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Five minutes with… Fujitsu Middle East VP and MD Farid Al-Sabbagh

Five minutes with… Fujitsu Middle East VP and MD Farid Al-Sabbagh

Al-Sabbagh provides details about the new supercomputer that Fujitsu helped deliver to the King Abdul-Aziz University in Saudi

How has 2015 been so far for Fujitsu in the Middle East?

During recent years, the Middle East has been through some testing times, from political instability to the widespread impact of the fall of oil prices. However, in the face of these uncertainties, this year has started off extremely well with our growth projections being met as a result of new account wins, new partnerships and our innovative product launches. We hope to close out the year with an even better second half bringing together people, information and infrastructure to create real value from ICT.

You recently set-up the region’s first super computer at King Abdul-Aziz University in Saudi Arabia. Can you provide us with details about it?

We are very proud to say that Fujitsu helped deliver a new supercomputing system (High Powered Computer – HPC) to King Abdul-Aziz University and in so doing, inaugurated a Center of Excellence that will support the many researchers and scientists affiliated with KAU.

This new HPC named AZIZ will significantly boost research capabilities in meteorology and climate modelling, engineering, nano technology, aeronautics, genomic research, real-time vision, bioinformatics, water desalination and industry-specific numerical simulations in the kingdom.

Through the Center of Excellence, KAU will study and determine the impact climate change may have on society within the kingdom. They will also work in collaboration with worldwide scientific communities, regional universities, government departments and commercial organisations on research projects that can benefit from the computer’s capacity.

The region’s technology industry is booming. What is spurring that growth?

Indeed, the tech industry in the region is definitely booming and more so in the IT infrastructure sector which includes storage, servers and enterprise networking equipment. According to Gartner, IT infrastructure spending in the Middle East and Africa is forecast to reach $3.48bn this year.

This growth can be attributed to a number of factors but most significantly, CIOs in the region are beginning to prepare their enterprises to stay relevant in the digital business era. Businesses now see the importance of investing in the necessary IT infrastructure and are now bringing in technologies such as mobility, cloud, data centers and business intelligence.

Another factor is that smart cities are on top of the agenda for a number of regional governments. Along with reliability and availability of connectivity, proliferation of devices including mobiles and governments’ push to establish smart services, we have seen increased pressure on the IT sector to keep up with demand and adapt according to the needs of each market.

What are the biggest challenges that the industry faces?

With data volumes increasing at such speed within large and small enterprises, one of the challenges the industry is facing is how to make sense of all this data. For some, it can feel like the opening of Pandora’s Box. Not only must the data be easily accessible, but the storage system must be easy to implement and easy to use.

Another key challenge is the widening skill gap within the Middle East’s IT sector, particularly among mid-level and senior professionals, in step with the rising demand for skilled labour. Even though regional governments have invested in the development of IT education and training of their citizens, it may take some time before a sufficient pool of skilled local talent is achieved.

What are the new trends expected within the industry?

Cloud technology seems to be maturing and is emerging as a useful, practical and workable element of enterprise infrastructure. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is set to increase adoption, offering the convenience of a cloud service provider managing the storage, hardware, servers and other necessary elements for a simple fee based on usage.

What is the current focus for Fujitsu regionally?

From a strategical perspective, we remain focused on our datacenter infrastructure and our solutions and services throughout the region. Specifically within the UAE and Qatar we have an extra focus on providing application services. Smart city innovative technology is also something we look to offer to the region.

Will you be hiring in the next six months?

Yes, we are currently investing in hiring more talent within the region, due to our expansion plans to establish more offices in the region with a focus on the GCC throughout 2015.

What’s your leadership style?

I believe very much in an open door policy and empowering the team to achieve their objectives.

What makes the perfect employee?

A perfect employee is always delivering his tasks on time and is on top of his objectives while looking for better ways to optimise the company’s performance. This, along with being a part of the team and loving your job, makes one a perfect employee.

Three tips for becoming the boss…

Most importantly understand your financials. Always know and understand your numbers.

Secondly, try getting to know what you don’t know. Hire people that are experts and bridge your gaps.

And thirdly, always look at the bigger picture. You will never become a boss if you are focused on your individual objectives.

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