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Tue 16 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Must-have IT tools you can't live without

The Advisor spoke to a host of the region's best known IT managers to find out what piece of technology they or their organisation could not live without.

The Advisor spoke to a host of the region's best known IT managers to find out what piece of technology they or their organisation could not live without.

UVK Kumar, head of Information Technology at Doha Bank

Banks cannot operate without a sophisticated core communication setup. Consumers are highly dependent on the internet these days, so this type of facility becomes absolutely critical.

There is no real alternative to our current system. We have a fallback mechanism, but within our infrastructure the communication system is still very important because if we use the fallback, our level of service falters.

In terms of brands, there are plenty we can choose from but we are currently using Cisco products. We could use other brands but we would need to conduct a thorough investigation of their merits.

Our experience suggests Cisco has a more mature product than its rivals and its remote partners are readily available, and have been quite supportive but we are by no means dependent on the one vendor. It is a much more open market nowadays. If its products didn't deliver we could move to Sun or IBM. Communication doesn't make up a large part of our budget now, but it did when we conducted our initial network enhancement.

I think the cost is justified for the service levels it guarantees.

Jihad Obeid, IT Manager of Dalkia

An IT infrastructure environment relies on so many components you can't just pick one. It's a bit like the human body, you can't say I can live without legs or without a heart. You need all those things together to have your body functioning properly.

I can't pick just one thing, it's a complete network. You need the servers, you need the switches, you need the router, you need the PCs and on top of that you need the software, otherwise it's not a network or a true IT environment. We currently run Dell PCs and servers. We selected them because of the good reputation of the brand and we are very happy with their performance.

We need those servers to have our network running but those servers alone will not do anything, so on top of that you need switches to connect the network to, but alone, servers and switches cannot do anything unless you have your PCs, and PCs can't do much without the right software.

Ultimately, all of these basic technologies combined play a key role in any basic IT infrastructure.

Mohammad Ali, CIO Warid Telecom International

Since we are a telecoms operator, the ability to charge or bill customers is essential, which makes our billing application, called Tabs, critical.

The program is developed by a regional company and it is used by a number of operators, including Etisalat. It enables the provision of customer care services without the need for integration and provides a number of cost savings, thanks to a group level agreement with the developer. We are working on ways to come up with more cost-effective infrastructure and platforms with the vendor.

The aim is to allow us to use less expensive hardware and open-source software to run the application.

Tabs has come a long way in the last four or five years since we've been using it. It is very flexible and we've been able to adapt it to support new applications. It's working very well for us.

Ruth Fletcher, Indigo Director

That's quite easy - the BlackBerry. In the professional services recruitment industry you need to be on call 24/7 and people need to feel like they can get hold of you and that is certainly the case with running the business as well.

So for the good of your business, making yourself available - even on weekends - is extremely important.

I am very happy with my BlackBerry. I am a creature of habit. Its convenience and capabilities ensure it has paid for itself several times over.

I think people are extremely technologically dependent these days. In our business, we've got a CRM database that basically manages our processes and supports the consultants and the business, but fundamentally, it is only as useful as the data we input and only as good as the consultants we recruit. Data storage and process streamlining are important but in our business I think quality staff will always be the most important thing.

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