Taking it to the people

HP and Mitel have carried out a region-wide roadshow in a bid to promote the benefits of its combined convergence solution.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  January 23, 2005

|~|ivan-kraemer-HP_m.jpg|~|“It can be difficult to get capable and accredited partners but we are willing to wait for the right people rather than push things through quickly when chasing deals.” - Ivan Kraemer, regional sales & marketing director for HP ProCurve.|~|HP and Mitel have taken their convergence solutions on the road in a bid to show the Middle East that they can offer a viable alterative to Cisco’s end-to-end offering. In October, the two companies deepened their relationship in the convergence business by announcing closer cooperation in research and development, as well as support. The vendors visited Abu Dhabi in December as part of a GCC-wide tour catering to end users and partners. “We are using the roadshow to present ourselves with a joined look and feel. Teaming up with HP also allows us to double our footprint in terms of getting the message across,” says James Burke, business development manager, Mitel Networks. Recognising the key importance of services and support to end users in the Middle East, both companies are talking up the after-sales aspect of the deal, with each vendor providing support for the other’s products, when a customer buys the combined solution. The vendors put SLAs and escalation procedures in place to make sure that they could offer seamless support when combined products came on to the market. “We don’t drop you if you have a complaint that lies beyond our area of expertise,” says Burke. “The behind the scenes work with partners means that customers should never end up being piggy in the middle,” he adds. The companies are stressing the importance of a careful approach, with the emphasis on getting the finer details right, rather than rushing an imperfect solution to market in a bid to win short term business. A key part of this is a selective approach to partners. “It can be difficult to get capable and accredited partners but we are willing to wait for the right people rather than push things through quickly when chasing deals,” says Ivan Kraemer, regional sales & marketing director for HP ProCurve. That said, the combined push has resulted in new business in the region, with the Al Marooj Rotana hotel project in the UAE, Oman Medical College and Sharjah’s International Foodstuffs Company (IFFCO) all recent wins. The partnership is also gaining traction with partners in the region such as systems integrator ViewNet. ViewNet has been a Mitel partner for several years without having a strong allegiance to any data network vendor. It was accustomed to being vendor agnostic on the data side but increasingly found that this was an inhibitor when bidding for larger projects, where companies tended to opt for more end-to-end offerings. “It made sense to say yes when the HP offer came up. HP offers a good proposition, with technology in line with Cisco and 3Com but with prices that are much more competitive,” says Chris Atkin, voice sales director, ViewNet. “The lifetime warranty offered is also a big bonus with customers. We have found this appeals to CEOs as well as the technical guys,” he adds. The roadshow also garnered plenty of interest among end users, with those present cautiously optimistic about what the solutions have to offer. Most users felt that the features offered were impressive but also emphasised the importance of in-depth testing of products. “We are looking at technology from companies we aren’t dealing with,” says Najeh Ahmed, system network engineer for Abu Dhabi Gas Liquefaction Company (ADGAS). “99% of our equipment comes from Cisco and HP and Mitel have something else to offer so we will compare. This research will help us when we come to make decisions in the future,” he says.||**||

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