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Sun 21 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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BICSI turns KSA green

The information transport systems industry came together in Saudi Arabia, at the BICSI convention, to discuss current market trends and the challenges they may face in the coming year.

The information transport systems industry came together in Saudi Arabia, at the BICSI convention, to discuss current market trends and the challenges they may face in the coming year.

Green technology was the order of the day as cable vendors, systems integrators and IT professionals, from across the Middle East and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, assembled in Dammam for the first BICSI Saudi Arabia conference.

BICSI is a professional association, supporting the ITS industry with information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies. The association has gone from strength-to-strength in the Middle East, and this was reflected in the more than 200 delegates that attended the sessions of the conference over the two days.

Organisations need to think holistically about their datacentres and how to improve the efficiency of general infrastructure. Methods, like the design of cool and warm aisles, using rejected heat to warm the actual building, and the use of blade servers can all make real inroads into improving efficiency.

The organisation serves more than 24,000 ITS professionals globally, including designers, installers and technicians. BICSI assists ITS professionals in delivering critical products and services through courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programmes. It also offers opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.

BICSI's north central region director, Jerry Bowman delivered the keynote speech, discussing the organisation's NxtGEN programme, and BICSI's plans to upgrade and improve on its existing testing and accreditation guidelines. Bowman encouraged everyone in the industry to continue to learn and evolve, as technologies and systems improved and developed.

According to Bowman, BICSI Is constantly involved in modifying its programmes to be up-to-date, in keeping with the growing ITS industry, globally and in the Middle East.

Like many at the conference, Lorenzo Bonadeo, business development manager premises networks EMEA at 3M, used his presentation to stress the importance of eco-friendly infrastructure, specifically green ICT and fibre cabling systems. Bonadeo discussed the drivers towards green infrastructure and green buildings, and how the new trends could be of benefit to an enterprise.

"There are three key drivers we are seeing at the moment, namely regulations and laws that are forcing organisations to adapt, the rise of organisational culture which is focused on the right thing to do morally when it comes to the environment, and finally the need to be third party certified," said Bonadeo.

According to Bonadeo, one element of IT infrastructure that can be addressed, in order to become greener, as well as to reduce the total cost of ownership, is fibre cabling.

"There are opportunities for a positive impact associated with structured cabling relative to energy reduction. Fibre cabling has no metal inside, which means easier disposal of waste. It has longer system life, which means less costly refurbishments; less insulation and jacketing means that it weighs substantially less than traditional cabling and is easier and cheaper to be shipped. Possibly the most important aspect is that fibre can help in achieving green building certifications," said Bonadeo.

Andreas Koll, manager of datacentre solutions private networks at Corning cabling systems, added to Bonadeo's points in his presentation, going into details on power saving with fibre optic cabling in enterprise datacentres.

According to Koll, among the major trends changing datacentres is the advent of Fibre Channel over Ethernet,  delivery of 10Gbit speeds and improved cooling techniques that are being used across the world to reduce the amount of heating required.

"Organisations need to think holistically about their datacentres, and how to improve the efficiency of general infrastructure. Methods, like the design of cool and warm aisles, using rejected heat to warm the actual building and the use of blade servers instead of pizza-box type servers, can all make real inroads into improving efficiency," said Koll.

One speaker though steered away from the message of green, and instead concentrated on the importance and aspects of service in the field of ICT. "Everything we as integrators do is in response to the concept of service. It can be broken down into three critical sections, providing service, monitoring service and maintaining service," said Bradley Kille, communications manager at Saudi Arabian Oil Company.

Kille warned that customer demands are becoming more apparent as they demand faster service delivery, increased transparency and consistency of service. "Not only are customers demanding more from us, but they are expecting us to do it for less in terms of helping them reduce operating costs, while at the same time leveraging their existing infrastructure," he said.

Eugene Botes, chairman of BICSI MEA agreed: "Services are a very pertinent issue at this critical time in the industry. With the financial crisis biting, and many projects being cancelled or put on hold, competition will become a lot fiercer and vendors are going to be set apart by the quality of the service they offer and deliver."

According to him, BICSI is responding to the global and regional drive towards green systems. "We will be seeing a number of new qualifications emerging to meet the requirements, not least of which will be an electonic safety certification that we expect to be ready by 2009," he said.

 The conference demonstrated a growing awareness of environmental concerns on, the part of not just systems integrators, but also the IT professionals when it comes to the planning of IT operations.

"We are finding that our clients are becoming increasingly aware of the need to reduce the impact of energy consumption, as well as reduce the costs associated with that consumption, in their organisations. In this particular region, where green standards are not as advanced as possibly Europe and North America, organisations are also trying to stay ahead of the forthcoming regulations," said Botes.

He pointed out that BICSI is currently working with the US Green Building Council (USGBC) to develop strategies for the recognition of technology infrastructure related innovation credits in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system.

This was the first time that BICSI had conducted an event in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Botes stated that they could not have expected a better response from the delegates attending the event.

"It was noticeable, just how many people approached us over the course of the convention to offer their expertise and get more information on how they can get involved with our initiatives. We are extremely impressed with the enthusiasm, and look forward to future involvement in the country," concluded Botes.

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