say, ‘Wow. The solution is there, but how do I manage it?’ And on the other side is to get the resellers, systems integrators, and upgrade their internal skills so they can deploy the solution, and even manage it successfully when it comes to, say, managed service offerings.” This would suggest that it would fall on the vendors to ensure that their channels are properly trained, given that the success of their products depends on the person implementing them. Stephan Berner, Managing Director, help AG, for example, says that most channel partners would agree that training and certification programmes are vendor-driven. “If you speak to any channel partner, they would agree that, for the most part, training and certification programmes are driven primarily by the vendors,” he says. “As you can imagine, with the investment that is required from the channel partners, these programmes do in fact contribute significantly to the revenue streams of vendors.” The sentiment seems to be shared by a couple of vendors. Cisco, for example, takes full responsibility for training and certifying its partners, according to Simon Hill, Regional Partner Manager, UAE, Cisco. “We believe that our partner’s success is ours, and that is why we have the Cisco Channel Partner Programme that focuses on a partner’s ability to deliver intelligent networks and technology architectures built on integrated products, services, and software platforms,” he says. However, according to Nermin Zayed, Business Development Manager, Advanced Technology Services (a subsidiary of Aptec), many distributors are now taking on the responsibility of training up their channels. “Vendors attach training to the distributor,” she says. “Some people will already have the rights to resell their training or do their training out there.

may 2013

Reseller Middle East


feature Training and certification

“The ability of its channel to understand, design, implement and support its product portfolio has far-reaching effects on the vendor reputation than a few quick wins.” Meera Kaul, Managing Director, Optimus Technology and Telecommunications

But the new strategy is the person who’s actually recruiting the partners, who is getting sales, needs to be the one to be able to enable the channel and to grow the channel.” Zayed’s point is echoed by Meera Kaul, Managing Director, Optimus Technology and Telecommunications, who says that “at times”, the responsibility is addressed through distributors. “As a VAD, we offer training and certification programs for our channel network to enhance their knowledge and skills,” she says. “Through our channel enablement arm, Optimus Academy, we hold regular product training sessions, certification workshops, seminars and sales workshops for our partners, which have been benefitting both our vendor partners and channel.” What’s more, some people, like Sanjeev Singh, CEO, Spectrum Training, believe that most of the responsibility for training up lies with the partners, and not the vendors. “Vendors can always make the programmes and give the right incentives to the partner, but a major portion of the responsibility lies with the partner to get the team certified and have the right skills,” he says. Whether training and certification is the responsibility of the partner or the vendor seems to differ between vendors, then. However, there is no denying that,


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

whoever’s responsibility it is, training does come at a cost to the partner, whether through losing a staff member for the training period or else having to pay for the course. Many resellers lower down the food chain may view training and certification as an added expense that cannot be justified, particularly if top-tier partnership is not on the cards. Of course, some technical training is essential, but can partners really glean value out of skilling up on the products from every vendor they work with? According to Berner, the answer is no. “As for channel partners, when they offer solutions from 10 and 15 vendors, it is difficult if not impossible to achieve the highest level of certification with each of these,” he says. “It is therefore best to identify those certifications which help develop skills that are most in line with the company’s goals and objectives.”

Using this strategy, Berner says, resellers can gain top-tier partnerships with the vendors that matter most to their businesses. Shahnawaz Sheikh, Regional Director for the MEA and Turkey, Dell SonicWall, agrees that training and certification should depend more on the business segment that partners want to pursue, rather than an endless quest to become as certified as possible. “Dell SonicWall has the CSSA (Certified SonicWall Security Administrator) training that is mandatory for any partner,” he says. “This is the foundation and starting point of training. In addition to this, we have specialised training on secure remote access, email security, wireless security, global management systems, so depending on the business needs and specialisation, partners can choose how much time to invest in training. It also depends on the partner’s area of business focus and their service level commitment towards their customers.” If a partner wants to move up to the highest level of partnership with a vendor, however, training and certification becomes more important. In the IT sphere, pretty much every vendor out there requires a certain number of certified staff to be on a reseller’s team before top-tier partnership is considered. This means that, if a partner wants top-tier benefits, it needs to have top-certified staff. “As the partner moves up the partner programme, the certification gets more

“What is the value that you create? Value can be bringing a product from A to B – that’s a value, and we can do that extremely well. But it comes to really creating a channel, building a channel, enabling a channel.” Mario M. Veljovic, Operations and Services Director, Aptec

feature Training and certification

important,” says Tariq Hasan, Regional Sales Manager, WNS, Middle East and North Africa, Motorola Solutions. “At an entry level, the certification requirements are what an entry-level partner needs and are relatively simple. As the partner gets into larger and more complex projects, the certification gets more comprehensive and more important.” That said, if a partner’s sales figures are right, vendors have been known to make exceptions, according to Boby Joseph, CEO, StorIT Distribution, who says that vendors do not need to block access to well-performing partners just because their certifications aren’t up to scratch. He still believes there should be incentives for skilling up in this situation, however. “Vendors do not need to block access but reduce the privileges available and enable an attractive incentive plan for mutual business benefit. Vendors can have an authoritarian attitude to business development but have an incentivised welcome plan to do business,” he says. Singh, from Spectrum Training, agrees that it “would be a bit harsh” to block highlevel partnership to a partner with strong sales based on training figures alone. “A vendor can always give some extra time and help that partner to get the people scaled quickly to reach the higher tier,” he says. Kaul, however, says that this is not the best way to go about business. After all, a partner may post tremendous sales figures one year, earning a place among

“Vendors can always make the programmes and give the right incentives to the partner, but a major portion of the responsibility lies with the partner to get the team certified and have the right skills.” Sanjeev Singh, CEO, Spectrum Training

the top tier, but if they aren’t certified, it’s unlikely that the business is going to grow substantially. Indeed, without the right skill set, the business may even falter. “From a vendor’s perspective, just having an outreach into a customer base is not enough to ensure business continuity,” she says. “The ability of its channel to understand, design, implement and support its product portfolio has farreaching effects on the vendor reputation than a few quick wins.” This outlook, however, may pose a problem in the Middle East, where so much talent is imported and skilled employees are all too happy to move on to the next big opportunity. According to both Kaul and Berner, skilled employee retention is one of the biggest challenges facing the region. “It is very typical to see that, once an employee has achieved a strong set of skills and accreditations though the

“As the partner gets into larger and more complex projects, the certification gets more comprehensive and more important.” Tariq Hasan, Regional Sales Manager, WNS, Middle East and North Africa, Motorola Solutions


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

training and certifications provided by the channel organisation, he or she begins to look for better opportunities, which, in many cases, means moving into a vendor organisation,” Berner says. According to Asli Aktas, Channel Director for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, Enterasys Networks, this state of affairs greatly deters partners from investing in their employees. The lack of skills, however, is not so much of an issue. “The Middle East has other things to struggle with, like loyalty of staff to the employer, therefore resellers are rather hesitant to train their staff which might not be there in months,” he says. This is a shame, because the experts all agree that the more certified and skilled staff are on a team, the more a partner is able to take a consultative approach with the customer. And when customers are truly helped, they will, more than likely, keep on returning. According to Shaheen Haque, Territory Manager, Middle East and Turkey, Interactive Intelligence, taking this approach means “resellers are able to think outside the box in terms of customer requirements”. The benefits of training up staff are clear to see, then. Not only does it pave the way for top-tier partnership with vendors, but it can also facilitate better customer relationships. All that is required of the channel, it seems, is to work out how to solve the problem of staff retention. After that, it’s clear that certification provides a real value add. //

feature Managed print services

Taming printer chaos  Managed print services (MPS) has emerged as the best growth bet for print hardware vendors and a huge opportunity for the channel as enterprises are eager to adopt the next-level printing environment. We look at the ways in which the channel can cash in on this opportunity. 38

Reseller Middle East

may 2013

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As more regional enterprises look for ways to reduce costs and move from a Capex to Opex model, many are looking at managed print services as a way to tame largely undocumented and unpredictable annual printing costs. It is estimated that managed print services can reduce printing costs by as much as 30 percent. It provides a flexible way for organisations to procure printing hardware, supplies, service and support in one bundled contract. The way managed print services works is rather simple. It starts with an audit to analyse and document usage patterns in an organisation and figure out the inefficiencies and where improvements can be made. If done correctly, this audit can throw up valuable information such as the number and type of printers, locations, users, supplies required and how efficiently the printers are being utilised, both in terms of usage, and the number of machines currently in use. Hendrik Verbrugghe, Marketing Director, Canon Middle East, says organisations increasingly understand the benefits that can be achieved by outsourcing the management of their print services to a specialist third party. “The management of print services is an effective way to lower print costs, heighten productivity and improve the security of business-critical information. Additional environmental benefits can be achieved through reduction in print output, paper usage and electricity consumption.” Though it is quite a mature and proven model worldwide, the market for MPS in this region is still pretty much at a starting point. “The majority of printing customers are buying printers and supplies on a transactional basis. There are, though, some customers who are used to having a

contract per device to cover basic services and supplies. A small number of customers have a true MPS implementation – i.e. a supplier taking full care of their printing environment,” says Kees Verton, Manager. Printing Categories, HP Middle East. He adds that the MPS growth opportunity comes from more customers being aware that there are considerable benefits in the latter approach, which is a full outsourcing of their printing needs. Print services will continue to grow, as companies of all sizes recognise the savings and

to deliver the MPS message. In order for channel partners to sell Xerox MPS, they are required to go through a structured training programme, which focuses on both the sales side but, importantly, the technical aspect, too. If successful, Xerox will then accredit the partner to officially sell Xerox MPS and thus open up a completely new market opportunity for them to help rapidly grow the business,” says Dan Smith, Head of Integrated Marketing, MEA, Xerox. Mathias Militzer, General Manager,

“Once potential customers have been identified, it is important to work closely with them to ascertain their particular needs and then be able to provide customised solutions.” Mathias Militzer, General Manager, Lexmark Middle East and Africa

efficiencies that can be achieved with such programmes. Other key factors behind MPS growth are that customers require sustained consistency of delivery, as well as some security requirements. In a way, the managed print services business has eaten into the printer market worldwide, and the time is ripe for channel partners to take a long, hard look at the current strategies and jump onto the services bandwagon to make fat margins. “The opportunities for channel engagement in MPS are huge, and offer an opportunity for partners to contract to consistent revenue streams through the services model. Xerox are conscious to ensure that its partners are properly skilled

Lexmark Middle East and Africa, says to succeed in the MPS market, it is important to have an integrated approach to any client relationship. “Once potential customers have been identified, it is important to work closely with them to ascertain their particular needs and then be able to provide customised solutions. To enable this, vendors and partners need to ensure proper training and guidance to the customer facing representatives who are the first point of contact.” HP claims it is revolutionising the way it approached MPS delivery by focusing on selling services and then attaching hardware. It has been shown that for each $1 spent on printing, $9 is spent on

may 2013

Reseller Middle East


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managing the process. HP and industry analysts believe that potential savings in this area may be one of the “last bastions” of significant savings for any organisation. “Just by optimising the infrastructure, a managed print services engagement can save approximately 10 to 30 percent in a client’s overall print environment. This is a different approach to many other providers, who focus solely on reducing on the cost per page (CPP), rather than all of these associated costs. Therefore, there are numerous profitable opportunities for channel partners looking to explore their options in the managed services arena,” says Verton. Reji Mathews, Marketing Manager, Oki Middle East, offers a different perspective: “Channel partners through MPS engagements can build on their existing revenue streams. Oki’s MPS programme provides the channel the access to products, services and competencies to capitalise on MPS opportunities, thus providing them with the ability to investigate and propose potential TCO savings, and enhanced productivity levels to the existing and prospective customers.” Canon has identified the regional hospitality industry as a key area for MPS business growth. “There is a lot of potential for business to grow in this sector, given the high volume of printing and document management requirements involved in their operations. In addition to hospitality, other vertical industries that have potential demand include banking,

“Just by optimising the infrastructure, a managed print services engagement can save approximately 10 to 30 percent in a client’s overall envrionment.” Kees Verton, Manager, Printing Categories, HP Middle East

utilities, oil and gas, media and healthcare. For the managed print services channel, new opportunities come from providing value-added services to the customers, such as audit, fleet management, configuration management and maintenance services,” says Verbrugghe, Most of the major printers have a managed print solution offering and they help the channel to build a business in this domain. “In today’s economy, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs. For most companies, the ongoing expense of office printing – cost per print, routine maintenance, and service – is an unexplored opportunity for significant, cumulative savings. Our worldwide network of certified reseller partners deliver managed print services to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) centralise management of all their devices—including printers, copiers and multi-function printers from multiple manufacturers,” says Smith.

“We also have a number of solutions aimed at the software developers who want access to the controllers of the MFPs to provide a complete customised solution.” Reji Mathews, Marketing Manager from Oki Middle East


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

HP says it has solutions tailored to each partner’s offerings and requirements. As part of its partner programme, HP says it is actively helping its channel partners achieve their MPS objectives with funding through various programmes. Oki says MPS means different things to different people. It can mean a click charge or it can mean a paid-for service for a number of printed pages and an agreed support level with no hardware being purchased by the end user or anything in between. “For Oki, we are offering our channel partners a suite of software solutions that can audit, monitor, extract reports, manage billing, handle secure printing, permit ‘follow me’-type printing to allow them to tailor a solution for their customers. We also have a number of solutions aimed at the software developers who want to access the controllers of the MFPs to provide a complete customised solution, so pretty much we can provide, via our partners, a solution that will meet the needs of most SMBs in the region,” says Mathews. Lexmark provides its channel partners with extensive solutions tailored for its customers with its BSD Line and programme as well as the Lexmark Fleet Manager and Page Plus. “With LFM, we combine our device data collection and management system with Lexmark’s uncompromising support to enable our partners to confidently pursue and support MPS solutions to their clients. Our Page Plus programme, ‘pay per page’ offering direct from Lexmark, dramatically simplifies your


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life by uniting the most-essential services into one all-inclusive contract. These offerings enable our channel partners to compose our Lexmark MPS offerings to their business customers,” says Militzer. For channel partners exploring business in this area, it is important to keep in mind that customers typically look for multi-vendor capabilities in their MPS engagements. “This is an increasingly important requirement for many clients. The ability to manage a multi-vendor fleet ensures that the client can pass over the responsibility of their print infrastructure to an industry expert to deliver a contracted service. At the heart of the service is the device management software. In the case of Xerox, this software sweeps the network and provides feedback not only for Xerox devices, but for non-Xerox also. This enables Xerox to provide a true holistic offering and lift the burden of responsibility from the client whilst in tandem maximising the return on any non-Xerox product investments,” says Smith. Mathews agrees: “Most of the customers who are looking for a MPS solution are those who already have a multi-vendor fleet of print output devices and are looking for a solution provider who can do assessment, and implement hardware (optimisation), thus ensuring fleet efficiency. Hence, customers want to engage with the vendor who has the competencies and resources to support the needs in an MPS contract.” The MPS model is still in its infancy in the region and most vendors have many initiatives to educate both customers and the channel about the benefits. “We have regular contact programmes with the channel partners aimed at increasing awareness about the myriad benefits available to business through the implementation of customised integrated imaging and documentation solutons,” says Militzer. HP says customers who engage with HP on MPS can realise improvements on all three levels - lower costs, increased efficiency and productivity. To educate customers, HP is holding media briefings,


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

reactive commentary and proactive pitching to highlight HP’s vision and benefits of the channel strategy around managed print services. On top of that, HP offers various training programmes to partners to build their knowledge regarding MPS and document solutions. “We see managed print services as an important requirement for customers. Xerox has been delivering against this strategic requirement directly for some years – and now we are helping our channel partners to deliver the relevant services. This is a true wining scenario for all players. Xerox is helping the channel to be strategically relevant and lock in their

relationships with customers. Xerox is also helping resellers to improve profitability and cash flow by contracting for recurring revenues. For customers, we are helping them control costs, improve budgeting and deploy better document processes that support their businesses,” says Smith. To sum up, printing and supplies still account for one of the biggest expenses for an organisation. Yet many don’t have the staff or skills to effectively monitor or manage their print environment. This is where the channel can step in and help their customers manage their document output and associated business processes in a managed services model. //

“The ability to manage a multi-vendor fleet ensures that the client can pass over the responsibility of their print infrastructure to an industry expert to deliver a contracted service.” Dan Smith, Head of Integrated Marketing for the MEA, Developing Market Operations, Xerox

vendor focus Infor

Shake it like a start-up While Infor describes itself as the world’s biggest start-up, its new partner network shows that the vendor’s channel business is beginning to grow up. Tom Paye reports back from the United States on what the new network means for prospective partners.

Because it describes itself as “the world’s biggest start-up”, Infor could be forgiven for not having the most advanced channel in the world. That said, since the launch of its Infor Partner Network two years ago, the vendor has come on leaps and bounds in terms of striking up – and keeping – strong partnerships with distributors and resellers. The problem with Infor’s channel before, according to Gerard Frey, Vice President, Infor Partner Network, was that, because the vendor had snapped up so many companies through acquisitions, the channel was a little disparate, and had many partners wondering where they stood. “Through all the acquisitions that Infor has made over the last 10 years, we’ve had 30 or 40 companies that formed a channel,” Frey said at Inforum 2013, Infor’s annual customer conference held in the United States. “We’ve recently rebuilt a programme around it called the Infor Partner Network for channel partners. And with that, we’ve got all of our partners on the same contract, the


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

same rules of engagement, and the same segmentation model.” Frey heads up the Infor Partner Network, and so is, in effect, Infor’s top channel executive. He also saw the transition from Infor’s old way of doings things to the creation of the new partner network, which includes a revamped partner portal, from which resellers can access pretty much everything they need to sell Infor’s products. And judging by the number of new products that Infor has released this year, partners will need that extra help just to get their heads around the new portfolio. At Inforum 2013, the vendor made more than four big announcements, and punctuated these with a handful of smaller ones. From the new Sky Vault cloud service to the 10x Suite that can be adapted to dozens of micro-verticals, partners will need to spend some serious time getting to grips with Infor’s new technologies. That’s why the firm has put much more emphasis on training and certification. Pam Murphy, the firm’s COO, said during her Inforum keynote that customers had asked for better training on Infor’s products, but

what about the vendor’s partners? What kind of help can they expect in terms of getting to know the products? “I can tell you from an enablement standpoint, you’ve always got to stay ahead of it,” said Frey. “We’ve attacked it from a couple of different perspectives. We will do bootcamps and get in front of them, we’ll also do roadshows, of course. “We really just use multiple facets, so I have a person on my team that’s responsible for global partner enablement, and I would say enablement would be everything that a partner needs to get successful - from contract signature to closing the deal, and going beyond that and implementing that deal. Enablement is constant, ongoing, and keeping them fresh.” Indeed, Frey claimed that, through the Infor Partner Network, partners are given the same access to material as the vendor’s own sales teams. “We went out of our way to give partners access to everything our direct sales get,” he said. “When we say we have a partner portal, they’re actually getting access to our sales portal. We see them as an extension, for sure,

vendor focus Infor

Gerard Frey, Vice President, Infor Partner Network

for our sales force. And we make sure they get all the same news, all the same updates, and the sales tools.” This strategy makes sense for a company that sees far more direct sales than channel sales. Frey said that the company will make more use of the channel in areas where it doesn’t make sense to have a direct presence, in which case, he wants the resellers to become representatives of Infor. And in areas where Infor does have a direct presence, he still wants the channel community to complement the direct sales team. “In some cases, they co-exist. We have places and zones where they can sell to. At other times, Infor is the channel, so it depends,” he said. This situation may be a cause for concern among some partners, who might assume that, with its large direct sales network, Infor will have no qualms about poaching sales

after a partner has done all of the legwork. However, Frey said that the new partner portal ensures transparency in who goes after which targets, meaning that everyone knows where they stand from the beginning. “One of the things we’ve done, more so in the past couple of years, is really put in rules of engagement and segmentation models, so it’s agreed upon by direct sales and partners, and we monitor that,” Frey said. “We do segmentation by revenue with companies. So there is a clear line of demarcation, so our partners know where they can sell to, where we sell, and there’s a co-exist zone, so whoever registers the lead there first, they go take it. And then partners can engage sales to help them with deals and vice versa, in cases where that may make sense. There’s been a lot more transparency and visibility into that and we post that on the partner portal, so a partner knows, with any product, in any country, exactly where they

“The Middle East has always been an area that would see heavy investment for us, from recruiting as well as investing back and enablement.” 46

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can sell. It takes away the mystery of conflict, and it’s helped a lot.” In the Middle East, this stuff matter because, according to Frey, around 20 to 25 percent of Infor’s EMEA channel is located in the Middle East. And when a specific region makes up almost a quarter of your channel business, you’re going to ensure that your partners there are happy. “The Middle East represents one of the high-growth markets for us,” Frey said. “We’ve got a global recruiting strategy, which reports up to me. What we do is we work with the channel leaders globally on what are their targets for recruiting in the high-growth markets. The Middle East has always been an area that would see heavy investment for us, from recruiting as well as investing back and enablement.” As an example, Frey pointed out that Infor had recently held a sales and pre-sales bootcamp in Dubai, where around 40 to 50 partners gathered to learn about the firm’s new product portfolio. “Although it’s really designed for brand new partners, we have a lot of partners who just want to get reacquainted with the Infor story,” Frey said of the bootcamp. With Infor’s new range of products, Frey hopes to attract even more partners in the coming months, particularly as the vendor goes after new industries with its ERP solutions. And judging by the excitement among customers at Inforum 2013, it would seem like a good idea for resellers to jump on board. The world’s biggest start-up just got a little bigger. //

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spotlight Actifio

All systems go Actifio has been creating a storm in recent years – kicking up dirt as it steamrolls itself to the peak of the copy data management sector. Recently, the founder and CEO found the time to make a pit-stop in the Middle East and spoke to Reseller Middle East, revealing some big plans for the coming months.

The former chief technologist at HP storage founded Actifio with a vision of eliminating unnecessary data protection and availability storage applications with a simple storage system, purposely built to manage copy data. Ash Ashutosh knows his way around the IT industry, and the man has received many plaudits in the last few months – and rightfully so. Recently, Actifio was quoted in the US top 50 most promising companies. In 2012, it ended up being labelled as the fastest growing storage company ever, and to top it all off, the Wall Street Journal stated

may 2012

Reseller Middle East


spotlight Actifio

that the company was sitting on a value of half a billion dollars – not a bad year, respectfully. And like many IT companies which are making headlines for all the right reasons, Actifio has recently turned its attention on the Middle East, demonstrating evermore that the region is seen as a growth area with great business potential. “We are here for a few very important reasons,” Ashutosh says. “Thanks to our partner, Spectrami, we’re engaged with one very big client – we wanted to touch base with them – that’s the first reason. For this reason, I will be visiting the area probably once a month from now on. Secondly, we want to set up a pipeline for new partners, and thirdly, we want to officially get a team set up on the ground here.” Ashutosh believes this final point provides more evidence that Actifio is ready

“I get paranoid about customers not liking the products – that’s what we’ve made the company about. It’s about getting stuck into an area and making absolutely sure that we’re getting good feedback and good results.” to commit to the region, and adds that we should expect to see half a dozen people show up in the next six months, or sooner, and permanently set up shop in the area. But what are the challenges for a company which is making up such ground globally and thinking of investing in this region? Actifio doesn’t entertain the question. “We don’t find it hard to keep in touch with our customers here – regardless to the different work days. We treat each region uniquely, with a unique approach to committed sales. On average, people have two people per sales team – we go for six. We work extremely hard to make our guys successful and that’s entirely the reason


Reseller Middle East

may 2013

why it takes time for these things to get up and running.” It appears to be a proven model, though. Actifio is present in 17 countries now and Ashutosh believes it’s done with proving ground. “Last time we spoke, we were at GITEX - that was our first time here. Since then, the team has been doing surveys of the region to sniff out the opportunities here. We have now partnered with Spectrami, and since then found some big opportunities,” he says. Actifio claims that the partnership with Spectrami is one of the key reasons that it is finally present in the Middle East, as well as a reason why it isn’t present in other regions.

“We were lucky to find Spectrami here as a partner; we wouldn’t be here now if not. We’re not in China or India yet either, because we haven’t found the right partners yet. Of course we want to go into those markets, but we won’t until we’re totally ready, with the correct partners.” The market is ready for Actifio, though; a recent IDC survey showed that the copy data management market spend is $44 million – which is almost as big as the server market. It’s a massive opportunity area for specialised companies, and an opportunity that Ashutosh and company are lapping up. “I get paranoid about customers not liking the products – that’s what we’ve made the company about. It’s about getting stuck into an area and making absolutely sure that we’re getting good feedback and good results.” In a poll which measures customer feedback, according to Ashutosh, the average rating is around 45 percent. He claims that recently Apple came in around 55 percent in its market, whereas Actifio came in at a highly convincing 65 percent. “We make it all about the specific customer,” he says. “The only way we can take advantage of the opportunities is to tackle one big customer at a time.” So how does the company differentiate itself against its competition? Ashutosh remembers a time during his tenure at HP when EMC bought VMware. “We saw this trend coming – we started thinking how do we sell more servers now when people can go and buy software that looks like servers? This is when hardware became software. I remember talking to a marketing guy, and he said the only way we could top this is that whenever someone buys one server, we give them nine for free,” he laughs. “There was no way to beat VMware because it didn’t join the market; it changed it. This is exactly what we’re doing in this space. Replacing the old model and starting again – changing the game.” //

Hot products Review: Canon EOS M

Canon EOS M While the EOS M is no match for a proper DSLR camera, it provides a decent stepping stone for anyone looking to upgrade from the world of compact camera photography. The EOS M is Canon’s first compact interchangeable lens camera. On the face of it, it aims to bridge the gap between the firm’s compact cameras and the mostly stunning DSLR units in the EOS range. Because it bears the EOS moniker, though, you’d assume that the EOS M was more in line with the DSLR family than with the compact camera family below it. And with a recommended retail price of Dh3,299, you’d certainly hope so, too. Canon justifies the name – and price – by the fact that the EOS M shares many of its innards with the EOS 650D, a fantastic, semi-professional DSLR. The difference is that the M lacks a reflex mirror and an optical viewfinder. So how does it fare as the bottom rung on the EOS ladder? In terms of the look and feel, there are no complaints. While there are a distinct lack of controls on the body – there isn’t even a viewfinder – you do get a beautiful touch screen with which to control the camera’s functions. The body is made of magnesium alloy, and is available in four colours. Like


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may 2013

most Canon cameras, it feels like it’s been manufactured to the highest standards, and that it won’t break in a hurry. In terms of lenses, you can fit the fixed EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM, the zoomable EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, or a small selection of other lenses. With the 18-55mm lens, the maximum of 55mm is more than enough when shooting portraits, while events photography is made much easier given the amount of choice the lens gives you. That said, the autofocus can be a little lacking in some situations, particularly when there are varying levels of light in the same shot. You can get round this by simply touching on the screen when you want your shot to be focused, and the camera will, for the most part, sort everything out. If you’re a real professional, you can turn the aids off, but it’ll be a challenge getting a good shot due to the lack of physical controls on the body. Aside from the autofocus issues, the EOS M is a very capable camera, thanks largely to its 18-megapixel APS-C ‘Hybrid CMOS’ sensor. The ISO performance is fantastic, ranging from 100 to 12,800 standard, or to 25,600 expanded.

Meanwhile, the touchscreen itself is responsive and bright – probably the best touch-operated screen in this segment. And the user interface is simple and easy-to-use. We would have liked more options, but given the target market, what Canon provides with the EOS M will probably be enough. You don’t get a built-in flash with the EOS M – instead, the camera comes with a hot shoe on the top plate. The standard flash that comes with the M provides about the same kind of picture quality as any compact camera, meaning it’s not great, given the great photos you can get out of the M when there’s plenty of light. One of the stand-out features on the EOS M is the way in which it records videos. Movies can be recorded in Full HD at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second, and you get stereo sound – much better than what many of Canon’s competitors can offer at this price point. Of course, the EOS M is no replacement for a real HD video camera, but it could work well capturing short clips for a personal montage. Then again, the EOS M is hardly a replacement for a well-sorted DSLR, either. The shots it takes are heads and shoulders above what you’ll get from the best compact cameras, but it’s by no means a professional product. What’s more, the small choice of currently available lenses means that buyers will be limited in their photography. Given most buyers will be upgrading from a compact camera in order to broaden their photographic horizons, this is a pretty big oversight. That said, compared to what else is available in this market segment, the Canon does extremely well to make its case. And as soon as more lenses are available, this will be a seriously desirable product. //

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Hot products New launches

Linksys rolls out wireless range extender Linksys has announced its new Dual-Band Wireless-N Range Extender, the model RE2000, ideal for extending wireless coverage in the home. Consumers often experience a weak wireless signal in some parts of their house caused by blocking elements such as walls or interference from other devices like baby monitors, microwaves or DECT phones. The new Linksys RE2000 helps maximise wireless

coverage and eliminates “dead spots” in the Wi-Fi coverage throughout the home. Consumers can choose between the 2.4 or 5GHz radio bands to further improve the reach and performance of their network. The RE2000 is designed to extend b/g//n Wi-Fi signals from any wireless router, whether supplied by a broadband provider or purchased by the consumer, and provides connectivity to a wired device such as a printer or smart TV through a built-in network port. The new Range Extender comes with a wireless setup wizard that makes installation quick and easy. The wizard helps users find the optimal location for the extender to achieve the best coverage and performance. The Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button allows for quick and secure connection with any Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) compatible router and to connect other devices to their wireless network.

R&M intros fibre optic connector Cable specialist R&M is bringing the first field-terminable connector from its own development department to market: the FO Field LC. It satisfies Grade C/1 requirements, the highest performance level for FO connectors. It can be mounted in a minute at the construction site. The FO Field LC is suitable for single mode fibres and also for multimode fibres in the categories OM2, OM3 and OM4. It can be used to assemble both full and compact fibres of 0.6 to 0.9-millimetre diameter and even bare 250µm fibers. A crimp-free strain relief was also developed specially for cables with a diameter up to 3.0 millimetres. The FO Field LC can be assembled with the angled physical contact (APC) polish at the end-face of the fibre. The APC contact ensures the best possible light transmission in the connector. As a Grade C/1 connector, the FO Field LC has particularly favorable attenuation characteristics. Insertion loss (IL) is typically 0.25dB and return loss (RL) is over 60 dB plugged.

 Fortinet launches secure wireless LAN solution  Fortinet has unveiled its new Secure Wireless LAN solution specifically designed for distributed enterprises. The Fortinet Secure WLAN integrates wireless and wired access, security, authentication, switching and management, in an easily managed system that allows system-wide policy enforcement. With it, administrators gain a broad, unified solution that provides unmatched protection, superior TCO and granular control through user authentication and device visibility across the entire network. Available as part of the solution are two new wired and wireless products, which include FortiSwitch-28C and FortiSwitch-348B Ethernet switches and FortiAP-14C and FortiAP-28C wireless remote access points. The FortiSwitches provide seamless integration of various Fortinet technologies, while power-over-Ethernet functionality eliminates the need to run additional wires to power wireless access points. Furthermore, this


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enables power delivery to FortiVoice IP phones, FortiCam IP surveillance cameras, and other devices such as retail PoS devices. The new FortiAPs are small, plug-and-play 802.11n wireless access points that allow organisations to easily and securely extend wireless access to branch and home offices while retaining centralised management and policy control.

Philips launches ultra-wide, 29inch monitor

Philips has launched its new “ultra-wide” 29-inch AH-IPS monitor with MultiView in the Middle East, dubbed the 298P4QJEB. The new monitor uses an advanced 21:9 panoramic AH-IPS panel with True 8-bit colour depth, Philips said, adding that this delivers “superb” colour accuracy. And the vendor’s TrueVision technology achieves more than 99 percent RGB colour space, Philips said. This delivers Quad-HD 2,560 x 1,440 or 2,560 x 1,080-pixel images.

Graphics and images should come alive with this monitor, thanks to the highperformance panels with a high density pixel count, the 178/178 wide viewing angles and the high-bandwidth source inputs such as Displayport, HDMI, Dual-link DVI or optional Thunderbolt. The monitor’s MultiView display technology enables dual connect and the viewing of multiple devices side by side simultaneously. Philips said the 298P4QJEB is most suitable for demanding professional environments that require highly detailed information for CAD-CAM solutions, using 3D graphic applications or a financial wizard working on large spreadsheets.

Xerox’s new production printer Print service providers can capture more variable-data print jobs with the new Xerox Color 8250 Production Printer. The 8250 follows a long line of transactional devices that have established Xerox as the leader in the variable-print segment. The system is targeted for 800,000 to four million impressions per month and will deliver variable, vibrant color. It eliminates the need for pre-printed offset shells – allowing print service providers to offer the

additional value of one-pass colour on statements and direct mail pieces. Additional features include a full complement of workflow offerings supported by the Xerox FreeFlow Print Server, delivering seamless integration into any print environment. The print server is also equipped with IPDS, PDF, PCL and PS licences and supports LCDS data streams through Xerox FreeFlow VI DesignPro, Lytrod Proform Designer and Solimar PrintDirector Enterprise.

Prestigio unveils multipad tablet Prestigio has introduced its latest tablet, the MultiPad 2 Ultra Duo 8.0 3G, which is designed for power users and is packed with even more features than its predecessor. Featuring Google Android 4.1 Ice Cream Sandwich, the eight-inch tablet is powered by a high-performance Cortex A9 1.2GHz dual-core processor that delivers a seamless user experience. A potent PowerVR SGX531 dual-core GPU breathes life into images and videos, and takes the tablet gaming experience to a new level. The tablet’s IPS display runs at a native resolution of 1024 x 768 and so delivers remarkably crisp text, detailed images and video. The device has a three-way G-sensor to allow for responsive screen rotation and gesture-based gaming, while a GPS receiver and FM Radio also feature on the device for on-the-go consumers. With a weight of 435g, the MultiPad 2 is extremely light and so is ideal to travel with. The tablet is also preloaded with a host of Google apps, office apps and games, as well as the latest version of Prestigio’s own e-reader 3.0 app. The latest version of the app gives users direct access to one of the largest online stores of electronics books, the Prestigio Plaza, which contains more than 620,000 e-books in 17 categories and 22 languages.

may 2013

Reseller Middle East


Hot products New launches

Fluke unveils new version of network analysis tablet

Fluke Networks has launched a new version of the OptiView XG v10 Network Analysis Tablet that allows users to simultaneously stress test and diagnose network problems in real-time, as well as a new iPhone App, called HeadsUp XG, which receives instant notifications of issues identified by the tablet.

With the OptiView XG v10 stress-test capability, network engineers can inject test traffic to measure network performance, examine the traffic’s impact on infrastructure, spot ongoing problems and/or expose many intermittent issues, and map out exactly where problems are located. The HeadsUp XG app, now available for free on the iTunes store, alerts administrators when an OptiView XG identifies a problem and gives them instant access to critical information about issues on the network, speeding response times for urgent problems. The App can also be used to browse multiple OptiView XG units and drill down into problems on the Problem Log. Via a synchronisation capability, resolved problems cleared on the App will also be cleared on the OptiView XG and vice versa.

BlackBerry Q10 BlackBerry Q10 is the first BlackBerry 10 smartphone to feature a classic BlackBerry QWERTY Keyboard. The new BlackBerry Q10 combines the BlackBerry 10 platform with a large, re-engineered physical keyboard and stunning touchscreen display – the largest ever on a BlackBerry QWERTY smartphone. The classic BlackBerry Keyboard has been re-engineered and elegantly designed with a straight and wider keyboard, larger sculpted keys and larger frets between rows to help your fingers find the right keys more quickly and eliminate errors while typing on the go. The BlackBerry Q10 also features the new Instant Action, a time-saving feature that allows you


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may 2013

to type and perform tasks faster by using shortcuts. The company claims from its 3.1inch, 330 ppi Super AMOLED display, to the ergonomically sculpted keyboard, to the specially chosen durable and lightweight materials, every inch of the BlackBerry Q10 is purpose-built. Careful and precise attention to design has created a smartphone that delivers premium performance and an effortless experience.

Samsung debuts Galaxy Note 8.0 Samsung recently launched its new eight-inch tablet device, the Galaxy Note 8.0, in the UAE. At the core of the Galaxy Note 8.0’s solutions are beneficial functions such as multi-window options to split the portable, eight-inch screen, enabling optimal access to a number of live applications; the next generation of Samsung’s intelligent S Pen with advanced usability; access to a suite of S Note templates and tools that enable users to create, edit, manage and share documents; and the Samsung “reading mode” technology to enjoy e-Books with optimised resolution, video and voice calls. In addition, the tablet will ship with new preloaded content and services such as Flipboard and Awesome Note, which are included at no additional cost for the very first time on Samsung Galaxy tablet.


12th June 2013

Godolphin Ballroom, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Join the premier partner gathering in the Middle East as they discuss the latest trends that are together changing the IT landscape at Reseller Middle East’s Partner Excellence Conference 2013. Then, watch as the best of the region walk away with prized trophies in recognition of their efforts at Reseller Middle East’s Partner Excellence Awards 2013.

REGISTER NOW! SPONSORSHIP ENQUIRIES Rajashree R Kumar Commercial Director Tel: +971 4 440 9131


Merle Carrasco Key Account Manager Tel: +971 4 440 9134


Nasir Bazaz Sales Manager Tel: +971 4 440 9144



NOMINATION ENQUIRIES Jeevan Thankappan Group Editor Tel: +971 4 440 9109




Reseller Middle East’s online editor offers his thoughts on the Middle Eastern technology channel.

Channel surfing

Channel surfing

Reseller Middle East

A little help, please? Having done a shed-load of research for the training and certification feature in this month’s issue, I’ve been left wondering one thing: Why aren’t vendors providing more free training courses to the channel? Everyone acknowledges than proper training and certification is a must in the IT sphere. Indeed, most vendors go out of their way to ensure that customers are properly trained. For example, when I was at Infor’s customer conference in Orlando, Florida, last month, a whole keynote session was dedicated to how much emphasis the vendor was putting on training its customers on the use of its products. But – and here’s the thing – I’ve been told that most vendors leave it to distributors and partners to sort out their own training. Of course, the vendors will set the courses and provide the training material, but the cost comes down to the channel. And I’m not sure that’s the best way of doing things. If we take, as a given, that resellers, on some level, represent the vendors behind the products they’re selling, then isn’t it in the interests of the vendors to ensure their partners are properly trained? Pre-sales support, after-sales maintenance and general know-how are becoming so important for the channel, so why aren’t the vendors helping out? I’ll admit, some do take on the responsibility. For example, a Cisco representative said that it was on Cisco to ensure its partners had the right skills. And, though I didn’t find out exactly how, the head of Infor’s Partner Network also told me that enablement was a top priority, particularly given the firm has so many new products coming out. As Mario M. Veljovic, Operations and Services Director, Aptec, told me when I was researching the training

may 2013

Tom Paye, Online Editor, CPI Technology

feature, if a partner can’t provide the right support on a product he’s sold, it’s going to reflect badly not just on the partner, but also on the vendor behind the product. Veljovic said that if a product went wrong, and the proper training hadn’t been given to either the end-user or the reseller, “the IT guy would actually defend himself. He’d say, ‘Oh, it’s a lousy product.’” The channel knows all too well how important a decent skill set is in the IT sphere – after all, it makes up such a large part of the value-added service. Unfortunately, the majority of vendors seem complacent on simply cashing in on the products, as well as charging for training, too. It seems pretty unfair when the channel is already chasing wafer-thin margins as it is. What’s more, many vendors play the training card to block access to the highest levels of partnerships. Sure, sales come into it, but vendors, such as Brocade, base top-tier partnership on certification. And distributors support this way of doing things. What’s really saddening, though, is I don’t see an alternative to the current situation. After all, vendors will offer specific bids to their best-qualified partners, and so it’s in the partners’ interests to skill up – even if that means forking out some extra cash to do so. That said, Veljovic told me that plenty of vendors are now offering discount-level training for exactly the reasons highlighted here - they need to enable their channel. “If you’re gold, platinum, silver, pearl, coral, or whatever level, that will even determine what will be the discount level you would be receiving, which obviously puts you into a much better position to recover the investment you have done, so it’s an incentive,” he said. It may not be free training, but it’s certainly a start, and the channel will take it.

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Reseller Middle East  

In the last few years, the IT channel has seen a gradual but significant shift. From mere product pushing, the market has evolved towards va...