Hitachi Data Systems heads for Dubai

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is poised to enter the Middle East market by opening an office at Dubai Internet City (DIC). The move should happen at the end of May.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  May 2, 2004

|~|dicacn_m.jpg|~|Hitachi Data Systems is set to open an office at Dubai Internet City as it ramps up its local operations.|~|Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is poised to enter the Middle East market by opening an office at Dubai Internet City (DIC). Although an exact timeframe has yet to be confirmed, it is likely the move will take place after Storage World Middle East, which runs from May 23 to 25. “We are planning our route into the [Middle East] market and how we are going to do it. We are going to be at Storage World Middle East and we are looking at various means and ways to capitalise on that,” says Chris Dowling, director of marketing communications for HDS in Europe. “Right now we haven’t got all of the tactical stuff in place. Storage World Middle East will be the back end of May and it [our arrival in the Middle East] will be part of our post event promotion,” she adds. While Dowling remains tight-lipped over the vendor’s plans, HDS’ local partners are more enthusiastic and believe the firm will install a team of three at its DIC base to cover sales, technology and customer support. “HDS is coming to the region with three people and it is opening in DIC,” says Stefan Niemitc, data management sales manager for South Eastern EMEA at Sun Microsystems, which resells the storage vendor’s Hitachi Lightning 9900 V Series solutions. “Now that they are opening an office in Dubai we will have better and closer access to them and we believe it will help our business a lot. The closer the relationship is the more successful we will be,” he adds. STME also confirms that HDS, a subsidiary of Hitachi, is making its way to the Middle East and recently signed up with the vendor to sell, implement and support its full range of hardware, software and services. Also onboard is Naizak, which took the vendor’s products to Saudi Comdex during March. According to Ancel Fernandes, executive vice president of marketing & audit at STME, the addition of Hitachi’s products to its existing line up will not only help address its customer needs more effectively, but also help the vendor penetrate the local market. “With HDS coming to the region it gives us another reputable vendor to work with,” he says. “Its office will be officially open next month but we have started working on prospective deals with HDS already. It will open new markets for us and with a force like STME pushing HDS its reach should be that much greater. It is a win-win situation for both parties,” Fernandes adds. Just how much of a difference having a local presence will have on HDS’ business remains to be seen. However, Niemitc believes it will help Sun close deals quicker due to its salespeople’s proximity to the vendor. Furthermore, he argues that being able to jointly meet potential customers with the local team will help persuade those with doubts about HDS commitment to the region. “It [the establishment of a local office] shows commitment of the parent company to the Middle East and shows it is not just a fly-by-night distribution organisation,” says Niemitc. “It will make our sales smoother because we will get direct support. Also, they will have a better awareness of what is going on in the market,” he adds. However, while Sun is confident that a local HDS presence will boost sales of the 9900 V Series in the Middle East market, others are less convinced. For instance, Charles Ashman, manager of HP Middle East’s infrastructure business in the Gulf & Levant, argues that a team of three is unlikely to deliver the right message to the local market. “They [HDS] have to have a large brand presence. The Middle East market is very brand conscious and it is all about trust and unless these guys come in and build trust they won’t succeed,” he says. “It is about getting the right resource to the customer and we have invested heavily in the Middle East and in storage experts. They are in the field working direct with the customers and with the channel and the customers are responding to that positively. The local market looks for that investment and they respond to it,” Ashman adds. On the plus side, Ashman argues that the arrival of HDS will reinforce the region’s rapidly growing storage market and, perhaps, raise awareness for its own XP systems that are based on the 9900 V Series. “It validates the storage market in the Middle East, so it is great,” he says. “The more vendors the better for the local market, although from a competitor point of view we have a lot of competition already so one more won’t make any difference.” ||**||

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