Raising the bar

Starting with 40 members in 2001, BICSI now has 250 corporate and individual members in the Middle East and Africa. The members in the two regions are spread over 19 countries, with the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and South Africa accounting for 75% of the members.

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By  Angela Sutherland Published  May 28, 2006

|~|ganesan.-website2.jpg|~|“It is critical for enterprises to deliver quality services and ITS provides opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.” Kandasamy Ganesan, district chair for BICSI Middle East. |~|Starting with 40 members in 2001, BICSI now has 250 corporate and individual members in the Middle East and Africa. The members in the two regions are spread over 19 countries, with the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and South Africa accounting for 75% of the members. BICSI is a non-profit association serving the Information Transport Systems (ITS) industry with standards for cabling, infrastructure design, installation and maintenance. Kandasamy Ganesan, district chair for BICSI Middle East, attributes his organisation’s growth to the ITS industry. He says through courses and conferences, BICSI staff and volunteers assist members in supporting the growth of the convergence in the ITS industry, ensuring that it delivers quality products and services. “It is critical for enterprises to deliver quality services, and ITS provides opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature. Our services are designed to provide members with the latest industry intelligence, increased productivity and sustained profitability,” he adds. Ganesan says ITS professionals pursuing excellence within the telecommunications industry should consider becoming a registered communications distribution designer (RCDD). These professional designations of excellence are industry recognised internationally. “Since its inception in 1984, the RCDD designation has become the single, most highly respected registration in the field. More than 7000 designers now hold this designation. RCDDs demonstrate proficiency in design, integration, and implementation of telecommunications transport systems and related infrastructure components,” Ganesan explains. He says the Middle East has got booming construction, hospitality, service and tourism industries, however, when it comes to ITS implementation in commercial and residential buildings and campuses, the adherence to standards and best practices seem to be lacking. “This is mainly due to a lack of awareness of the standards and best practices. It can only change when the organisations involved in specifying, designing, implementing, and using ITS have RCDDs and specialists on board to manage projects.” Ganesan says a large number of consultants, systems integrators and telecom contractors have become corporate members and they want at least one RCDD member in their team. “The market in the Middle East is very competitive and enterprises are asking for certified contractors to manage their ITS projects. They want projects to be managed by BICSI corporate members using the BICSI guidelines,” he adds. In order to meet the growing end user demand for certification and support its members, BICSI is now offering RCDD and specialty training programs and exams in Dubai. “BICSI’s goal in 2006 is to support the international growth efforts. The ITS professionals in the Middle East and Africa can expect to receive improved support from BICSI,” states Ganesan. Furthermore, BICSI has introduced course for designing wireless networks, which provides in-depth understanding of wireless networking for information transport within a floor, building or campus perimetre. While cellular wireless technologies are covered, emphasis is given to the coexistence of wireless and wired premises networks and using wireless local area networking technologies to extend the range and flexibility of existing wired infrastructures. The course is designed to enable students to design wireless network infrastructure for a multi-building campus using current tools, hardware and methods. Components include general design considerations, topologies, site survey as well as infrared and bluetooth personal area networks. Steve Brewster, ITS consultant at PMK International, says end users from all markets have been the driving force behind the convergence revolution for several years. The key benefit of convergence is reduced capital and operational expenses by leveraging a single LAN infrastructure to support all their building systems. “Historically, the market has separated systems implementation by technology and perceived discipline; for example the mechanical engineer designed the BMS system, the electrical engineer or a security consultant designed the access control and CCTV system, an audiovisual consultant designed the sound system. As each of these industries has evolved, they have embraced the capabilities of IP, and implemented their systems on a separate LAN,” explains Brewster. By implementing separate LANs for each respective system, a great deal of redundancy and complexity has emerged. End users, in response to increasing fiscal demands, have started to seek out opportunities to consolidate these separate LANs into a single, homogenous infrastructure, thereby decreasing complexity and increasing their return-on- investment (ROI). Brewster says by working with organisations that foster inter-industry education, end users can become better informed regarding best practices, critical infrastructure, emerging technologies, and applicable standards. “The end user that participates in the educational opportunities afforded through industry organisations is one who becomes more knowledgeable of technology available, and the requirements of each system in order to operate more efficiently,” he adds. “This enables them to convey their requirements clearly when seeking to expand or improve their systems, and to leverage common staff skills, which in turn can enable them to maintain the systems at a lower overall cost.” Solutions manufacturer, Panduit, which support BICSI, says with the amount of building works currently underway in the UAE, the potential for growth is enormous, but so is the potential for poor quality solutions, installed by non-trained personnel. In order to carry out successful deployments, it is critical to be part of standards organisations like BICSI. “As an organisation, BICSI encourages all parties to work together in order to achieve excellence. It has very close ties with the standards committees around the world and works closely with manufacturers and installers,” says David Hughes, regional technical support manager for Panduit Middle East. “BICSI is a good starting point, allowing us to work toward providing quality solutions that last and having reputations that stay intact. The accreditation scheme adopted by the company has been compiled by industry experts, is recognised by BICSI and is a pre-requisite for the warranty of Panduit cabling solutions,” he adds. The end-user and consultant initiatives have been successful in promoting the need for quality services and solutions in the Middle East. “BICSI’s training packages are well known throughout the industry, with the RCDD program renowned as a mark of distinction.” Furthermore, Hugh says cost should not be the key driver behind specifying a cabling solution. A recent statistic show that although the cabling infrastructure may represent less than 5% of an enterprise’s IT spend, it contributes to over 70% of the issues. “It is the physical layer foundation that the IT platform is built upon. If the foundations are weak the network is liable to collapse. Maybe not today, but there is potential for major disruption and ultimately questions will be directed at the initial specification and who implemented it.” Conforming to standards of any nature is not always easy. PMK International’s Brewster says a key challenge facing the ITS industry is the continued integration of historically divergent systems into a homogenous entity that addresses the operational and financial concerns of stakeholders, while providing ease of management and operations. This requires continued efforts for the exchange of information between professionals in each specialty, education of end users, and those working in the industry. He says as the business environment changes from a regional or national model to an international one, everyone involved in their respective industry, from manufacturers, professionals, standards bodies and end users, need to respond to the change. “This needs to be done through continued efforts at establishing and updating standards to ensure products and solutions operate to a prescribed level of performance, independent of geographical location. Industry organisations will continue to globalise their membership and educational opportunities and offer these to representatives of other related industries,” he explains. Fluke Networks says due to the efforts of organisations such as BICSI, IT infrastructures are standardised, making an IT administrator’s job easier. However, the vendor says due to the advanced nature of the networks in the Middle East means it is essential for network specialists to maintain their cutting edge skills. “And this is where organisations such as BICSI come into play. For example, cable installers need practical advice and work methods to ensure the manufacturing standards can be effectively implemented in the workplace. The constant changes in networking technologies mean that network professionals must continuously refresh their skills. BICSI can play a critical role in this process,” explains Werner Heeren, regional sales manager for Fluke Networks. The vendor, which has been involved with BICSI for more than a decade, believes standards and certification are critical for professionals working on IT projects. Networks are always changing, which means vendors need to provide new and innovative solutions to end users all the time. “BICSI plays a crucial role in taking the theory from the standards committee and turning it into practical understanding for IT professionals.” HP ProCurve says standards and best practices are important for IT professionals. Omar Hussein, business development manager at ProCurve Networking Business, says networks are the structure for all the technologies that are being; hence it is critical to have right people supervising and managing networks. “For this reason, we concentrate on training and certification of our staff and partners to ensure they are capable of deploying and managing their network so it can be fully utilized,” explains Hussein. “ProCurve as an organisation always promotes standards like 802.1x and 802.ak. This is because they provide value to our customers. It provides the choice and flexibility that customers usually look for in order to avoid vendor lock-ins when it comes to products.” ||**||

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