SecurityMiddleEast.com had the pleasure of catching up with Khwaja Saifuddin Ahmad, Western Digital’s (WD) Senior Sales Director Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Southeast Asia during Intersec 2015. This is the first year that WD has showcased its Purple hard drives at the Dubai-based exhibition, and Ahmad explained that the response has been overwhelming.
“It’s been a great thing,” Ahmad said, “and the best thing is that people are getting to understand the technicality of our hard drives, so they are looking at it from more than a capacity perspective, but a features perspective as well. So it’s a good morale booster for us that at least the message is getting across and people are aware that it’s not just about the cameras and DVRs you use, it’s about a hard drive as well.”
To WD, that’s the most important aspect about their participation at the leading global trade fair for security – educating the market. Ahmad explained that they key message WD is trying to convey from its partners’ stands is that a hard drive is a critical part of a security surveillance system that cannot be taken for granted. Attempting to save money by using a desktop drive is truly a false economy as you end up compromising the entire investment – especially as camera and DVR technology advances.
“In terms of camera technology, the main trend we are seeing at the moment is the move to 4K,” Ahmad explained. “When it comes to 4K space is the main concern as it creates bigger files. Is the write speed enough for the downstream of data that is coming in? So, looking at it from our side we have to undertake checks and balances with manufacturers to ensure compatible with the cameras as well as DVRs, it’s about the whole ecosystem working more closely together. We understand how critical it is for compatibility so a whole system works as one.”
Ahmad explained that the plug and play Purple hard drive stands out from the crowd thanks to WD’s dedication to taking on board customer feedback. He credits the company’s response to the market needs, the extensive cooperation with camera and DVR manufactures, and extensive field testing as the key reasons WD has been able to develop a completely new and bespoke product for the security industry – rather than simply ‘tweaking’ existing hard drive technology.
“We designed a completely new product based on the feedback from the industry about all the little things that need to be taken into consideration,” he said, “for example vibration and heat generated, right down to the acoustics. As hard drives are often in close proximity to users we don’t want the hard drive, which is the only mechanical part of the system that is moving, to be making a noise that disturbs people. We also looked closely at the amount of electricity used to run the drives, because at installations where there are hundreds of hard drives in use this is also a key criterion. Because of all of this, WD Purple has been one of the most successful products in terms of acceptance and absorption. The feedback we’re getting is phenomenal.”
Having a bespoke product that is constantly evolving means that WD engineers are continually looking at how to meet the unique needs of end users, including those based in the Middle East.
Ahmad said, “Most Middle East users have temperature controlled environments so the heat is not generally an issue, but at times we do get customers that come back and say that they didn’t have any air conditioning, so when the temperature went beyond 50 degrees recording quality went down. It’s one of those challenges that nature poses us, but we take this feedback seriously and we’re constantly looking at solutions to end user issues.”
As Senior Sales Director for the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and South East Asia, Ahmad has a unique perspective on how the Middle East surveillance industry compares to other markets. In his experience, the Middle East surveillance industry is slightly larger than other regions as affordability is not as much of an issue and the goal when installing new systems is to always use the highest standard of technology available.
However, Ahmad said that if you look at it from a mass adoption perspective, then the South Asian markets are much bigger than the Middle East due to the sheer size of the market.
Speaking about the African market, Ahmad said, “It’s in its infancy, and the growth and development in Africa is at a slightly slower pace than other places. But, again, if you look at it from a sheer mass perspective there is huge potential brewing in the region, and when it peaks I think everyone is going to be looking towards Africa.”
The rate of development in the Middle East is outstripping the other regions Ahmad works with, however, and that is fuelling demand.
“Adoption of WD Purple in the Middle East has been phenomenal,” said Ahmad. “Of course this vertical market is growing on its own, but if I look at it from an absorption point of view we are growing in high double digits quarter on quarter.”
Regarding WD’s experience of Intersec 2015, Ahmad had nothing but positive feedback.
“It’s a great platform for us to support our partners. We haven’t taken a stand of our own, but we are present with all our partners for that same reason that we are not here to sell a hard drive, we are here to enhance the offering of our partners – to make sure that the solutions our partners are selling are going to be running 24/7. The response and feedback we’ve been getting and the amount of people coming with queries is reassuring us that we need to be bigger and brighter next year.”