BICSI event comes to town

The top brass from BICSI landed in Dubai last month for the annual Middle East networking event. NME was there to observe and take part in the talk on all the market trends.

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By  Administrator Published  May 1, 2007

‘Information Transport on Copper, Fibre and Wireless' is certainly not the snappiest of topics but it does take in almost the whole of networking. Consequently, the sixth annual BICSI Middle East and Africa District Conference, on the topic, attracted many of the big names in the network sector.

"This year's event is much bigger than any in the past. The previous year saw around 150 delegates participating in the event. This time around this has risen to more than 200. Topics were selected, guidelines issued and presentation quality was tracked to ensure that the theme is adequately covered," says Kandasamy Ganesan, district chair for BICSI in the Middle East.

BICSI is a global non-profit association supporting the Information Transport Systems (ITS) industry.

According to Ganesan, the event also played host to a greater number of companies from outside the Middle East.

"Delegates from countries across the region were represented at the conference, including Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. There were a few from the Americas and Europe as well. The most remarkable aspect of this year's gathering however was the large contingent from South Africa, which had more than ten companies present. These included organisations such as the South Africa Information Technology Association (SITA), the defence department and several consultants," adds Ganesan.

Some of the issues covered at length during the presentations that took place included converged networks, 10G Ethernet and the need to manage elements across wider, more disparate networks. In and out of presentations, the subject of data centres and new technologies were also very hot topics of discussion.

"The Middle East is a region where enterprises are looking to do the best from day one. Price is not often a constraint and they want to have the technology of the future now. 10G Ethernet might take a few more years to reach down to data centres and office infrastructure but companies in the region are putting in place Cat 6a cabling to be ready for that now," points out Dr Alan Flatman, principal consultant for LAN Technologies.

At the other end of the data centre scale was Gary Highton, managing director for Mayflex in the Middle East who spoke at length on the need for additional security and effective infrastructure management.

"Companies in the region pay a lot of attention to digital security when setting up their data centres and too little to the aspects of physical security. This means not just protecting against improper access but also ensuring that conditions inside the data centre function at optimal levels. These include environmental conditions, heat management and power outages. Improper handling of any of these elements could lead to unnecessary downtime and a loss of productivity for the enterprise," he says.

On the wireless front, Mohammed Al-Dhamen who represented one of the major oil producers of the region, Saudi Aramco, gave a detailed and comprehensive presentation on WiMAX and how the wireless technology could potentially benefit regional enterprises.

Ttechnical workshops covering bandwidth delivery and 10 Gigabet networks, among others, were conducted as part of the event.

"An additional day with workshops was incorporated in order to enable vendors to sit in on detailed presentations in specific technology areas," says BICSI's Ganesan.

The conference acted as a vendor-agnostic platform for industry vendors and systems integrators to get together and catch up on the most recent products and developments in the regional market.

"It is a great chance to meet your peers and competitors and better understand the changes in the market. You can get a good idea of what new products are available, the trends that are affecting other players in the region and you also get to network with people in a more informal manner here," says Aunally Maloo, MD for Mart Network Solutions.

Much of this interaction was fuelled by the presence of many new vendors at the BICSI show. These included HP's Procurve Networks - which had a stand for the first time - Molex, Mayflex and Huber + Suhner among others.

Global representatives of BICSI including president, John Bakowski, international operations director, Jan Lewis, and executive director, David Cramner flew down especially for the event and were present through the whole of the event.

Despite some vendors suggesting that the event and the exhibition connected with it had attracted fewer users and consultants than previous years, Ganesan stated that the groups were yet well represented.

He says: "Attendance at the conference included a healthy mix of consultants and users - a little more than 20% actually. That is not a number to be considered lightly. Of course, it could have been higher and BICSI will aim for that in the future events.

"The aim of the event every year is to provide a learning experience for people in the industry. I think that way this year's event has achieved its goals. Users and participants have increased from last year and we are sure that this will continue to grow with our future events," he added.

According to Ganesan, BICSI is already working on next year's event and will finalise dates and venue in the near future.

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