By Stuart Wilson
The networking industry once again took centre stage at this year’s Gitex. As well as the major vendors already established in the region, a whole host of new networking vendors took the opportunity to showcase their wares, identify potential customers and partners in the region and finalise their strategy for tapping into the region’s lucrative networking market.
|~||~||~|The networking industry once again took centre stage at this year’s Gitex. As well as the major vendors already established in the region, a whole host of new networking vendors took the opportunity to showcase their wares, identify potential customers and partners in the region and finalise their strategy for tapping into the region’s lucrative networking market.
A brisk stroll through Halls 5, 6 and 7 at this year’s Gitex quickly confirmed that the networking sector is still buzzing in the Middle East. The regional appetite for advanced networking infrastructure is driving more and more vendors to dedicate resources to the region, looking to capitalise on the strong pipeline for cutting-edge networking projects.
The subtle shift from hardware-based solutions towards software and services was evident as vendors, integrators and service providers demonstrated to customers the powerful delivery ecosystems that have been established in the region.
For telecoms and infrastructure provider Alcatel, Gitex presented the perfect opportunity to pitch the massive opportunities surrounding Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). Building on its recent global collaboration agreement with Microsoft, Alcatel wowed the crowds flocking to its stand.
“Consumers around the world can benefit from receiving unique, personalised services through multiple devices, including the TV,” explained Hesham El-Nahhas, regional director for Alcatel enterprise sales.
Gitex remains a vital event for vendors in the region, giving them the perfect platform to meet with a huge number of customers and partners from across the Middle East in a relatively short timeframe. Fast-growing Juniper Networks, which claims to have more than doubled its regional business during the last year, highlighted its strength in the data centre and WAN optimisation space at Gitex.
AT&T used this year’s show to highlight its regional expansion plans, promoting its enterprise application and networking solutions and announcing its intention to deploy a second node in the Middle East.
“Our target market is global companies and they are all now here in the Middle East, so we have to be here as well,” explained Sven-Oliver Schumbeck, AT&T’s senior technical marketing manager, EMEA.
To support its customers in the region, AT&T is deploying nodes that provide access to advanced data, connectivity and managed services. With one node already up and running in Doha, plans are now being finalised for the launch of a second node in Dubai.
“Our regional nodes are part of a multi-billion dollar global investment programme,” said Schumbeck. “The local nodes will help us cut costs for our customers, as otherwise they would have to go through Europe, and generally speaking, the longer the access line, the more expensive it is.”
AT&T appeared at Gitex alongside local partner NavLink, which sells AT&T’s services in the region. The regional pull of Gitex was clearly evident, with the two companies attracting show attendees from many countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain.
As well as showcasing the latest and greatest in networking solutions, vendors and integrators also took the opportunity to unveil new customer wins in the region. Avaya announced that Egypt’s largest IP-based data operator, TE Data, would install an Avaya telephony solution in order to improve the company’s call centre operational efficiency as it prepares for an aggressive regional expansion drive.
TE Data’s management expects to double its call centre capacity over the next twelve months, and intends to deploy Avaya’s Contact Centre Express communications system to enhance its customer service capabilities while preparing for a new outsourced offering.
“At TE Data we grew our business by 100% from 2003 to 2004. The integration of the Avaya IP telephony solution will enable us to better handle our increasing customer base,” said Mohamed Elnawawy, chairman and managing director at TE data. “Our agent response rate will increase by more than 50%, and we will be able to handle double the call volume.”
“The reason TE Data, and a growing number of companies across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, have chosen Avaya to provide their IP telephony solution is simple — we place communications at the heart of our customers’ business,” said Nidal Abou-Ltaif, managing director of Avaya MENA.
“Not only do TE Data and other Avaya clients enhance their customer care capabilities, they also reduce costs, which is a vital consideration in highly competitive industries such as telecommunications,” he added.
The continued importance of Gitex was reinforced once again this year. According to major vendors, the quality of attendees and the leads generated during the event were once again top notch. The next few months is when the real work begins: turning the leads into projects and orders.||**||