You are an industry veteran, who is best known for spearheading the Arabisation efforts in the region. Can you share some of your experiences with us?
My experience as a vendor for most of my working life has been with Ashton-Tate (makers of dBase), Borland, Microsoft, Compaq Computer and Computer Associates (CA). When I was not working for them, I established many award winning IT training centers across the region and trained over 100,000 students.
My contribution to the regional IT industry started when I joined the Apple distributor PACC in Kuwait in 1980. In fact I was one of the first to own a Mac! Then I joined Gulf Star Systems where I was responsible for the Arabic products, and one of the most important products was ARAB WORD, which was then most popular Bilingual Word processor in the region and I was also involved in supporting Novell networks and Mainframe solutions from CA which we then represented.
I have always been passionate about Arabisation and serving the Arab computer user. There are over three hundred million Arabs but most companies still sell their products in English. You don’t see that contradiction in Germany or Italy or Japan.
The favourite career spot was when I convinced the management of Microsoft to invest in Arabisation and eventually launched Arabic Windows 3.1 in Riyadh in 1994 and the rest is history.
Before moving to Secureway I spent 4 years consulting for large chains of training centres and coaching staff of top IT and FMCG companies in the area on Sales and Management skills.
What is your role going to be Secureway?
I am the country manager for Secureway in KSA. Secureway is a value-added distributor focused on network security and we support resellers, especially the solution providers. Some of the vendors that we have in our portfolio include Fortinet, F5, and Sophos, which really secure the enterprise network in the best possible way. Now with cloud computing and all other emerging technologies, CIOs are more worried about security than ever before and they want to reduce costs at the same time. This is our value proposition.
Though Secureway has been supplying to KSA for the last five years, our presence was really limited. My mandate is to expand our Saudi operations and develop a robust reseller network drawing on my experience in that geography. I have been in Saudi on and off for almost 25 years and I developed a great relationship with the reseller community there. My task would be to appoint channel partners who can add value to customers by giving them the right solutions.
How do you rate the security awareness in the region, especially in KSA?
Today, even a student with a notebook is security aware from a privacy point of view. I would say the security awareness has gone up by several notches because the threat landscape has changed dramatically in the last five years. Contrary to popular belief, Saudi companies , especially the top 1000 ones are very advanced, and their network installations are very similar to the ones in developed markets and their awareness about security is equally high. They will benefit from our services expansion in their market.
You were talking about the changing threat landscape. Do you think existing security tools can protect against today’s sophisticated attacks?
I think they are. For example, if you look at the products in our portfolio they provide protection 24 hours a day. Sophos anti-virus is updated non-stop backed by good technical support. Some of the other products such as Sourcefire and Imprivata, to name a few, provide multi-layers of security to the users. Yes I do agree we can’t afford to relax and we must stay one step ahead of the hackers.