FSC targets local enterprise server market

Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC) is ramping up its high end hardware business within the Middle East as it looks to become an acceptable alternative to the computing giants that currently dominate the local server market. Key to the vendor’s goal of competing with the likes of Sun, IBM and HP is its wide variety of offerings, which range from the mainframe to single processor systems, and cover the most popular operating systems.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  November 23, 2003

|~||~||~|Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC) is ramping up its high end hardware business within the Middle East as it looks to become an acceptable alternative to the computing giants that currently dominate the local server market. Key to the vendor’s goal of competing with the likes of Sun, IBM and HP is its wide variety of offerings, which range from the mainframe to single processor systems, and cover the most popular operating systems.

“The advantage we have, or the handicap depending on how you see it, is that we have it all. We have the Windows and .Net environment, as well as Unix and Linux. We also have strong relationships with the big independent software vendors (ISVs), such as SAP, Oracle and Microsoft,” says Dirk de Wageneire, vice president of international sales at FSC. “Another of our advantages is that a lot of our technology comes from the mainframe environment, which means we naturally have scalability and reliability in our product lines because we have not come up from making server PCs,” he adds.

Although its mainframe systems account for a significant share of FSC’s business elsewhere in the world, the vendor will not be pushing its ultra-high end offering in the local market. Instead, it is focusing its efforts on its SPARC/Solaris PrimePower boxes and its Intel-based Primergy machines.

However, rather than forcing customers to choose either line themselves, FSC intends to work with customers on an individual basis to ensure they get the machine that best suits their needs.
“Our position it that we listen to the customer. Rather than trying to manoeuvre them towards Intel and .Net, for example, we see what suits them best and go with that,” confirms de Wageneire.

“A lot of users want a duel manufacturer strategy because it is too risky, from a conceptual basis, to progress with a mono-manufacturer strategy. With us they can switch between Intel and RISC and between Windows and Unix so it is quite easy for us to approach them [the end user] because we don’t push them into a corner,” he adds.

As FSC is targeting only the highest high end companies within the Middle East, it’s go-to-market strategy is focused on a few key partners, such as the recently announced Naizak and Apple Centre deals, and one-to-one communication with the region’s chief executive and chief financial officers. Furthermore, while sales have yet to skyrocket, the vendor believes this approach is starting to pay dividends.

“We have done some benchmarks with local companies and we are now on most lists for tenders, which was not the case a few years ago,” says de Wageneire. “However, when you talk about mission and business critical applications, the biggest element [in the deal] is not the product but the trust, which you don’t get overnight. It takes times and users want to see what is happening, but it is getting better for us.”

This improvement should result in an increased amount of business in the coming months, with de Wageneire predicting that FSC will have closed a number of deals before the end of its fiscal year in March 2004. “Then we will see a snowball effect. It is about getting the first customers there and then we sell two or three big boxes per month, like we have done in South Africa,” he adds.

However, while FSC is confident that it can overcome its late entry to the region’s high end server market, it still has much work to do. Not only does it have to tackle the established vendors, but take on other new entrants such as Dell, which is currently touting a ‘scale out’ computing strategy that advocates the clustering of two and four-way machines to deliver high end computing environments. Such competition has lead some market commentators to question just how far FSC will progress with its high end business in the Middle East.

“We’re delighted that Fujitsu Siemens is advancing the adoption of the Solaris operating system, but the majority of regional customers are continuing to vote for Sun with their technology budgets,” says John Foster, volume solutions sales manager for Sun Microsystems Middle East & North Africa.

Despite such opinions, de Wageneire remains confident and believes FSC’s open strategy and range of products will see the vendor succeed in the long terms. As he says, “the other vendors can no longer milk customers because there is another option in the market.”
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