GITEX 2012 tomorrow's world.
TEXT BY Neil Churchill
As the world heralds the launch of the iPhone 5, techies in the Middle East turn their attention closer to home as we gear up for the largest technology event in the region.
Since its start in 1981, GITEX Technology Week has become the 'ICT business gateway' to the MENA and South Asia region and is synonymous with both regional and global technology companies unveiling new products.
So what can visitors expect at this year's event and what will the trends be for the next year? Gulf Business spoke to Trixee Loh, senior vice president at Dubai's World Trade Centre - which GITEX calls home - to find out some exclusive previews before the event.
"This year, over 80 per cent of leading ICT brands will be present at GITEX, with C-level executives in attendance representing ICT budgets of over $50 billion," says Loh. "With the co-location of ITU Telecom World 2012 and InfoComm MEA 2012, we can expect a much higher number of regional visitors to GITEX this year."
As impressive as that sounds, Loh points out GITEX isn't all about the big, world-famous names; space and thought are given to the smaller, local, emerging companies region too.
Emphasising that point, one of the new additions to the event this year is the SME Zone, underscoring the importance of small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups in shaping the MENA region's technology industry.
Another new part is the International Zone - a new platform dedicated to giving more than 40 specific country groups the chance to present their most innovative technology products and seek profitable cross-border sales and collaboration.
Apart from the new stalls, what attendees will really be keen to discover is what will be the top trends at this year's event. According to Loh, "There are a number of intriguing trends to look out for this year."
Consumerisation of it forum
"Fuelled by the adoption of smartphones and tablets that are increasingly serving as converged devices capable of handling every aspect of work and play, the boundaries between workplace and home are becoming distinctly blurred," says Loh. GITEX will also be providing an insight into the security and logistical implications of the 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) phenomenon.
"Big data is another trend that cannot be ignored, with increasing numbers of businesses and organisations across the MEA region embracing the challenge and vast opportunities of unlocking value from multiple, massive, and exponentially growing datasets," says Loh.
ICT experts believe that the ability to harness the power of big data is becoming imperative, whether that means aggregating social media for enhanced business performance or crunching search engine trends to map disease outbreaks.
Cloud computing is continuing to go from strength to strength in the region, reflected by Cloud Confex - the largest conference of its kind in the region - on course to grow significantly again this year.
"Cloud Confex will consolidate its reputation as the premier route to market via two days of intense conferencing and a five-day exhibition graced by leading international players", says Loh - last year, 80 per cent of the top global cloud computing brands were present. "The event's ramp up in activity comes as high-growth companies and a new generation of tech-aware chief information officers converge to drive wide-spread, cloud-driven change across multiple sectors."
The 4G revolution and long term evolution technology will be among the key discussions at this year's Gulfcomms, held at GITEX. Industry experts believe that 4G - the next generation of advanced mobile telecommunications services - will continue to spread rapidly throughout the GCC with the UAE and Saudi Arabia leading the way.
Cyber security will be another hot topic at GITEX this year, says Loh, with several cyber security seminars adding to the event. "As cyber security threats to corporates and individuals escalate, it is essential that these parties understand and act swiftly to address the challenges by learning about the latest technologies and measures they can implement," says Loh.
"We are now in our 32nd year, and each edition is bigger, better and more ambitious than the last," says Loh. "As other economies elsewhere in the world are slowing down, the MEASA regional ICT dominance is growing with increased buying power from corporates and GITEX is in good standing to
further its position in the global arena of ICT events."
Ahead of the event, which takes place from the 14-18 October, Gulf Business reveals exclusive news from some of the attending brands, and a preview to what you can expect them to reveal during the week:
Recognised as the global leader in flash memory storage, SanDisk plans to unveil their latest products, the Extreme SSD and X100 SSD - SSD stands for 'solid state drive'.
The Extreme SSD is up to 10 times faster than a 7,200 RPM hard disk drive, enabling computer users to quickly start and shut down their systems - SanDisk claim the Extreme can boot a PC in less than 16 seconds - launch applications faster and reduce loading times. The drive is also more durable and power efficient, helping to maximise battery life.
The Extreme will be particularly attractive to gamers not only with its fast launching of applications but as it can also generate environments faster during sequence transitions - something especially useful and important during massive multiplayer online role-playing games.
Kent Perry, director of product marketing at SanDisk, says: "Computer wait times are becoming a thing of the past thanks to SSDs. Our SanDisk Extreme SSD delivers virtually instant boot and shutdown times along with faster application launches. It's a huge improvement to the computing experience."
As you would expect from a product with this much power, its memory is also impressive: 120 and 240 gigabyte models are priced at $189.99 and $399.99 respectively. An even large 480GB model is due to go on sale later in the year, with a predicted price of $749.99.
Meanwhile, the data storage company's X100 SSD product is available at a huge 512GB and uses multi-level cell technology, a SATA 6Gb/s high- performance interface, advanced multi-streaming features and tiered caching technology.
The Dutch digital security company will unveil an exciting new product at GITEX, claiming to revolutionise the way we view payment and access technology. The same company that's been a key driver of NFC (near field communications) technology, is piloting their 'eGo' software which has the potential to allow a user to unlock the door to their home simply by touching the handle.
eGo technology consists of embedded electronics inside a wearable device that remains close to the user's body - ranging from a belt, watch or pair of trousers. When in possession of the eGo, the user simply has to touch an installed proxy reader to pass on the correct credentials and gain access to a building. Much like a digital wallet, eGo will also be able to pay for items and services such as public transport, requiring the user to simply step onto the vehicle.
Gemalto are using GITEX to showcase the eGo for the first time in the UAE, where they will host a live demonstration - not one to be missed.
The data management software provider has plans to showcase its latest product, Simpana 9, at GITEX. The software giant claims Simpana 'transcends traditional backup' with functions such as backup and recovery, reduplication, replication, virtualisation, cloud, archive, indexing and search. Simpana's advanced features means CommVault customers can slash the cost of protecting, managing, analysing and recovering data by up to 50 per cent.
Colin Summers, regional director at CommVault, says: "CommVault remains focused on outpacing the industry in innovation and delivering solutions that meet and exceed the ever-increasing data protection and information management requirements of our customers and partners.
"Simpana software is a single, unique platform, built from the ground up for organically integrated data and information management."
Blue Coat systems
Web security and WAN optimisation solutions, Blue Coat Systems, will be at GITEX highlighting key products in its web security and optimisation lines as the region faces an increased risk of web-related attacks. This will include its ProxySG, Cloud Service, CacheFlow, MACH5 and PacketShaper products.
Through the company's ProxySG and Cloud Service appliances - which form the industry's first 'unified web security' solution - Blue Coat will be displaying how it delivers global threat protection, universal policy and unified reporting to all users on devices across any network.
Dave Ewart, director of product marketing EMEA at Blue Coat Systems, says: "The Middle East has seen an increased level of cyber attacks in recent times. We will be conducting sessions to educate current and potential customers and partners on the latest advances for combating these threats.
"Bandwidth costs are also a major concern in this region and we are keen to demonstrate our WAN optimisation and carrier-grade caching solutions that help save bandwidth and enhance the end-user web experience".
"This year, over 80 per cent of leading ICT brands will be present at giteX, with C-level executives in attendance representing iCt budgets of over $50 billion."
"As other economies elsewhere in the world are slowing down, the MeASA regional ICT dominance is growing with increased buying power from corporates and giteX is in good standing to further its position in the global arena of iCt events."
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