Upping the enterprise storage stakes

Walid Gomaa, vice president, Data Centre and Cloud Solutions at Huawei Enterprise Middle East, talks about the enterprise storage market in the Middle East and how the company is strengthening its business in the regional channel.

Walid Gomaa, vice president, Data Centre and Cloud Solutions at Huawei Enterprise Middle East
Walid Gomaa, vice president, Data Centre and Cloud Solutions at Huawei Enterprise Middle East

How evolved is the enterprise storage market in the Middle East?

Walid Gomaa: Having been in the region for seven years, we witnessed the evolution of enterprise storage. The Middle East has gone through different phases of technology adoptions and digital transformations. Moving from traditional applications (monolithic) to vitalisation to cloud and the need for big data solutions; required different types of storages systems to be able to cope with these new technologies. These new storage systems now have to support features like scale-up and scale-out, object storage, low latency and high bandwidth to name a few.

One of the key areas that we see growing very fast is the all-flash storage. This has not only matched that of more developed markets, but in some case has exceeded it, and Dubai is spearheading that.

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Additionally, one of the key milestones in UAE and in the region is, for the first time in UAE and Middle East, Ankabut launched Microsoft’s Azure Stack in collaboration with Huawei. This is the first implementation of Microsoft’s Azure Stack solution in GCC and the Middle East. Through this partnership, Ankabut aims to take the education infrastructure in the UAE to the next level of innovation and intelligibility by implementing the platform that will offer educational institutes cloud-paced innovation and computing management simplicity, cost optimisation, higher quality, huge potentials and capabilities, in addition to more reliability and added value services.

What challenges do solution providers face when it comes to providing holistic enterprise storage solutions in the Middle East?

WG: The main challenge that systems integrators (SIs) and solutions providers face today is how to map customers’ requirements driven by the new IT market to enterprise storage solutions and manage them easily.

Solution providers today need to have the right capabilities and skillset to address the requirements of the storage trends like software defined storage, flash storage, object storage and hyper converged platforms and integrate them into the existing platforms. It’s also important that they know how to articulate data centre transformation roadmap together with key vendors like Huawei. The roadmap should include not only storage but also security, compute and networking. 

To be able to do that SIs need is to transform their sales and technical teams to lead customers’ engagement for the new data centre requirements. Huawei plays a key role in this transformation by providing SIs with knowledge transfer, training and sharing the best practices around key areas like Digital transformation, IoT, software defines storage, Flash storage, Hyper converged platforms, software-defined networking among others.

How is the enterprise flash-storage market shaping up in the Middle East and what impact is this having on the traditional storage market?

WG: Middle East demand for flash storage has not only matched that of more developed markets, but in some case has exceeded it, and Dubai is spearheading that.

We are seeing more appetite for flash-storage adoption in the region. The adoptions are mainly for certain types workloads; like visualisation, private cloud, database and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

The adoptions are not related to a specific industry per say but there are some industries which are adapting flash-storage faster than others. We see that Financial and government industries are leading at this stage. Due to the competitive nature of the financial industry, time to market is becoming a necessity. That is why any solution that will be faster to deploy; are attractive for them. Also in government industry, trying to bring services faster is driving more customers to implement flash-storage solutions.

With an architecture built around NVMe, dedicated controller chips, and intelligent algorithms, the Huawei OceanStor Dorado V3 unleashes the full potential of flash. This lightning-fast storage brings the ultimate user experience to every application.

Huawei achieved the highest performance and the lowest latency in the industry with the Huawei-developed SSD chip and all-flash systems. A recent report released by ESG Lab recommends the Huawei OceanStor Dorado V3 all-flash storage system for handling mission-critical applications and workloads.

Key characteristics and value of Huawei OceanStor Dorado V3 include outstanding performance, stability and reliability and, convergence and efficiency.

In cloud storage, we continued to improve our storage as a service (STaaS) solution. The solution delivers a consistent on- and off-premise cloud experience and intelligent data and management, and helps enterprises quickly migrate their storage services to the cloud.

Which type of businesses [enterprise or SMB] are more dynamic in their adoption of flash-storage solutions?

WG: As of now, we see more adoptions of all flash systems in the enterprise segment. However, since all flash storage business is growing rapidly, this will lead to a lower acquisition cost for all flash systems making it more affordable for small and medium sized companies.

How is your company helping channel partners to identify the right verticals for enterprise storage solutions in the region?

WG: Huawei jointly works with its qualified/certified channel partners and SIs to identify key verticals solutions for finance, oil and gas, education, etc. This is done through collaborative planning and mapping our partners’ offerings and services along with Huawei technologies and services to different vertical needs.

In addition, Huawei has most extensive training and certification programs for channel partner and SIs in the region. Huawei is dedicated to provide channel partners and SIs with knowledge transfer, training and sharing the best practices.

How big is the skills challenge when it comes to the enterprise storage market?

In the Middle East today there are wide range of skills that adapts to the new industry trends, yet it differs from one market to the other depending on the scale and demography and market dynamics.

We are delighted to say that the Middle East population has a wide range of skills with abilities to adapt to industry trends.

Huawei tries to curb this challenge with our extensive training and certification programmes, specifically meant for storage. Our certifications come in three levels of expertise – HCIA (Associate), HCIP (Professional), and HCIE (Expertise).

Additionally, Huawei has launched several initiatives that are aimed at skills developing in ICT. Our flagship programme, Seeds for the Future by the end of 2017 had participants from 108 countries and regions. To date, the program has benefited over 30,000 students from more than 350 universities worldwide. Through this program, a total of 3,600 top college students have been able to visit and study at Huawei’s headquarters in China.

Secondly, Huawei also organises the annual Middle East ICT Competition aimed at developing and nurturing local talent in the Middle East. Building a pool of high quality ICT talent is a critical success factor for governments aiming to transition to knowledge-based economies. In 2018, 14,748 students from across the Middle East applied for the competition, through the cooperation of 17 ministries across 10 countries. A total of 226 colleges and universities took part in total, and 65 participated in Huawei’s roadshow. Also, 950 students passed the Huawei HCNA certification exam. The 13 finalist teams had a unique opportunity to learn from Huawei’s leading global ICT on an all-expense paid trip to Huawei’s headquarters in China.

How can channel partners compensate declining margins in the enterprise storage hardware?

WG: Storage demands will continue to grow. To be able to adapt to new trends, skilled channel partners will be able to increase profitability by combining the technology with their services, be it consultation, integration, migration, and/or managed services.

How do you see the enterprise storage segment shaping up in 2019 in the Middle East?

WG: We expect that more Middle East customers will embark on digital transformation journeys. More workloads like vitalisation, cloud and big data will drive more storage opportunities. The need for scale-up and scale-out, object storage, low latency and high bandwidth storage systems will continue to increase. Customers will be looking for vendors like Huawei and its channel partner to help them to simplify the digital transformation journey and shape their storage strategies.

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