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November 2009

Vol 1 issue 12

CanYou HOLD

THEMNOW? The economic slowdown has steered many tech professionals to seek employment with channel companies. Now, if only the partners can retain them for a while.

CONVENTIONAL PARTNERS RULE

VP SAJEEVAN of Canon attributes the company’s remarkable growth in laser printers to channels

CRACKING THE SMB SECURITY MARKET

Many SMBs are still hesitant in buying security, but their need is growing. The trick is to provide them easy-to-manage and cost-effective solutions

VENDOR-PARTNER RELATIONS

PN PRASAD of Confederation of IT Associations speaks his mind on improving things between the two


editorial

editorial

The Talent Tango

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n the past couple of weeks, I had the chance to interact with several IT heads from various industries at focused events held by our Group publication, The CTO Forum. Many of them are increasingly looking at outsourcing several pieces of their technology – from infrastructure and tech support to printing and security.

sanjay.gupta@9dot9.in

The recent situation in technology hiring has come as a windfall for mid-tier solution providers

The interactions got me thinking: increase in outsourcing and managed services in the domestic market will create further demand for tech professionals who are going to be employed by service providers focused on the Indian market (as against those working for overseas clients). While there are the likes of Wipro, TCS and IBM Global Services among the biggies, a huge chunk of that demand can only be fulfilled by channel members down the line. I’m talking about the hundreds of system integrators and managed service providers that operate in the middle tier and whose main clientele is enterprises, especially SMBs. Traditionally, these channel players have struggled to get hold of and retain IT professionals, who usually have an IBM or an Infosys on their mind when they graduate. Many in the channel have often had to curb their growth ambitions because of this hindrance. Enter the economic slowdown. In the past one year or so, many of the blueblooded recruiters of tech talent have frozen hiring

as well as salary raises. Some have even let a segment of their tech staff go. Campus packages have come down. The aspiring techies are a worried lot – thinking more about getting a job than agonising over which ‘brand’ to opt for. This seems to have come as a windfall for many mid-rung solution providers. The tide of technical talent seems to have turned in their favour (even if temporarily), as they find it relatively easy to recruit IT professionals. Our cover story in this issue throws light on the new demand-supply equation of tech professionals from the channel’s viewpoint. Solution providers such as Valuepoint Systems and Spark Technologies, among others, share their experiences of hiring and retaining their most valuable resource – the techies that can support the contracts they have worked so hard to obtain. Are they up to the challenge of holding on to them? Read on inside…

SANJAY GUPTA Editor Digit Channel Connect

sounding board sounding board

E-version of the magazine Digit Channel Connect has come out as a very good product for the channel community, though I would really appreciate an e-version of the magazine. Additionally, more coverage on the pertinent issues and the associations’ take on the same will benefit the dealer community at large. MANAS PANT, M&M ENTERPRISES, BAREILLY

Keep it up The features in DCC, highlighting different technical glitches [issues], are timely and also contain usable information and tips. These come in as useful handy tips for start-ups. Keep up the good work! M PRABHU, JAI SYSTEMS, CHENNAI

Write to the Editor E-mail: editor@digitchannelconnect.com Snail Mail: The Editor, Digit Channel Connect, K-40, Connaught Circus, New Delhi 110 001

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Corrigendum The Molex representative receiving the Top Selling Brand award in the October 2009 issue of DCC (page 29) was wrongly identified as Martin Isaac. His correct name is John Horgan. The error is regretted.

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contents contents

CanYou 20 HOLD Them NOW? The economic slowdown has steered many tech professionals to seek employment with channel companies. Now, if only the partners can retain them for a while.

29

SPECIAL REPORT

Q&A

VENDOR SPEAK

“83 percent of our sales come from conventional partners”

Cracking the SMB Security Market

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VP SAJEEVAN, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR CONSUMER SYSTEM PRODUCTS, CANON

Many SMBs are still hesitant in buying security solutions, but their need for security is growing.

Q&A

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BEST OF BIZ CHANGE MANAGEMENT

Change, for the Better

Anticipating issues and overcoming resistance are key to success

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ANALYSIS

CISCO-TANDBERG

VENDOR SPEAK

25

“IT automation will be large because of growing complexity” KRISHNAN THYAGARAJAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR - INDIA, QUEST SOFTWARE

REGULARS EDITORIAL.......................................................... 05 TRENDS.............................................................. 07 ANALYST SPEAK................................................. 40

Cisco partners may rejoice about broader portfolio, but Tandberg folks are not too happy

Canon..........................................Cover On Cover ,IFC,IBC Chip Tech.........................................................Back Cover Circle Infotech...............................................................39 Epson........................................................................7,13 Gigabyte.......................................................................19 India Antivirus...............................................................33 Interface............................................... Inside Front Cover Jupiter..........................................................................27

CHANNEL BONDING CONFED-ITA

26

Microworld...................................................................17 Neoteric.....................................................................9,11 Pushpam.......................................................................16 Rashi..............................................................................3

“Vendor-dealer relations are strained due to...”

Supertron......................................................................23

PN PRASAD, PRESIDENT, CONFEDERATION OF IT ASSOCIATIONS

Topnotch.........................................................................4

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Managing Director: Dr Pramath Raj Sinha Printer & Publisher: Kanak Ghosh EDITORIAL Editor: Sanjay Gupta Sr. Correspondents: Charu Khera (Delhi), Soma Tah (Mumbai) DESIGN Sr. Creative Director: Jayan K Narayanan Art Director: Binesh Sreedharan Associate Art Director: Anil VK Manager Design: Chander Shekhar Sr. Visualisers: PC Anoop, Santosh Kushwaha Sr. Designers: Prasanth TR & Anil T Photographer: Jiten Gandhi BRAND COMMUNICATION Product Manager: Ankur Agarwal SALES & MARKETING VP Sales & Marketing: Navin Chand Singh National Manager - Events and Special Projects: Mahantesh Godi (09880436623) Business Manager (Engagement Platforms) Arvind Ambo (09819904050) National Manager - Channels: Krishnadas Kurup (09322971866) Asst. Brand Manager: Arpita Ganguli Co-ordinator - MIS & Scheduling: Aatish Mohite Bangalore & Chennai: Vinodh K (09740714817) Delhi: Pranav Saran (09312685289) Kolkata: Jayanta Bhattacharya (09331829284) Mumbai: Ganesh Lakshmanan (9819618498) PRODUCTION & LOGISTICS Sr. GM Operations: Shivshankar M Hiremath Production Executive: Vilas Mhatre Logistics: MP Singh, Mohd. Ansari, Shashi Shekhar Singh CHANNEL CHAMPS Sr Co-ordinator - Events: Rakesh Sequeira Events Executives: Pramod Jadhav, Nitin Kedare, Johnson Noronha Audience Dev. Executive: Aparna Bobhate, Shilpa Surve Events Programmer : Vijay Mhatre OFFICE ADDRESS

advertisers index

Cubix............................................................................35

A Mixed Deal

VOL 1 ISSUE 12 | NOVEMBER 2009

Symantec......................................................................15

Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd., KPT House, Plot 41/13, Sector 30, Vashi, Navi Mumbai - 400 703 Phone: 40789666 Fax: 022-40789540, 022-40789640 Printed and published by Kanak Ghosh for Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd. C/O KPT House, Plot 41/13, Sector 30, Vashi (Near Sanpada Railway Station), Navi Mumbai 400703 Editor: Anuradha Das Mathur C/O KPT House, Plot 41/13, Sector 30, Vashi (Near Sanpada Railway Station), Navi Mumbai 400703 Printed at Silverpoint Press Pvt. Ltd, TTC Ind. Area, Plot No. : A - 403, MIDC, Mahape, Navi Mumbai - 400709

cover illustration : anil t

cover design : prasanth t r


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NComputing wins biggest order for thin client deployment in India

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Computing has won a massive computerization contract from Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) alongside system integrator Wipro for deploying 31,000 NComputing virtual desktops in ESIC offices and clinics across the country. Under the Wipro bid, ESIC will use 31,000 NComputing thin-client workstations and vSpace virtualisation software to outfit all ESIC offices and clinics with state-of-the-art green IT systems. Government-run ESIC provides health insurance and delivers medical care through over 2,200 facilities across India. The virtual desktops were selected for ESIC’s Project Panchdeep, the largest e-governance project in India to streamline insurance and healthcare services. The initiative includes: Issuance of 20 million medical ID cards that can be used at any ESIC facility Creation of one of the largest medical records databases in the world

Computerization of 144 hospitals, 620 insurance branches, 1,388 dispensaries/ clinics, and 51 regional offices Creation of a 50 million fingerprint database – the largest in India Rollout of a single Unified Information System that automates all ESIC processes for greater efficiency, transparency, and accountability Largest cloud computing deployment in India “We are honored that NComputing has been selected for this strategic initiative as it will vastly improve healthcare for the 12 million beneficiaries by speeding insurance and medical services,” said Stephen Dukker, chairman and CEO, NComputing. NComputing technology enables a desktop PC to be shared by up to 30 users and a server to be shared by hundreds of users. By sharing the PCs and servers, organizations can typi-

Stephen Dukker, Chairman and CEO, NComputing

cally reduce purchase and support costs by 75% and electricity costs by 90%. The NComputing solution includes both vSpace that creates the “virtual” sessions inside a PC or server, and the thin-client devices that connect the user’s monitor, keyboard and mouse to the shared computer.

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Microsoft launches online services commercially in India

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s a part of its continued emphasis to enable easy access to its cost effective business productivity software, Microsoft has announced commercial availability of Microsoft online services in India. Offering prices starting $2 per user per month (excluding applicable taxes), this will allow SMBs and enterprise customers to access Microsoft’s popular e-mail, collaboration, conferencing and productivity capabilities online. Customers can access the suite directly from www.microsoft.com/india/ onlineservices, and pay a use-based monthly subscription fee, and thus manage their IT needs efficiently and more cost effectively (lower capex). HCL Infosystems, Infosys and

Wipro are amongst leading partners to market and offer value added services around the Microsoft online services. This launch is part of Microsoft’s software plus services strategy, which aims to provide flexibility and choice of accessing and using software in a flexible model, i.e. both on premise and off the Internet as a service or as a combination of both. “In today’s competitive global market, businesses need cost-effective technology that allows flexibility and adds value to their organisations. The alternative delivery model of Microsoft online services will give businesses streamlined communication with high availability, comprehensive security and simplified IT management. Customers who have already started using the services are realising savings from reduced hardware and software investments and are also benefiting from flexible payment models. In a nutshell, it allows them to do more with less”, said Stephen Elop, President, Microsoft Business Group. The Microsoft online services product family offers Exchange Online (for e-mail) and Office SharePoint Online (portals and collaboration) available separately or as a suite

Lenovo conducts roadshows in Punjab CHARU KHERA n an initiative to educate channel partners on the innovations of its products, Lenovo India recently conducted four roadshows. The roadshows, which spanned the cities of Bhatinda, Ludhiana and Amritsar, received overwhelming response from 75 of tier-3 channel partners. “The roadshows were conducted to educate the channel with the roadmap for future,” said Yatindra Nath, Director – Consumer & SMB Sales, Lenovo India. He further added that the roadshows were instrumental in implementing Lenovo’s ideals of reaching out to channel partners and sharing their concerns and working towards resolving them with consensus. Explaining the reason behind conducting these roadshows, Nath said, “Through these multi-city roadshows, we aim to create an ideal platform for our consumers and channel partners to be exposed to the Lenovo brand image in various regions of the country. This July, we launched seven new products in the consumer PC segment. The roadshows will greatly increase awareness about the new range of products as well as educate partners about our channel policy.” These roadshows further provided its channel partners the ‘touch and feel’ of the products. As per a statement issued to the press, Lenovo is witnessing rise in sales in Punjab due to the publicity campaign undertaken by the regional distributors of the company.

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together with Office Live Meeting (for conferencing), Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services and Microsoft Office Communications Online (for instant messaging and presence). The commercial availability of Microsoft online ser vices follows a trial launch announced in July 2009. More than 1,800 customers in India have tried out Microsoft online services during this period, and have experienced increased operational efficiency. The savings are expected to return a potential impact between 10 to 50 percent on IT costs. In fact globally, Microsoft has already sold more than one million seats for Microsoft online services, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Office Communications Online.

HP to acquire 3Com for $2.7 billion

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P and 3Com have announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which HP will purchase 3Com at an enterprise value of approximately $2.7 billion. This combination will transform the networking industry and underscore HP’s next-generation data center strategy built on the convergence of servers, storage, networking, management, facilities and services. The resulting business outcome will help customers simplify the network, deploy a unique and innovative edge-tocore network fabric for the enterprise and improve IT service delivery capabilities. “Companies are looking for ways to break free from the business limitations imposed by a networking paradigm that has been dominated by Tah a single Soma vendor,” said Dave Donatelli, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Servers and Networking, HP. “By acquiring 3Com, we are accelerating the execution of our converged infrastructure strategy and bringing disruptive change to the networking industry. By combining HP ProCurve offerings with 3Com’s extensive set of solutions, we will enable customers to build a next-generation network infrastructure that supports customer needs from the edge of the network to the heart of the data center.” The acquisition of 3Com will expand HP’s Ethernet switching offerings, add routing solutions and significantly strengthen the company’s position in China, via the H3C offerings.


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Bareilly association to host mega IT fair MUNTAZIR ABBAS

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ounded in 2001, Bareilly Computer Dealer Welfare Association (BCDWA) has grown into one of the well-known groups of the computer dealers’ fraternity in India today. Being located at the close proximity of the national capital - Delhi, the PC market of Bareilly, which has an annual turnover of around Rs 60 crore maintains effective communication between the dealers and vendors though various activities that include seminars, conferences and general meetings. Gautam Saxena, recently elected President of  BCDWA on the current market scenario said that the region is neither an industrial area nor a corporate hub; therefore it is cumbersome to tap the business opportunities. In addition, the price variation as compared to Delhi market is the other key factor that derails the sales in the Bareilly region. He admits that the recent economy slowdown has changed the buying patterns of mid-sized organisations. “The educational institution is one of the fastest growing segments followed by government with the increasing demands pouring in for laptops, software and IT solutions in the Bareilly market today,” informed Saxena. “As the plagued economy is finally coming back on track, there is an obvious

Gautam Saxena, President, BCDWA

need for attractive schemes for dealers and end-users that would bring about an ascent in the market graph today, as customers are expecting more attractive schemes each day,” he added. Speaking on the immediate priorities and challenges of BCDWA, Saxena said that his immediate priority is to organise a mega IT fair or event that would involve all the large MNCs in order to bring about a wave of aware-

MAIT to focus on creating a vibrant domestic IT market

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anufacturer s’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT) recently organised its 26th annual session. The event marked change of guards at the association with Ravi Aggarwal, President (Imaging & Printing Group), Hewlett Packard India Sales, taking over as the new President and Sandeep Nair, Managing Director, Emer son Network Power (India), appointed as its Vice President for the term 2009-10. Vinnie Mehta, Executive Director, MAIT said, “We are pleased to have Ravi Aggarwal on board as the President of MAIT. An industry veteran, with in-depth exposure to various aspects of the IT industry, he is immensely respected in the industry circles for his incisive vision and astute knowledge. We are also delighted to have Sandeep Nair as our Vice President. Both have contrib-

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uted immensely to the development of IT market in the country. With their vast experience, they will add immense value towards augmenting and furthering the IT industry ecosystem in the country.”

“The domestic market is vastly unexplored and we need to come up with innovative solutions to deepen the IT penetration beyond the urban masses.” RAVI AGGARWAL, PRESIDENT, MAIT

ness as well as facilitate the small vendors in the adjoining areas. The association also publishes a monthly e-magazine, Prakhar. About one-fourth of its members are in the service market. “Our association always tries to bring an IT company with its services and support- either direct or through partner,” said Saxena. “Almost all the vendors are offering their products through various promotions but HP is more involved in local activities,” he added. Ingram, Redington and direct HCL are some of the major distributors that are active in Bareilly market.  BCDWA also offers buying tips that more emphasis on the quality of product, latest technology and better services as well as updates the dealers through its official website and mailers. In addition, the association organises seminars and demo programs in order to keep the dealers updated about the latest vendor offerings. “We are also working on a sub-committee within our peripheral to sort out differences between dealers and consumers,” Saxena added. BCDWA has recently come together with UP state trader bodies to protest against VAT, and the state government has finally done necessary amendments in taxation. The association also recently organised family meet on Diwali.

Delineating MAIT’s roadmap for the future, Aggarwal said “It is an honour to be the President of MAIT at a juncture when the industry is about to reach its point of inf lect i o n . C r e a t iv i t y, i n n ova t i o n a n d collaboration would help put us on a faster growth trajectory. The domestic market is vastly unexplored and we need to come up with innovative solutions to deepen the IT penetration beyond the urban masses. The challenge today is of creating a robust IT infrastructure across the dimensions of the nation to enable easy information access for the common masses.” Nair also said “I am grateful to the industry for reposing faith in me. For India to emerge globally competitive in the hardware arena, apart from creating a vibrant domestic market we need to create a stable policy regime. A robust and encouraging ecosystem covering all aspects of the downstream industry will enable us emerge as a strong IT manufacturing nation.”


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One out of six Indian enterprises impacted by data loss: Symantec

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ymantec has announced the findings of its study on the mounting risk of data loss in Indian enterprises. The study, conducted by IDC (India), revealed that 79 percent of organisations highlighted data loss to be their most serious information security concern, followed by other threats like virus and denial of service attacks and spam. “The need to protect sensitive information like source code, intellectual property,

employee and customer accounts has made businesses realise that data loss can turn into a catastrophe and become a competition, compliance and credibility black hole”, said Vishal Dhupar, MD, Symantec India. “It is imperative that as part of their overall security strategy, enterprises protect their information proactively and know where confidential information resides, how this information is being used and how its loss can be prevented”. Despite data loss being considered as a looming threat, only 15 percent of the surveyed organisations have adopted any form of data loss prevention measures. This was largely a result of low awareness (32 percent) amongst enterprises on the impact and consequence of data loss and how data loss prevention technologies could safeguard reputation and revenue of organizations. According to respondents, more than 50 percent of information residing within their organisation is classified as sensitive. As the value and significance of information increases within organisations, instances of data loss are also on the rise. The study finds

Philips appoints SES as the second distie for its monitors SOMA TAH

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fter signing up a distribution and service agreement with Redington last year, Philips Electronics has now roped in SES Technologies to distribute its monitors across India. Informing this, Ankan Biswas, the ex-director of Philips India, said, “SES will be our second national distributing partner henceforth, and the move will help us expand the product availability further in C and D class cities.” Biswas handled the Philips monitors business from 2002-06 in India and is now working as a direct agent for Philips monitors in India. He reports directly to Philips multimedia display division in Singapore. SES along with Redington is expected

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Ankan Biswas is confident that Philips will enhance its brand entitlement through feature-rich products

to provide Philips an increased reach and visibility across more B, C and D class cities market. It will also be able to use the SES dealer and reseller network for market expansion. However, spokespersons from

that more than 16 percent of organisations in India admitted to facing a data loss issue in the recent past. The major causes for these data losses were traced to unaware users, malicious insiders and increasing external threats from hackers and cyber criminals. As high instances of data loss hit Indian enterprises, 52 percent respondents said that compliance and regulatory mandates was a major driver to prevent loss of data. Pressure from international clients was the driving force behind 24 percent organisations while business continuity was another important factor of consideration for many respondents. According to the survey, majority of users considered firewalls, log analyzers, intrusion detection and prevention solutions as adequate and appropriate data loss prevention measures. Amongst users of data loss prevention (DLP) technologies, 84 percent had opted for ‘patch’ or ‘silo’ based implementation. In the non-users, 45 percent felt ‘no real need’ for DLP since they felt that their existing security solutions were enough to keep their information safe. In addition, close to 30 percent of all respondents faced data classification challenges while differentiating between sensitive and non-sensitive information within their organisation. Of the respondents, large enterprises showed the highest awareness of DLP (84 percent) while the awareness and adoption was very low in medium and small enterprises.

SES Technologies were not available for comment on this development at the time of filing this news. Philips seeks to enhance what Biswas calls “its brand entitlement” in the market and will now strengthen its focus on commercial and B2B space. Philips will also bring more sustainable solutions and energy-efficient products, said Biswas. It will also ensure the retail visibility through a number of modern retail chains across the country. Besides ensuring the supply chain, keeping the increasing demand and the different consumer requirements in mind, Philips is looking to introduce more feature rich line of monitors in India in the coming quarters. It has got seven ranges of monitors at present -- professional, business, small business, consumer, experience, essential and value series -- from which only a few selected ranges are available in India as of now. Philips will also launch its LED monitors and monitor TV in India shortly and aims to achieve a much higher mindshare in the monitor space.


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ACMA to organise its annual IT show CHARU KHERA

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hmedabad Computer Merchants Association (ACMA) has announced the sixth edition of its annual expo - ACMA IT Show 2009. The show is scheduled to be held from 18-20 December 2009 at University Ground, Ahmedabad, in association with Markcom Solutions, an event firm. The association claims that unlike several exhibitions, where participants are welcomed on the last day, ACMA is expecting 100 percent booking by end of November. As per reports, 63 percent space is already booked by IT and hardware companies like LG Electronics, Logitech, Sai Infosystem, Quick Heal, Epson, Tata Indicom and several others. Elaborating on the details of the expo, Narendra Bhetaria, Chairman, ACMA IT Show said, “The goal of ACMA is to touch every citizen of Ahmedabad who is directly

or indirectly connected with IT. For example, IT professionals, agents, dealers, distributors and entrepreneurs, among others. ACMA IT Show 2009 will help in enhancing their knowledge, understanding the competitive environment, presentation skills and much more.” He further adds that the annual show is a recognised launch-pad for new products, and a time-efficient way to keep up to date with the latest IT innovations. ACMA is also inviting IT institutes to display live projects of students. The show is expected to give exposure to students of converting the theoretical knowledge to practical world. Kirti Thakkar, President, ACMA, said, “II has touched every Indian beyond age, sex, cast and income group, but the awareness is still very low; at the ACMA show, we want citizens to grab as much knowledge as possible.”

Lian-Li cases now available in India

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ian Li Industrial, a manufacturer of hand-crafted aluminium cases, has announced that its products will be distributed across India by Xtreme Grafix, Mumbai. All of the Lian-Li chassis are made of hairline brushed anodised aluminum, which makes them light, and are completely hand crafted. Moreover, they showcase innovative features like tool-less designs. As per a company’s statement, they focus on the practical aspects of the cases, and it reflects in their designs, which are usually kept simple yet elegant. Recently, Lian-Li also launched the new budget Lancool range, which substitutes the Aluminium with SECC Steel. They carry on the legacy of quality by Lian-Li, at even cheaper prices. These will be introduced in the Indian market along with the Lian-Li line of chassis in November 2009.

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Kingston launches SSD desktop upgrade solution

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ingston Digital has announced the release of the SSDNow V Series 40GB Boot Drive, the latest addition to its V (Value) family of solid-state drives (SSD). As per the company, SSDNow V Series 40GB Boot Drive is a cost-effective way to accelerate desktop’s boot, shutdown and application load times.

“The SSDNow V Series 40GB Boot Drive offers instant performance enhancement coupled with reliability and lower power consumption at a fraction of the cost of a new system,” said Nathan Su, Flash Memory Sales Director, APAC Region, Kingston. “The 40GB Boot Drive is the latest offering in our V Series SSD line. It provides a low-cost upgrade solution that complements the installed hard-disk drive to extend the life cycle of existing desktop computers and workstations in homes and offices.” Using the industry-standard PCMark Vantage Advanced HDD Suite, the 40GB Boot Drive received a score of 13,883, whereas a 7200RPM hard-disk drive attained a score of 3,708. PCMark Vantage Advanced HDD Suite runs a series of tests such as Windows Vista startup, importing photos, adding music to Windows Media Center and application loading. The score

D The solid state drive is touted to provide better cost/performance than conventional drives

is an indicator of how many bytes were moved per second. For consumers who want to boot the performance of their original PCs, the conventional HDD has limitation due to its traditional mechanism. Compared to 7200RPM HDD, Kingston SSDNow V series 40GB Boot Drive’s random read/write speed is 2~3 times faster. In common PC usage, the 80 percent of time is using random read/write. With the more affordable price, Kingston SSDNow V series 40GB Boot Drive provides consumer the choice with better C/P (Cost/Performance) value ratio. The Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB Boot Drive is backed by a three-year warranty and free tech support.

Zebronics launches new speakers

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op Notch Infotronix, the brand owners of IT brand Zebronics, has recently launched a new range of multimedia speakers.

The ZEB-SW7000R is a 5.1 model with built-in 6 channel amplifier. It has a 30watts subwoofer and 5 satellites of 10watts each. It also has virtual surround effect if a stereo input is given instead of full 5.1 input. It comes with full function remote control unit and each channel volume can be controlled individually. The set-up is made of wood for better sound quality. This speaker is also compatible with various equipment like DVD/CD players, MP3 players, etc and to PC or laptops. Other models in this line up are in 2.0, 2.1 and 4.1 segment. All speakers are done in red and black combination. The ZEB-SW2400 is a 2.1 speaker; next model

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Delta appoints Global Infonet as national distie for UPS

is ZEB-SW2900 which is a 4.1 speaker unit. Both speakers have volume, bass and treble control in the front of subwoofer unit. Pradeep Doshi, Director Sales, Topnotch Infotronix, said, “Our teams have put in the best efforts and the success of these new models is result of that. Looking at the response we have received for our new lineup of speakers from channel and consumers, we can say our efforts have been paid off well, but the best is yet to come.” 

elta Group has appointed Global Infonet Distribution as their national distributors for promoting small and medium range of UPS solutions in India. Delta intends to achieve comprehensive coverage in the metro as well as upcountry markets by strengthening its marketing, distribution and retailing capabilities through Global Infonet.

This appointment is announced subsequent to the previous move of Delta setting up its local manufacturing unit for the KVA UPS production. Delta now brings forward to its customers the Small, Medium and High KVA product lines through distribution and enterprise direct marketing channel with a strategy to adequately reaching to its SOHO as well as enterprise customers in India.  Deepak Sharma, Country Business Manager, UPS said, “Delta is becoming a choice among many power solution users as it offers a good value proposition to its customers through wide array of products and services. By establishing national distribution, Delta will increase its reach to the untapped regions across India.” He added further, “Delta intends to reach its customers through all possible medium. The national distributor will help us penetrate the market more effectively as well as consolidate our direct channel business. We intend to harness the synergies between Delta and Global Infonet to mutual advantage in bringing our UPS solutions to customers.”  Global Infonet would distribute Delta UPS products from 600VA up to 30kVA ratings all over the country. Global Infonet would help expand the company’s reach to additional cities as well as propel the growth momentum in India across all the major cities.  “With a comprehensive UPS product range from 600VA to 4000kVA, Delta offers a range of customized power solutions to its customer, which positions Delta as a complete power solution provider. We are happy in forging a strategic partnership for 600VA up to 30kVA UPS range in India, as Delta is one of the top five UPS players globally,” said Vishal Sopory of Global Infonet Distribution.


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Circle launches ‘Complete Technology’ initiative

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umbai-based Circle Infotech recently launched a methodology called CT or ‘complete technology’. Conceived by Creative/ Marketing par tner Sandeep Bomble (from Palasa Creative House) and Sanjeev Kumar, MD of Circle Infotech, the CT methodology aims to assure the integrity and superiority of Circle products. CT was finally launched after months of groundwork. The company defines CT as “the assurance of a highly qualified team of individuals authorizing

the honesty of Circle products.” Under CT, each product with its individual parts is subjected to rigorous intelligence and ability tests before finally certifying it as a complete technology product. On the CT panel were Sanjeev Kumar and Sachin Pandule from Circle Infotech, and Prakash Singh from Intricate Systems. The launch of CT coincided with a showcase of new products, including capsules, mouse, power hubs and keyboards. Among the new launches were the wireless mouse Freedo and the colourful mouse Flint.

Toshiba opens service center in North Delhi

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o cater the customers and resellers in North and West Delhi, Toshiba India has opened up a new state-of-theart service center at Bungalow Road in Kamla Nagar. Speaking at the launch, Sivakumar N, Head, PC Division, Toshiba India, said, “Apart from providing easy and convenient access to the customers from North and West Delhi, the strategically located service center will also cater to the students and staf f members of Delhi University. This new service

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center not only filled the void but has also equipped Toshiba to deliver the kind of service infrastructure that is hardly visible in North and West Delhi. With the opening of the new center, Toshiba’s endeavor of moving closer to the customers and providing the best after-sales support has been fulfilled.” From just 10 carry-in service centers prior to April 2008, the company now has 58. Customers can dial toll free numbers (180011-8674 and 1800-200-8674) from 8 AM to 10 PM every day. .

NOVEMBER 2009

Kale Consultants becomes OEM partner for BI from Maia Intelligence

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ale Consultants and Maia Intelligence have entered into a partnership to jointly help address the Business Intelligence (BI) requirements of the logistics and transportation industry in India with the latter’s 1Key software. Maia’s 1Key BI application will be combined with Kale’s Freight Management System and CAPELLA (CFS/ICD management solution). This will enable organizations to deploy BI framework with minimal investments and will bring forth the value proposition and expertise of both players to the fore.

“We are pleased to enter into this venture with Kale Consultants,” said Sanjay Mehta, CEO, Maia Intelligence.  “This partnership will help address the BI requirements of the logistics and transportation industry with a better approach.” “Our partnership with Maia is aimed at adding value to the BI function of our logistics solutions. 1Key BI would e n ab l e c l i e n t s t o d e p l oy a performance management and analytical platform around the rich data generated by our solutions,” said Sumeet Nadkar, Head – Logistics SBU, Kale Consultants.


analysis cisco-tandberg

with Cisco’s will be a huge upsell opportunity.” What Cisco has essentially done with the Tandberg buy is fill a much-needed gap in its product portfolio. According to Raunaq Singh, Director of Delhi-based Targus Technologies, a Cisco Silver partner, “We recently added the Tandberg video conferencing solutions to our kitty, and its merger with Cisco will certainly give us a double boost from both the companies. Cisco really only had the high-end solutions. With Tandberg in the fold, Cisco will be the market leader in end-to-end enterprise video, and it has filled in a gap that’s been missing for quite some time now.” Others in the channel concur with these views. Says Rajesh Bakshi, Director of Delhi-based Netlink Business Systems, “I think the acquisition of Tandberg simply complements Cisco’s video strategy by giving it a broader portfolio. Also, the merger is considered to be great news in the video conferencing space, as it will [on the one hand] definitely increase the awareness of Telepresence [Cisco’s high-end solution] in India and [on the other hand] it will advance the growth opportunities of Tandberg’s channel partners.”

CISCO-TANDBERG

A Mixed Deal

Cisco partners may rejoice about broader portfolio, but Tandberg folks are unhappy SANDHYA MALHOTRA

T

he global IT market has been undergoing major consolidation for quite some time. Just this quarter, we have seen a spurt in mergers and acquisitions, including Adobe acquiring Omniture, Dell acquiring Perot and Xerox acquiring ACS. In the unified communications space, Cisco Systems recently announced that it’s acquiring Norway-based smaller but established rival Tandberg for $3 billion. According to B Raghavendran, VP, Channel Operations and Commercial Strategy, Cisco India & SAARC, “Cisco and Tandberg have remarkably similar cultures and a shared vision to change the way the world works through collaboration and video communications technologies...This acquisition showcases Cisco’s financial strength and ability to quickly capture key market transitions for growth.” DCC takes a look at the threats and opportunities for channels that this proposed marriage entails (News came in at press time that Cisco has extended its offer till November 18, by which time at least 90 percent of Tandberg stockholders must approve it as per Norwegian law). Ravi Kumar, GM-Channel Sales of Mumbai-based Enkay Technologies, which has been associated with Tandberg for the past three years as a system integrator, says, “Cisco understands the importance of channel partners to the success of the merger and will focus on giving them as much information on product and channel roadmaps as possible when the acquisition deal is sealed. To integrate Tandberg products cohesively

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Not everyone is excited Despite the enthusiasm of Cisco and its partners, there are some issues to be looked at from a post-merger viewpoint. For one, Bakshi thinks that Tandberg’s version of a Telepresence-type system will likely get axed. While this may offend some Tandberg loyalists, Cisco will retain and leverage on the midrange solutions of Tandberg (which most businesses can afford). And that makes [Cisco] partners happy, says Bakshi. His initial enthusiasm on the upsell opportunities notwithstanding, Kumar of Enkay shares another concern. “In India Cisco has a huge number of channel partners [estimated around 200], while the number of Tandberg’s authorized partners totals 14. This difference will create an over-distribution situation for Tandberg’s channel partners, and our margins will go for a toss.” Another worry is that, at least in the short term, competitors may gain an edge. Says Kumar, “Cisco’s move will help Polycom in the short term, as uncertainty among customers and resellers could help it gain market share. Secondly, in India Tandberg’s solutions are around 15-20 percent expensive than Polycom’s. So Cisco has to take a reasonable price correction to maintain customer accounts.” Then, even on the Cisco side, there are some who are waiting anxiously to hear from the principal. According to DK Bajaj, Director of Delhi-based DM Systems, a Cisco reseller, “Ever since the merger was announced, we have not received any official communication from Cisco. [In fact] we are planning to shift gears towards competitors.” The good thing is that the market for video conferencing as a whole is likely to grow because of reduced travel budgets and more companies considering the technology as an alternative to physical presence. For instance, Ayan Mitra, Marketing Manager of Mumbai-based Omnitech India, says, “We are gearing up our business strategies in tune with the companies eying cost-cutting in various aspects of business, including corporate travel.” Now, how the Tandberg partners will cope with Cisco’s heightened presence should become clear sooner rather than later. n

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cover story hr

retention

CanYou

The economic slowdown has steered many tech professionals to seek employment with channel companies. Now, if only the partners can retain them for a while. CHARU KHERA

HOLD NOW?

ILLUSTRATION : ANIL T

Them

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cover story

retention

hr

A

ccording to a survey done by the Labour Bureau of the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment, around 5 lakh people lost their jobs in India in the initial three months of the slowdown (October to December 2008). The data is for employees across categories, but one of the worst affected sectors has been information technology. While this has meant salary freezes, cuts or even layoffs for several IT vendors on the one hand and bleak job prospects for job aspirants on the other, the situation has significantly altered the demand-supply equation of tech professionals. For one group, however, it has been something of a windfall - because it has always had to struggle hard to lay its hands on the country’s technical talent pool. We all know this group by its collective name of the Indian channel community.

Demand-supply scenario There has been a common perception amongst tech professionals that growth lies in working for a known brand. High pay packages as well as lucrative perks are other reasons why the techies have mostly preferred to work with large companies. This scenario has for long created a big gap in the supply of professionals, especially for SMBs and channel members (most of which fit the SMB tag). The result: among others, channels have been constantly cribbing about the lack of technical manpower and their inability to hold the few skilled people they do manage to attract. The recent downturn, however, seems to have turned the tables in favour of smaller tech employers, especially hundreds of mid-tier solution providers that serve India’s growing domestic market for technology products and services. Says Deepak Siddhu, Director, Apara Technologies, Hyderabad, “Today, a lot of tech professionals are on the lookout for good jobs. But while companies such as Wipro, TCS, IBM, etc, have freezed hiring, many tech professionals have been approaching partners. I believe that the channel community should cash in on this situation and take effective measures to hire as well as retain these techies.” Furthermore, he believes that inspiring, satisfying and retaining these techies can help the channels address all their employee-centric issues in future. Talking about the sudden change in the demand and supply of technical people, RS Shanbhag, CMD of Bangalore-based Valuepoint Systems, says, “Recession has led to a situation that has resulted in bifurcation of the best from the rest.”

TIPS ON HR POLICIES TO RETAIN TECHIES Keep a tab on your tech employee turnover Set salaries according to industry standards Offer them bright growth prospects Give them incentives/perks based on their performance Provide constant training/certification programs Share the company’s future plans/strategies and take their inputs Engage them in projects that continue to add value to their professional career Train employees to multi-task Offer benefits such as flexi-timing and conveyance allowance

Shanbhag claims that his company has been approached by many tech professionals recently, and is now all geared up to redefine and fine-tune every aspect of its business. “We have close to 225 employees, out of which 10 per cent constitute technical people. In the past one year, we have hired 10-12 technically qualified and experienced professionals from organisations such as IBM, Wipro and Infosys. Most of them approached us directly.” However, Shanbhag doesn’t rule out the chances that these professionals are lured back by big vendors once the slowdown is over. “In such a situation, strong HR policies will be helpful in retaining them,” he says.

Learning from the past

To survive cutthroat competition and stay in the game, investing in technical resources is crucial.”

The channels need to learn from their past experiences and follow practices RS SHANBHAG that can help them retain the newly CMD, VALUEPOINT SYSTEMS acquired tech professionals as well as existing talent. This is because retaining technical manpower has been a constant headache for most partners. However, given the recent scenario, which has made both big employers and technical employees cautious of their next move, the question is whether the channel partners are ready to change their HR policies to take advantage of the better availability of tech resources. Many partners that DCC spoke to say that they are trying to learn from their past experiences and adopt HR practices that will help them retain technical professionals. One key measure in this regard is to spend time and effort in further technical development of the professionals. For one, Col. Balwinder Singh, Director of Delhi-based Targus Technologies, invests 5 percent of the company’s revenue every year in conducting trainings. Sharing his formula for retention, Singh says, “A lot of finance, manpower and crucial time goes in acquiring as well as training new technical professionals. From our past experiences, we have learnt that these professionals should be provided constant training/certification programmes, and be engaged in projects that continue to add value to their career. We believe in training them so that they can multi-task.” Anand Gajiwala, CEO of Jamnagar-based Apolo Computers, which also brought on board many new techies in the past one year, also plans to train his employees on the entire range of products that the company deals in. A structured HR system helps, too, says Shanbhag of Valuepoint. He believes that it is necessary to spend some portion of the revenue in constant training and certification of employees. “If we want to stay in the game, survive the cut-throat competition and also scale up the operations to become a national-level player, investing in our technical resources in a solutions-driven industry is crucial,” he says.

Giving the techies what they want In the current scenario, several tech professionals are on the lookout for lucrative jobs offers. It might be that currently,

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NOVEMBER 2009


cover story hr

retention

AVENUES FOR HIRING TECH PROFESSIONALS

most of these professionals aren’t too high on expectations, but remuneration has always been a major motivator for most employees. So the channels should try to lure them with attractive pay packages, even if it means stretching their budgets a little. The challenge for the channel community is clearly to live up to the standards of the IT giants. And when the going gets good again (and there are signs that the job market is reviving), matching the pay packets of biggies will be tough. So it is imperative for the channels to offer the techies other perks -- strong HR policies, good growth prospects, job security, flexible work timings and conveyance allowance, among others. In addition, awards and timely recognition of employees’ contribution to the company are critical HR practices that help in retaining key talent. IT giants have long realised that individuals feel motivated when their hardwork is noticed and appreciated -- and it would help channel members to take a leaf from their book on motivation. Sharing further insights into retention, S Nautiyal, Managing Director of Delhi-based Spark Technologies, says, “Times have changed. Today, IT professionals want challenging roles. Moreover, influenced by global work culture, they often demand flexible work hours and locations.” Needless to say, channels should act smart and give the techies challenging roles, a positive work environment and an identifiable career path. “It is high time the channel community understood the needs and demands of tech professionals. Most students graduating from professional institutes do not like to work in companies that have age-old customs and policies. These need to change with time, and new and innovative styles of working should be adopted. This would give us an opportunity to attract the creamy layer of technically qualified people,” says Nautiyal.

Empoyee turnovers

Today, IT professionals want challenging roles. Also, influenced by global work culture, they demand flexible work hours and locations.” S NAUTIYAL MANAGING DIRECTOR, SPARK TECHNOLOGIES

DIGIT CHANNEL CONNECT

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It is believed that an increasing number of channel companies are putting in place HR policies for nurturing and maintaining their tech pools. But the question is, do these policies really work in ensuring a low employee turnover? Most partners DCC spoke to believe that good HR policies help them maintain a good work culture; however, they do not ensure a lower employee turnover. Another set of partners believe that a low employee turnover should not always be the main criteria to judge the performance of a company. According to them, many employees who do stick around for long (resulting in low overall employee turnover) end up producing the same product in the same way for years on end (which implies lack of innovation). So the objective should not be low

NOVEMBER 2009

Most partners that DCC spoke to agreed that today there are several innovative mediums of hiring available in the market. One of the most common and often efficient way of looking for techies is through job portals such as monsterindia.com and naukri. com. Another way of hiring that’s gaining traction in the channel space is through social media. Through websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, it is easy to connect with like-minded professionals and build word of mouth for existing openings. A new practice that the channel community has adopted is recruiting from college campuses. As the prominent IT players take a back seat on campus recruitment, channel partners can and are reaching out to even topnotch engineering and management colleges. The good-old-ways of engaging recruitment consultants and spreading the word around within and outside the organisation through referral schemes, company website and advertisements remain as fruitful as ever.

employee turnover but retaining the efficient employees who can contribute more to the growth of the organisation. For a solutions-driven company, however, that would essentially mean retaining tech staff with higher level skills. Which is why companies such as Valuepoint are extending their incentive schemes beyond the sales force. According to Shanbhag, “Today, there is nothing innovative in the HR practices [of channels]. But we believe in doing something out-of-the-box by evaluating what exactly our employees want. For instance, we not only give incentives to our sales people but also to our technical workforce.” Shanbagh is of the opinion that growth opportunities are much higher in channel companies than in a large MNC. “In a large company, a technically qualified professional is one among thousands, but in a small organisation like ours, where only a few technical professionals exists, the person is valued more and has a better learning experience and brighter future prospects.” Even Nautiyal of Spark, whose company has an employee turnover of less than five percent, admits that holding back employees is not an easy task and requires strategic planning. “We currently have 135 employees, out of which 20 percent is our technical workforce. We have been quite lucky in retaining our efficient employees for a really long time now. We believe in constantly recognising them and also consult them before taking any major management decisions. Most decisions influence them directly and taking their opinion always helps in successfully implementing the idea,” he says.

The challenges remain In the highly competitive solutions community, technical professionals are in great demand and retaining them will continue to be a complex issue. It is true that the recent downturn among big companies has loosened their grip on the technical talent pool of the country, but it’s to be considered a temporary reprieve rather than a lasting one. So even if the channel partners currently find it easy to attract the techies, the latter will continue to be susceptible to the lure of an Infosys or an IBM. For all they know, the techies may just be ‘parking’ themselves at channel companies till such time that the job environment improves. It is up to the channel partners to provide them ample parking space and enough challenge and motivation in their day-to-day jobs so that they think twice before moving on to another ‘destination’. n charu.khera@9dot9.in


vendor speak printers As an Assistant Director - Consumer Systems Products, VP SAJEEVAN is responsible for building the Canon brand and growing the company’s IT product group and channel infrastructure in India. SAJEEVAN shares with Charu Khera the role of channel partners in Canon’s remarkably high growth of 146 percent in the laser printer segment.

“83 percent of our business comes from conventional partners” DCC: Canon has gained significant market share for its laser printers in India recently. What has been the contribution of the traditional partners vs organised retailers?

ness, 83 percent of the business comes from conventional partners, while organised players (LFRs) contribute another 10 percent.

coins, cash prizes, etc; we have announced gifts such as 4GB pen drives as well as designer watches as a reward of meeting their targets.

As far as the Consumer System Products (CSP) division is concerned, Canon this year has registered a growth of 58 percent growth. In the laser printers segment alone, Canon registered a growth of 146 percent and I would like to give the entire credit of this growth to our loyal partners. Most Canon products are push product and we at Canon believe that channel devise the fate of any product. Against all odds (for example, the grim economic situation), we increased our channel spend and conducted 74 big mega scale channel meet since January 2009. We also follow a 4-tier approach to interact with the channel - face to face interaction, Milap, channel dialogues and Gyan Yatra. We met close to 16,000 channel partners as part of our initiative called channel dialogue, which has further helped us increase our marketshare (with the help our their support and suggestions). At Canon, we follow a four way approach to market products – First through distribution channel; second being system integrator channel (such as Wipro, IBM, Lenovo, Dell etc) as well as city system integrators (such as Iris, etc); followed by large format retailers or LFRs (purely consumer-driven) and the last is our direct channel (which deal with corporate as well as government clients). In terms of busi-

DCC: Which segments of the market are more conducive to the Canon brand and which ones remain challenging for you? How have your partners helped you face those challenges?

DCC: Canon has introduced the new standard for printing in the Indian market - images per minute (IPM) - while the Indian market is still dominated by PPM (pages per minute). How do you propose to push the new standard?

DIGIT CHANNEL CONNECT

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NOVEMBER 2009

Segments such as SMB, Home, SOHO, Education and Government have all been conducive for Canon. However, the corporate sector (which has been hard hit by the recession) remains a challenge for us. However, our partners have been very supportive in addressing this challenge. We have created a separate ‘corporate channel team’ and have also launched a new project called ‘project mahi’, as a part of which Canon has created mahi champs in 17 B-class cities across India. These champs approach the corporates and educate their IT team/CIOs about our products as well as services. (Mahi in Sanskrit means ‘peak.’)

Today, consumers the world across are not getting a fair chance to know about the speed of the printer. It differs when a user prints a graph, a spreadsheet or a word document. No players in the printer market specify the speed of the printer. IPM is a definite measure for printers, which will define the quality as well as the speed of the product. This new standard makes it easier for users to choose products according to their printing and copying needs. Moreover, the IPM standard is approved as an international standard by ISO. We will be using IPM to describe speeds for ESAT print and ESAT (ADF) copy.

DCC: Which of your products are emerging as star performers in the ongoing festive season?

DCC: What new schemes or plans do you have in store for partners in the coming months?

All our laser printers have done really well this Diwali season. I would rank MP145, a multi-function inkjet printer as our star performer. It is very affordable at a price of less than Rs 4,000. Moreover, we have offered many schemes/ offers for our partners this festive season. In addition to monetary benefits such as gold

We soon plan to launch a special scheme for all-in-ones, wherein we will reward partners for achieving a certain amount of sales with a sponsored trip to Thailand. There will be other gifts as well. This scheme would be valid for the months of November, December and January. n charu.khera@9dot9.in


vendor speak automation it

Quest Software, a 20-year-old US-based company rated as one of the top players in enterprise systems management and IT automation, has direct presence in 26 countries and covers another 25 or so through distributors. The company’s India MD, KRISHNAN THYAGARAJAN, talks to Jatinder Singh about his plans and channel strategies.

“IT automation will be large because IT complexity is increasing” DCC: How do you see India as a market for Quest Software?

India is a high potential market for Quest. We are currently working on ways to unlock the potential. One of the ways is to build a 100 percent channel-centric business model – one of the first countries to do so in the Quest world. We expect many best practices to emerge out of this market over the next several years. DCC: How large is your channel partner base in India?

We have a couple of different channel profiles. We have the distributors who essentially take the products to market. We have six of them including big SIs like Sonata and Wipro. Most of them are focused on positioning our solutions to their current client base. We then have the emerging VAR channel. These are smaller players who deliver specific services within a specific geography. We have so far ‘trialled’ with five active VARs but this channel will see great expansion in the next several months. We also have managed service providers who embed our solutions as part of their services offering in the areas of infrastructure, applications and database management services. DCC: With most of the companies expanding their channel reach aggressively, what are your plans in this direction?

We are looking to expand our market share

25

in all geographies of the country and across segments for which VARs are most critical. By mid 2010, we expect this channel to have at least 25 committed partners. For us, quality is more important than the quantity of relationships. We want our partners to be fully-skilled in the products they sell. DCC: In your experience, how are the challenges in systems management different for enterprises compared to SMBs?

Systems management is mostly a challenge for enterprises, which have a complex IT infrastructure. However, there are SMBs that want to leapfrog the manual approach and start using automation from day one. These companies tend to be leaders or trend setters in their industry or are key players in emerging industries like healthcare. While as a rule we focus on enterprise companies, we are always keen to work with these emerging leaders. We also work with SMB IT development companies for our development tools solution stack. DCC: How do you ensure competitive edge in active directory (AD) management? How big is your customer base for AD?

Our AD solutions, like our other solutions, focus on the customers’ business needs and we do have a very strong value proposition there. We make it easier for our customers to manage the AD infrastructure and help them resolve issues proactively and reduce expen-

sive outages. Our competitive edge lies in the way we achieve these objectives and how well we integrate with the customers’ existing infrastructure and complement it. We also work very closely with Microsoft to ensure our roadmap is aligned to their vision for AD. Above all, we listen to our customers and their needs. We have a customer base of over 100,000 and they play a huge role in ensuring we stay ahead. DCC: How do you see the future of the IT automation market in India?

In India, customers tend to be more reactive than proactive when it comes to solving systems management issues. Many of them still tend to believe in manual solutions. This approach is becoming more and more untenable because of growing people cost, non-reliability as people move in a competitive market, taking their knowledge with them, and the general non-scalability of this approach. We are investing significantly in educating the market about the perils of their approach and the availability of better alternatives. We believe the market for IT automation/systems management in India will be large because the IT complexity of our enterprises is growing at a dramatic pace. Moreover, as Indian companies compete in the global market place they need to invest in automation to be even considered. n jatinder.singh@9dot9.in

DIGIT CHANNEL CONNECT

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confedchannel bonding ita

“Vendor-dealer relations are strained due to cross-territory supplies at lower prices” Confederation of IT Associations (Confed-ITA) is the umbrella body for all IT associations in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. PN PRASAD, President, Confed-ITA, shares with Charu Khera his thoughts on how vendor-partner relations can be improved. Can you share with us some details about your upcoming events?

Please give us a brief background about Confed-ITA. Currently how many associations are members? How do you plan to increase the reach of ConfedITA beyond the Southern region? Confed-ITA was formed as an apex body of associations of computer dealers across Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. During the formation, various formats were debated and also the reasons for failure of previous such attempts. To move forward, it was formulated to include all associations with equal representation, irrespective of their size. This arrangement has the advantage of not interfering in the affairs of member associations and they have their own agenda and programmes. Initially, seven associations were our founding members. Now our membership has reached 20 associations.

Though currently we have a strong presence in South, Confed-ITA has been structured to include associations across India and we have been communicating with all associations throughout India by building an e-mail group with members across India. We have urged associations across India to come together and form a state unit of Confed-ITA and once we have several state units across India, then they can join to establish an all-India body. Though there can be apprehension among these associations regarding losing their identity and about who should lead the state units, the leadership can be rotated among member associations as we do in TN and Pondicherry. Our third team in three years has been selected to take over from April 2010, which proves the method is working well.

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NOVEMBER 2009

We would be organizing our annual summit in the second week of February, 2010. It will be a two-day event where dealers from all our member associations will meet and showcase their products and offerings. Around 1,000 members are expected to attend it. Our organizing team has zeroed in on a few locations, but nothing has been finalized as of now.

What are some other key concerns of the channel community in South currently? What steps have you taken to help partners address these issues? Apart from piracy, low margins and direct sales by vendors, there are issues like unethical business practices as well as pricing management adopted by most vendors and disties. Our members have debated in detail about the problems and have issued Common Minimum Trade Terms (CMTT), necessitated due to bad distribution policies followed in trade. Apart from these, we are working with vendors to find a solution to various taxation-related problems.

Can you give us more details on CMTT? For any vendor to progress and increase their market share, it is important to work with partners on a long-term basis. At present, the relationships (between vendors and partners) are ad hoc; there are no legal agreements for their partnerships. Vendors as well as dealers have strained relationships due to cross-territory supplies at lower prices. CMTT will help partners address all these issues.

Furthermore, there are situations where an authorised dealer (of a vendor) loses money due to competition from products of the same

company (which were dumped elsewhere by the vendor due to month-end deep discounts). The prices (of these products) have no sanctity when end-customers are offered up to 50 percent discounts on listed price (MRP) and these products invariably flow into the distribution channel to disturb projected operations. Here, it is the vendor due to whom the partners suffer. CMTT lists remedies for all such issues and more. For example, service tax and VAT on back-ends; VAT on cartridges, service tax on software; warranty issues; territorial violations; and price differentials. Vendors who implement CMTT will be labeled as ‘preferred vendors’ and Confed-ITA would encourage members to increase trade with them.

Confed-ITA had initiated a drive called Stand On Our Legs (SOUL), but there have been member complaints about its slow progress. Your comments? All our members have approved of the SOUL project unanimously; but like any project, there are many implementation issues to be sorted out. SOUL is aimed to generate funds for the welfare of dealers, as (according to the terms of the project) the vendor will increase the MOP (market operating price) by 0.001 percent and then would credit the amount directly to ConfedITA’s SOUL account within 30 days. This money would then be used for the welfare of Confed members.

All our member associations have given their approval for its implementation at vendor level. Apart from a few vendors (who have come forward to help us implement SOUL), we are yet to hear from many vendors in adopting SOUL for their products. SOUL should get going in the next few months with the cooperation of all vendors/disties. n charu.khera@9dot9.in


best of biz change management

TIPS ON THE GO

n Predict issues that crop up n Ideate with stakeholders, get their buy-in n Identify drivers, empower them n Train the teams n Measure change n Sustain the new culture

Change, for the Better

Anticipating issues and overcoming resistance are key to the success of any change management plan SUMA E P

C

onsider a scenario. Your employees use a popular office suite, have been doing so for long. Because of new IT implementations brought on by business imperatives, you decide that it is healthier for the company to start using a different suite. You can do this in two ways. One, you can thrust it on them overnight… uninstall the existing suite, install the new one, give a basic tutorial and ask employees to move on to it. Or you can tell people why you think moving to the new software is better for the business, run training workshops, and make it easier for them to start using the new suite.

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Chances are that the first approach, though quick and easy, is doomed, and you are likely to end up reverting to the old office suite. The second approach requires a more committed effort from all but has a better chance of being implemented. The difference is that in the second approach, the impending change has been managed well. This is a tiny example. You can extend it to other changes: automating a process that is manual and paper intensive; deployment of ERP; a new customer orientation programme; or even a takeover by a bigger organization. How your company and employees emerge from a change really depends on how well you manage the change itself. Welcome to change management. According to the book Managing Change and Transition published by Harvard Business Essentials, it’s important to predict how a change is likely to affect the overall company. “Envisioning potential stumbling blocks in advance could prevent difficult issues from arising during the change process, and help ensure the success of the operation,” it says. For instance, if you are automating your processes, or involved in a merger, there are likely to be layoffs. Sticking to the strategy of removing redundancies is great, but you would need to also assess how such layoffs will be perceived by the other employees, and what it can do to the morale of the company. Once the morale starts nosediving, so will the profits, say the authors of Monkey Business. So looking at the redundancy strategy in isolation is not going to work. Whatever the change, one must be prepared for resistance. While all of us love change, we are not particularly kind to people who ask us to change. So for the change to be achieved successfully, it is critical that you have the buy-in of the people who are impacted by it directly. This requires intensive communication and brainstorming with them, so you can drive in a sense of ownership to the imminent change. Smaller companies find it rather easier, as the communication and trust levels are higher than in large enterprises. People have to see how the change will actually bring in benefits to them, even if in the long run. If they don’t consider it worthwhile, they will not be ready to adapt. So in your change management plan, you have to build in a reasonable amount of time and related costs towards getting the stakeholder buy-in. You also have to accept that some layoffs may be unavoidable. Once the change is ready to roll, the next step is to identify the drivers of change. Then empower them to bring in the change in accordance with the vision, guidelines and performance indicators agreed upon. It’s also important to measure how the change is impacting the business. You don’t have to create entire new systems for this, but identify a few key factors and track them regularly. Once the change has kicked in, you have to work at maintaining it. The change may necessitate a new work culture, and that culture cannot be developed overnight. But regular training and constant communication from top leaders can help establish new habits. As regards technology issues, they are important but usually it’s the people issues that need your most attention. Sort those out - and the rest will fall into place. n


special report

security for smbs

CRACKING

the SMB

SECURITY MARKET Many SMBs are still hesitant in purchasing security solutions, but their need for security is growing. The trick is to provide them solutions that are costeffective and easy-to-manage SOMA TAH

T

he SMB sector has become a sweet spot for the security vendors of late. The reason: the very nature of their business which makes them use an increasing number of web-based applications in the day-to-day business process, leaving them more vulnerable to complex security threats. A recent study by AMI Partners says that SMBs (companies with up to 999 employees) in India are on track to spend $291 million (Rs1,380 crore approx) on security-related investments this year, which is up by 34 percent over 2007. However, it is interesting to note that the traction is mainly coming from the medium businesses (MBs), which

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account for more than half of the total security expenditure in the SMB segment. Essentially, this points to huge growth prospects in the small business (SB) segment. The data and network security requirements of SMBs are very different from the large enterprises mainly for two reasons. First, the SMBs don’t typically generate the same amount of data that larger enterprises do. Second, they generally operate with very limited operational resources and technical expertise, which makes them a more attractive target of cyber criminals. So in terms of protection, SMBs need the same kind of solutions to secure their important

business data - but these solutions need to be cost-effective and easy-to-use for greater acceptability among them. With an increased usage of web-based solutions, SMBs face the constant problem of viruses, spyware, malware, spamming, phishing, and other complex network attacks. The compromised network may be unknowingly providing hackers and phishers access to vital information and business data. While large businesses have a multilayered security approach for their organizations, and they generally ask for dedicated and advanced software and hardware tools to prevent malicious attacks, SMBs often don’t have the manpower or resources to invest in such dedicated Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDP) solutions to secure their network. Another issue that rubs SMBs differently from large companies: managing employees. Compared to large enterprises, data theft by employees leaving the organi-

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special report security for smbs

sations is much more rampant. In addition, SMBs have virtually no control over who in their companies is visiting what sites and downloading which software something that makes them more susceptible to cyber attacks.

Low technology adoption Lack of awareness or reluctance to embrace the latest technology among SMBs has always been a concern for the channel partners catering to this sector. Data security is still not considered a business priority by many SMBs across various industries. Indraneel Banerjee, who has experience in working with SMB accounts at Chabria Infotech, says, “The overall awareness level on the blended and sophisticated security threats is still very low among SMBs, and hence a considerable amount of time and effort goes in convincing these customers.” Another hindrance to security adoption is the usage of pirated software by a lot of SMBs. “People still prefer to buy a five or 10 user license product and load that onto each employee’s machine without buying enough site licenses,” says Binit Shah, Director, TM Systems.

Decision making takes time Contrary to their image as quick decisionmakers in matters related to business, when it comes to security solutions, SMB often take a lot of time to take a decision. This is because they need to consider a number of factors before procuring a solution. First, they don’t have adequate monetary resources to invest in the best-of-breed point solutions. Second, they

What to look for in security solutions for SMBs P  roven solutions that are simple to acquire, deploy and manage, but at the same time provide complete endpoint security. Solutions that have enterprise functionality without the associated cost or complexity. Solutions that deliver ROI benefits, enabling SMBs to safely open their networks to employees, partners and suppliers to leverage new business initiatives like e-commerce and outsourcing for a competitive advantage. Solutions with intuitive interfaces and built-in wizards which are easy to set up and run without special training. Minimum downtime and reliable, automated recovery without the need for manual and lengthy error-prone processes.

SMBs want to focus on their core business as they don’t have the time and resources to work around the security issues.”

Many SMBs find themselves burdened with numerous applications, each dedicated to individual business functions.”

TERENCE GOMES MCAFEE INDIA

AJAY VERMA SYMANTEC INDIA

often don’t have the IT support and resources to ensure post-deployment manageability. Manasi Saha, CEO of Kolkata-based Macaws Infotech, which caters to corporate as well as SMB accounts, says, “In a typical small or medium business, the procuring decision is often left to the discretion of the generalists in the IT department, which creates a gap between the requirement and the procurement. Rather than analysing their own specific business needs, they often go by the peer reviews and experiences and end up investing in solutions which don’t really fulfil their requirements.” Even in cases where the CEO takes the decisions, there are issues. Says Pradeep Jhawar of Bard Roy Infotech, “The CEOs generally don’t want to spend a lump-sum amount at one go.”

Solutions driving growth SMBs are indeed struggling to implement an effective security strategy and facing problems to deploy and manage a robust security infrastructure. “The threats have changed so much that the SMBs need to start considering proactive, not just reactive, protection,” says Suryakant Sankpal of Pratik Computers. Significantly, many SMBs are going for integrated security appliances that provide multiple layers of network protection such as firewall, VPN, gateway anti-virus, gateway anti-spam, IDP, content filtering, bandwidth management and centralized reporting. These appliances, termed Unified Threat Management (UTM) solutions, can be managed through a single console. Identitybased UTM appliances also offer comprehensive protection against emerging blended threats. These solutions are seeing a good traction with the SMBs as they offer value for money and ease of manageability, say channel partners.

Data security is probably the most crucial part of any security infrastructure and yet the most overlooked element among SMBs. The data generated by them is beginning to increase not just in volumes, but also in importance as many of them move toward increased usage of email and paperless systems and transactions. Data security is also becoming a key concern in the data-intensive micro-verticals like advertising agencies, designing houses, accounting, and ITeS and KPO firms. But despite a number of data back-up, recovery and data loss prevention (DLP) tools being available in the market, their adoption is still very low in the segment. “While enterprise customers have started asking for dedicated DLP suites, customers in the SMB segment are still going for UTMs that offer DLP features also,” says Falguni Patel, Director-Sales, RoundRobin Tech Services. Managed security service (MSS)/Software as a Service (SaaS) is also one of the key trends emerging in the SMB security space. Security vendors anticipates a greater action in this space as the SMBs have started realizing that security is better managed by MSS providers at attractive pay-as-you-grow models. But the main challenge of service providers will be to convince businesses to shed their inhibitions in trusting people outside the organization. The SMB security market is opening up fast and is perhaps becoming the most challenging segment for the vendors and solution providers to cater to because of procurement and manageability issues. The demand for smart and comprehensive solutions will increase further when the SMBs start looking at security as a key business enabler as well as an essential component of their IT infrastructure. n soma.tah@9dot9.in

SOURCE: SYMANTEC

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30


techno touch cloud computing

Cloud

Computing: The

Ultimate Relief

Whether your cloud is public or private, there are tremendous benefits to be derived from the technology. Here’s a lowdown on this high-in-the-sky spectacle

C

loud computing is the convergence and evolution of several concepts from virtualization, distributed application design, grid and enterprise IT management to enable a more flexible approach for deploying and scaling applications. Cloud promises real costs savings and agility to customers. Traditionally, once an application was deployed it was bound to a particular infrastructure, until the infrastructure was upgraded. The result was low efficiency, utilization and flexibility. Clouds allow applications to be dynamically deployed onto the most suitable infrastructure at run time. IT departments and infrastructure providers are under increasing pressure to provide computing infrastructure at the lowest possible cost. In order to do this, the concepts of resource pooling, virtualization, dynamic provisioning, utility and commodity computing must be leveraged to create a public or private cloud that meets these needs.

Evolution of IT Architecture In the 1980s and 1990s, with the shrinking costs of networking and computing infrastructure, client/server provided the ability to split the application tier away from the server tier. In recent years, as data centres started to fill out and power, space and cooling became more expensive, concepts such as commodity grid computing and virtualization started to become established. Cloud computing takes these concepts further by allowing self-service, metered usage and more automated dynamic resource and workload management practices.

Building Blocks of the Cloud The building blocks of cloud computing are rooted in hardware and software architectures that enable innovative infrastructure scaling and virtualization. However, the next infrastructure innovations are around more dynamic provisioning and management in larger clusters both within an external to the conventional corporate data centre.

Virtualized Infrastructure: It provides the necessary abstraction to ensure that an application or business service is not directly tied to the underlying hardware infrastructure such servers, storage or networks. This allows business services to move dynamically across virtualized

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infrastructure resources in a very efficient manner. Virtualized Applications: Applications are decoupled from the underlying hardware, operating system, storage and network to enable flexibility in deployment. Virtualized application servers that can take advantage of grid execution coupled with SOA enable the greatest degree of scalability to meet the business requirements. Enterprise Management: It provides top-down, end-to-end management of the virtualised infrastructure and applications for business solutions. The enterprise management layer handles the full lifecycle of virtualized resources and provides additional common infrastructure elements for service level management, metered usage, policy management, license management, and disaster recovery. Security and Identity M a n a g e m e n t : Clouds must leverage a unified identity and security infrastructure to enable flexible provisioning, yet enforce security policies throughout. As clouds provision resources outside the enterprise’s legal boundaries, it becomes essential

Cloud computing is rooted in hardware and software architectures that enable innovative infrastructure scaling and virtualization

to implement an Information Asset Management system to provide the necessary controls to ensure sensitive information is protected and meets compliance requirements. Development Tools: Next generation development tools can leverage cloud’s distributed computing capabilities. These tools not only facilitate service orchestration but also enable business processes to be developed that can harness the parallel processing capabilities available to clouds.

Diverse Options for Enterprises Cloud computing is typically divided into three levels of service offerings: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS). These levels support virtualization and management of differing levels of the solution stack.

Software as a Service: A SaaS provider typically hosts and manages a given application in their own data centre and makes it available to multiple tenants and users over the Web. Some SaaS providers run on another cloud provider’s PaaS or IaaS service offerings. Platform as a Service: PaaS is an application development and deployment platform delivered as a service to developers over the Web. This platform consists of infrastructure software, and typically includes a database, middleware and development tools. A virtualized and clustered grid computing architecture is often the basis for this infrastructure software. Some PaaS offerings have a specific programming language or API. Infrastructure as a Service: IaaS is the delivery of hardware and associated software as a service.

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techno touch

cloud computing

It is an evolution of traditional hosting that does not require any long term commitment and allows users to provision resources on demand. Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Secure Storage Service are examples of IaaS offerings.

Architecture Implications and Principles To take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing, there are a number of architectural implications that should be observed.

Application Architecture: Application ser vices should abstract resource allocation and avoid the tight binding of

its resources to invokers of the service. To take advantage of the cloud’s scalability capabilities, applications should take advantage of distributed application design and utilize multi-threading wherever possible. Information Architecture: Cloud computing of fers the potential to utilize information anywhere in the cloud. This increases the complexity associated with meeting legal and regulatory requirements for sensitive information. Employing an Information Asset Management system provides the necessary controls to ensure sensitive information is protected and meets compliance requirements. Technology Architecture: Implementing Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) provides the most effective means of leveraging the capabilities of cloud computing. SOAs distributed nature, service encapsulation; defined service level objectives, virtualized interfaces, and adher-

ence to open standards align with architectural requirements.

Implementing Cloud Computing As we focus on building the cloud, a number of models have been developed for deploying a cloud infrastructure.

Private Clouds: In a private cloud, the infrastructure for i mp le me n ti ng t h e cl o ud i s controlled completely by the enterprise. Typically, private clouds are implemented in the enterprise’s data centre and managed by internal resources. Public Clouds: In a public cloud, external organisations provide the infrastructure and management required to implement the cloud. Public clouds dramatically simplify implementation and are typically billed based on usage. This transfers the cost from a capital expenditure to an operational expense and can quickly scale to meet the organisation’s needs. Hybrid Clouds: To meet the

benefits of both approaches, newer execution models have been developed to combine public and private clouds into a unified solution. Applications with significant legal, regulatory or service level concerns for information can be directed to a private cloud.

Conclusion Markets are developing for delivery of software applications, platforms, and infrastructure as a service to IT departments over the “cloud”. These services are readily accessible on a payperuse basis and offer great alternatives to businesses that need the flexibility to rent infrastructure on a temporary basis or to reduce capital costs. Oracle’s complete, open, and integrated product set offers a compelling value proposition at each level of the design and our certified Oracle Enterprise Architects can help customers discover a cloud roadmap that works for them. n

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techno touch

ILLUSTRATION: PRASANTH T R

collaboration

Google Wave:

Is it Enough

to Start Surfing? Like Apple, Google is quite famous for changing the rules of the game. So, how will the company’s new tool change the way people communicate and collaborate?

GEETAJ CHANNANA

H

ow would the email look like if it was born in this day and age? Brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, founders of Google Maps, set out to answer and found Google Wave –where more than 1 million people (as reported by CNET) are waiting to surf. Google handed out invites to 100,000 users this October to test its new platform that has left millions yearning to join the party. Google fans who have not been invited are searching the Internet for an invite. They did find one on Ebay but unlike Google’s philosophy of free lunches this one was priced at 5000 USD. Later the ebay invite was pulled off presumably to avoid any controversy. Email came into existence some forty years ago by copying the model of snail mail, which is – I send a letter and you reply. Now, with Internet most users have started using it for instant messaging, social networking, sharing files and a lot more. What would be the new face of email? Imagine this. You send a proposal to a Strategic Business Unit (SBU) head who is working with you on a website upgrade. After an initial email conversation, you realize you need to consult your web administrator. But you want the web administrator to be party to the numerous discussions you have had with your SBU head. How do you do it efficiently?

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Google Wave perhaps has the answer. It is an open source real-time communication and collaboration platform. Instead of sending and receiving emails, you host conversations that are called waves. While email goes to people; participants join or leave a wave. (Check the info-graphic for details). And that is just the tip of the iceberg. You can add or remove people from a wave, let them answer inside a message, playback the whole conversation, add photos and videos, set locations using maps, update your blog with the wave and build on it to add as many other applications as you may please. All this in real time. If you were chatting with a person for forty minutes, you were probably sitting idle for at least 12-15 minutes waiting for the person to type. On waves, you can see what people type in real time, without having them press enter or submit to send you the message; so you start formulating the reply even before the person has finished typing. To assist you in typing, Google Wave has a highly context sensitive spell checker. As shown in the product demo on the Google website, it can dif ferentiate between the words ‘been’ and ‘bean’ depending on the context they are used in.

These waves can be then embedded on your website. You can already visualize virtual round table discussions on waves that can be saved and replayed. After a discussion, Wave helps participants edit them. Imagine working on a presentation or a concept note together with friends. The corrections made by all of them can be marked and played back. Also, users can share pictures and map data on waves by simply dragging and dropping them in the wave. Though these features will be available once it is launched Google has not yet disclosed what it would to add in the future. Anil Dash, a blogger and entrepreneur from New York, feels Google Wave could face technology challenges. It could be as basic as developing- a collection of various protocols that need to be mastered to be able to develop for it. Few bloggers who have used the application also feel that waves get extremely noisy. There is too much going on. Sometimes the system is so fast that it is difficult to keep track. Three people typing together in a wave is as good as three of them speaking at the same time. But this flipside could be a learning experience for Google. Though email was invented more than 40 years ago, it found its many users only in the last two decades. Is the Wave design engaging enough for people to adopt it faster? At the moment, it looks promising but still needs to be tested. Is it too complex to explain? Yes, it may be difficult to get people to use something so complex. But any technology takes time to settle and get popular. But the bigger question that we need to answer is: are we looking for an email replacement? Perhaps yes given Google’s commitment to its philosophy of changing the world. n Geetaj Channana is the Editor of Smart Business (www.smartbusiness.in) and can be reached at Geetaj.channana@9dot9.in

26


The Channel Champs programme of Digit Channel Connect continued its march across cities in the Southern region. Here’s what the attendees have to say...

Cochin

channel channel champs champs Yes, this was my first event.Very good knowledge provided about technology. ANISH.C. NAIR

Proprietor, Arjuun solutions

CITIES BANGALORE, CHENNAI, COCHIN, COIMBATORE, MADURAI, TRIVANDRAM

V DANIEL

Proprietor , Sun Vin Computers.

Chennai

Bangalore

OCTOBER 2009 This was the first time I attended a Channel Champs event. I had a very pleasant experience and am looking forward to more.”

This was my first event, and I found it informative.

I have attended many events in the past but I feel that Digit Channel Champs is the most effective platform for networking.”

K. VIJAYACHANDRA MENON

Properitor, Om Computers.

A very good event, a platform to air our views and enrich our knowledge. TOSHY.P. MATHEW

Propritor, ABC Systems / District President , All Kerala IT dealers association

RAJKUMAR S

Chief Executive, Binarycure Technology.

We get very good information from the magazine. We would like to have sections on price fluctutions, product availability and service issues. B KRISHANA KUMAR

Vice President Sneham IT Associtions – Chennai

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A H ZAMEER

Proprietor, Compusoft Systems.

Channel Connect magzine has interesting features and useful content. E GABRIEL SUDAKAR. Proprietor, Genuine Shopee

Participating in this event was of great business value to us. I am looking forward to many more such programmes in the future. S SIVAKUMAR

Properitor,Origin Networks.

It was a good event full of technical knowledge, which was shared in an interesting format.

Trivandrum

Channel Connect magzine is really interesting compared to others.

Madurai

Coimbatore

channel champs channel champs Yes, this was my first event. Good to experience such kind of an event. P.K. PRADEEP

Properitor, Disk ‘n’ Drive

The event was organised and managed very well - right from the selection of the hotel to the selection of the invitees.

V DANIEL

It was a great platform by Nine dot Nine Team, which brought channels and vendors into face to face dicussions and provided a chance to share solutions.

Proprietor , Sun Vin Computers.

DEEPAK S

Service Engineer, Zigma Solutions

The events conducted by Nine Dot Nine in Cochin and Trivandrum were very successful. It was a great experience.

GAURAV JHA (CLIENT)

Area Manager , Channel Sales – Gigabyte

ANISH.C. NAIR

Proprietor, Arjuun solutions

It was a good and well conducted conference. Very well conceptualised and executed. I have attended many programmes in the past but none stand up to the calibre of Digit Channel Champs. MOHAMED ARIF

Business Development Manager , Micro World

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opinion supportive partnership “Canon treats every dealer as its biggest customer” In his more than three years of business experience with Canon, Pradeep Mehta, MD of Aircon Communications, has found the principal extremely partner-oriented and its business practices very channel-friendly. In an interview to DCC he tells what it takes to build and sustain a strong and profitable business relationship.

A

s a part of a business diversification decision, Kolkata-based Aircon  Group, which primarily provided air-conditioning solutions to businesses, started a separate business wing in 2006 to venture into the office automation space. Since the company was already dealing in office equipment and durables, it found a lot of synergy in the operational areas too. The next step was finding a right brand. As Pradeep Mehta, MD of Aircon Communications, says, “We did a market survey before joining hands with any vendor. We found that Canon is very strongly positioned in the market in terms of product bouquet, quality, after sales services and also the value for the money it offers you on its products. When I do business with any principal it is very important for me that the principal has a very clear dealer orientation and we came to know Canon has a very distinct dealer outlook and its orientation towards dealers is also very pronounced. The principal I was working with i.e. Carrier Aircon is again a very highly dealer oriented company and that’s the reason we decided to go with Canon.”

Brand value

Dealer orientation

We did a market survey before joining hands with any vendor. We found that Canon is very strongly positioned in the market in terms of product bouquet, quality, after sales services and the value for money it offers on products

“I think the way Canon looks at its dealer channel makes all the difference. Canon treats every dealer as its biggest customer, and once you develop this outlook towards your partner, you naturally give them all the support they need to run the business smoothly. It’s a pleasure to work with them as unlike any regular vendor partner relationship, it gives you a feel of being in a true business partnership, where your contribution becomes very crucial to drive the wheel of the business”, says Mehta.

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Canon is undoubtedly the best brand available in the office automation space in terms of market share and post sales service, feels Mehta. “It’s true that we sometimes lose because of pricing, as there are people as well as brands fighting on price. But when it comes to TCO, Canon scores. That’s why out of 10 accounts we fight for, we come out winner in six of them and the competition shares the other four,” he says.

Business support “Canon’s support towards its partners is probably best in class in the industry- be it marketing, technical training or financial support. We get continuous business support in terms of lead generation, marketing, demo and POCs (Proofs-OfConcept). They provide training to the sales people through Canon Gurukul Programme to enhance their skill set. There are separate product and installation training programmes for the technical people, too,” says Mehta.

The vendor is always accessible to its partners. “The interaction often happens on a day-today basis, as we discuss pricing and the general market scenario and ask for advice regarding product selection, pricing, etc,” he says. According to Mehta, Canon also offers a considerable amount of financial support for the partners. It offers credit for material purchase and has also put in place a channel financing scheme through Standard Chartered Bank, which gives you working capital support. Additionally, the company gives extended credit support if required.

Moving up the value chain Aircon has proved its mettle in the office automation space with an average growth of 30 percent year-on-year. It has grown its business considerably within a very short span of time, and Mehta feels Canon has played a crucial role in that. “There has been a constant effort to build up a knowledge base within the organization as we handpicked some of the best people from the industry. We did create a platform so that we could internally grow the business and also get support from Canon in moving up the value chain,” says Mehta.

Though primarily into the government and education sectors, Aircon has an ambitious geographical and vertical growth plan aligned across the mid-market segment as it foresees a great traction from the SMB space in three or four years down the line. n


analyst speak spending it

The Worst Seems to be Over, Finally

Gartner predicts that IT spending will grow by 3.3 percent in 2010 compared to the worst-ever drop, of 5.2 percent, in 2009. by a year. That is 3 percent of the global installed base. In 2010, it will be at least 2 million. “If replacement cycles do not change, almost 10 percent of the server installed base will be beyond scheduled replacement be 2011,” Sondergaard said. “That will impact enterprise risk. CFOs need to understand this dynamic, and it’s the responsibility of the CIO to convey this in a way the CFO understands.”

Building compelling business cases 2010 marks the year in which IT needs to demonstrate true line of sight to business objectives for every investment decision. IT leaders can no longer look at IT as a percentage of revenue. CIOs must benchmark IT according to business impact.

T

he IT industry is exiting its worst year ever, as worldwide IT spending is on pace to decline 5.2 percent, according to Gartner Inc. Worldwide enterprise IT spending will struggle more with IT spending dropping 6.9 percent. The IT industry will return to growth with 2010 IT spending forecast to total $3.3 trillion, a 3.3 percent increase from 2009. While IT spending will increase next year, Gartner cautioned IT leaders not to be overly optimistic. “While the IT industry will return to growth in 2010, the market will not recover to 2008 revenue levels before 2012,” said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of Research. “2010 is about balancing the focus on cost, risk, and growth. For more than 50 percent of CIOs the IT budget will be 0 percent or less in growth terms. It will only slowly improve in 2011.” The computing hardware market has struggled more than other segments with worldwide hardware spending forecast to total $317 billion in 2009, a 16.5 percent decline. In 2010, spending on hardware will be flat. Worldwide telecom spending is on pace to decline 4 percent in 2009 with revenue of nearly $1.9 trillion. In 2010, telecom spending is forecast to grow 3.2 percent. Worldwide IT services spending is expected to total $781 billion in 2009, and it is forecast to grow 4.5 percent in 2010. Worldwide software spending is forecast to decline 2.1 percent in

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2009, and the segment is projected to grow 4.8 percent in 2010. On a regional basis, emerging regions will resume strong growth. “By 2012, the accelerated IT spending and culturally different approach to IT in these economies will directly influence product features, service structures, and the overall IT industry. Silicon Valley will not be in the driver’s seat anymore,” Sondergaard said. From a budget perspective, there are three important items that IT leaders must consider in 2010:

A shift from capital expenditure to operational expenditure Concepts such as cloud services will accelerate this shift. IT costs become scaleable and elastic. CIOs need to model the economic impact of IT on the overall financial performance of an organization. For public companies, they must show how IT improves earnings per share (EPS).

Impact of the increased age of IT hardware With delayed purchases of servers, PCs and printers likely to continue into 2010, organizations must start to assess the impact of increased equipment failure rates, and if current financial write-off periods are still appropriate. Approximately 1 million servers have had their replacement delayed

Sondergaard said three additional topics that were important in 2009 will continue to dominate IT leaders’ agendas in 2010. These three topics include: Business Intelligence — Users will continue to expand their investments in this area with the focus moving from “in here” to “out there.” Virtualisation — IT leaders should not just invest in the server and data centre environment, but in the entire infrastructure. In 2010, users will create the cornerstone for the cloud infrastructure. They will enable the infrastructure to move from owned to shared. Social Media — Organizations are starting to scale their efforts in this space. The technologies are improving and organizations realize this is not only about digital natives. It’s about all client segments including the most significant: the population in the next 10 years. Sondergaard also highlighted three themes that will become important going forward: Context-Aware Computing — Leveraging information about the end user to improve the quality of the interaction. Operational Technology (OT) — OT is devices, sensors, and software used to control or monitor physical assets and processes in real-time to maintain system integrity. . Pattern-Based Strategy — This is a new model about implementing a framework to proactively seek, model, and adapt to leading indicators, often termed “weak” signals, that form patterns in the marketplace, and to exploit them for competitive advantage. n


Digit Channel Connect Nov. 2009 Issue