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Sun 6 Dec 2009 04:00 AM

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Sharp tactics

Blade Networks aims for its slice of Middle East market.

Sharp tactics

Blade Networks aims for its slice of Middle East market.

Blade Network Technologies, a leader in the blade server market, is expanding its Middle East and Africa presence with the opening of a Dubai office and a new distribution deal for the region.

The company has opened a sales and support office in the UAE to handle customers throughout the region, and has signed Al Sayegh Brothers as master distributor for its RackSwitch range of data centre switches for the region.

Kamran Siddiqui has been appointed as general manager for Middle East and Pakistan region, based in Dubai, and the company is training Al Sayegh Brothers staff for sales and technical support.

Charles Ferland, vice president of EMEA, BLADE Network Technologies commented: "We are pleased to expand our worldwide presence with our new sales and support office in the UAE, one of the world's leading centres of commerce. Customers across the Middle East and Africa are deploying our RackSwitch products to meet their growing data center networking requirements; this new regional presence demonstrates our commitment to the region.

"We are delighted to have appointed Al Sayegh Brothers as our master distributor in the United Arab Emirates, whose extensive channel experience will play a key role in helping BLADE take maximum advantage of the huge potential on offer in the region.  BLADE's 1/10 Gigabit Ethernet RackSwitch products have already been deployed to solve latency and performance issues at major oil and gas companies, educational institutions and other businesses," he added.

RackSwitch is Blade's rack level network infrastructure solutions, which are designed to reduce TCO of data centre infrastructure, overcome network overload and enable scale-out data centre economies. Ferland said that while the rack switch market is already highly competitive, Blade has been able to grab market share and customers wins owing to key differentiators, including latency that is about eight to ten times faster than competing Cisco products.

The RackSwitch Gigabit/10 Gigabit solutions are currently under evaluation by Wesgreen International School in Sharjah, and the company says it has other customers in the region.

"We are already starting to get some good traction with accounts. The Gulf area, could be as significant as UK, Germany or France for us, because the data centre customers are here, the financial sector is here, the energy sector is here, and our value proposition of low latency, low price and low power consumption is extremely key," Ferland added.

"Blade Network Technologies is a premier provider of data centre networking solutions," said Abdul Jabbar Al Sayegh, chairman and chief executive officer of Al Sayegh Brothers Group. "We are proud to become the master distributor for Blade's RackSwitch products for the United Arab Emirates."

The company, which began as a business unit of Nortel, before a management buy-out in 2006, has over 50% market share in the blade server switching business, mainly through OEM partnerships with companies such as IBM, HP, Verari, SGI and Netezza.

The strength of the OEM partnerships, which have grown as the blade segment grew, has allowed Blade to develop new technologies at cost effective prices, says Ferland, including 10 gigabit.

"Everyone knew that 10 gigabit was the next step, but the price was so high that it was unacceptable to customers. Via our OEM agreement, we introduced switches that had 10 gigabit port at less than $500 per port, so then it became interesting for customers that are buying powerful processors, and doing lots of projects with virtualisation.

Obviously if you have 10-20-50 virtual machines on one physical server, correspondingly, you need to have your bandwidth to grow with that, and this is where we saw very strong growth with our 10 gigabit shipments last year," he said.

The company has also developed other technology to support virtualisation, including its VM-ready functionality, which detects when a virtual machine is being moved from one physical server to another, and automatically configures the network parameters and provisioning according to the requirements of that VM.

Blade has also signed a deal with Juniper, to build blade server switches based on Juniper's Junos OS, the first time the OS has been licensed to a third party.

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