starting line MUST
Changes in Acer’s distribution Acer India has re-aligned its distribution to adapt to the changing dynamics of the market over the past six months. In December it re-aligned its consumer desktop distribution by assigning exclusivity for the south zone to Redington; the rest of India will be handled by Ingram Micro. “The consumer desktop market works very differently compared to the consumer notebook market,” explained S Rajendran, CMO, Acer India. “The growth is driven by system builders who have customers who are looking for a branded desktop. We wanted distributors who could work closely with assembler channels. We also felt that the MOP would be protected if a single distributor handled the zone.” Acer has also signed on Cyberstar to exclusively stock and sell servers. “We have seen 100 percent growth in the server business, but it’s still largely back-to-back. Partners have been asking for ready stocks for servers, and Cyberstar is known for building S Rajendran exclusive channels. This new arrangement should push our server market share to double digits by next year,” Rajendran added. Meanwhile, Neoteric has been signed on to exclusively sell Acer-branded AMD platform notebooks and netbooks. Said Rajendran, “There’s a lot of promise which the new AMD Brazos platform offers. However, AMD-based products are still largely push products, and we felt the need for a distributor who could focus exclusively on the AMD platform. Neoteric has successfully built a channel for our Options business, hence we are confident they will do a great job with this new arrangement.” There will be no immediate changes for other product lines. Mainstream notebooks will continue to be sold through Ingram Micro, Supertron, Redington and Salora. Ingram Micro, Supertron and Salora will continue with the distribution of monitors while Supertron will exclusively manage eMachines. n — Ramdas S 4
Computer Reseller News
Canon wants laser leadership n ABHIJEET MUKHERJEE
anon India has set itself a target of `1,700 crore in 2011, out of which `678 crore has been set for its printer peripheral division, Consumer System Products (CSP). It also plans to regain its No 1 position in the laser printer segment during the year. In 2010 Canon India recorded a growth of 49 percent with revenue of `1,257 crore while its CSP division grew by 66 percent and recorded a turnover of `469 crore. In laser printers Canon recorded 98 percent growth in 2010. “We garnered revenue of `300 crore in this category,” informed VP Sajeevan, Director, Consumer System Products Division, Canon India. “Our goal this year is to become the No 1 in the laser printer category and achieve 42 percent market share.” To achieve this, the company has dropped many distributors and signed new ones. Explained Sajeevan, “The new distributors were chosen through an exercise where we mapped partners on three qualities—financial health, organizational skills and business infrastructure. The ones who have been removed failed to meet the above criteria.” Under the new distribution policy, Canon will now have only one regional distributor per product category. “This is being done to ensure stable pricing and partner profitability. We have formulated a policy whereby anyone selling Canon should make profit margins which are at least 2 percent more than what he would get by selling a competing product,” Sajeevan said. Canon has also introduced a new partner program called Channel Relationship Enhancement and Activation Management (CREAM). The program has been devised for its secondary and tertiary partners. The company plans to conduct
“Anyone selling Canon should make profits which are at least 2 percent more than what he would get by selling competing products” VP Sajeevan
Director, Consumer System Products Division, Canon India
52 activation programs this year. “Through CREAM we intend to meet partners and discuss healthy business practices that will guarantee their growth and profitability,” said Sajeevan. Streamlining its post-sales service is another focus area. “We have 350 post-sales locations; we intend to increase this to 500 in the first phase by June and touch the 900-mark by December,” Sajeevan disclosed. On the product front, Canon expects to launch new products at the entry-level. The company is also trying to improve the availability of its most popular entry level model, LBP 2900, which has been in short supply. In addition, Canon plans to strengthen its mid and high-end laser printer portfolio, and has created a separate team to ensure this. On the office inkjet front, it plans to aggressively push Pixma. In the home and SOHO space, the company plans to leverage new technology products such as DVD printers which print moving pictures frame by frame. Canon will also increase its 1,000 original ink centers to 2000 in 2011. In addition, this year the company plans to open 100 exclusive showrooms called Canon Image Square; it already has such stores in cities such as Mysore, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Jaipur. n
April 01, 2011 l Volume 4 Issue 23
Canon wants laser leadership
Changes in Acer’s distribution
Infortrend eyes storage market
Blue Coat strengthens distribution 13
Q&A with John Chambers Why he believes Cisco is a more compelling bet for partners than HP or IBM, and what role the network, collaboration, video will play in the businesses of the future
16 Role Model Rajeev Krishnaswamy and Anand Karapurkar, Founder Directors, Infobahn Technical Solutions, have built their expertise on IT integration services around SCADA and security surveillance domains
Computer Reseller News
Mahesh Bhalla, Executive Director & GM, Consumer & SMB, Dell, talks about the company’s new business unit— Global Commercial Channels
Lenovo to scale up retail business on Chinese model
TalariaX looking for VARs
Over the past two years, Girish Krishnamurthy, Managing Director, Kaseya India, has sold the promise of automated managed services to the partner community. His biggest test starts now as he sets out to deliver on that promise
Tech Focus Acrobat X Pro for Mac Delivers a solid and elegant application that fits in nicely with advances made on OS X
starting line MUST
Infortrend eyes storage market Infortrend, the world’s eighth-largest external disk storage vendor by shipments, is planning to fortify its India business. It is scouting for a national distributor for its DAS, NAS and SAN products. “India is an important market for Infortrend, and we are planning significant investments here to grow exponentially,” said Wilson Sung, Senior Director, Pan-Asia, Infortrend. “The revenue target for our India business in 2011 is $4.5 million.” The company’s storage portfolio consists of three main product families: ESVA for fiber channel or iSCSI SAN applications for mid-range to large enterprises; EonStor DS consisting of entry-level storage solutions delivering competitive price-performance; and EonNAS which serves file and block-based applications with a unified storage platform. Sung explained the key highlights of the product families. “ESVA features storage virtualization, distributed load-balancing, thin provisioning, array-based snapshot and replication, and SAN tiering. EonStor DS fulfils differWilson Sung ent host requests, fiber, SAS and iSCSI. For the drive site, we have products for 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch SAS, SATA and fiber hard disks; most of our products can scale up to 100 drives.” EonNAS, based on a unified storage platform, consolidates storage and allows for flexible performance and capacity scaling with features that simplify storage management. “Infortrend’s USP is that it offers good performance at reasonable prices,” remarked Sung. “Resellers have advantages working with us because we provide the same features as the big brands but at lower prices.” The company already has a support partner for India, Msys, which manages post-sales aspects such as spares dispatch and onsite diagnostics. Infortrend initially plans to enroll enterprise VARs in tier-1 cities, and with time expand to smaller cities. Sung also informed that a local subsidiary operation is being contemplated. n — Dhaval Valia
Computer Reseller News
Lenovo to scale up retail business on Chinese model n RAMDAS S
enovo will continue to model its consumer business in India on the success the company has found in China, and is planning to have 1,000 dedicated retail outlets here by March 2012. In the past quarter the company has doubled its number of retail outlets from 200 to 400, and over the next year it will have around 850 LESlite stores— smaller footprint retail outlets, either stand-alones or shops-inshops—and around 150 Lenovo Exclusive Stores. “In China, we have close to 6,000 Lenovo stores, and a market share of almost 30 percent. We are a late entrant in the Indian market compared to our MNC peers, and we feel the best way to grow will be to learn from the China success story,” said Alex Li, Director, Consumer & SMB, Lenovo India. Li admitted that setting up stores is the easier part of building a successful retail chain. “We need to ensure that every store is profitable, and that partners are able to sustain the business month after month. Each LESlite store, depending on its size and location, needs to sell between 20 and 60 PCs a month to break even.” Lenovo is now putting in place a strong marketing and lead-generation plan to ensure faster break-even for its retail partners. “Whether it be storefront promotions or ensuring the right SKUs for display, we will see that every possible step is taken to ensure that retailers are profitable,” said Li. “We have revamped our schemes so that even the smallest LESlite can break even. We have penetrated many regions, especially in the north and east, where we have managed to garner significant mind share.”
“In China we have 6,000 stores and a share of 30 percent. The best way to grow here is to learn from the China success story” Alex Li
Director, Consumer & SMB, Lenovo India
Lenovo has also consolidated its regional distribution network. “We want our RDs to be profitable too,” added Li. “Most LESlite stores buy from RDs, and this has ensured healthy numbers for them.” Li said that Lenovo will launch a fresh multi-media campaign targeting youth and the back-toschool market in Q22011. “I admit we have been fairly conservative with promotions compared to other brands, but you can definitely expect a bigger splash in the next few months.” Added Rajesh Thadani, Director, Consumer Business Unit, Lenovo India, “We had planned our stocks for the past six months, hence our inventory levels in retail are lower compared to the competition. This has helped us do quick product refreshes with newer technologies and features.” He said that the company has been doing well in the AIO PC market, and has captured more than 50 percent share. According to IDC India, Lenovo clocked nearly 1,07,000 units in the consumer desktop and notebook category, with 9.7 percent market share in Q42010. The company recently hired a new marketing head, Shailendra Katyal, who was with Marico Industries. n
edit opinion Volume 4, Issue 23
Can he deliver? dhaval valia
ver the past two years, if there’s one person who has captured the attention of the enterprise VAR community in the country it has to be Girish Krishnamurthy, the Managing Director of Kaseya India. Krishnamurthy has singlehandedly popularized the concept of remote infrastructure management services or automated managed services (AMS) among the partner community. He has convinced and compelled several leading tier-2 partners to rethink their break-fix infrastructure services delivery model and invest in what he believes is the future of IT infrastructure management—AMS. More than 90 partners have made substantial investments in building their AMS portfolio based on Krishnamurthy’s promises. Along the way, Kaseya has emerged as the largest AMS platform provider in the country. Many partners who have worked closely with Krishnamurthy know that increasing awareness and adoption of AMS is not just a business for Krishnamurthy—it’s a mission. However, having done all the groundwork to enable and ready the AMS ecosystem, Krishnamurthy’s real test starts now—that of delivering on the promises he has made to the channel. While many of the partners continue to believe in Krishnamurthy’s vision, a considerable few are also getting a bit jittery due to the lack of momentum of their AMS business. Over the past few months some of his disenchanted partners have gone as far as to describe him as a flawed dream-merchant, someone who has promised a lot but delivered little. This is not to say that Kaseya hasn’t done good business. In 2010 it sold 5,50,000 end-point licenses, and while this number is impressive it is much lower than what Krishnamurthy himself had anticipated. The man is candid in admitting that there have been more misses than hits, and that several of his strategies haven’t delivered on the ground. “I would put our success ratio at just about 20 percent of what we had planned to achieve,” he says. The other challenge for Krishnamurthy is to justify internally the $6 million he has invested in the company’s Indian operations since he took over the reins in 2008. After all, this is a significant amount, and Kaseya’s global management would expect Krishnamurthy to make good the investment. Despite all the skepticism Krishnamurthy isn’t deterred. He is still convinced about the long-term potential of AMS. He says he is not giving up so easily, and that in 2011 he plans to grow the business three-fold. He is also aware of the great responsibility he carries: the 90-odd partners who have placed their trust in his vision. This, he says, is his biggest motivator. “Nothing is going to stop us from dreaming and trying.” n E-mail CRN Executive Editor Dhaval Valia at firstname.lastname@example.org 10
Computer Reseller News
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steps to cloud success
f you listen to all the marketing hype today, you would think the cloud is readily available and any customer problem can be solved with a cloud solution. The cloud is still being formed and, while more problems can be solved today than yesterday, it is still years from being dominant. The change is real; and solution providers will have to make some fundamental changes to their business in order to adapt to the changing market models. First, you must build a strong sales team capable of selling benefits to line-of-business managers. The days of selling strictly to the IT department have been waning for years. That trend will accelerate as management realizes that cloud solution purchases are a business—and not a technology—decision. Selling to non-IT management is a critical and different skill you must master. Second, you need to realize that marketing must become a core competency and no longer be an afterthought. When you are selling solutions where there is very little in the way of physical equipment delivered and installed at the customer site, it’s the positioning of your service capability that matters. Brands always matter, but the question is, whose brand will be most critical in the cloud? My argument is that your brand needs to stand for something other than access to technology. If you can’t answer the question of what you’re better at than your competition, you have a problem. The third challenge is that it’s your job to drive demand, not the manufacturers’. This is not to say that manufacturers shouldn’t lend a hand by providing guidance and tools, but in the end the value you bring to your supplier is revenue generation. The fourth trend you need to deal with is figuring out how to cut through all the hype and select the right suppliers for the future regardless of who you have had in the past. You also need to be cautious about working only with what appears to be the hot company of the day. It will take some examination of programs and the company’s DNA. The fifth consideration is a truthful examination of your resources and customer set. It’s going to be important to know what you do well. Regardless of all the talk around the cloud, there is still a lot of money to be made selling infrastructure, and many customers will continue to want to own and manage it. n Email Robert Faletra at email@example.com 12
Computer Reseller News
Slowdown in the market
Compliance at HP
While every magazine is focused on highlighting opportunity, what many have missed is the demand slowdown in the IT market for the past 3-4 months. The demand for IT products among consumers and small businesses has actually come to a standstill, and a channel mag like CRN should analyze the reasons for such a slowdown. At a time when the country is growing at more than 8 percent GDP, the lack of IT demand is a concern. Is it because consumers are preferring to buy from large format stores or is it because of consumer sentiment turning negative due to the tremendous rise in the cost of living? CRN ought to take up this issue and analyze it in order to provide a clear picture in terms of what is happening in the marketplace. Shyam Pal Singh Partner, Divya Infotech, Jaipur
The move by HP to make the user verification process stringent is a good move. The issue of bid leakage is a big issue among commercial partners. However, HP will have to ensure that the process needs to be practical and should not cause suspicion in the minds of the customer. Also, HP will need to see to it that the additional scrutiny of the user verification process doesn’t lead to delays in clearing special prices and partners losing deals. Pritpal Singh Skynet Computer Solutions, New Delhi We welcome this initiative and urge other vendors to follow. Some large partners are known to take the market for a ride with bid leak. We hope this action will curtail this practice. Toshy Mathew AKITDA President, Ernakulam
Send your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your views on www.crn.in
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starting line Blue Coat strengthens distribution n SONAL DESAI
“In 2010 the Indian WAN optimization market was estimated at $26 million, and forecast to hit $100 million by 2016”
AN optimization specialist Blue Coat has augmented its distribution strategy in order to focus on the SMB market. In addition to its existing distributors Westcon and Virtual Netcomm, the company has signed Computerlinks to exclusively focus on its SMB range which largely consists of products from its two-year-old Packeteer acquisition. “The Indian market has high growth potential for WAN optimization. In 2010 the revenue for WAN optimization was estimated at $26 million and forecast to hit $100 million by 2016,” said Kumar Mitra, Country Manager, India, Blue Coat Systems. About Computerlinks Mitra said, “We have had a successful association with them in the Middle East and Europe. They bring to the table strong experience in managing our service provider partners in India. Together
Country Manager, Blue Coat Systems
we are now looking at developing a dedicated channel ecosystem for the SMB segment.” Mitra said that Computerlinks will distribute its ProxyOne range of Web security appliances and also its cloud service solutions in the SMB segment. “A focus for 2011 is launching our cloud-based WebPulse services. Globally, we have comprehensive cloud
services for Web security, and we are finalizing the India strategy to launch these services,” he informed. The company is also planning to introduce its partner program consisting of three-levels: Elite, Premier and Authorized. “Each level provides individualized programs and benefits to support and reward committed partners,” said Mitra. Blue Coat currently has 60 active partners in India, and the plan is to triple the figure. “Our plan includes expanding in the north and south, with branches in Delhi and Bengaluru. We are increasing our marketing and sales resources. We already have a good technical team in India, and we will strengthen it. Our focus will be on driving marketing and demand for Blue Coat by doing events together with our partners,” said John Andrews, Director, Marketing, MEA & APAC, Computerlinks. n
TalariaX looking for VARs n Ramdas S
The company’s range of products is marketed under the SendQuick brand, and offers six variants suitable for different usages including SMS marketing, SMS for business processes, IT alert SMS, 2FA (two-factor authentication) SMS OTP, and SMS by using Outlook and Lotus. “Being OS-independent, SendQuick can integrate with all products and applications across all OS platforms and messaging protocols
such as SMTP, SNMP, HTTP Post and ODBC,” informed Shyan. “Our pricing, which includes the appliance, modem and a one year warranty, is between S$4,000 and S$12,000. We license per server, hence it is an unlimited users and usage license. The product can scale based on the increase in the number of GSM modem connections for higher throughput.” The company is scouting for VARs with a strong focus on network security and IT infrastructure. “We are a channel-driven company. SendQuick is a product that’s complementary to many products such as firewall, network monitoring, SSL-VPN and 2FA. In this way, the VAR is able to sell a suite of products to his customers,” added Shyan. TalariaX has two partner programs—the Value Added Distributor program and the Certified Partner program for VARs. The company aims to sell around 150 units of its appliances in the country in 2011. n
Computer Reseller News
“We are seeing strong adoption of SMS in mid-to-large companies in functions such as IT alerts, business processes, and marketing”
ingapore-based TalariaX is firming up its channel strategy to target the Indian market for its SMS gateway solutions. As a first step, it has appointed Ashtech Infotech and Cubix Micro Systems as sales partners who will sell to both end-users and partners. Said Wong Jeat Shyan, CEO, TalariaX, “SMS has become the most popular communication medium among the younger generation, hence more companies are using SMS in their business activities. We are seeing strong adoption of SMS in mid-to-large companies, especially in functions such as IT alerts, business processes, and marketing. India offers us a great opportunity because it is the world’s fastest-growing mobile usage market. By 2013, India is set to overtake China to become the world’s largest mobile telecom market. Today, there are over 600 million mobile connections in India, and it would reach over 1.1 billion in the next two years.”
Wong Jeat Shyan CEO, TalariaX
channel chief “Channel business is still evolving at Dell” Ramdas S spoke to Mahesh Bhalla, Executive Director & GM, Consumer & SMB, Dell, about the company’s new business unit—Global Commercial Channels Dell has been engaging with channels in the country for more than three years, so what’s the need for launching Global Commercial Channels (GCC)? The channel business is still evolving at Dell, and we are constantly trying to improve our business model. We have a number of business units addressing different customer types such as SMBs, large enterprises, and the public sector. Previously, a partner needed to speak with different groups inside Dell depending on the customer the partner was addressing. Most commercial channel partners address customers across SMBs, enterprises and the government, and they wanted a single point of contact irrespective of what kind of customer they were addressing. From now on, irrespective of what their business model is or what kind of customers they address, we will have a local account manager to address all requirements. Our PartnerDirect program will be led by the GCC team which will serve as a single point of contact for channel partners across the company’s different business segments.
Many partners say they are uncomfortable that Dell expects its partners to do a deal registration before they actually quote to the customer. Why does Dell insist on deal registration every time? Dell has named accounts, which are customers we service directly. The rest is termed the white space, and is open to both Dell and its partners. We share the named accounts list with our partners on request, while in the white space we have a transparent system to ensure that there’s no conflict between our direct sales team and our partners. Hence, if a partner registers a deal with a white space customer, and the deal is approved, Dell will work closely with the partner on that opportunity. Our policy is to work with the partner whose deal registration is approved; we do not entertain any other partner, or even the Dell direct sales team, for that account.
“Our PartnerDirect program will be led by the GCC team which will serve as a single point of contact for channel partners across different business segments” 14
Computer Reseller News
Dell does not have a price list for commercial channel partners to go to market with, and this is an area of concern for many of them. Dell is largely a built-to-order company. Our pricing changes dynamically, and depends on several factors including the customer, the type of solution the customer requires, and the quantity. We do provide partners with pricing and discounting within a couple of days after a deal registration has been approved. We understand that partners need a ready-to-reckon price list, so we will soon announce an online price configurator which will be available to our partners.
A considerable amount of your enterprise and SMB business is still direct. How much of your business will henceforth be direct and how much will be through channels? Do you have a named account and rules of engagement policy? We have not planned any specific mix for the channel and direct business; depending on the business unit it could be different. The number of named accounts is not very high, maybe a couple of thousand in India. I would also like to tell you that in some cases where the customer feels that a partner brings extra value, Dell routes the business through the partner even in a named account. These are not just a few accounts; there are several instances where we have worked through partners in named accounts. We have robust rules of engagement, and if any member of the Dell direct sales team tries to address an opportunity registered by a partner, we take action against the Dell employee. If partners encounter such situations, they are advised to talk to their account managers and escalate the issue if need be.
How many partners are you planning to address through GCC? We haven’t set any specific target. We recognize the channel as an important growth engine to gain greater coverage and customer access in a market like India, especially in the highly-distributed medium business segment. Today we have roughly 2,000 registered partners, and engage closely with 200-300 of them.
Are you planning to appoint distributors for partners addressed by GCC? As far as possible, we would like the deals done through GCC to be direct between Dell and the partner.
channel chief Under certain circumstances, mostly for financing and logistic reasons, we transact through one of our national distributors to support partners. For example, since there was a demand for entry-level tower servers through a stock-and-sell model, we have recently appointed Supertron Electronics as a national distributor for entry-level servers. We have distributors primarily for the consumer channels across all major states, master sales affiliates (MSAs) and also distributors for consumer desktops.
Is it true that Dell will not allow GCC partners to sell the Inspiron and Studio XPS brands? Studio XPS and Inspiron are essentially brands addressing the home and SOHO markets. We expect GCC partners to address customers who are SMB and above, and we position the Vostro and Latitude brands for this segment. We also have our PowerEdge servers for this market, plus a whole range of other enterprise solutions. However, in extraordinary cases, where the demand from the customer is for an SKU or specification which we do not carry in Latitude or Vostro, and the quantities are large, we can always support the partner by offering an Inspiron or XPS model.
Consumer channels still complain that their transfer prices from Dell-appointed MSAs are much
“We understand that partners need a ready-to-reckon price list, so we will soon announce an online price configurator which will be available to our partners” higher than Dell prices for the same SKU off the Dell Website. That’s not really true, and I am surprised that despite all the communication we have done that this impression persists among channel partners. Let me explain. First of all, Dell does not sell the same SKU through both channels and its Website. Second, in most instances, the model sold through the channels would have a carry bag (often costing around `1,500), while the model on the Website would not come with a carry bag. Third, we generally ship a 15-month McAfee license along with most models sold through channels, while this is not available for same-spec online deals. Fourth, there’s a delivery charge of `900 if you are booking online. Fifth, the online customer needs to pay upfront and wait for 10-15 days, while through the channel partner, he can receive delivery immediately. However, in very rare cases, the channels could have some older stock whose prices—including all the extra freebies available through the partner—could be higher than what we have on our Website. n
Computer Reseller News
John Chambers Ch ai r ma n & C E O , C i s co
Cisco Systems’ Chairman and CEO John Chambers recently sat down with CRN at Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose, US. The wide-ranging conversation touched on the growth of the Cisco channel, why he believes Cisco is a more compelling bet for partners than HP or IBM, and what role the network, collaboration, video and other Cisco hallmarks will play in the businesses of the future. Here are excerpts from the conversation. What is the message from Cisco for this year? At the 10,000-foot level, what’s most exciting is that many of the market transitions we anticipated are happening. The network is becoming the platform for all forms of communication and IT; it’s also going to enable a different generation of productivity around collaboration, it’s going to change the data center, it’s going to change health care, it’s going to be at the center of everything from security to video. Recently, at the World Economic Forum, with top economists from Europe, the US and China, we talked about GDP growth for the next 3-5 years and beyond. All of them agreed that we were in for a decade of productivity growth that would probably be 2-3 percent or more. When I asked them what’s going to cause that, they said, ‘What you’re doing, John.’ They said this in front of hundreds of my customers, so I could have
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hugged them right there. Collaboration will drive the next generation of productivity and organizational structure, and is an area I expect to grow very rapidly over the next 5-10 years. The second thing is that there hasn’t been a new hardware player in the data center for decades, and contrary to all the prognostications we are breaking away there. We have very much established ourselves. We are among the top three x86 players, we’re winning a lot in the cloud, which is the second generation of virtualization data centers. The product is winning most of the performance awards, and it isn’t servers separate from the network separate from storage, it’s that combined, first in a physical data center, then in the cloud, then all the way in your home. The third area you think about in terms of the approach is video. Video is the next voice. It’s going to be how we communicate. Nine years ago we built a router that did a billion phone calls. We are now building a router that does a billion videos. I think you’ll see the same exponential curve on that, except that video will have much more cost justification whether it’s entertainment or productivity, whether it’s how you enable a collaboration, how you enable virtual organizations together, whether it’s just permitting you to travel halfway around the world. Probably 75 percent of my time now with customers is virtual, as opposed to visible, and it usually isn’t oneto-one anymore, it’s usually many-to-many. If you look at what we have done with telepresence, our Tandberg acquisition, coming down to show-and-share to the desktop to what we are doing with Videoscape, you will realize where we are headed—it’s any device, any content, all video. So between the focus on collaboration, the focus on video, the focus on data center virtualization, the focus on clouds, you have a breadth and depth of array that none of our peers have. Isn’t Cisco spreading itself too thin? We often hear about your 30 adjacencies. Partners are overwhelmed by the level of opportunity from smart grid to video and health care and the rest. How do you want them to prioritize? Let me separate our top bets into categories. Small to medium business, IP NGN (Next Generation Network), Borderless Networks, data center virtualization, video, cloud and smart grid. Those are the major moves we’re going to make. Then we’ll do a portfolio play and tie them all together. Based on the business case, partners will have to
“There hasn’t been a new hardware player in the data center for decades, and contrary to all the prognostications, we are breaking away there. We have very much established ourselves”
special focus decide where and how they want to move, but what has to change is you don’t want to take on a competitor on a single, stand-alone product. If partners continue selling a single, stand-alone product, you’re ignoring perhaps the strongest thing Cisco does, which is an architectural approach, which protects their investments, allows them to move into new markets relatively seamlessly, and while they might not move into video or cloud today, or security architecture today, what we have built is the vehicle that allows them to do it from an architectural play. When I talk with the leaders of large customers around the globe, I don’t talk routers and switches. I talk, ‘How does your physical world come together with your virtual world? How does your supply chain change? What are your competitors doing that you need to do differently? How does the customer buy today versus how they used to buy? How can we help change that in a store, physically and virtually?’ There’s no choice but to change. I think we’ve hit the market transitions right. With Leo Apotheker now running the show at HP, we’ve heard a lot of emphasis from HP on becoming a software company and upping its stake as a software company. Does Cisco need to be seen as a software company? These are three separate questions. First, Leo is a good person and a good friend, and I wish he weren’t at HP. Same thing with Ray Lane, their chairman. And I will feel very guilty beating them. But it’s hard to change the culture and direction of a company. We spend 13 percent of our revenue on R&D. We acquire a huge number of companies every year. In the last year alone we spent over $6 billion on acquisitions. That’s hard to do. Our success rate on acquisitions has been amazingly good. And while 90 percent of this industry’s acquisitions will fail, 70 percent of ours meet or exceed expectations. We will have some misses of course, and if we don’t, we’re not taking enough risk in terms of the direction. We in many ways caught the market transition on data center virtualization, and our large peers, by surprise. Much like we did when Nortel, Lucent, Alcatel, Siemens and Ericsson said ‘Cisco, you really don’t understand this market.’ We didn’t do bad. We became the No 1 player, probably five times the market cap. The data center in this market has similar characteristics. Make no mistake about it, they see us coming—this time we’re not going to sneak up on anybody—but this really is the breadth and depth we offer that no one else does. Are the supply chain issues over? I want to apologize for the lead times last year and lack of communication with partners. We clearly hurt them and hurt ourselves and hurt our customers and it look us too long to fix. But if you look now, all the lead times, with very few exceptions, are within the expected range. While there’ll occasionally be bumps
“Leo is a good person and a good friend, and I wish he weren’t at HP. Same thing with Ray Lane, their chairman. And I will feel very guilty beating them” during the year or surprises from a supplier, I think you’ll watch us handle it differently. We didn’t just handle the scenario well last year, we had a systemic issue. So what’s there 3-5 years down the line? Three to five years down the line is going to have a lot to do with organizational transformations and the effectiveness that goes with it. That will drive a decade of productivity. You will also see, if we’re right, the organizational structures change. The network IT will be so deeply embedded in the business process that you won’t talk about business process and IT enabling it. They will be one and the same. That in people’s minds might have been a stretch 3-5 years ago, but when I talk to the top 5 percent of CEOs in the world they not only get it, but when you sit and listen to them you can’t tell what’s IT and what is their business. It’s starting to occur. Any acquisitions planned for this year? You will see constant, if we do our job right, gamechanging acquisitions. We don’t do them just to acquire. We do them when the market is right, when the price is right, and we try to catch market inflection points. So we try not to look in our rear-view mirror, and we never set our strategy based on what our competition is doing. If you’re setting your strategy off your competition, by definition, you are 2-3 years behind. Any holes in the portfolio? In the architectural play there are going to be constant holes that you have to fill. Security is our No 1 emphasis across the whole company, mainly because it’s our customers’ No 1 issue. There is no such thing as a secure data center or network. That is huge for the future and huge for the industry, and probably has to be solved in the network. So that’s an area where we have to do dramatically better, you can’t unless you’re in the data center, unless you’re in enterprise, unless you’re in service provider, unless you’re in wireless, unless you go all the way to consumer, to any device, to any content. I don’t know how to resolve this issue without this. On the positive side, it’s great it’s the focus. On the negative side, you’ve got to say, ‘What took you so long? If you’re the only architectural play, which you probably will be, why don’t you move faster?’ And that’s probably fair criticism. Security in and of itself can cause a huge upgrade cycle. It’s an architectural play if we’re right on that. n
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here’s a rush of activity in and around the office of Girish Krishnamurthy, the MD and CEO of Kaseya India. It’s the month of March, and like in any other business there’s number pressure on the Kaseya team. But Krishnamurthy is busy planning ahead. He is trying to finalize a deal with a drama troupe in Chennai which will, over the next few months, present a skit at customer-facing events organized by Kaseya’s partners to convey how automated managed services (AMS) will help customers make the best of their IT infrastructure. The man is frequently interrupted by different members of his team to remind him about a number of pending items on his agenda—the targets in March, the visit of a prominent Delhi-based channel partner, an appointment with the CTO of a telco giant, and price clearances for some volume deals. Amid all these activities Krishnamurthy is also multitasking on a presentation for his internal team on the future of AMS, and the strategies they need to adopt to ensure that the momentum is maintained. “We have just about seen the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “The potential that lies untapped is huge. Customers who have seen the advantages of AMS and Smart SLA are asking for more. They require more intelligent and more proactive services that are based on historical data and that would aid faster decision-making.” Kaseya is closing a 12-month period where its strategies have changed many times. During this period it has completely altered its pricing model, inked deals
with around 50 partners, taking its total MSP (managed services providers) to 93 across the country, and helped TCS to roll out its ambitious iON program—an end-to-end IT-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering targeted at SMBs. The AMS vendor managed to sell close to 5,50,000 licenses during 2010, and is expected to add another 2,50,000 licenses in the first quarter of 2011. Krishnamurthy estimates that the licenses sold should have created a services market for the partners worth around `66 crore, with margins of anything upward of 30 percent. He has bigger plans for the rest of 2011: he intends to sell 1.5 million licenses during the year. He estimates that this would create for the partner network a market for services in excess of `200 crore. There are partners who are excited by this opportunity. Take for example Mumbai-based Orient Technologies. Orient has set up a 700 sq ft 10-seater NOC which is presently working in multiple shifts and managing around 5,000 end points. “We are confident of the number reaching 10,000 by April this year, and anything between 20,000 and 30,000 end points by [the end of] 2011,” says Ujjwal Mhatre, Director, Orient. Adds Nanda Kumar, Vice President, Sales, Kaseya, “It’s difficult for us to estimate the exact partner investments in NOCs or in the RIMs business. But it’s safe to say that most partners have built a business model where their overall margins are in excess of 30 percent.”
Moving spirit If there’s one executive who has captured the attention of
Deliver Over the past two years, Girish Krishnamurthy, Managing Director, Kaseya India, has sold the promise of automated managed services to the partner community. His biggest test starts now as he sets out to deliver on that promise
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cover story the top honchos of mid-market enterprise channels over the past two years it has to be Girish Krishnamurthy. He was literally a non-entity for Indian IT channels till three years back. No one knew him, and he knew very few in the channels in the country. This despite a career spanning multiple continents, consulting with KPMG, and then heading the business of enterprise CRM vendor Talisma. His rise has been mercurial. From being the top executive of a software vendor trying to capture market and mind share in India in 2008, Krishnamurthy is now regarded as the catalyst who helped several partners to transform their business by 2011. “If you see it purely from the technology point of view, what Kaseya has brought in is nothing new,” notes KV Jagannath, MD, Choice Solutions. “It has existed before with other vendors such as IBM with Tivoli or HP with OpenView. However, unlike with these vendors, who have been largely focused on the enterprise market, with Kaseya an SMB customer can be serviced by a partner. This is true partner enablement, and the effort which the Kaseya team has put in is remarkable.” Adds Ganesh Mahabala, Senior Vice President of Bengaluru-based Value Point Systems, “Krishnamurthy has been instrumental in at least seeding the thought of becoming a service provider (SP) in the minds of many channel partners. It does not matter how many of them actually become successful in the business; I am seeing a number of peers going beyond box-selling and entering the world of services, and Kaseya is laying out a platform with the lowest entry-level costs.” Yet the ride so far has been anything but smooth for Kaseya and Krishnamurthy, and the vendor’s progress has been riddled by many mistakes. Indeed, Krishnamurthy is the first person to admit that he has made mistakes. “There have been more misses than hits. In fact, I would put our success ratio at just about 20 percent of what we had planned to achieve. But that’s not going to stop us from dreaming and trying.”
In the beginning Kaseya India set up its sales operations in early 2008. “In the early days we followed the same model as an IBM or a CA, and chased the enterprise IT infrastructure management space. But no one was willing to listen to us. We spoke with large national systems integrators (SIs), and again there were few buying into us,” recalls Krishnamurthy. He realized that the top-down approach was not working, and that what Kaseya really required was a bottom-up approach. “We knew that there were a few thousand partners in the country who sold and supported computers. They addressed customers ranging from home users to big public sector organizations. We wanted to come up with an offering that would change their business.” The pricing model was therefore changed. While globally Kaseya sells perpetual licenses for a one-time fee, in India, where they were already being sold at discounted rates, a new pricing model was evolved that would further amortize the licensing costs over a period of 3 to 5 years.
“I would put our success ratio at about 20 percent of what we had planned to achieve. But that’s not going to stop us from dreaming and trying” Girish Krishnamurthy MD, Kaseya India
Things then started looking attractive because the new costs amounted to as low as `20 per end point per month for servicing. Another major learning was that the Indian market is different from Western markets. Notes Krishnamurthy: “The cost of an IT technician in India is far lower, between `8,000 and `20,000, hence the traditional licensing model was not going to work in India. This forced us to think beyond product sales, and to build a platform-based approach.” Also, in the latter part of 2008, Kaseya changed its original plan and started to target mid-market SIs and solutions providers. “The new plan looked great on paper,” says Krishnamurthy. “I was sure that everyone would buy into it and that we would start making millions. We rolled out an aggressive marketing program to go after these partners.” Over the next few months Kaseya conducted 11 events, connected with 450 channel partners across major cities, and tried its best to sell licenses. The result? Only one partner signed up. “While everyone at the events showed enthusiasm, we had just one conversion. Biren Selarka of Acma Computers was the first to see the value, and actually set up an NOC. He became our poster boy for the next year,” Krishnamurthy recalls. Despite this extremely poor conversion rate, and the lack of conviction among the mid-market reseller and SI community, Krishnamurthy says he never lost hope. “We knew the partner community was genuinely interested. We identified around 125 top mid-market SPs and went after them, not missing a single opportunity to make our presence felt on any platform targeted at them.” According to Krishnamurthy, the turning point was an event Kaseya organized for around 25 partners in Sri Lanka. “We flew in the partners along with their families and organized a workshop. We didn’t discuss our product line; we merely explained the potential that the platform offered. We pointed out that over the next five years there was a potential of $28 billion of MSP business that could be outsourced to India, and that the existing channel partners had an equal chance to grab this opportunity even if they had to compete with an Infy or TCS.” Soon, partners such as Choice Solutions in Hyderabad and Frontier Solutions of Bengaluru started investing in the platform. In May 2009 Kaseya decided to brand its offering as ‘Automated Managed Services,’ and announced the AMS platform. “But it was more than a branding exercise,” Krishnamurthy insists. “We felt that partners needed a better story to take to their customers. Since
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cover story “It’s difficult to estimate the exact partner investments in NOCs or RIMs. But it’s safe to say that most partners have overall margins in excess of 30 percent”
“Girish has been instrumental in seeding the thought of becoming an SP in the minds of many partners. It doesn’t matter how many of them succeed”
VP, Sales, Kaseya
Senior VP, Value Point Systems
the economics of the break-and-fix model was threatened by the spiraling costs of manpower and travel, it became easier for us to sell.” Thus started a signing spree, and by July 2010 the vendor had signed on around 93 of the top 125 SIs in the country. In between, Kaseya launched Smart SLA, which is a service on top of the Kaseya platform, and helps partners to use a rule-based expert system to design and deliver SLAs across a number of domains. “The idea was to move up the value chain and offer services which would add real value for the customer and provide proactive and pre-emptive services,” explains Krishnamurthy.
Plenty of critics Yet for every admirer of the software vendor there’s a detractor. Over the past few months Krishnamurthy has been described as a flawed dream-merchant, someone who has promised a lot but delivered little. A classic case of disenchantment was Kaseya’s
Operation 1111. The objective was to usher in the first day of the first month of 2011 with 1,111 organizations adopting the AMS platform. While the company’s partner network did actually sign up 1,080 customers, the services revenue target of $50 million and end-point target of 5,00,000 were not met. “It’s true that we set a very high target in terms of end points. We believed we could sign up customers who on the average would sign up with 500 end points, but our final average was only about 186. We missed out on those numbers,” admits Krishnamurthy. Still, he says that over 2,050 pilots were implemented, and that nearly 600 of those who have not yet signed up are likely to come on board. Then there’s the change in the pricing model, which upset some of Kaseya’s early adopters who had signed for volume pricing on perpetual licenses. “But we have resolved the issue with these partners by providing them lifetime perpetual licenses for the amounts they have paid so far, and moving them to the subscription model,” informs Krishnamurthy. “Going forward, the new pricing
PARTNER VIEW: Choice Solutions
yderabad-based Choice Solutions was one of the first partners to sign on with Kaseya. Unlike most of the other partners, Choice took on AMS as a greenfield project. “Though we were using Kaseya to support an education customer of a partner company in the US, with the exception of power we never focused on infrastructure management in India. Hence, for us, it was a completely new business focus,” explains KV Jagannath, MD, Choice Solutions. Jagannath asserts that the move to managed services was one of the best the company has KV Jagannath made in the past few years. “We were already an established player in the power market, and had a strong customer base. We were targeting a services business with better yield, and managed services made sense.” Choosing Kaseya as a partner was easy. “We already had expertise on the Kaseya platform. Moreover, we saw that the company had a business model which suited us since we
were initially targeting SMBs, for whom costs mattered.” Jagannath feels that while the business model and channel friendliness is widely appreciated, it’s important to note that the platform is also very robust. “We need to appreciate the fact that they have a very good product, and that it’s easy to build a service delivery model around it.” Choice plans to acquire about 250 customers for its AMS services in India this year. “Today, managed services account for around 6 percent of our top-line and nearly 20 percent of our bottom-line. We see these numbers growing.” Jagannath said that to succeed in the business partners need to spend a lot of time understanding the services model, and also need to have a strong understanding of their customer base. n
We need to appreciate the fact that they have a very good product, and that it’s easy to build a service delivery model around it
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cover story model will be the preferred way.” There’s another issue. A number of partners feel they have lost out in the race as the attention has completely moved to larger partners. Complains Rajeev Mehta, the MD of Zest Systems, Delhi, “I am not at all happy with the way Kaseya has handled the sales effort. We have invested and had a promising start. But then they seemed to have changed strategies, and we are very disappointed.” Krishnamurthy defends his position. “In December we took a call to work closely with a set of 25 partners at a time because with a larger set of partners our attention was getting divided and there was a lack of focus. This list will be dynamic, and will change from month to month, and we will sign on more partners in future.” Some of the partners also feel that they are not able to build a differentiated service model because most of the mid-market resellers with an interest in the platform have moved to Kaseya. To this grouse Krishnamurthy replies, “We are a support system to the partner, a platform to build a service delivery engine. The most important cog in the wheel is the customer, and how well the partner understands the customer. A partner will be easily able to build a differentiated approach if he understands the customer because no two customers are the same, and every customer poses individual challenges. What
“I am not at all happy with the way Kaseya has handled the sales effort. We had a promising start, but then they changed strategies, and we are very disappointed” Rajeev Mehta
MD, Zest Systems
we have seen among partners who have been really successful is that they understand what each customer wants, what the customer pain-points are, and hence they are able to provide a differentiated solution.” Others feel that Kaseya needs to do more to make end users aware. “While I am very happy with Kaseya, they need to make AMS and the Kaseya brand more popular among end users so that we see pull for the brand and services surrounding it,” says Selarka, Acma’s CEO.
Counting numbers During Q12011 Kaseya launched an aggressive marketing program along with select partners, depending on the commitment or target set. For example, for a partner targeting the signing of 50,000 (and above) end points by
PARTNER VIEW: PcVisor
A service with over 600 features
cVisor promotes an enterprise framework which offers comprehensive managed services for managing network infrastructure and end points. Promoted by Tarun Seth of Microclinic and former Apple India MD, Alok Sharma, PcVisor has built its platform on the Kaseya engine. “Our framework is an automated managed service with over 600 features to manage IT infrastructure including PCs, servers, storage, network, power conditioning, printing, security and infrastructure applications. The services can TARUN SETH be tailored to meet the needs of consumers and enterprises alike,” explains Sharma, now the MD & CEO of PcVisor. “We chose Kaseya because it fitted perfectly with our plans, technically as well as commercially.” Sharma says that over the past 18 months the company has spent over 100 man-months to develop the framework. “The AMS market is still in its infancy. We have the first-mover advantage as a branded SP, with a proven solution cutting across several verticals. The beauty of the solution is that we do not require any special servers or re-configuration in the user’s existing infrastructure. This results in automatic and recurring
computer audits, keeping the inventory up-todate and accurate at all times, and allowing it to be accessed from any location.” Seth says that PcVisor will work both independently and with other channel partners. Some of the clients of PcVisor are Carrier Aircon, Living Media and Naukri. “We are targeting around 1,00,000 end points with our service over the next 12 months,” Sharma informs. For the home market, PcVisor is launching a service called UnbugMe. This includes antivirus software from McAfee, and features such as system and security updates. The service will retail at `1,499. Adds Sharma, “Over 90 percent of the calls are related to performance management and software. These issues can be effectively tackled proactively using PcVisor functionality. Our mission at PcVisor is to make life simple for IT administrators and SIs, and to reduce their cost of delivering the services while increasing their productivity. We are expecting customers to use our different services including asset management, storage, patch updates and security.” n
The beauty of the solution is that we do not require any special servers or re-configuration in the user’s existing infrastructure
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cover story Customer view: HR Johnson
Cheaper than backup
R Johnson is one of India’s leading manufacturers of flooring tiles and is headquartered in Mumbai. In 2010 the company realized the need for a real-time incremental backup solution for all desktop and laptop users in the organization. The idea was to see that freshly created files by users were automatically backed to a central server. “The first suggestion was to invest in a network storage box, and opt for one of the enterprise backup solutions. However, Frontier Business Systems, our IT vendor, suggested we look at Kaseya’s AMS platform and use the same for backup,” recalls Sutanu Ganguly, Head IT, HR Johnson. “A traditional enterprise backup solution would have cost the client a bomb, and we wanted to offer something that would save costs. Since the customer needed real-time backup of new files created, we wanted a proactive solution that was automated and also monitored,” explains Anirvanjyoti Chaudhuri, who heads the AMS practice at Frontier. “Kaseya fitted in perfectly because it’s proactive, automated, and can be monitored.” Another criterion, according to the Frontier team, was the cost. Their own estimates was that a solution on top of Kaseya was one-third the cost of an enterprise backup solution. More importantly, there was no need for a separate network storage box, and files could be backed up to a central repository server. “The Kaseya team was very helpful and provided us with a POC, which went off well. Then we went for a pilot for a few users, and over the next few months added more users. We believe we have saved some money, and are happy with the solution,” says Ganguly. Adds Ravi Verdes, CEO of Frontier, “At Frontier we are using Kaseya beyond the traditional break-and-fix, and are exploring ideas to solve problems that are out-of-the box.” n
The Kaseya team was very helpful and provided us with a POC, which went off well. Then we went for a pilot for a few users
September 30, 2011, Kaseya would manage a marketing budget of `30 lakh where the vendor contribution would be around `19 lakh with the rest managed by the partner. The marketing would include events, microsites, EDM campaigns, and print and Web advertisements. For every large partner who is working on a committed target in excess of 10,000 end points, a dedicated manager helps the partner team in all aspects of the business. There are also numerous training packages thrown in to help partners to upgrade their skill sets. “Over the past three years we have invested over $6 million in our operations, and a very high percent of that
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has been spent in educating the market. This is the year of consolidation for us, and we are expecting a bumper year,” says Krishnamurthy. According to Nanda Kumar, the number of end points clocked averages between 5,000 and 15,000 every week. “We expect the numbers to scale up as more pilot programs are being launched.” Krishnamurthy says that the thrust this year is to ensure that everyone in the ecosystem is profitable. “We are not actively looking to sign more partners. Rather, we want to ensure that our existing partners are profitable.” The focus will also be on offering more features on the platform and making these available at an extra cost in the subscription offer. “According to our studies, when a partner bills `100 for a service, he is sharing between `15 and 25 with us for the AMS platform license fee; the rest are margins to support the customer,” Krishnamurthy informs. “As partners scale up and offer more value-added services, our share of the earnings goes down and the partner makes more money.” While there are rumors about Kaseya being acquired, Krishnamurthy says that plans for the liquidation of stake have been put off for at least another 18 months. “I am not denying that there were offers in the past. We are growing very quickly in several markets, especially in Europe and Latin America, and the potential is huge, hence partners must not worry about us being acquired.” He says that in the next 12 months the company’s focus will be to acquire customers from the BFSI, ITeS and education segments. “We are already in touch with the top 25-50 customers in these segments, and partners have been identified.” Kaseya has also formed a team for setting up AMS forums for verticals such as BFSI and ITeS. Krishnamurthy expects the BFSI segment to account for some of the larger deals during the next two quarters. A lot of his focus has been on building collaterals and guides for partners to implement the AMS business. An example is the Kaseya Blue Book, a ready reckoner for any partner who wants to venture into the world of AMS. In addition, the Kaseya team has created a communication set which includes covering letters for proposals as well as templates for different market segments. The company is also working on weekly targets. These targets are not about the number of licenses sold to channels but about partners signing-up end points with customers. An estimated three million end points have been added over the last year in the enterprise and SMB market, and the potential is huge. There are also considerable opportunities in the home market. “To deliver the support the home user needs, we will align with telcos, with delivery done through a cluster of Kaseya partners,” informs Krishnamurthy. “But this will take time.” The biggest change which Krishnamurthy is seeing is within Kaseya itself. “We today account for around 8-10 percent of Kaseya’s global business. This month we have a number of teams from across APAC coming over to India to understand our business model and goto-market strategy. I see other Kaseya teams following our model soon.” n
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market focus Are we facing another slowdown? Many resellers selling to both home and SMBs have seen their sales volumes dipping by as much as 15 percent compared to the same period in 2009 n Abhijeet mukherjee
here is an increasing concern among channels about slowing IT demand as sales over the past 4-5 months have failed to meet expectations. Many resellers selling to both home and SMBs have seen their sales volumes dipping by as much as 15 percent compared to the same period in 2009, while compared to sales volumes in OND 2010 there has been a dip of more than 25-30 percent. “On the retail side the demand began slowing following the end of the Diwali season. November was lukewarm, and while December showed some spurt it was nowhere close to what we had expected. The January to March quarter has failed to buoy demand either from the home or commercial segment,” says Kishore Makhija, CEO, Priyanka Computer Services, a Raipur-based sub-distributor. “In all, our sales volumes have dipped by 25 percent since October.” Agrees Purushotham Beller, CEO of Shimoga-based Typewell Computers, a multi-brand reseller, “Our sales have dropped by 30 percent in the last 4-6 months. Compared to the same period during 2009, when there was a global slowdown, our sales have dropped by 15 percent. While pre-Diwali we sold an average of 50 PCs monthly, we now manage only 30-35 units. Not just the home segment, demand from the SOHO, SMB, enterprise and government sectors is also showing a downward trend. Resellers all over Karnataka are facing the same problem.” Even some vendors agree to this rather unexpected trend. “The retail IT market has been quite flat when compared to the previous year. We observed growth till the last quarter when most of our sales were derived
“The last few months have seen negative sentiments from many sides such as increase in the cost of living and developments in Japan and the Middle East” 24
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from the festive season offers. In the JFM quarter we have seen a considerably dip in the IT retail sector. The slowdown has been more pronounced,” admits S Rajendran, CMO, Acer India. While there is no clear explanation for the slowdown, Rajendran believes that a combination of many factors could have dented consumer sentiments and IT demand. “Taking the JFM quarter as an example, the impact could have been felt because of increased inflation and the rising cost of living. Other factors such as examinations and the cricket world cup could also be possible reasons for a slowdown in PC sales. The cricket season has considerably influenced the footfall of consumers to retail shops. It seems IT hasn’t been near the top-of-mind recall for most of the customers due to the above reasons.” Canon too has seen lower than expected sales during the said period. Opines VP Sajeevan, Director, Consumer Systems Products, Canon India, “The last few months have seen negative sentiments from many sides—increase in commodity and real estate prices, hike in home loan interest rates, fluctuating stock markets, high inflation rates and recent developments in Japan and the Middle East. All these factors could have converged to create a certain sense of caution among end-users, both home and corporate.” On the retail side, many resellers believe that they along with vendors will have to work on schemes and promotions to lure customers to buy PCs and peripherals. “Considering the drop in footfalls and volumes, we have been urging all our retail vendors to launch schemes that will attract customers back to stores; these include affordable bundles, more in-store promotions, and strengthening consumer financing. More vendors need to work with retailers to help them offer consumer financing options in order to make products seem more affordable to customers,” says Beller. All things considered, the channel is hoping that with the new financial year around the corner, things will improve for the better and business will normalize. n
A Niche Rajeev Krishnaswamy and Anand Karapurkar, Founder Directors, Infobahn Technical Solutions, have built their expertise on IT integration services around SCADA and security surveillance domains, and this has helped them carve a strong niche for themselves n SONAL DESAI
n a little more than a decade after its inception, Mumbai-based Infobahn Technical Solutions has today emerged as a leading enterprise VAR specializing in systems integration of large projects. With a turnover of around `45 crore, the company boasts of a clientele which includes HP, TCS, Indal, Raymond, Novell and Samsonite. Infobahn has been expanding its solutions and services portfolio which today includes skills around SaaS, security surveillance, SCADA deployment, highperformance computing and data center integration.
The beginning Infobahn started off as a PC assembler and reseller in 1998. It was founded by the duo of Rajeev Krishnaswamy and Anand Karapurkar who met while working with HCL. Recalls Krishnaswamy, “After my engineering I joined Godrej EPE (today’s Ingram Micro) where I spent a good two years learning the ropes of selling networking products to corporates. I met Anand in my second job at HCL where both of us were in corporate sales. That’s when we thought of starting our own venture..” In 1998, with a seed capital of `50,000, the two started Infobahn as a partnership firm to assemble their own PCs and resell MNC brands to small businesses. They rented office space in Andheri, Mumbai, and purchased a second-hand 386 computer that they have still preserved. “During the day we used to go to customers reselling MNC brands, while at night we used to assemble PCs. We mainly aligned with Compaq and IBM because they were the most aggressive and well-
“Just reselling products would only make us as good as the price we offered, hence we decided to focus on a vertical which required high skills”
Anand Karapurkar and Rajeev Krishnaswamy
known MNC brands,” informs Krishnaswamy. Neither of the two had any business experience, and hence the first two years were a roller-coaster ride living from hand to mouth. “Since my wife was working I had the background support to take the risk,” says Krishnaswamy. Their hard work finally began bearing fruit, and they built a strong customer base which gave them repeat business as well. “We always thought ahead of others, and started selling laptops in those days when even PCs were barely purchased,” recall the duo. Vendors noted the ability of Infobahn to upsell the new product category and develop new customers, and began wooing them. Infobahn also tasted success in the education segment when a number of management institutes such as ITM and Welingkar signed up with them for laptops for students. In 2001 Infobahn decided to take a vendor-exclusivity approach because they felt that aligning with one vendor would give them faster growth and help them to scale up the solutions value-chain faster. They decided to align with Compaq which was subsequently acquired by HP. Till date the company continues to be an exclusive HP partner. HP contributes nearly 60 percent of its business even today.
Evolution In 2003 Infobahn decided to specialize in high performance computing and focused its energy on building skill sets in servers, workstations and engineering applications, and providing the IT infrastructure for SCADA deployments. “After reselling products for a few years, we needed to build a strong differentiation in the market around solutions. Just reselling products would only make us as good as the price we offered, hence we decided to focus on a vertical which required high skills and had significant opportunities,” explains Karapurkar. The big break was around the corner. Infobahn was approached by Partha Reddy, head of TCS’ business in
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SMB business unit headed by Sagar the US. “TCS was undertaking a MILESTONES Singh who has been with us for the large offshoring project for autolast five years,” says Krishnaswamy. major Daimler Chrysler, and wanted “This team is expected to touch installation and support for 200 Formed Infobahn Technical HP workstations. Partha, whom we Solutions as a reseller of MNC 12 new customers every day, and focus on consultative selling. To knew from HCL days, called me branded PCs ensure that we are always in touch in the middle of the night to check with these customers and create if we could execute the project,” Became an exclusive partner a recall in their minds, we have Krishnaswamy recalls vividly. of HP implemented a full-fledged CRM The order for the 200 application.” workstations at $8,000 each came Bagged the first big project In the past two years the at an opportune time and changed for 200 workstations from company has entered emerging the entire outlook of the market Daimler-Chrysler areas such as cloud computing, toward Infobahn as well as the open source, software company’s own outlook toward Bagged one of the largest infrastructure and security and its business and how far it could SCADA integration projects surveillance solutions. It has signed scale up. “Apart from the size of up with Tata Communications to the project, two of the world’s best from Indian Oil resell their infrastructure-as-acompanies were reposing their faith Executed a security service offerings, while with Novell in a small emerging company like it has been developing skills for us at a time when there were much surveillance project for the open source opportunities. bigger resellers around. This gave us Taj Group of Hotels In security and surveillance, immense confidence in ourselves. Infobahn has partnered with large We were also received with new Moved into cloud computing traditional surveillance solutions respect in the market. In addition, services and formed a providers to offer the IT part of it gave us entry into other Tata dedicated SMB division security surveillance. Subsequently, companies,” says Karapurkar. it bagged two very large multi-crore From an annual revenue of projects—one for the Taj Group of Hotels post the 26/11 `1 crore in FY2002-03, the company grew to `40 crore terrorist attacks, and one for a high-security government in FY2008-09. By this time Infobahn had expanded its agency which alone is estimated to bring in `4.5 crore. branch footprint to the south and also become an HP The specialization in SCADA-led projects has also authorized service partner. seen the company bag some big projects over the past few years. Here too the company’s partnerships with systems Time to consolidate integrators specializing in process control have helped it During the global slowdown of 2009, Infobahn saw bag multi-crore IT deployment deals. negative growth and its turnover dipped to `35 crore. One of the projects undertaken by the company was However, the company bounced back in the latest fiscal for automating and integrating SCADA systems at Indian posting a healthy 30 percent growth to clock `45 crore. Oil. Also, of late, with environmental regulations getting Infobahn saw a silver lining even in the slowdown stringent, power generation and state pollution control because it gave the company time to review, rethink and companies are integrating and automating their SCADA regroup, and plan for the future. “It was also time to systems to work with IT for compliance. consolidate the business after five years of high growth. To showcase its strengthening solutions focus, We have spent the past two years in building a stronger Infobahn has set up a business solutions center in Mumbai organization, and putting in place processes and systems to demonstrate the various solutions it can provide. that will help future scaling. We also brainstormed on the A high-end service around business continuity and future course of the company, and built a business plan disaster recovery is another area of interest for Infobahn as for the next five years,” says Karapurkar. it sets out on its future course of growth. The company strengthened its organizational Says Krishnaswamy, “Our partnership with Tata Comstructure, creating different business units and assigning munications addresses our strategy to offer a complete loyal and performing employees to drive these new solutions and services portfolio where the hardware is units. “For instance, though we have been focusing on ours, the data center solutions and application services the SMB segment, we realized that we needed a separate come from Tata, and the power solutions come from APC. team with a completely different market approach to We have plans to sell our own branded services and the drive that business. As a result, we created a six member process has already begun.” With a reinvigorated strategy and plans to stick to its “We are expecting a 20 percent CAGR exclusivity policy, Infobahn is prepared for the future. “We are expecting a 20 percent CAGR growth which growth which would help us scale the would help us touch the `75 crore mark in the next `75 crore mark in the next couple of years” couple of years,” says Karapurkar. n
Computer Reseller News
Collaboration Suite Offers strong functionality, nice reliability and a strong example of the possibilities of team-based productivity from anywhere n Edward F Moltzen
loud computing-based collaboration suites range from those that are free and limited to those that are expensive and robust. HyperOffice provides a low-cost collaboration suite, built in the cloud, that offers strong functionality, nice reliability and a strong example of the possibilities of team based productivity from anywhere. The CRN Test Center examined the HyperOffice Collaboration Suite at the invitation of company executives–examining the solution through a free, online trial. It was great to see a full-function solution available to try, for free, immediately without the aggravating and time-demanding step of first waiting for a direct sales rep to telephone and make a hard sales pitch. HyperOffice provides many basic productivity and communication tools: email, calendaring, task creation and tracking, and contact management. While these functions work well, they are far from out of the ordinary. But HyperOffice doesn’t stop there. It delivers value in how it turns personal productivity into team productivity. HyperOffice provides ultra-easy sharing and collaboration functions for each aspect of its suite, turning its browser-based console into a collaboration command center. Here are some examples of what we liked: n The suite provides an administrator with an intuitive, easy-to-use console for adding or deleting members, and managing their access to content and data; n Tools, including wiki and intranet page creation and management are dead-on simple but effective; n HyperOffice did the heavy lifting with intranetpage creation tools for each member in a group. For example, it allows for objects to be dragged and dropped onto individual member page for quick construction of an internal site for sharing with the team;
The one area where we found HyperOffice came up short was an absence of apps for iOS or Android mobile platforms. Here, competitors like Lotus and Zoho have apps
Task creation, assignment and notification is a snap, and intuitive; n Calendar shares are set up so that different team members may be given access to different levels of information. For example, a calendar item on a sales meeting may be shared with others on the sales team, but hidden from non-sales colleagues. Cloud-based collaboration is a crowded field. HyperOffice must compete with Microsoft’s SharePoint (both on-premise and hosted), LotusLive, Google Apps and the free-and-pay service Zoho. To measure HyperOffice’s effectiveness in comparison to the competition, we need to examine the cost and complexity it creates compared to the others– since cost and complexity tend to be among the biggest enemies of small or mid-sized businesses. HyperOffice pricing begins at a five-user plan at $44.95 per month–meaning the $8.99 monthly user cost is competitive. As user numbers scale up, pricing per user scales down; for 250 users, the user monthly cost is $6.25–even more competitive. In terms of complexity, there isn’t any. Because it is a hosted service, no back-end infrastructure is required. Set-up takes minutes. Enabling user accounts takes minutes. Getting a work group or team up and running and collaborating, in a pinch, is about an hour’s work. The one area where we found HyperOffice came up short was an absence of apps for iOS or Android mobile platforms. Here, competitors like Lotus and Zoho have apps. That’s not a deal breaker but, with the hyper growth of mobile device use, it needs to be noted. n n
Computer Reseller News
tech focus Acrobat X Pro for Mac Delivers a solid and elegant application that fits in nicely with advances made on OS X n Edward F Moltzen
he bar has been raised over the past several years in software aimed at PDF creation, editing and management with companies like Nuance taking aim at Adobe and staking a claim to this segment. But Adobe has continued to aggressively move forward and, with Acrobat X Pro for Mac, it has delivered a solid and elegant application that fits in nicely with advances made on Mac OS X. In evaluating Acrobat X Pro for Mac, we were interested in three issues in particular: n Did the software have a footprint that made installation on a Mac with a small amount of onboard storage feasible and easy? n Were there advances over previous versions of Acrobat Pro that make this a compelling application? n Does pricing make this software attractive or prohibitive? Acrobat Pro X for Mac requires 1.2 GB of hard drive space, which is about one third the requirement for Windows systems. This is reasonable, and even with 64 GB of hard drive space on some newer MacBook Air machines is not a deal-breaker in and of itself. It’s not a fat piece of software, and Acrobat X Pro installed within a few minutes. But just because it’s easy to install and takes up no more than a reasonable amount of drive space, that doesn’t mean it’s worth it. Looking at some of the new features, we wanted to know how much more efficiency Acrobat X Pro brings to the table and how much more potential to improve key enterprise needs including document management, collaboration and efficiency. In particular, we liked the new Action Wizard that is a key feature in this application. Not only is it possible to short-cut through the application to key features including Publish Sensitive Documents and Archive Paper Documents, it allows one to create their own action short cuts. Simply put, the ability to customize action short cuts, including creating or removing watermarks, cropping, editing and using text-recognition (OCR) each have the ability to cut minutes off of even the simplest of tasks. Creating a wizard action to add a watermark to a document takes one to two minutes, but can save a couple of minutes each time this action is taken.
Adobe has integrated a new feature called SendNow which allows for two-button e-mailing of documents, or online document sharing, right from the application’s console 28
Computer Reseller News
We found this to be a great way to build efficiency in document creation and customization. Acrobat X Pro for Mac also provides a neat feature: One-button screen capturing into PDFs. For collaboration of application development or content creation, this is a very effective and welcome feature. Another area of efficiency involves Acrobat X Pro’s way of touching the cloud. Specifically, Adobe has integrated a new feature, called SendNow, into Acrobat X Pro—which allows for two-button e-mailing of documents, or online document sharing, right from the application’s console. This is a neat integration of an online service with content creation and another efficiency added to the Acrobat Pro series. This leads us to our third question: Is it cost effective or prohibitive? Adobe has priced Acrobat X Pro at $449, or $199 as an upgrade. In this new software era where a plentiful array of apps are free or cheap, this may be viewed by many as expensive. But where content creation, collaboration, document management or document flexibility are required, Acrobat Pro X cuts through legacy inefficiencies and brings value to the table. We’ve liked this software on Windows for a number of years but the new version, on Mac OS X, just works well. The CRN Test Center highly recommends Adobe Acrobat X Pro for Mac. n
Cerebra launches mobile shredder Cerebra Integrated Technologies recently launched a mobile shredder in Bengaluru that can handle 3,600 tons of e-waste. The mobile shredder can be taken to the premise of those companies wishing to process the e-waste in front of them to ensure copyright and data protection. The shredder, imported from Cimelia, Singapore, separates metals and non-metals, and processes PCBs before raw material extraction. Cerebra also announced the setting up of an e-waste facility near Bengaluru over a 10-acre area that will handle 90,000 metric tons of e-waste per annum. The facility is expected to be operational by September 2011 and will be capable of managing the entire e-waste management cycle. According to a UN report, the amount of e-waste being produced could rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade in countries like India. Bengaluru alone generates about 70,000 tons of e-waste annually, and accounts for about 30,000 obsolete computers. n
Assemble your own gaming PC To popularize the assembling of gaming PCs among students, motherboard vendor Gigabyte, along with memory module maker Kingston and gaming accessory maker Razer, organized a weekly Assemble Your Own Gaming Machine campaign at two engineering colleges each in Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi. During the half-day program at each college, students were given a video demonstration of gaming PC assembly followed by an instructor-managed gaming machine assembly contest and finally a visit to the gaming components and accessories display put up by the sponsors. The instructor-managed gaming machine assembly contest not only tested the ability of the contestants to select the correct PC components but also their speed in assembling them perfectly. Winning student teams received attractive prizes from the sponsors. n
Rashi conducts ATi-HP workstation meet Acer eMachines channel meet Acer completed a new channel engagement program focusing on its eMachines brand across the southern region. The PC-maker shared an update on the company’s performance while highlighting new products launched under the eMachines brand. The company announced two special schemes during the campaign. Under the eMachines Feb Frenzy scheme, resellers selling two notebooks stand a chance to win Acer’s 320GB external HDD. The eMachines Additional Warranty scheme provides resellers the opportunity to sell a three year onsite warranty on notebooks and netbooks. n
Rashi Peripherals recently concluded its first-ever ATi-based HP workstation channel meet in seven cities—Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Delhi. Partners were updated on the complete range of HP workstations along with the target segments and the opportunities in the market with the relevant information on the ISV-certified SKUs and demand generation activities done by HP and ISVs. Said Vinay Awasthi, Director, PSG, HP India, “With these initiatives we are aiming to equip them better to cater to customer needs and add to their business profitability. Similar training programs will soon be rolled out for our partners in other tier 2 cities.” n
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Computer Reseller News
New Products QNAP NAS servers for SMBs
NAP has expanded its entry level Turbo NAS lineup with the addition of the TS-412U rackmounted NAS server targeted at the fast-growing SMB segment. The new 1U rack-mounted model features an energy-efficient Marvell 1.2GHz CPU, 256MB of DDR2 memory, and 4 SATA hard drives with up to 12TB of total capacity.
The TS-412U supports 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch hard drives in hot-swappable drive carriers, iSCSI target service with thin provisioning, and dual Gigabit LAN ports with failover and load balancing. The TS-412U also features 4 USB ports (1 front, 3 back panel) and 2 e-SATA ports for expanding the storage capacity or backing up the NAS data. Available at a list price of `48,000, it is distributed by Redington and comes with a one year limited India warranty.
Fujitsu launches ScanSnap N1800 scanner
ujitsu India has introduced ScanSnap N1800, which is said to be the first network document scanner to offer linking features to cloud services such as Salesforce.com, Google Docs and Evernote. The ScanSnap N1800, available in a small form factor, delivers scanning speeds of up to 20ppm. It comes with a management console to manage multiple scanners, and provides users and workgroups specific scanning rights. Fujitsu is expected to announce the list price for ScanSnap N1800 by next month. It comes with a oneyear warranty and is available from Fujitsu India.
Kobian launches PerfectView
obian has launched its Mercury PerfectView LED monitor range that boasts of a dynamic contrast ratio of 1000000:1 and a response time of 2 milliseconds. The monitors are currently available in a piano-finish body and 20- and 22-inch sizes. The 24-inch LED model will be launched in May. With a three year standard onsite warranty, the 20-inch monitor is available through Kobian distributors at an MRP of `6,700 while the 22-inch LED is priced at `7,800.
Stellar launches Drive Clone
tellar Information Systems has launched a Mac hard drive clone utility called the Stellar Drive Clone. The software allows users to clone Mac hard drives in realtime by creating mirror replicas of their drives or volumes on a new destination drive. The same could be used to restore the data in situations like accidental formats or drive crash. Some of the important features of this Drive Clone utility are cloning, imaging, restoration and creating a bootable DVD which can be used to clone boot volume and is helpful in starting a nonbooting Mac system. The product is available in a single home user downloadable license for a price of `1,650 through the companyâ€™s Website, and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Zebronics launches premium laptop cooling pad
op Notch Infotronix, under the brand Zebronics, has launched the Zeb-NC3000 premium laptop cooling pad. Sporting an 80mm fan that creates an airflow volume of nearly 19 cubic ft per minute, the cooling pad comes in two colors, matt black and electric red. A retractable USB cord enables the user to stow it away. No other cables or power adapters are required. Distributed by Top Notch, the cooling pad is available at a price of `350 with a one year standard warranty.
The products featured here have not undergone any benchmarking or testing. The trailers contain information provided by vendors and distributors. To feature your companyâ€™s products in CRN, send write-ups with photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer Reseller News
shadow ram GET
he leading structured cabling brand, Digilink, has been sold to Schneider Electric for `503 crore. Smartlink, the maker of Digilink products, will however continue to sell its active networking products under the Digisol brand. While the rationale behind the acquisition still remains unexplained, it truly is a windfall for Smartlink and its promoter KR Naik who has earned more than three times valuation for the structured cabling business which garnered `155 crore in revenue during the last fiscal. Prima facie, there exists little connect between Schneider, which is one of the world’s leading energy and power solutions companies, and Digilink, which is a pure-play structured cabling company with a local India presence. It is yet unknown how the Digilink business will work under Schneider. Will the company continue with the sales and distribution focus of Digilink? What will eventually happen to the vast Digilink network of channels? Digilink channels will surely be concerned about the development. Digilink’s archrival D-Link may be the most happy about the development because it can now breathe easy on the competition front, and with its structured cabling foray expected anytime soon it will have more leverage in the market compared to Digilink. n
unil Dutt, VP, Personal Systems Group, HP India, has quit after months of speculation. His last day at HP will be May 30, 2011. Rumors indicate that Dutt has been enrolled by BlackBerry to head its India business, while other industry sources suggest that he is launching his own mobile handset business. Dutt, who joined as the head of HP PSG in November 2009, replacing Ravi Swaminathan, made several changes to HP PSG’s distribution. These included the complete revamping of its consumer PC distribution, and segmenting the commercial PC distribution. His strategy to replace IT volume partners with telecom players received flak from the IT community. Over a period of time however the model has been praised by many in the channels as it has improved the overall health and profitability of HP PSG channels and helped the company to double its market coverage, and win back market leadership. n
Computer Reseller News
“I’d like to end corruption” Ankesh Kumar is Director of Channel Products & Marketing at Emerson Network Power. He is responsible for the channel product line for Emerson India. He also leads the marketing communication team. If not in the IT industry: I would have been in a creative profession such as film making. Ankesh Kumar
Biggest passion: I’m addicted to movies and gadgets.
Behind the wheels: I drive a Hyundai Getz. My dream vehicle is the Mustang GT Sport. Gadgets I can’t live without: My BlackBerry and my portable HD media drive that houses 500 GB of movies. Role model: JRD Tata for his integrity and ethical conduct. Weekends are for: Exotic and adventurous outings, though sometimes I like just lazing around. Favorite holiday destination: Trinidad & Tobago. It offers a true experience of the Caribbean and the locals have great taste for music. Hate the most: Lip service. Ultimate ambition: Fame is what I crave for. Wildest thing I’ve ever done: In heavy snowfall, I once rode a bike without rear brakes 15,000 feet down the Bumla Pass to our base at Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. Thing that I most want to do in life: To go on a cruise around the world. Favorite sport and sportsperson: Snooker. Among sportspersons, I respect Sachin Tendulkar the most. If I became the Prime Minister: I would try to eliminate corruption from its core. Celebrity I’d like to spend a day with: Amitabh Bachchan. He has already ruled over the hearts of generations, and has still not lost his charisma. Deepest and darkest fear: Fear of losing my voice. n
— CRN Network
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Published on Dec 18, 2011