Road to recovery

As the region’s largest IT employer, HP found itself more exposed to the global economic downturn than most.

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Road to recovery Despite only being HP Middle East’s interim managing director, Itani has had a large and positive impact on the company’s success in the region.
By  Andrew Seymour Published  October 15, 2010

As the region’s largest IT employer, HP found itself more exposed to the global economic downturn than most. But after a challenging 18 months, it is feeling pretty bullish about its prospects in the enterprise space. Arabian Computer News hears why.

If you’re a CIO, the chances are you’ve had some experience of working with HP technology over your lifetime. Whether you’ve standardised your company’s entire IT infrastructure on the vendor’s PC systems or software, or simply used one of its deskjet printers many moons ago, the scale of its offering – and indeed the extent of its presence in the Middle East – has led the company to enjoy the sort of regional ubiquity that most of its rivals can only envy.

It is this coverage and product breadth that the vendor is now attempting to turn to its advantage as it bids to make a full recovery from the global downturn and reinforce ties with CIOs who are running their IT departments much differently from 2008.

One person with a clearer understanding than most of HP Middle East’s enterprise strategy is Mohamad Itani, the company’s regional operations director and, more significantly, the man HP turned to to run its business on an interim basis while it searched for a new boss following the resignation of John Hoonhout earlier this year.

Itani insists HP is capable of providing the sort of “converged infrastructure” that CIOs who have had their IT budgets slashed or have been forced to rethink their strategies are now looking for.

This, he says, comes from the fact that HP can offer the full gamut of commercial and datacentre solutions.

“Other organisations need to bring a consortium of companies to come and make an offer, but what if one aspect of the consortium fails at one point or another, or if things do not work out at one stage? We are providing the HP brand across the board and trying to really offer that to CIOs. When you talk about total cost of ownership, that is what really matters to them,” Itani says.

“We have a full offering in the enterprise and commercial arenas to address their total IT needs. And while we say ‘total IT needs’, we have alliances with many software vendors and product vendors that we can also get hold of if there is a certain preference from the CIO, but frankly I have not seen any requirement or solution that HP is not capable of delivering almost on its own.”

You only have to look at HP’s willingness to dip into its pockets to understand that Itani is not exaggerating. Last month’s acquisitions of security management firm ArcSight and utility storage specialist 3PAR, not to mention the high-profile takeover of networking vendor 3Com, offer more recent indications of its intent to build an unrivalled enterprise offering that encompasses everything from core infrastructure to cloud-based services.

Services are also firmly on HP’s agenda, especially after its US$14 billion acquisition of IT services provider EDS two years ago. That acquisition has already helped HP gain momentum in the high-end services space, particularly in areas such as application and infrastructure management, but it is the growth in the number of companies outsourcing their entire IT functions that has Itani predicting a bright future for this aspect of its Middle East business.

“This segment is under-developed in the region, but the potential is outrageously huge, whether it is in the government or private sector,” he says. “This will absolutely be a focused area for us moving forward.”

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