Get to know HPE's Managing Director for UAE, Ahmad Alkhallafi
Alkhallafi: Profitability is a fundamental driver amongst the IT businesses
What’s your career history to date? How did you end up working in Dubai?
I am an Emirati, born and raised in Dubai. I have over 14 years’ experience working in the UAE’s technology sector. Before taking over Managing Director’s role at HPE, I have worked with Emirates Post Group as a board member in Electronic Document Center and led its large enterprise and nationwide government sales strategy. Prior to this, I helped in the launch of the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), where I was leading Enterprise Government sales and oversaw the design of new products, services and solutions for private cloud computing.
If you could improve one thing about the channel business what would it be?
Profitability is a fundamental driver amongst the IT businesses. And while some areas of technology are becoming generic and their contribution to profitability is moderate, there are certain technological solutions for the IT channel to pursue that will provide incremental value to customers along with a competitive edge. HPE is the head and shoulders from a technology know how and we need to always upscale our partners and ensure that there is transfer of knowledge to represent us as leading company in the technology space. At HPE, we have the technology, the people and the economics to help our partners explore innovative solutions for their customers that will boost their profitability.
HPE’s ecosystem is our language and the technology speaks for our solutions; the value proposition we provide to our partners is what speaks for HPE. We are more on the advisory level in the market and supporting the governments and companies in their digital transformation journey is our new IT goal.
What product or technology should the channel watch out for this year?
HPE has announced the Ezmeral software portfolio during Discover Virtual Event 2020 which includes the HPE Ezmeral Container Platform, a unified, enterprise class containerisation solution based on Kubernetes, the Ezmeral Data Fabric and Ezmeral Machine Learning Ops. This is a complete game changer and represents a great opportunity for our Partners in assisting customers modernise their applications, unlock insights from data, and automate operations. And they can do this from edge to cloud. The entire Ezmeral software portfolio is available as-a-service through the HPE GreenLake cloud services for containers and machine learning operations. To further support our partners and grab this unique opportunity, we have updated our Sales Pro, Tech Pro and Marketing Pro learning platforms to reflect the latest evolutions around Ezmeral.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
Everything we do within or outside of work life is a building block towards success. I aim to positively contribute to my career and achieve small goals on a daily basis that contribute towards a bigger vision. I strongly believe in streamlining my efforts towards the future.
Despite the challenges, I am confident that our region is well equipped to overcome the difficulties and return to growth.
I need to have a successful ecosystem in order to build a successful team and the criteria of success in my role is to build a strong ecosystem of partners because they are my team and their success is my success.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
The best advice given to me in my childhood days was to embrace tolerance towards different opinions, cultures and preferences. Tolerance is one of the most important thing which is deeply rooted in our culture too. It is one of the principles with which we live here in the UAE and is imbibed in our day to day living. I strongly believe in this and we are nurtured with this beautiful thought since years now. Even HPE as a company follows diversity and inclusion and I am proud to be a part of an organisation which further strengthens government's role as an incubator of tolerance.
Which IT company, other than your own, do you most admire and why?
The UAE landscape is changing drastically and the government is pushing right buttons to digital transformation by attracting new talent and technologies to achieve positive results. Some of the organisations I closely follow are Smart Dubai, Federal Network (FedNet) under Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and Abu Dhabi Digital Authority.
Due to the number of digital initiatives adapted by the government and organisations in the country, the UAE was recently ranked first in the Arab World and region in terms of e-Smart Services Index, according to UN’s recent e-government survey.
What is the biggest challenge facing the Middle East IT channel?
No doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted business across all sectors around the world and the region of Middle East was not excluded. Despite the challenges, I am confident that our region is well equipped to overcome the difficulties and return to growth. To further support the customers and partners in the region and globe, HPE Financial Services offered $2 billion in financing and new programs to help customers and partners weather COVID-19. Although, there is one challenge that will remain: competition in the IT channel arena is getting intensified while the IT industry is trying to recover.
What’s your favourite thing about the company you work for?
HPE is a visionary company when it comes to technology. Built on decades of reimagining the future and innovating to advance the way we live and work, HPE delivers unique, open and intelligent technology solutions, with a consistent experience across all clouds and edges, to help customers develop new business models, engage in new ways, and increase operational performance.
One of the greatest and my personal favourite is the HPE GreenLake initiative. It best suits the requirements of the companies during such difficult times as it helps the organisations manage their finances as HPE GreenLake is a pay-per-use payment model for on-premises infrastructure. With HPE GreenLake, you only pay for what you consume- this supports organisations growth and unexpected usage spikes with a local buffer of IT resources and it further enables expansion into the public cloud if needed.
With HPE’s focus on innovation and its commitment towards the channel business, we recently acquired Silver Peak for approximately $925 million in cash under HPE Aruba and this acquisition will result in an enhanced financial profile for HPE’s Intelligent Edge business.
What sort of interests do you have outside of work?
Outside of work, I often go out for fishing in summer and I engage in falconry during the winters. Falconry is deeply rooted in our culture as this sport teaches patience, strength and how to overcome opponents through intelligence.