Cloud computing, digital transformation, Internet of Things … these are the strategies that organisations are looking to implement in the coming months. COREX Distribution has geared up its product offerings to ensure that it can supply the necessary infrastructure to make these trends a reality.


Servers and storage: get the basics right

As digital transformation gains traction, Industry 4.0 is turning into a major focus for the ICT industry, with computing now spread from the data centre to the office, and even on to the factory floor.

And, as we move to more pervasive ICT within the organisation, the amount of compute and storage capacity required is growing in leaps and bounds.

COREX has signed up market-leading products to cater to all the various use cases that users ranging from commercial, corporate, government and even telco customers may imagine.

Servers and storage lead Derik de Jager, explains that the SuperMicro line-up of servers and QNAP and Synology  network-attached storage (NAS) cater to the commercial market, while AdvanTech supplies carrier-grade servers for extreme environments.

“These servers are geared for industrial set-ups where temperatures could exceed 40-degrees, or for setting up emergency data centres in the case or, for instance, an earthquake.”

The AdvanTech servers carry a NEBS 3 certification, so they are guaranteed to work where other servers would fail; such as industrial or mining operations.

SuperMicro, on the other hand, leads in the mainstream commercial environment. “SuperMicro is going phenomenally well, De Jager says. “Month on month we have recorded 30% growth and we are looking to grow this even further.”

SuperMicro has led the market in increasing density, so customers can get a lot more compute in a smaller form factor.

COREX recently restructured its operations in response to changing market dynamics and now places a lot more emphasis on the server line-up.

“We aim to be one of the top server suppliers in South Africa,” De Jager says. “We will bring our channel with us on the journey. We are a 100% channel-focused organisation, and our partners value the fact that we don’t work directly with their customers.”

The future for servers and storage is bright, says De Jager. “I am very excited about everything that is happening with the technology; there are some great advances coming on the processor side that look extremely promising.”

Both AMD with its Naples Epyc  processors, and Intel with its new Xeon processors are driving new levels of performance and reliability, he adds. “With us supporting both processor brands, we are well positioned to offer the best technology to the market.”


Networking goes wireless

Networking is the glue that ties solutions together, and COREX has put together a wide range of wireless networking solutions that cater to the needs of customers ranging from home users to the biggest Internet service providers (ISPs).

Networking lead David Hammond explains that the solutions on offer include wireless point-to-point, point-to-multi-point, Enterprise grade WIFI, ADSL, VDSL, LTE and fibre, with market-leading brands in each products category.

TP-Link and Mikrotik are the networking and router offerings.

TP-Link carries a full range of wired and wireless routers, while MikroTik drives routing and networking management in the wireless ISP market.

The purely wireless product products, offering point-to-point and point-to-multi-point connectivity, are Ubiquiti, Cambium, Radwin.

“Wireless is big in South Africa,” Hammond says.

Ubiquiti has an extremely diverse range of products that are specifically suited to any form of wireless communication while still being relatively affordable, Hammond says. It’s a reliable product that allows for wireless connections over great distances, making it especially useful in rural environments.

The Cambium offerings are reliable and work well in situations where wireless interference is common.

Radwin targets the carrier-grade Point to Point, Point to Multi Point and backhaul market. “It’s a very high-end carrier-class product, and the developers are coming out with some incredible innovations,” Hammond says.

Importantly, the networking product ranges that COREX offers all complement one another, and cover the full market spectrum with very little overlap.

“Every one of them has its own space, allowing us to offer solutions from surveillance installations right up to the wireless ISP and telecommunications company,” Hammond says.

“It also means we can work with partners ranging from one-man companies right up to the biggest organisations.

“We believe the wireless market is on the cusp of enormous growth in South Africa and we want to grow with it.”

Hammond believes the need for more and faster connectivity will continue to grow. “Soon everyone will have a number of smart devices in their homes; the IoT market will continue to grow.
And everything is going to be wireless, it is improving all the time and now offers speeds equivalent to or better than fibre.”

Users will start to realise the additional benefits that wireless offers, including its flexibility and reliability, he adds. “The growth is huge, and growing.”

Surveillance adds value

COREX has restructured its operations so it can actively assists reseller partners to add value to the infrastructure it provides.

Nabeel Surtee, who heads up the surveillance operation at COREX, says market realities are driving a need for better security solutions and reseller partners are upping their game.

In providing surveillance solutions, Surtee’s team draws heavily on the expertise from both the server and storage operation at COREX as well as the wireless networking resources.

“Everything works together and complements one another,” Surtee says. “And because we have the server and network expertise it means my team can provide a full solution.”

Security and surveillance installers have a pretty bad reputation in the South African market, mainly as a result of uncertified and untrained people setting up systems that fail to work properly.

“Everyone complains about the ‘bakkie brigade’,” Surtee says. “We believe in partnering with the right people in the channel, and giving them direct lines into our organisation so they can spec and install the right solution.

“We have great technical staff, fully trained, who keep up to date with ongoing training all the time. Our systems integrators (SIs) can contact us any time and we will help.”

Surtee doesn’t discount the small operators, who often fill a vital gap in the market.

“But they may not have the right level of skills,” he says. “If you use the wrong camera, application of networking infrastructure the whole setup could be compromised.

“Our philosophy is not to turn anyone away. Some partners might need for attention when it comes to installation, while other are more skilled – but we will work with them all to make sure the right solution are deployed.”

COREX is also committed to raising the overall level of professionalism within the surveillance market.

“We are working proactively with our partners on this.”

The surveillance brands from COREX are HikVision and Ezviz, both market leaders.

HikVision caters to a broad-based market, while Ezviz is the number one IoT surveillance brand.

Looking into the future, Surtee believes surveillance is just at the beginning of its growth curve. “We have a lot coming down the line,” he says.

“We are looking at surveillance drone, thermal cameras and more. IP surveillance is becoming more affordable, the breadth or solutions is there, we have the correct level of backing and the right products.

“I think we have hit this market at the right time, and can only grow going forward.”


Synergy drives solutions

As the different divisions at COREX work together, and with partners, new vertical solutions are continuously crafted.

For instance, Hammond points out, there is a growing market for voice-over-IP (VoIP) solutions where COREX can help its partners to offer wireless voice and networking.

Indoor WiFi is a growing business, with users looking to bring more WiFi into the home environment, he adds.

“The possibilities are endless,” says Surtee. “We could integrate surveillance drones, linking them into the wireless network and transferring data. Thermal cameras is another area we are exploring: they need a lot of networking and compute capacity to carry the data and perform analytics.”

Internet of Things (IoT) is the coming trend, he adds, and the surveillance products are ready to take on that challenge.

“For instance, we can offer full-on wireless surveillance that makes IoT a reality,” Surtee says. “We are also moving to wireless smoke detectors, wireless water detectors and outdoor cameras – there are a lot of systems that will fit into the IoT space.

“We think IoT is going to be the next big thing. It is the trigger word at the moment.”

“What I like about COREX and its product offerings is that we can actually cater to almost anything, and provide a complete solution,” De Jager says.

“We come together to put the solution together; we make sure the puzzle fits 100%.”


The need for skills

Skills development is an important part of the COREX value proposition, so training is ongoing.

“We do training every day with various products,” De Jager says. “And, if we feel that a team is lacking in a particular area, we make sure they get training on that area.”

Vendors offer additional skills transfers as well.

“The only way to train the team in the right way is to keep their knowledge up to date,” Surtee says.

“We have some very specialised products in our stable, and the team needs to be tech-savvy to be able to spec and sell them,” says Hammond.

“In addition, especially on the wireless side, end user customers are well up to speed on the technology and want to know that we are on top of it as well.”

Surtee adds: “It gives customers confidence that we are well-trained. This job is about more than being able to sell; you have to know what you are doing or you won’t be able to sustain the business.”

This is the crux of the matter, adds De Jager: “A happy client is a client forever.”