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NME Awards salute networking stars

The region’s best networking vendors and end users were in Dubai this week for the Network Middle East Innovation Awards. Winners included GBM, Etisalat, Foundry Networks and Saudi Aramco.

The region’s best networking vendors and end users were in Dubai this week for the Network Middle East Innovation Awards. Winners included GBM, Etisalat, Foundry Networks and Saudi Aramco.

The NME Awards, now in their second year, were held alongside the BICSI conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The BICSI delegates, along with a host of other networking notables, sat down to enjoy the dinner and the unveiling of the 20 awards.

“Each and every one of you has played a vital role in helping organisations realise the benefits of improvement to their network infrastructure,” compère Steve Marney told the audience. “Your vision and ability to turn concepts into realities should not go un-rewarded.”

Highlights of the evening were the reader-voted awards, chosen online at ITP.net from a judges’ shortlist. A brace of end user awards went to Saudi Aramco, as most influential networking end user in the Middle East, and Derek Holland of Emirates Media, as Network Professional Of the Year.

Holland has long been a trailblazer, winning the NME Award for best fixed network implementation last year for Emirates Media. This year NME readers awarded his work on reengineering many of Emirates Media’s internal IT processes, at the same time as implementing new systems.

Despite these challenges, Holland has been able to declare that “there are no IT projects any more, only business projects”.

Saudi Aramco’s award came as little surprise; the largest oil producer in the world, Aramco’s networks have to contend with the worst the harsh Arabian environment can throw at them. At the same time peers, vendors and analysts alike are full of praise for its world-class IT systems.

For the reader-voted vendor awards, Gulf Business Machines (GBM) and Cisco Systems walked away with the trophies, for best systems integrator and best network vendor respectively, for the second year running.

With Cisco garnering 55% of the vote, and GBM 45%, NME readers were decisive in their support for two of the biggest players in the regional networking market. Cisco has recently pledged to invest US$265 million in Saudi Arabia, in addition to setting up networking academies in Iraq, while GBM has carved out an immense reputation as an integrator capable of delivering cutting edge networking projects.

Other notable winners from the evening included Sphere Networks, for best newcomer, Emirates Bank for best converged network implementation, and East Meets West picked up the award for best fixed network implementation for their work at the Burj Al Arab.

Meanwhile Etisalat, Mashreqbank and Knowledge Village took home the vertical sector awards for best use of networking in telecoms, banking and academia respectively.

Full list of awards/winners:

Outstanding Innovation in Cabling: Joint winners: Nexans and Siemon

Outstanding Innovation in Security: 3Com

Outstanding Innovation in Wireless Networking: Joint winners: US Robotics and Intel

Outstanding Innovation in Wide Area Networking: Joint winners: Foundry Networks and Juniper Networks

Outstanding Innovation in Convergence: Avaya

Outstanding Innovation in SMB Networking: Linksys

Best Newcomer Award: Sphere Networks

Network Pioneer Award: HP ProCurve

Best Network Vendor in the Middle East: Cisco Systems (reader voted)

Best Systems Integrator in the Middle East: Gulf Business Machines (reader voted)

Best Fixed Network Implementation: East Meets West for Burj Al Arab

Best Wireless Network Implementation: Oman Telecom

Best Converged Network Implementation: Emirates Bank

Most Innovative Use of Network Technology: du

Best Use of Networking Technology in the Banking Sector: Mashreqbank

Best Use of Networking Technology in the Academia Sector: Knowledge Village

Best Network in the Telecommunications Sector: Etisalat

Emerging Networking Technology Vendor: Fluke Networks

Most Influential End User in Middle East Networking: ARAMCO (reader voted)

Network Professional of the Year: Derek Holland, Emirates Media (reader voted)

Were you at the awards? What were your experiences? Email eliot.beer@itp.com with your comments.

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