Big plans

Huawei, the Chinese company known for its telecomms carrier solutions, has entered the enterprise networking market. Dong Wu, general manager, Middle East, Huawei Enterprise, explains how the company aims to become number one in the region

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Big plans Dong Wu
By  Manda Banda Published  February 7, 2012

Huawei, the Chinese company known for its telecomms carrier solutions, has entered the enterprise networking market. Dong Wu, general manager, Middle East, Huawei Enterprise, explains how the company aims to become number one in the region.

Channel: The Middle East enterprise networking business is well established and there are some large players with strong positions in the sector. Why does Huawei think it can make an impression in this market and why now?

Dong Wu: Others have asked the same question: Why didn’t Huawei enter this market 10 years ago when it entered the telecomms sector? At that time, most of the vendors here were from Europe and the US and we started from scratch, with one or two people. Now, we are the number one vendor in the telecomms industry. We have more than 3500 people in the region and last year we reached $2.7 billion in [revenue] in the telecomms market.

So, why do we believe it’s the right time for us to enter the enterprise market here? If you look at the enterprise IT industry, we are seeing the convergence of communication and IT. Customers need vendors who have good experience in both aspects, the communication technology (CT) and the IT, because their network is converging.We are the only vendor with deep experience in both CT and IT, so we believe it’s the right time for us to enter the enterprise market. Also, the enterprise IT network is becoming more and more complex. Therefore, customers want someone who can give them end-to-end solutions, so they don’t have headaches with interoperability or maintenance of the multi-vendor network. If you look at our product lines, we have the broadest product line for the enterprise customer. With all this, we believe this is the right time for us to be here in the Middle East region.

Channel: What products and services is the enterprise division offering the regional market?

Dong Wu: Our portfolio is divided into five categories. The first is what we call Internet Protocol (IP) solutions: core network infrastructures including Ethernet switches, routers, WLAN, MSTP, wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), access, and security products. The second is Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C) solutions: enterprise communication products including unified communications, videoconferencing, telepresence, IP call centres, and video surveillance. Third is IT solutions: Cloud computing-based data centre solutions and applications, which include physical infrastructures, network infrastructures, server and storage solutions.Fourth is industry solutions: integrated ICT solutions for banking & finance, government, oil & gas, public utilities, transportation and more. Fifth is services: systems integration and deployment, network design and optimisation, customer support and maintenance, training and certification.

Channel: Are any of those sectors a bigger focus for you here at the moment?

Dong Wu: We have launched all these product lines in the Middle East at the same time. We see huge demand for each one of these products.

Channel: How are you convincing customers to go with you rather than rival vendors?

Dong Wu: The first point of differentiation is our long-term strategy and investment in the region. We have already been here for more than 10 years and we have got a large footprint in the region. Secondly, from the technology point of view, we have the end-to-end ICT infrastructure solutions. That is a unique position in the market. Third is our service. As you know, in the Middle East service is key and since we have more than 3,500 people to cover the region, we are very close to the customer and we give them the best support day to day.

Channel: Of those 3,500, how many are directly in support roles?

Dong Wu: Of the 3,500, we have around 2,000 people in support. This is one of the key factors in our success.

Channel: Are they all based in the Middle East region?

Dong Wu: Yes, all based in the Middle East, in different countries.

Channel: Here in the UAE, you have appointed a Master Systems Integration partner. What else have you been doing to build the channel network in the Middle East?

Dong Wu: For the enterprise business, the major difference from telecomms is that we have to rely on the partner system, whereas in telecomms we always do business directly. We are going to develop our enterprise channel system in the coming two or three years. We will be very selective, choosing very few partners in each country to ensure we give them solid support and that we grow together with them.

Channel: What qualities are you looking for in potential partners?

Dong Wu: We are in the process of negotiation with a lot of the major players in our region. Hopefully, at the beginning of next year, we will have a couple of the well-known systems integrators to work with.

Channel: What is the level of brand awareness of Huawei and how do you think the name is perceived in regional IT departments?

Dong Wu: In the telecomms industry, we have point-to-point communication with customers because the number of customers is very few. In the enterprise, however, marketing is totally different. It is a challenge to address the enterprise market, but we think things will change very quickly. In the telecomms market, at the beginning, nobody knew what Huawei was, they didn’t have any idea. But now, if you don’t know Huawei, you are not in the telecomms industry. The same thing will be happening in the enterprise in the coming two or three years.

Channel: What are your predictions for the big technologies that are going to be appearing in the Middle East in the next two to three years?

Dong Wu: The first thing is new trends like Cloud computing. We’ve actually started a lot of consultations with major customers in the Middle East around Cloud computing. With this kind of technology, we have an opportunity to be the leading vendor in the enterprise market, since we started investing in Cloud computing technology five years ago.We will also see more and more vertical solutions for specific industries, such as communications solutions for railway, and our e-health solutions, which help doctors to monitor the health status of the patient remotely. They can monitor the blood pressure and blood sugar levels through various networks.Also, there will be solutions for the banking sector, like the virtual ATM. This would involve providing services through existing ATMs, but adding more to it such as rich video.

Channel: Do you have any market share and revenue targets for the regional enterprise business?

Dong Wu: We have very aggressive plans in the enterprise market based on our success in the telecomms industry. For revenue, we’re looking at $400 million next year. We’re aiming for steady growth for many years to come.

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