The Priority list

Imthishan Giado attended IDC’s July IT Manager Forum in Abu Dhabi,to find out where the IT market is heading in 2010.

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The Priority list
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By  Imthishan Giado Published  July 14, 2010 Network Middle East Logo

Imthishan Giado attended IDC’s IT Manager Forum in Abu Dhabi last month, to find out where the IT market is heading in 2010.

There’s been a lot of coffee-table talk in the past 18 months about the “state of the IT market”.

From IT backrooms to vendor boardrooms, nearly everyone has an opinion on how things stand. For the most part, while everyone could agree that the situation was direst in late 2008, the following year drew differing opinions. Vendors claimed that the market had rebounded quickly, but many CIOs expressed in private that the New Year had seen vastly slashed budgets and dramatic retractions on expansion.

The truth as always, is somewhere in the middle. Analysts IDC recently held its IT Managers forum at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi to discuss how CIOs will direct their spending for the next year and in their belief, the market has been transformed.

“We are entering a new normality. From a period of hyper growth, we are slowing down a little bit. There’s a very strong focus in terms of reducing cost, aligning business with management. What is important is that the role of the IT decision maker, director or CIO has changed,” says Margaret Adams, the firm’s research director of IT services for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, in her keynote.

“You need to be able to justify any business investments in terms of the real business benefits that it can have to the organisation. You need to look at projects that can provide cost management particularly in the short term, support growing the business in a very short period of time. Our advice is to push tactical projects in a shorter time frames. To push anything bigger than that is going to be a challenge in the current environment – but in saying that, these projects should fall within a broad strategy so that you don’t make the mistake of managing silo type projects. They need to be integrated into a long term IT portfolio management strategy,” she continued.

Adnan Ansari, IT manager at Dubai’s United Holdings, concurs with this view. As he explains, the downturn and the cuts in the budget has meant that he’s had little need to attend events of this kind over the past year. But now the situation is getting better – and as IDC suggests, companies are moving to largely strategic investments in IT.

“Last year it was very worrying. This year we are allowed to do more investments in IT infrastructure. Our advice from top management is: regardless of whether the project is short-term or long-term, it should bring cash. Regarding our buying priorities, whatever expansion was planned for United Holdings was already designed in late 2008. In 2009 we were pretty much on our track but due to our management changes, we have to hold our projects. Now from April, they are all back on track,” he states.

One of the first priorities for Ansari’s firm in the “new normality” as IDC calls it, is to implement effective ERP and disaster recovery systems. As the organisation has limited IT staff, it maintains just one datacentre but he’s well aware of how fragile relying on that one point can be.

“Our company has very limited number of sites but a strong team of professionals. The data which we get is from consultants involving different feasibility studies That data is valuable to us – one study might cost us in the region of half a million dirhams or dollars,” he explains.

“So setting up a datacentre was a strategic move for us – we already have one in our Emirates Towers head office but we need a DR site which will be probably with Etisalat. We are in talks now, they have made an offer and are almost done. So this is my resolution for this year,” he finishes.

This news doesn’t surprise IDC’s Adams: “Datacentre discussion is really hot right now. There’s certainly a lot happening in this region and it’s really escalated over the past quarter. We’re seeing in a lot of interest in things like to how invest smartly in datacentres and how to maximise existing infrastructure.

“On the back of datacentre investment, there’s also been a lot of investment in networks and related infrastructure. We’ve also seen a huge demand for virtualisation. What’s important to note is that virtualisation can’t solve complexity. Before changing the business strategy, we need to be prepared for the change in management that is required. We will now face more challenges in terms of workload management, performance management as well as virtual machine sprawl,” she continues.

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