ATS ready to make waves in security sea

Jed Isbell, general manager at Advanced Technology Services (ATS) is on a mission to develop the company into the number one provider of IT consultancy and professional services in the Middle East.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  March 5, 2006

|~|jisbell200.jpg|~|Jed Isbell, general manager at Advanced Technology Services (ATS)|~|Jed Isbell, general manager at Advanced Technology Services (ATS) is on a mission to develop the company into the number one provider of IT consultancy and professional services in the Middle East.

ATS, which was set up as a division of Aptec Holdings, is already working closely with Symantec and has plans to flesh out its services portfolio even further during 2006. Channel Middle East caught up with Isbell to find out more.

CME: What range of services does ATS actually offer in the market?

Jed Isbell: The initial focus of ATS is on vendor solution enablement plus security assessment and consultancy. Coupled with this we have also been developing with Symantec the capability of delivering local training on a number of key products that they offer.

CME: What customers and what verticals are you focusing on?

JI: Primarily, and due to the nature of the vendors that we support, our immediate focus is on midsized companies and large corporates. Our initial vertical involvement has been in the banking sector although we are currently exploring a number of interesting opportunities in the government sector as well.

CME: Are you selling services direct to end-users or on behalf of vendors and channel partners?

JI: It is not the goal of ATS to sell directly to end-users. We currently operate a dual model with Symantec in terms of both a direct and indirect service model. The direct model is where Symantec purchases the services of ATS in order to deliver services that it has sold through its existing channel. The indirect model is where ATS looks to work with resellers to develop leads and opportunities on a vendor independent basis.

CME: ATS is part of Aptec Holdings. How does that relationship work?

JI: ATS has initially taken up residence within the offices of Aptec Distribution, prior to a move to DIC, scheduled for May 2006 where it will take on its own office space. The operating arrangements between the two companies is one of total independence although there are benefits of having such a well-established sister company. Working with Aptec Distribution has enabled us to establish offices within the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in just three months. This has enabled us to hit the ground running in terms of focus and developing the ATS business model.

CME: What level of staff resources do you now have at ATS?

JI: The team has purposely been kept lean and mean to ensure that we focus on the activities that are key to our success and also deliver to our customers the best of breed in terms of skill sets. It is with this in mind that we have organised ATS around business development staff and consultancy specialists with most, if not just about all, of the back-office activities being outsourced. These are controlled by the various agreements that we have put in place.

CME: Any plans to expand the regional presence further?

JI: We currently have offices in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt with Turkey now being explored as a potential fourth office in the near future. But with opportunities also being identified in Kuwait, Qatar and Lebanon, we have to give some thought as to what we might do in these locations on a long-term basis.

CME: How competitive is the services market? Can you compete on price against Indian IT giants?

JI: Our goal is to provide quality installations to the standards set by our vendor partners using locally trained staff at competitive prices. Price will always be a key factor in any IT manager’s mind and within ATS we look to compete, but not if it means the degradation of an installation so that it does not meet the quality standards that we have signed up to with our vendor partners. This means that we leave the customer safe in the knowledge that their installation is fully supported by the support contracts offered by the vendor partner — a key component that has to a certain extent been lost in the Middle East.

CME: Why launch ATS now?

JI: We support the IDC findings that the percentage of spend on services will significantly increase in the Middle East in relation to overall IT spend. At a global level, spending on services is equal to spend on IT products. In the Middle East it is 30% services and 70% product so there is clear catch-up potential. Some end-users in the past have often relied on unqualified resources when it comes to services.

CME: What are the strategic goals during your first year of operation?

JI: Short term, the goal is to develop our relationship with a number of strategic vendor partners — like the one we have established with Symantec, where we are pleased to be seen as its strategic delivery partner for the region. In the mid to long term we will look to expand our reach and geographic coverage. The aim is to provide a level of service and support for vendors that is second only to that provided by their own professional services teams.
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