By Sathya Mithra Ashok
NME Innovation Awards 2008 recognises networking elite.
NME Innovation Awards 2008 recognises networking elite.
Networking Professional of the Year
Winner: Ronald Franckaert
Judges' verdict: One of the most prestigious trophies of the NME Innovation Awards, this category saw a record number of nominations from across the region.
However, Franckaert's work in the organisation of Tourism Development and Investment Company in Abu Dhabi as its ICT director, made him the unanimous winner for the judges.
Leading a miniscule four member IT team, Franckaert designed, implemented and made functional two greenfield datacentres - one in the headquarters of the organisation and the other as a disaster recovery provision offshore - in the space of eight months.
Apart from transforming IT into a dynamic department that delivers value, insight and control to all business areas, he is constantly working on introducing new technologies to the organisation with an eye to the future.
GV Rao, ICT director, United Development Company, QatarMohammed Thameem Rizvon, ICT manager, Kamal Osman Jamjoom, UAE Most influential end-user organisation in Middle East networking
Winner: Saudi Arabian Airlines
Judges'verdict: From its formation in 1945, Saudi Arabian Airlines has led the way in the adoption and usage of technology across enterprises in its own country, as well as other parts of the region.
Setting examples of usage from within its own organisation, this company has encouraged best practices as well as new technologies, such as IP telephony, to find their place and add efficiency to organisations across the Middle East.
For its landmark work over the last few years in encouraging technology adoption and best practices across the region, the organisation got to take the prestigious trophy home.
UAE University Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai King Abdul Aziz Endowment Project, KSA Best fixed network implementation
Winner: Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA)
Judges'verdict: This category has seen some of the most impressive implementations from across the Middle East. The nominations ranged from well-managed and well-executed enterprise projects, to converged network deployments covering tens of thousands of users.
The implementation of a layered network, with adequate inbuilt security elements ensured that the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority stood out as the likely winner from the start.
This reliable and robust network not only made for just the right elements for a great project, but will ensure the organisation's scalability and performance well into the future.
Dubai International Financial Centre EMKE Group Abu Dhabi Men's College Best wireless network implementation
Winner: TE Data
Judges'verdict: The nominations for this category brought forth some really exciting activity and some cutting-edge deployments right across the region. TE Data is one of the leading data communications and internet service providers in Egypt.
It has designed, implemented and operates a broadband metropolitan area wireless network in the tourist city of Luxor, which is easily one of the first of its kind in the region in terms of its scale, daring and innovation.
The Luxor City WiFi project is part of a larger initiative to improve and expand internet connectivity in Egypt, in addition to enabling tourists and visitors to stay connected.
Union Co-operative Society, Dubai Raffles, Dubai Al Batha Group Best datacentre deployment
Winner: Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
Judges'verdict: With the boom in the construction industry and new businesses setting up shop everyday, this category brought in over ten nominations and was extremely closely contested.
In order to satisfy the stringent requirements and high standards of many international financial organisations, this company has put in place a scrupulously designed datacentre, which has been reviewed and audited by its clients.
For its efforts in designing and continuously auditing its datacentre, in adherence to world-class standards, the award went to Dubai International Financial Centre.
King Abdul Aziz Endowment Project, KSA Emirates NBD United Development Company, Qatar Best real estate implementation
Winner: King Abdul Aziz Endowment Project, KSA
Judges'verdict: This award honours the best deployment of infrastructure and network components for a construction project in the region, keeping in mind the unique challenges faced in the field with such implementations.
Easily one of the largest projects in the region, this real estate project encompasses more than 40 high-rise towers, hotels, convention and conference centres, in addition to residences and retail outlets.
The sheer scale of the project and the meticulous process that was put in place to ensure the highest of IT standards in implementation and maintenance make the KIng Abdul Aziz Endowment Project in Mecca the resounding winner of this category.
United Development Company, Qatar The Monarch Hotel, Dubai Best security implementation
Winner: Emirates Identity Authority
Judges'verdict: One of the hottest areas of growth in information technology this year, this award honours the best example of a successful security project in the Middle East, which adequately addressed the dynamic needs of an organisation.
The judges' unanimous vote went to the project at Emirates Identity Authority, which involved the implementation of a complete information security management system.
So successful was the project that soon after its completion the organisation achieved the ISO 27001:2005 security certification.
Zain Telecom, Kuwait The One and Only Royal Mirage, Dubai Al Shafar General Contracting Most innovative use of new technology
Judges'verdict: This award seeks to promote the uptake of new networking technologies or systems in the region. Inmarsat has used its SwiftBroadband services and know-how to help Emirates Airlines, one of the biggest airline operators in the region, offer in-flight GSM usage, as well as in-flight text and e-mail capabilities.
It is also in the process of deploying similar services for another major airline provider in the Middle East.
The company provides internet and application access for international long-haul aircrafts across the globe, and this continuing work makes Inmarsat the undisputed winner of the category.
Al Shafar General Contracting Saudi Arabian Airlines, KSA Network implementation with the best return on investment
Winner: Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai
Judges'verdict: The winner of this closely competed category, RTA, invested more than AED 3 million (US$816,785) in its network project. Over two years, the investment has required zero upgrades or patch-work due to the stringent procedures followed when it was first deployed.
This network has scaled from 500 users to 2000 users and connects 30 WAN sites. And it continues to pay back on the investment made, even in the face of a rapidly growing organisation with an ever-increasing number of projects.
National Bank of Abu Dhabi World Trade Centre, KSA Abu Dhabi Securities Market Best networking vendor
Winner: Juniper Networks
Judges'verdict: The significance of this award speaks for itself - and with an increasing number of new entrants to the Middle East market, competition among vendors was fierce.
This was another tight category and the big names of the industry battled it out during the voting. The final decision came down to a tie between HP ProCurve and Juniper Networks.
During the second round of voting, Juniper Network's commitment to security and performance, as well as providing a wide range of networking capabilities, broke the tie.
HP ProCurve Nortel Extreme Networks Foundry Best networking integrator
Winner: East Meets West (EMW)
Judges'verdict: Integrators are now more critical than ever as technology evolves and increases in complexity. An enterprise's choice of partner is one of the single biggest decisions it will make.
This was a hotly-contested category, with nominees neck and neck in the voting at times. The judges were tied between two companies - Emirates Computers and EMW.
However, EMW's string of customer success stories and consistent growth in business, tipped the scales in its favour.
Gulf Business Machines Emirates Computers Alpha Data Best fixed networking product range
Judges'verdict: The winner in this category, though relatively new to the enterprise market, has a well-established background of innovation in networking and has built a formidable brand name for itself among international service providers.
Now, Alcatel-Lucent is pushing into the enterprise market, globally and in the region, backed by a range of networking and infrastructure solutions created by a strong research and development process.
Cisco Juniper Networks Best wireless networking product range
Judges'verdict: One of the hottest areas in networking, the winner of this category, Cisco, got to take the trophy by providing an impressive range of wireless products that help enterprises break free from wires and go truly mobile.
The company also sets itself apart in the region with its commitment to research and development that allows it to continue to innovate and introduce to the market more leading edge products.
Motorola 3Com Aruba Networks Best cabling product range
Judges'verdict: Cabling is a fundamental part of any IT infrastructure, and crucial to the long-term prospects of an enterprise.
The winner of this award not only looks at cabling but also works with its customers to ensure that its excellent products work in concert with other IT solutions to provide the best possible results for the user.
In addition, Panduit also prides itself on putting a huge focus on maintaining strong relationships with various other industry leaders - globally and in the region.
Nexans R&M Mayflex Molex Ortronics Best security product range
Judges'verdict: Security remains one of the most vital investments any enterprise can make today. This category was exceptionally popular, and our judges were forced to create an initial shortlist of eight companies.
McAfee, which received the most votes from the judges, offers a wide range of security protection capabilities in an integrated platform.
The company also constantly strives to develop solutions that address real customer needs in an extremely dynamic area of the technology market.
ArcSight AdaptiveMobile Cyberoam The judging panel
Vice president and managing director, Forrester Research and Consulting, Middle East
Todd McGregor is a recognised and oft-quoted ICT industry expert. Holding over 16 years ICT experience with industry leading companies such as Forrester, META Group and Gartner, McGregor has held various vice president level positions responsible for operations across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.
McGregor has been conducting business in the Middle East for over 6 years and has been a resident of the UAE for the last 5 years. A regularly called upon industry commentator, McGregor is a monthly featured columnist for Arabian Computer News. He has also appeared on BBC's Middle East Business Report, CNN, CNBC and numerous other print and radio media.
McGregor has also been the founder of two start-up companies in the telecommunications and energy industries.
"Network Middle East Innovation Awards 2008 was a refreshing change from the previous vendor dominated proceedings. The end-user community voted enmasse with great enthusiasm and the quality of nominations was also of a much higher standard," says McGregor.
"This is an exciting paradigm shift and one that mirrors what we see in the market in general. Already, I am looking forward to judging the ACN Technology Awards and also next year's NME InnovationAwards," he concludes. HadyDeGrave
Infrastructure product manager, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Fluke Networks
Hady De Grave is responsible for the support of the Fluke Networks sales force as well as the distribution channels for the Infrastructure product line.
De Grave has rapidly become a major asset to the company, working with the emerging markets of Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa.
She has been with Fluke Networks since 2000 and started as a distribution sales specialist for the EEMEA region. De Grave is based in The Netherlands.
"I have enjoyed reading all the nominations, though I did not expect this many of them when I agreed to judge the NME Innovation Awards. Nevertheless, it was a great and pleasant experience," says De Grave.
"While reading was the easy part, choosing a winner in each category was a much more difficult task. There was a great variety of companies that nominated and each of them provided us with good reasons on why they should be a winner. So it was not only finding a good product, company or project, but about choosing the best among the best. Not an easy job! I hope NME encourages many more companies to nominate for next year," she concludes. DavidTeklit
Group IT director, infrastructure and IT operations, Jumeirah Group
David Teklit has over 14 years of experience in delivering and supporting information technology solutions. During the span of his career he has worked for ISPs and major international technology companies.
While working for technology consulting and services firms in the US, he has worked on large IT projects for various enterprises across different sectors.
Teklit joined the Jumeirah Group in September 2003 and currently serves as a group director of information technology responsible for the group's IT infrastructure and operations.
Teklit's expertise is in IT architecture, managing IT infrastructure, datacentre operations and IT services delivery. In 2007 he was chosen as one of the top 10 IT managers in the Middle East by Arabian Computer News magazine.
Teklit is an active member of IEEE computer and communication society working groups.
Teklit states: "Overall, the quality of the nominations and the participants were very good. I underestimated how much time the judging process would take. One has to do a proper review to ensure all the submitted documents are closely examined and given their merit. I liked the fact that the judges came from different parts of the IT business. Overall, the judging process was also fine." MohammedShah
Chief technology officer, Madinah Knowledge Economic City Developer, KSA
Mohammed Shah is a recognised IT executive with over 15 years experience in leading edge IT and change implementation in the Middle East in areas of IT strategy, smart city IT, ERP, DSS, IT outsourcing and transforming IT into a profit centre.
He is acclaimed as a visionary and agent of change and has a track-record of successfully implementing complex IT and change projects to reference site standards, meeting challenging deadlines on time and in budget.
Shah has been twice recognised as one of the top 10 IT managers of the Middle East, and featured in numerous published articles in IT and project management in the region's IT publications. He is currently architecting a smart city IT infrastructure for the region's new knowledge based industries hub.
Shah states: "The judging process was very thorough and professionally conducted by the judging team with efficient facilitation by NME. The entries were impressive and having reviewed all of them it was evident that the number and scale of successful implementations have raised regional standards of innovation to new heights. With such compelling entries it was tough selecting the winner. I believe the overall winner is the regional networking community, which has done so well in advancing innovative solutions that have delivered business value."