Gitex diary 2008

More than 3,300 companies from 83 countries attended this year's GITEX Technology Week, sparking a wave of new regional partnership and strategy announcements. Channel Middle East was there to capture all the major talking points of the five-day show.

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By  Administrator Published  November 8, 2008

More than 3,300 companies from 83 countries attended this year's GITEX Technology Week, sparking a wave of new regional partnership and strategy announcements. Channel Middle East was there to capture all the major talking points of the five-day show.

Day 1

GITEX kicked off with a stronger public sector presence than usual following a 20% increase in the number of UAE government offices participating.

Many IT decision-makers were there to evaluate solutions capable of increasing operational efficiency and they didn't end up disappointed as a wealth of technology providers showcased software and services aimed at public sector organisations.

Numerous exhibitors also displayed their appetite for the SMB market, which continues to expand in size throughout the Middle East. Pinnacle Computer Systems was one such company bidding to show SMEs its ERP and CRM capabilities.

"We have an opportunity to reach these companies through the show and we already have the positioning and infrastructure in place to cater to each of their individual needs," said CEO George Thomas.

Oracle-focused Raqmiyat had small and medium businesses in its sights as well as it claimed the SMB sector was growing so quickly that systems from smaller vendors were no longer relevant.

"In the initial stages of the market, SMBs tried to implement smaller solutions and they landed up in trouble," said programme manager, Jacob Andrews. "Now, even the SMB segment is looking for a decent vendor and a good implementation because they are not able to manage with the existing small vendor applications."

GITEX drew a strong crowd of integrators for the five-day extravaganza, including Mideast Data Systems, which was there to promote its range of ATM solutions. "GITEX is undoubtedly crucial to the success of our company in the Middle East region as well as to our global operations," declared Sami Abi Esber, president at MDS.

While MDS is an established name on the systems integration scene, the Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre was also packed with its fair share of new faces, including networking services provider Dimension Data which opened an office in the region earlier this year. The South Africa-based outfit used GITEX to reinforce its expertise in providing connected real estate solutions.

"One of our strongest assets is our team of skilled engineers who understand the needs of clients in this market," claimed Siddek Rahim, managing director at the company's Gulf operation.

Day 2

Leading exhibitors at the show remained defiant that the Middle East would ride out the current credit storm as talk of global economic issues continued to dominate discussions.

The Middle East boasts a booming economy and provides major opportunities for expanding our business," said Dan Smith, office marketing manager at Xerox's developing markets organisation. "Internationally, it remains a good place to do business."

Smith pointed out that government IT investments worth US$325m over the next couple of years would also help stimulate the market and his view that the region was placed to overcome any knock-on effect was echoed by CRM software provider Sage.

We usually exhibit at GITEX with the plan of securing new deals with regional resellers and customers. This year we are doing that as usual, but we are also looking to recruit staff for our new regional offices in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia," explained Middle East boss Marc Van der Ven, adding that the firm had its largest ever presence at the show.

Meanwhile, the open source community was left to reflect on comments made by Sun Microsystems chairman Scott McNealy during a keynote speech in which he warned the region was being left behind in terms of open source usage. Although he said that the use of OSS was "creeping in", he called on regional governments to set the marker for its adoption.

At the DIC Pavilion, Google, exhibiting for the first time at the show, indicated its intention to ramp up its presence in the region and introduce more localised products.

"We are working on parallel opportunities and the result will be even more Arabic products in the near future," promised Yasmina Brihi, regional marketing manager at Google Middle East and North Africa. "We already have 15 products available in Arabic and so we have made great progress and there is a lot of emphasis on that," she said.

Additionally, Adobe unveiled its range of localised products at the show, including the Acrobat 9 family of products developed in Arabic by publishing partner WinSoft.

Day two also saw the official launch of a new software company headed by the former COO of 3i Infotech, Kalpesh Desai, called Agile Financial Technologies. The company, which offers solutions for the asset management and financial services sectors, used the show to elicit interest from prospective Gulf partners.

Also at the exhibition, Jordanian integrator Savvytek announced a contract to supply automotive dealer Transjordan with Oracle e-business solutions, while LaCie was among several hard drive firms, including Seagate and WD, to demonstrate its portfolio of consumer and professional data storage devices.

Day 3

Intel gave show visitors an exclusive glimpse at what the future of personal computing will look like by showcasing a research processor boasting a single, 80-core chip.

Given that today's PCs typically run on two and four-core chips, Intel's GCC boss Samir Al Schamma was adamant that the days when PC users can look forward to instant video communication, real-time speech recognition and multimedia data mining were just around the corner.

"Think how many digital photographs you will have stored on your PC a few years down the line. This type of processing power will offer pattern-matching capabilities to pick out specific images immediately and make tasks such as language translation instant," said Al Schamma, adding that commercially-modified versions of the ‘teraflop research chip' could be just five years away in the Middle East.

GULFCOMMS

Telecoms giant Etisalat unveiled two major partnerships at the show in a bid to strengthen its enterprise credentials. It penned a deal with Avaya to provide end-to-end telephony solutions as part of a service offering subscribers benefits such as greater network mobility without having to purchase and manage their own networks.

It also teamed up with Microsoft to unveil Office Live Meeting, which makes it easier for organisations to use web conferencing through a managed services model.

Elsewhere, industry giant Potevio updated GULFCOMMS visitors on its product roadmap, while McAfee revealed research showing 50% of SMEs only spend an hour a week managing their IT security as it displayed its latest data protection solutions. Russian antivirus specialist Kaspersky used the show to highlight its mobile phone software.

"Most people are not really aware of security risks, they just think that mobile phones are a safe device," warned MEA virus lab head, Costin Raiu.

Meanwhile, Intel and Alcatel Lucent said they expected fourth-generation networks to become a reality in the Middle East before the second quarter of next year. "In some cases we're running trials and getting operators acquainted with the technology. In others we're bidding and making network agreements," revealed Alcatel Lucent VP, Mazen Hamadallah.

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