Opening up to the market

Cerebra Middle East’s value-add offerings continue to have appeal to regional resellers.

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Opening up to the market Ahuja says Cerebra will be expanding its operations in MEA.
By  Manda Banda Published  December 1, 2013

Cerebra Middle East’s value-add offerings continue to have appeal to regional resellers. But what prospects are in the pipeline for the regional VAD as it prepares to open up to opportunities in the MEA market?

Although Cerebra Middle East, a subsidiary of Cerebra Integrated Technologies Ltd, has only been operational in this region for just under two years, it is not new to the IT distribution business.

Despite the prevailing market conditions that existed two years ago, the India headquartered distributor decided to set-up operations in the Middle East region when the market was still experiencing difficulties.

“We stepped into the Middle East at a time when the storm was at its peak and we saw this as an opportunity rather than a challenge. While the markets were in recession, the channel needed extended support, which they were struggling to find. Cerebra’s understanding of the need of the hour, and our sheer flexibility of operation, ensured a smooth business flow for many of our channel partners,” said Asit Ahuja, CEO and managing director, Cerebra Middle East.

Ahuja said having been in the market for 25 years as a group with its base in India, the company has weathered many storms and the strategy to support the regional channel throughout the recessionary period really worked well for partners and Cerebra.

He said the past two years have been a time to gain foothold in the regional markets and the company has been extremely successful in forging the right partnerships both with vendors and the broader value-focused channel community. “During this time, we have established ourselves as a key player in the data centre space but also gained a substantially large customer base in the region and we are already in expansion mode with plans to establish a new office in the offing,” he said.

With business in the regional market beginning to steadily improve albeit at a snail pace, Ahuja said the key focus this year has been on channel growth and enablement. He added that Cerebra has been working closely with its channel partners to bring to them best in class data centre solutions. “Cerebra has also launched its Security Solutions Business Unit this year with some very exciting vendor partnerships. We will not only be rolling out an exciting partner programme in the near future, but will also add further value to the channel by providing vertical specific solutions,” he said.

With Cannon Technologies, Fujitsu, FalconStor, Fibrenetix, Milestone, Tandberg Data, Stardot, Brickom and GData, Cerebra represents some of the best-of-breed companies that develop data centre and IT security solutions. “We currently have divided our business into two divisions namely ICT and Security. We are not vertical or solutions specific, however, as we expand our vendor portfolio we plan to onboard resources with domain expertise across various verticals and solutions,” he said.

“Our industry specific portfolio covers storage, infrastructure and security solutions for the oil and gas, banking, healthcare, telecoms, media, education, retail and hospitality verticals.”

With credit remaining a huge challenge in the channel, the situation has been compounded by  long gestation periods in projects finalisation.

Ahuja said the channel community is also facing challenges from the resource perspective which is a direct result of downsizing that the region has witnessed over the last couple of years. “We at Cerebra understand these issues and are looking at the MENA market with a long term strategic perspective,” he said. “Our approach has always been to  go that extra mile to support our channel partners with terms that help them to overcome the limited credit facilities.”

On the partner front, Cerebra is readying to launch its partner programme dubbed C-Connect, in early 2014. “We already run a lot of channel initiatives together with our vendors and are in the process of formalising vendor specific partner schemes,” he said. “We are also in the process of setting up a subsidiary company in KSA. We plan to do the same in Qatar in early 2014. We will also explore the possibility of expanding our team into North and Central Africa,” he said.

He added that a key focus from Cerebra’s perspective is knowledge transfer in order to ensure that the channel is capable of implementing solutions.

Ahuja remarked that the Middle East IT Channel is fast catching up with the rest of the world in providing best-in-class disaster recovery (DR), business continuity (BC) and security solutions to their customers. “Most channel partners are quite self-sufficient today with the required skills and expertise to be able to provide these solutions and support their customers with exceptional service,” he said.

With all signs indicating that the mid-market holds so much potential for growth in the region, Ahuja said Cerebra along with its vendors is focusing on highly affordable solutions tailored at businesses in this segment. “We believe these solutions will also be extremely attractive to companies even in the enterprise sector,” he said.

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