SGI planning on applying for MSC Status

Feb 25 (MSCTImes) - The Mountain View, California-basedSGI is seriously looking at applying for Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC)-statusfor one of its companies but the technical computing and broadband solutionsgroup has first to clear certain hurdles."Our vice president for Asia Pacific has requestedSGI Malaysia to seriously look into the matter (of getting the status).
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

Feb 25 (MSCTImes) - The Mountain View, California-based SGI is seriously looking at applying for Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC)-status for one of its companies but the technical computing and broadband solutions group has first to clear certain hurdles.

"Our vice president for Asia Pacific has requested SGI Malaysia to seriously look into the matter (of getting the status). But it¡¯s not that straightforward. There¡¯s this new office in Phileo Damansara to consider¡­ its lease, ending 2001, has just started although that¡¯s a small hurdle. The bigger hurdle is what we want to achieve after we¡¯ve obtained the status," Eric Lee, country manager, Silicon Graphics Sdn Bhd, SGI¡¯s company in Malaysia, says in an interview with MSCTimes.com.

"There¡¯s a possibility of either the MSC-status company moving to one of the MSC-designated areas or establishing a knowledge center there. Bob (Robert Bishop is SGI chairman and CEO) has pointed out that SGI¡¯s footprint in Malaysia is still small. We¡¯re now aggressively building it up, beginning with our market share.

"Meanwhile, we¡¯re evaluating the options to be presented to him who¡¯ll make the call as to the level and form of participation by SGI. If the footprint remains small, then the resources may be limited."

Lee notes the decision to apply for MSC status will be driven by SGI¡¯s strategy. "It doesn¡¯t mean that the moment SGI gets it, it¡¯ll participate in any project. That¡¯ll defeat our purpose which is to support the Malaysian government¡¯s IT initiatives and objectives, and to transfer SGI¡¯s knowledge and skills to Malaysians. We¡¯ll only participate in projects that fully utilize SGI¡¯s core competencies of technical computing and visualization solutions. We¡¯re very focused."

SGI began its operations in Malaysia in 1997 and since then has built up its staff strength to 11 and signed up 35 partners with various applications giving different value-adds to SGI¡¯s solutions. Asked why it¡¯s considering to seek MSC-status now and not earlier, Lee replies, "To SGI, its three-plus years in Malaysia aren¡¯t that long. Considering that HP has been here since the 1970s, we¡¯re an infant. In the past, SGI Malaysia underwent many changes. The turnover of leaders in the company was high and things weren¡¯t stable until the last one year.

"It¡¯s vital that before the company can contribute to SGI, it must be stable in order to spend its time on contributing meaningfully instead of firefighting. Today, SGI Malaysia is ready to take on more challenges Business-wise, the Malaysian market has grown to become important and exciting to SGI in Asia Pacific."

He says the appointment of VCS Sdn Bhd as full fledged value-added master reseller is SGI¡¯s way to grow its market share in Malaysia. "With this, we can relay the technologies and solutions from SGI in Mountain View to Malaysian customers on good business terms. To have all the corners covered, we¡¯re also looking to recruit more channel partners to transfer more technologies to the local IT companies."

Recently, SGI launched the SGI 1200, a scalable server based on Intel technology and which targets the Linux market. Lee expects the product to open up the market for SGI, especially ISPs and ASPs which need multiple CPUs. The price of SGI 1200, which SGI is providing Linux support, ranges from RM15,000 to RM18,000 depending on the configuration.

To another question, Lee says most of the seven MSC flagship applications are MIS-based and as such don¡¯t fall under SGI¡¯s core competencies, except smart schools. "SGI is driving the broadband solutions, so we want to participate in the smart schools application, especially in distance learning. The learning on demand technology is one of SGI¡¯s core competencies."

According to him, the shortage of teachers in Malaysia justifies the use of this technology, an area where other hardware vendors he claims aren¡¯t looking at because they don¡¯t have the solutions and expertise to implement it. SGI has implemented it worldwide including universities in the US, Australia and Singapore. Recently, SGI formed an alliance with De La Salle University in the Philippines to implement learning on demand for health science students. Locally, he feels the Malaysian government, in its push for IT, should start the push at the root, i.e. the education system.

On doing business in Malaysia, he says it has come a long way in creating the right business climate to attract foreign investors like SGI. "Malaysia has the infrastructure and a very comfortable and protected environment for investors, and most importantly for IT firms like SGI the government is driving IT. Compared to other countries in the region, Malaysia has much to offer. Certain countries might have slightly more advanced infrastructures but they lack land and have higher costs of living. Some have the land but are limited by language barriers and inferior infrastructure."

Meanwhile, on SGI¡¯s interest in the proposed Entertainment Village (E Village) in Cyberjaya and the report that KLSE-listed Datuk Keramat Holdings Bhd, which was selected to spearhead its development but has since pulled out, Lee says Multimedia Development Corporation is still moving ahead with it. "A lot of investors can help in the project but the thing is how to attract them."

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