Inside the systems integrators

Systems integrators play a major role in aiding end user organisations to successfully deploy projects and get the most value from their technology investment.

Tags: Emitac Enterprise Solutions (www.emitac.ae/corporate/Pages/CorporateProfile.aspx)Gulf Business MachinesSystems integratorVisionaire Technology Group Inc (www.visionaire.com)help AG (www.helpag.com/)
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Inside the systems integrators
By  Mark Sutton Published  May 29, 2013

Systems integrators play a major role in aiding end user organisations to successfully deploy projects and get the most value from their technology investment. As cloud computing models develop, how will they continue to add value, and how can their customers get the most from the working relationship?

At the most straightforward level, systems integrators play a crucial role in providing a bridge between vendors and customers, to ensure that the customer receives the latest technology solutions for their projects that fit best with their business requirements and budget, and to deliver ongoing support once the project is completed. As technology becomes increasingly complex, however, and particularly as delivery models change, the role of the systems integrator is shifting and evolving.

Probably the single most pressing issues for systems integrators today are the emerging models of cloud computing. In a computing model where applications and platforms are as easily accessible as turning on a tap, systems integrators are very conscious that their traditional role of providing hardware, software, installation and support to individual customer premises, is under threat.

Nicolai Solling, director of Technology Services at help AG Middle East commented: “If you are looking at the revenue stream that a systems integrator is receiving today, a lot of it is based on hardware and licences. A very large part of our revenue stream is potentially going to disappear over the coming years. The systems integrator needs to evolve into a service integrator instead.”

The theme of transforming the business is common among the more advanced systems integrators. There are still some opportunities in provisioning traditional hardware and services as companies prepare themselves for cloud, according to Saed Sakran, GM and acting sales director at Scope Information Systems.

“Migration to the cloud will call for better network infrastructures, increased importance of data centre solutions and quicker upgrade cycles. All of these present plenty of opportunity for channel players,” he explained.

Other systems integrators believe that in the longer term, there will be more need to move to a service model, with more focus on providing services and expertise to customers, rather than hardware and software.

“Customers still require systems integration, but more and more it is transforming into services; people want to integrate their services, they want to provide to their end users the concept of integrated services,” said Ihab Saheli, general manager, CNS.

Most systems integrators don’t expect to become public cloud providers, at least not in the near future, but they are looking to strategic relationships with suppliers so that they are able to offer private cloud solutions or services such as co-location, or to help customers develop their own private clouds.

Sami Abi Esber, president of MDS said: “It is a little bit early for medium-sized or local systems integrators to play a big role. You cannot compete with people like Etisalat, du, or Microsoft unless you have a very strong solution offering, which can bring you volume revenues. The systems integrator should adopt the role to advise customers and help them migrate to cloud solutions.”

Cloud is not the only area of new technology where systems integrators are seeing growing demand. Areas such as security, disaster recovery and business continuity, mobility solutions and integrated solutions are all rising up the agenda in the region. While many of these technology areas have been discussed at length, actual implementation in the region tends to be more difficult, in part because of the lack of expertise and experience in deployment. This skills gap is traditionally an area where the systems integrators have filled an important role, through providing expert knowledge. Miguel Villalonga, CEO of Emitac Enterprise Solutions, said that while there are certified staff available to systems integrators and end user organisations alike, real experience in cutting edge technology is in short supply.

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