Innovation resounds in the networking domain

As well as being a great opportunity to look ahead at future technology and trends in IT, GITEX Technology Week has been a chance to reflect over what has been one of the most challenging years in the history of the Middle East networking market

Tags: Avaya IncorporationEMC CorporationEricssonNortel Networks CorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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By  Julian Pletts Published  October 21, 2009

As well as being a great opportunity to look ahead at future technology and trends in IT, GITEX Technology Week has been a chance to reflect over what has been one of the most challenging years in the history of the Middle East networking market.

The last 12 months saw some seismic shifts at the manufacturing level of the global networking scene. A beleaguered Nortel faced ruin and was forced to sell-off assets to Avaya and Ericsson. EMC added to its data backup and archiving credentials with the purchase of deduplication specialist Data Domain, and HP and IBM both underlined their aggressive M&A strategy to cement their respective market positions.

But the biggest news of the year was the buyout of networking hardware vendor Sun Microsystems by fellow Silicon Valley occupant Oracle.  The long-term success of the purchase, and of Larry Ellison's tactics, remains to be seen as it is still too soon since the paperwork has gone through. However, a trip down to the Oracle-dominated Hall 5 will soon give the impression that the company has no plans of loosening its grip on the Middle East IT solutions market and that the Sun buyout will dramatically shape IT in this region for years to come.

Despite all the turmoil globally, if this week's ACN Arab Technology Awards are anything to go by, CIOs have kept their heads and, although they have been much more careful about releasing the purse strings, there have been solid investments and innovations that have taken place over the last year.

Innovation as a way to survive and, even thrive, was also a central theme in Microsoft's Steve Guggenheimer's opening address at GITEX.  And if you take a wander round any of the halls that feature networking names and get a chance to chat with some of the exhibitors, it soon becomes clear that they have taken this advice to heart. Major players are sweating blood to offer solid value for money, whilst ensuring their solutions still push the boundaries of enterprise networking.

The climate may have led to overly cautious investment, but this can only pay off in the long run as current investments become strong foundations for future IT development. It has also meant only the strong and most efficient solutions have endured.

Having said that, a great deal of the projects that have been undertaken this year have been towards internal IT processes such as WAN optimisation and the consolidation of existing infrastructure through virtualisation and management rather than spending money on servers. This has been coupled with the inevitable investment into hosted and outsourced IT, which many predicted would be the side effect of finite resources and economic difficulties. All of these networking trends have almost made a strong showing at this year's GITEX.

There are conflicting impressions and messages floating around GITEX about how the market will fare over the next year. But it is likely that although the Middle East isn't out of the woods, the foliage in the networking arena is not nearly as suffocating as it has been. Whilst consolidation might continue to be a buzzword about these parts for some time, fingers are quietly being crossed that development can become the undercurrent.

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