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November 01, 2011 l Volume 5 Issue 13

Cover Story As the personal computer begins its fourth decade, younger and smarter rivals have begun surging ahead. Is it time to draft an obituary?

22 NEWS Analyses

Channel Chief KP Unnikrishnan Director, Marketing, Brocade Asia Pacific, on how his company is taking on established networking players and winning


TN channel in trouble over free notebooks


Thailand floods impact HDD prices


Market Focus

Sony looking at record notebook sales


Mobile printing high on HP’s agenda


Future Projections With prices of entry-level projectors falling to as low as `15,000, total sales are expected to grow at a CAGR of 19 percent in the next three years

Avnet to increase offices, expand distribution


CA’s cloud push


READ More Opinion




Shadow Ram


Get Personal



Computer Reseller News


Role Model Flying in the face of militancy In early 90s, when others were leaving J&K, Inderpal Singh returned from US to start an IT business. Today Aman Technologies is regarded a leading solutions provider in the country


Editorial 12


Tech Focus From complex to simple With Drobo’s LED-based monitoring and set-and-forget administration, iSCSI storage has never been so easy


starting line TN channel in trouble over free notebooks n amit singh


he Tamil Nadu IT channel community is agitated about the likely ripple effect of the free distribution of 6.8 million notebooks by the ruling AIADMK over the next five years. The TN government, as part of its election campaign, had promised free notebooks to students of state-aided colleges, and secondary and higher secondary schools. In the first year the government plans to distribute 9.12 lakh notebooks; the tender for this was recently won by Lenovo India at a quote of `13,970 per notebook. With only about 240,000 notebooks and 300,000 desktops sold in TN annually, partners are concerned about the impact this deal will have on their business. According to PN Prasad, Advisor, Confed-ITA, the state-wide IT association, “PC sales constitute about 70 percent of the total business of any reseller. The free distribution

“PC sales constitute 70 percent of the total business of any reseller. The free distribution of notebooks will devastate the IT channel business” PN Prasad Advisor Confed-ITA

of notebooks will devastate the IT channel business. Many partners are already quitting the business or exploring other options due to dipping margins in the trade.” Prasad went on to warn, “The market operating prices of PCs will come under pressure as people will start demanding similar prices. There will also be pressure on other PC

brands to lower prices. Governments in neighbouring states like AP and Karnataka may follow suit, and this may result in a ripple effect throughout the country.” “We demand that the government ensure the protection of the channel business as it generates significant employment,” said A Muthuswamy, President, Confed-ITA. “We are holding our executive committee meeting on November 11, 2011 to decide the further course of action.” Although Elcot has taken precautionary steps to curb pilferage from this scheme—such as getting an onscreen display of the TN government logo embedded in the BIOS—channels fear abuse of the scheme. “Poor students may be lured by gray marketers to sell their notebooks at low prices. Affluent students may sell them to buy higher-end notebooks. This could prove fatal for channels,” said S Kartikeyan, CEO, Bloom Computers, Coimbatore. n

Thailand floods impact HDD prices n Ramdas S


rices of hard disk drives (HDDs) have shot up by as much as 50 percent in the past two weeks. According to iSupply, a components research agency, the flooding disaster in Thailand has hampered the hard drive supply chain. The agency believes that the shortage may plague PC, server and storage vendors in quarters to come. Thailand accounts for nearly 25 percent of the global HDD production, and the country is also home to manufacturers that make several critical components which go into the making of HDDs. Western Digital has already issued a statement suggesting that its Q42011 revenue may slip by as much as 60 percent compared to Q42010 due to the natural disaster in Thailand. Around 60 percent of Western Digital’s HDD production capacity is


Computer Reseller News


“We expect that industry demand will outstrip supply for the December quarter, and that the supply disruption will continue for multiple quarters” Rajesh Khurana Country Manager Seagate India

in Thailand. Meanwhile, Rajesh Khurana, Country Manager, Seagate India said, “Seagate expects that industry demand will significantly outstrip supply at least for the December quarter, and that the supply disruption will continue for multiple quarters. We are

aligning production schedules and product builds to best support both our suppliers and our customers.” The street price of a 500 GB SATA drive, which was `2,050 during the third week of October, has shot up to `3,200. “There is suddenly no supply of HDDs in the market. I wouldn’t be surprised if HDD prices went up by another 20-30 percent in the coming days,” said Dinesh Nair, VP, Aldous Glare Systems. Some are even alleging black marketeering. “If one looks at the global prices they have increased only marginally as compared to India. There is a strong element of black marketeering among the distribution partners. They have formed a cartel to gain from this situation,” alleged Toshy Mathew, President, AKITDA. At a recent meeting, AKITDA has decided to ask vendors to explain the reasons for the acute rise in HDD prices. n

starting line MUST

Sony looking at record notebook sales

Mobile printing high on HP’s agenda

n abhijeet mukherjee


HP India plans to aggressively push for the adoption of mobile printing and scanning devices as the trend for mobility grows in enterprises. Currently, the overall market for mobile imaging and printing is estimated at less than `15 crore, but HP sees massive growth in this segment. “While the estimated market has been small, it has huge potential. Cloud computing and faster broadband connectivity make it easy for enterprises to automate their field staff. We see huge latent demand for mobile printing in various sectors including BFSI, insurance, travel & leisure and telecom to capture customer information on the spot,” said Nitin Hiranandani, Director, Laserjet Enterprise Solutions, IPG, HP. Currently, HP offers the Officejet 100 mobile printer at an MRP of `17,999 and HP Scanjet Mobile 1000 scanner at an MRP of `10,499. While the mobile scanner offers 600 dpi resolution and 5 ppm scanning speed, the mobile printer offers Nitin Hiranandani built-in Bluetooth wireless technology and 22 ppm black and 18 ppm color printing. There are various usability scenarios for mobile printers and scanners. For instance, utility bill collection agents can issue receipts to clients and insurance agents can give quotes to clients on the spot. At the same time, they can scan the required documents for application processing. Besides metros and tier-1 cities, HP is also targeting tier-2 and -3 cities as it foresees large opportunity in these regions for sales force automation. HP plans to create experience zones where POCs can be done for SMB and enterprise customers. HP also sees the consumer and SOHO segment contributing to a significant demand for mobile printing. “We have started doing demos at HP World and LFR outlets for our mobile printing and imaging solutions. We see substantial demand from the connected consumer and SOHO customer,” Hiranandani added. n  — Amit Singh


Computer Reseller News



ony is on its way to exceeding its target of selling five lakh notebooks in the current fiscal, more than double the number the company sold in FY2010-11. “According to the latest research estimates, we sold nearly 1.5 lakh units in Q2 of the current fiscal which gives us a market share of close to 20 percent in the consumer notebook category,” said Sachin Thapar, Head, IT, Mobile & Gaming, Sony India. “In Q3 we’re looking at record sales on the back of the festive season for which we have upped our marketing budgets and consumer promotions.” Sony’s success has come as a result of the execution of a wellplanned strategy which involved aggressive price-positioning, smart marketing and strong channel engagement. The first move by Sony was to cover all pricepoints in the consumer notebook segment. During the past three quarters the company introduced 62 SKUs across all price-points from `25,000 to `1.3 lakh. “Earlier we were not aggressive in the entry-level segment, and there were not many price-points available. Besides, in the premium segment we did not have many variants. But during this year, with so many variants, partners have more options to sell to consumers. It has also got the brand to be perceived as affordable,” explained Thapar. The company’s ad campaign with actress Kareena Kapoor has delivered a strong connect with women buyers. The company allocated `50 crore for 360-degree marketing, of which `25 crore was spent on Kareena’s TV commercials and print ads. “Ever since we launched the campaign with Kareena we have seen an impressive jump in the purchase of Sony Vaio by women,” informed Thapar. “Our internal

“We sold nearly 1.5 lakh units in Q2 of the current fiscal which gives us a market share of close to 20 percent in the consumer notebook category” Sachin Thapar

Head, IT, Mobile & Gaming Sony India

estimates show that around 45 percent Vaio buyers are women, including students and working executives. In fact, most of them come to our stores asking for a particular color and model based on the ad campaign. So, from a push brand, we are gradually becoming a pull brand.” The company also tripled the sales counters for the Vaio range from 1,000 to 3,000. Said Thapar, “While we have increased our reseller base by 50 percent and sales counters by 200 percent, we have ensured that the MOP of our products is regulated. This has ensured pricing parity, and provided profitable growth for our partners.” In keeping with its increased market coverage, Sony has expanded its post-sales infrastructure from 100 centers to 130. In addition, the company has introduced onsite warranty for many of its premium models. “The plan is to make onsite support available for all models in the coming months. We have introduced a remote diagnostic facility which has helped us improve support parameters. We have also reduced the pricing of our warranty packs from `5,000 to `2,500 for a 2-year extended warranty,” informed Thapar. n

edit opinion Free government scheme endangers channel dhaval valia


he free notebook scheme of the Tamil Nadu government is a dangerous precedent that could have a devastating effect on IT channels. As is well known by now, the current TN government plans to dole out 6.8 million notebooks over the next five years to students ranging from those in class 8 to those pursuing post-graduation. For the first year of the scheme alone the government’s electronics purchasing arm (Elcot) has already awarded the tender to Lenovo for the supply of over 9 lakh notebooks at `13,970 per unit. The specs of the notebook: either an Intel Pentium 6200 or 2.1 GHz AMD processor with dual core, 2 GB RAM, 320 GB HDD, DVD rewriter and 14” screen with 3-year support. A similar configuration with a 3-year extended warranty would cost `22,000 in the open market today. Total annual PC sales in TN are estimated at around 240,000 notebooks and 300,000 desktops, with the consumer PC component being close to 45 percent. The free notebook scheme will wipe out a very large chunk of this consumer market. Resellers selling to home users and education could see a massive dent in their sales as 60-70 percent of a reseller’s business is from PC sales. Although the TN government and Elcot have taken some precautions against pilferage, the crooked will still find ways to divert the notebooks to the gray market; for example, they may lure poor students into selling their notebooks. And students from affluent families may trade their free notebooks for a higher-end version. Such actions will crash the market prices of PCs not just in TN but also in other states. It’s a known fact that the free-TV scheme floated by the previous TN government saw thousands of TVs land in small-city markets not just in TN but also in neighboring states such as Kerala and Karnataka. With most states going to the polls over the next three years, you could trust parties in other states as well to promise such freebies to please the voters. This could affect IT channels across the country. The IT channel provides employment to significant numbers of people. This would be jeopardized if channel companies go out of business which is the most likely outcome of the TN scheme. Already many partners are quitting the business because margins are falling in the IT market; they are turning to other businesses and professions that give higher ROI. It is time leading IT channel associations across the country deliberate on the matter and prepare a plan to let the TN government know how such schemes will endanger the health of an entire industry and all its stake holders. n E-mail CRN Executive Editor Dhaval Valia at 12

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Volume 5, Issue 13

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starting line Avnet to increase offices, expand distribution n dhaval valia


vnet India, which crossed the $100 million turnover mark in the last fiscal, is all set to ramp up its business. On the cards is an expansion of its distribution portfolio and an increase in branch offices to grow its market coverage. “In the past two years we have established ourselves as a strong player in the value added distribution space. We have been growing at 100 percent YOY, and are confident of maintaining this growth rate for the current and next fiscal,” said Naresh Desai, General Manager, Avnet India. The company plans to increase its branch presence from the existing seven locations to 15. “Most of these branches are planned for tier-2 cities such as Chandigarh, Kochi, Bhubaneswar, Nashik and Surat,” Desai stated. “We will be investing in resources in these cities which will give us coverage in their neighboring regions as well.” The value added distributor is planning to take an applicationsled route to tier-2 cities, and has launched its ISV Accelerator program to align with local application vendors. “We have recently introduced the global ISV program in India, and will align our hardware integration partners with local ISVs who have industry-specific applications to provide a holistic solution to SMBs in these emerging geographies,” informed Desai. The company also plans to offer its virtualization partner program, VirtualPath, to these tier2 locations. “VirtualPath has done exceedingly well in the top cities. Under this program we today have 80 active partners who are undertaking large and interesting virtualization projects. We plan to expand this program to smaller cities as we expect a big adoption

“We have been growing at 100 percent year on year, and are confident of maintaining this growth rate for the current and next fiscal” Naresh Desai General Manager Avnet India

trend for virtualization in the SMB sector,” Desai explained. Avnet has also launched its CloudReady program aimed at equipping partners to provide private, hybrid and public cloud solutions. “We have already invested significant resources in the IBM SmartCloud program, and have invested in setting up the IBM Technology Innovation Center at our Mumbai office,” informed Desai. “We are selling IBM private cloud solutions and also IaaS offerings including Tivoli backup and Lotus mail and messaging solutions. Our plan is to combine the ISV program with the Cloud program to help local ISVs put their applications on the cloud and help them offer it as SaaS through our channel.” Over the past year Avnet has added many new vendors to its distribution portfolio. These include NetApp, Oracle (entire portfolio excluding Apps), Citrix, Double Take and Vizioncore, in addition to the HP ESSN portfolio (excluding networking), IBM, F5, Juniper and Sybase. “With geographical expansion as a major agenda, we are looking at big investments in people, and creating tech centers in cities outside Mumbai to demonstrate live solutions to both customers and partners,” Desai said. n



CA’s cloud push CA Technologies is leveraging the technologies and solutions it bagged from its acquired companies to pump-up its cloud story. “We have invested close to $1 billion for acquiring companies to build end-to-end offerings for building, automating, migrating, configuring and securing the cloud. And now we are building a portfolio that can manage the entire lifecyle of the cloud,” said Anna Gong, VP, Virtualization, Service Automation & Cloud, APAC, CA Technologies. In the recent past CA has acquired companies such as Arcot, an IAM provider; 4Base, a cloud computing infrastructure and virtualization consulting firm; Nimsoft, which provides IT monitoring in cloud environments; NetQOS, for its portfolio of network performance; 3Tera, which provides a platform named Applogic that allows solution providers to build cloud services and deploy apps for private and public clouds; Oblicore, which offers service level management software and software used to improve access to applications running on remote services; and Cassatt, which Anna Gong makes cloud computing software for data center efficiency. Plans are also afoot to encourage partners to develop white-label services around the cloud offerings. Gong said, “Applogic would help our partners value add—they can put the virtual applications together and move from one data center to the other in a minute. We are looking at putting this model on top of infrastructure-as-aservice. All our 100+ partners can also offer the service in-the-box as their own white label.” The company has already started enabling its partners toward the cloud. “In the next 6-12 months, a different ecosystem would be ready to execute. We have designed a framework around enablement that includes security in the cloud, virtualization, service delivery and monitoring. We will start conducting road-shows and educating partners on the lines of why their customers should adopt private vs public vs hybrid clouds. This would help them build an annuity business, and give them recurring revenue. A new cloud partner program would soon follow.” n — Sonal Desai

Computer Reseller News



edit opinion The extra-PC era describes it better Edward F Moltzen


t’s time to start ignoring those who are calling this the Post-PC era. They could not be further from reality. We have been hearing it since the days when then-Sun Microsystems’ CEO Scott McNealy demonstrated his thin-client products seemingly every time he was out in public. We heard about it when the first Web browsers began taking hold, and when Java launched with the premise of writing-once-andrunning-everywhere. Many analysts believe that tablets will simply replace PCs. They are thin, light, have hundreds of thousands of apps to download at the tap of a button, and do everything we need from a PC. Except for a few things. Even with 64 GB of onboard storage and SD card slots, tablets still can’t hold even a fraction of the data of a PC. With public Wi-Fi speeds ranging from a fraction of Mbits per second (Mbps) to, if you’re lucky, 3 Mbps, accessing data from the cloud is too often a frustrating experience. Processing power is still a fraction of what you get on a PC, often for the same price or more. A brand-new PC, with stellar performance and 1 TB of onboard storage, can range from $499 to $699—or about the same as a tablet with between 16 GB and 64 GB of storage. Michael Dell gets this. His company has regained lots of PC market share over the past five years, and Dell’s storage business is enjoying some success. Eventually, his company will come out with Android devices that will have enterprise stickiness to them. The Dell Streak range so far hasn’t caught on, but Dell doesn’t appear ready to give up. Even HP seems to understand this, because its most recently launched notebooks have been quality, costeffective notebooks with nice performance. The PC itself is still the most powerful, cost-effective bridge from the palm of the hand to the enterprise in the data-management stack. It’s where the eyes and hands go to do work. And work is still accomplished by people, not just some SAP back end. Tablets will be a critical part of the market going forward, and a critical way to make sure a corporate workforce is competitive or, for example, a government agency is working as effectively as possible. But they won’t replace the PC. So let’s just start calling it the Extra-PC era, because any Post-PC era is too far off into the future to ponder. n E-mail Ed Moltzen at 14

Computer Reseller News


Sharing our surveillance success The 15 October cover story on the surveillance opportunity was an interesting read. Surveillance is really growing in demand and there’s lot of scope for network integrators. We ventured into this technology domain last year, have already done `1 crore in business, and expect to double the figure this year. However, to be successful in this field, it’s important to build strong skill sets. Two of the five projects we did around security surveillance entailed moving from analog systems to digital and then integrating them over the existing IP networks of the customers. It also provides better margins as there is a good element of systems integration work and services involved. I thought of sharing our success with your readers

to motivate them to focus on this segment. R Mohan Director, SysTech, Bengaluru

Whitman shelves plans to sell HP’s PC business Finally, HP has realized that spinning or selling off its PC business would have been detrimental to their overall business. One must congratulate the new CEO, Meg Whitman, on arriving at this decision within days of her taking over at HP. However, it is important that HP has a consistent leadership for a long time. You can’t afford to have another CEO in a couple of years who will talk of a different strategy. If at all, HP should ensure they sign up the CEO for a 5-year contract to ensure continuity in leadership. Mark Kuber Analyst, UK

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channel chief “We are gaining mind and market share” As AMD gains traction in the consumer market, Chandrahas Panigrahi, Sales Head, Consumer Business, AMD India, spoke to Dhaval Valia about the company’s current initiatives and future plans AMD rolled out its retail initiative last year. What’s the progress so far? Considering that the retail segment, particularly consumer notebooks, is growing at a significant rate, we created a dedicated consumer business unit to focus on retail initiatives. Since its formation, our main objective has been to create a robust retail ecosystem for OEM products based on AMD platforms. In the process, we have created a separate distribution program called Warlords wherein we have enrolled 20 regional/sub distributors who work with their respective OEMs to bring AMD notebooks to the market. We have empowered these distributors with resources to stock the OEM products, conduct training for retailers, and do local marketing. The Warload program has been successful, and each regional distribution partner is managing 40-50 smallformat retailers. As a result, we today have a total of 800+ retailers across 35 cities who are actively selling AMDbased notebooks. For these retailers we have created a program called Smart Retail focused on helping them sell AMD-based notebooks. We have invested in the readiness of these retail partners to sell AMD products. This includes helping them with range planning, assortment, in-store merchandizing and consumer promotions. We have appointed dedicated retail managers to work with these partners. The creation of the AMD-led consumer channel ecosystem has resulted in OEMs becoming more confident about carrying AMD models.

What has been the impact of this on AMD’s market share? When we started our retail initiatives in India, AMD had less than one percent market share in the consumer notebook segment. OEMs were unwilling to bet on AMD because of their past experiences. But today, as per the latest GFK Mode research report, in the short span of 12 months we have increased our market share to 8.1 percent in the consumer notebook

“As per the latest GFK Mode report, in the short span of 12 months we have increased our market share in consumer notebooks from less than 1 percent to 8.1 percent” 16

Computer Reseller News


segment. The overall consumer notebook market in India is roughly around 7 lakh-8 lakh units a quarter. The share of AMD notebooks at large format retailers such as Croma and Vijay Sales is even more at over 20 percent. In essence, we are seeing OEM and channel momentum build up, and this augurs well for our intention to double our current market share in the consumer notebook market over the next 12 months. We will continue building mind and market share for AMD.

didn’t work well.

Some OEMs who had earlier introduced notebooks on the AMD platform say they didn’t do brisk business because the platform

Yes, we did face issues with our earlier generation of Danube products. However, we are now working closely with the same OEMs as they are convinced about our product roadmap and market strategy. These partners have seen us make significant investments in creating a robust retail ecosystem. They also know that our new generation of APUs are far superior to our competition in terms of battery life, compute capacity and HD visuals, and that we have a clear lead over Intel in this regard. Currently, almost all OEMs have products on AMD, and they are also seeing good numbers. Working with our OEMs we have created an entirely new category of ultraportables, which are 12” form factors. Today, in notebooks and ultraportables, there are more than 20 AMD models in the market across seven OEMs. The Sony YB, HP dm1/CQ43, Acer 0722, Asus X53U/1215 and Samsung RV Series are doing good business; you can validate this with the OEMs.

For AMD to continue with the early momentum and succeed in the long term, consumer pull will be key. What are you doing to ensure that consumers go to retailers and ask to review AMD vis-à-vis Intel performance before making the purchase decision? I agree that consumer awareness and brand pull is a must for long-term success. Our first challenge was to create the retail ecosystem. Now that we have the sales network we are embarking on marketing activities to build a connect with consumers and show them the prowess of AMD. We recently launched a campaign called ‘Future is Me’ targeting the youth. This is a 4-month campaign

channel chief covering 140 retail outlets, 70 colleges, 42 IT parks, 14 youth hangouts and seven malls. With nearly 50 percent of the Indian population under the age of 24, this initiative is a platform to showcase AMD’s HD and personal computing technology to GenY and establish a strong brand connect. We have also rolled out ‘Future is Me’-branded AMD stores displaying our technology and OEM products. We have set up three such stores in Nehru Place, Kolkata and Ghaziabad, and intend to open more such stores in more cities in the coming months. We are also equipping our retail ecosystems to showcase our APU product lines through videos and live demonstrations. We are harnessing the power of social media to convey the AMD message to GenY. Some of these initiatives have started showing results. For instance, AMD-powered ultraportables are doing brisk business and are replacing netbook sales at many largeformat retail counters. Consumers are lapping up this category because it gives the battery life and form factor of a netbook and the performance of a notebook. Having said this, we obviously don’t have the marketing budget of an Intel, hence we will be deploying a targeted marketing campaign rather than a high-decibel one.

What are your future plans? The first item on the agenda continues to be consolidating

“India has nearly 20,000 IT retail points and 350 large-format stores. Our plan is to expand coverage from the existing 800 to 4,000 retail points over next 12-18 months” and then expanding the channel ecosystem. India has close to 20,000 IT retail points and 350 large-format stores. Our plan is to expand our retail coverage from the existing 800 to 4,000 over the next 12-18 months. This requires us to have geographical coverage of 150 cities and towns, hence you will see us investing a lot in creating a strong sales footprint which will include both our own field staff and the expansion of the Warlord program. What makes our retail programs stand out is our focus on sell-out. We will continue to strengthen the sell-out model to help retailers sell to end-consumers effectively. Secondly, we are strengthening our relations with OEMs. We need to consolidate our early successes and work on introducing more products and new categories. Apart from notebooks we are strengthening our relationships with OEMs for their AIO PC line-up. HP in particular has an aggressive AIO PC go-to-market, and we are closely aligned with them on it. We see the growing share of AIO PCs as a way to strengthen our share in the consumer desktop market. n

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channel chief “We’ve signed 50 customers for VDX” KP Unnikrishnan, Director, Marketing, Brocade Asia Pacific, spoke to Sonal Desai on how the company is taking on established networking players and winning What’s the scope of Brocade’s business in India? What are your plans? Brocade has a significant presence here with over 2,000 customers using our products including both the SAN switches and the IP networking solutions acquired through Foundry. Nearly 60 percent of these customers use our SAN switching products as part of an OEM offering from HP, IBM, etc. Till a couple of years back Brocade didn’t have a direct connect with customers because most of our products were sold through OEMs. But now, with an expanded networking portfolio through the numerous acquisitions we have made, Brocade is engaging directly with customers and channels although our OEM relationships continue to be strong. Most customers were aware of our technology but had little interface with us. When we began reaching out to CIOs we realized that while they knew we were a leading company with unique SAN switching technology, they didn’t know we had expanded our networking portfolio with acquisitions in the recent past. Over the last two years we have spent considerable dollars marketing our expanded portfolio, engaging directly with customers, and enabling partners. We believe we are now ready to leverage this investment into sales and market share.

With the acquisition of Foundry you have a strong IP portfolio. How are you leveraging this to compete with the more established networking players such as Cisco and Juniper? We have the most comprehensive offerings for core networking and data center networking. With the acquisition of Foundry we have the IP portfolio, and our R&D teams have been working to converge the two technologies to offer fiber channel over Ethernet solutions. Early this year we launched the VDX range of switches which offers a convergent solution. It consists of two offerings—the VDX 6730, which is a 10 Gigabit

“The VDX/VCS platform is the best and most converged unified fabric architecture available in the market—also, a few generations ahead of the competition” 18

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Ethernet switch that can bridge VCS Ethernet fabrics to fiber channel SAN fabrics; and the VDX 6710, a 1/10 GbE switch that can enable 1 GbE switches to connect to Ethernet fabric environments and data center LANs. Another new product, Brocade Network Advisor, offers unified management of Brocade Ethernet fabrics with other LAN, SAN and application delivery infrastructure. The response to VDX has been fantastic: we’ve signed up 50 customers in the last quarter since the launch of this platform. We’re extremely bullish about the potential of the VDX range, and have been running some aggressive marketing strategies which include educating customers through physical workshops, Webinars and events about the benefits of our products in the data centers. We have launched the Try Brocade program, setting up POCs. Once the POC is over, we approach customers with the proof points of the differences and benefits Brocade brings to their functionality. We also have a strong partner-led strategy for VDX. We’ve built communication materials around VDX for the partners to let them run their own communication programs by using Brocade content with or without our logo; any partner can do his own Webinar on VDX. In addition, if a partner wants to get trained, he can go to the Brocade video portal and get trained on how to use the VDX/VCS product and how to sell it; he can also learn about the advantages and the main points. A large chunk of the $100 million investment we have earmarked for Asia is meant for promoting the VDX/VCS platform because we believe it’s the best unified fabric architecture available in the market—also, a few generations ahead of the competition. Our aim is to leverage this technology advantage to gain mind share and market share.

Brocade recently launched the subscription model for data center products. How does this work? The subscription program, named Brocade Network Subscription, lets customers pay for their network infrastructure on a monthly basis. This ensures that customers don’t have to invest in networks with a 2-3 year horizon; instead, they can invest as their network capacity expands. The subscription service is available for all Brocade IP/ Ethernet products, including VDX data center switches.

channel chief The service includes professional service support from Brocade Global Services.

Why should partners align with Brocade? We currently have 60 partners in the country; most of them have come on board over the past year or so. We want to grow this number, but not to a large extent. We are looking for focused, niche partners. We have a product portfolio that gives partners deals ranging from $25,000 to a million and more. We work with four sets of partners. The first is service providers who are providing IaaS. The second set consists of ISPs who provide connectivity solutions. Then we have enterprise partners who cater to medium-tolarge organizations, and volume partners who sell our smaller boxes.

Isn’t it difficult to break the dominance of players like Cisco, Juniper and HP in the networking segment? Last quarter we were recognized by Gartner as the best alternative to these established networking players. We shipped the first batch of Ethernet fabric-based products last November, and shipped the second batch this September. The competition is talking about Ethernet fabric only now. Plus, because of our strong focus on the OEM business

“We believe in empowering our partners to do well. We don’t want to end up with partners competing against each other; that way no one makes money” so far, interoperability is the biggest advantage we enjoy. Moving from HP to Cisco, or vice versa, would require customers to replace their existing infrastructure; in our case, due to our advantage (of interoperability) they don’t have to write off any investment. Also, for Cisco partners, selling Brocade isn’t much of an investment. The time and resources required for upskilling their CCNA resources to Brocade certification is minimal—and this is also working to our advantage.

What is your focus for India in the next 12 months? We will focus on the cloud opportunity, and will look to partner with key organizations in their cloud strategy. Also, being the first off the block to offer fully-ready IPv6-compatible products, we hope to enable enterprises looking to move to the IPv6 environment with ease. To address the final mile we believe in empowering our partners to do well. We don’t want to end up with partners competing against each other—that way no one makes money. n

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market focus

future Projections

With prices of entry-level projectors falling to as low as `15,000, total sales are expected to grow at a CAGR of 19 percent in the next three years n Abhijeet Mukherjee


he Indian market for projectors is expected to grow significantly during the next three years. According to a research report from Futuresource Consulting, India will sell close to 5.2 lakh projectors by 2014 compared to the 2.17 lakh units sold in 2010; this represents a CAGR of 19 percent. Factors driving this high growth include the increasing affordability of projectors, demand from the education sector, and demand from governments and enterprises. “Entry-level projectors which were available for `50,000 a couple of years back are today priced at less than `25,000. This has made them affordable to a large section of businesses, hence even smaller businesses which earlier rented projectors are today buying them,” observes Ajay Sharma, Country Manager, Viewsonic India. Education is the highest demand sector for projectors, contributing nearly 45 percent of the unit sales in 2010. “There’s increased competition among schools to adopt state-of-the-art technologies. Till now only a handful of schools have deployed such technologies, but many more are doing it and we expect huge opportunity from this,” says Harish AK, Senior Business Manager, Visual Instruments, Epson India. Abhilesh Guleria, Country Manager, MMPG & ITPF Business, NEC India, agrees. “The K-12 education segment is the fastest-growing segment in India followed by professional and higher educational institutions. We have closely aligned with some of the leading ICT BOOT players such as Educomp to tap this opportunity. In the past couple of years we have installed our projectors for 3,500 school projects.” Besides, the government is investing in a big way in Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, wherein there are plans to have at least one multimedia-capable classroom in each of the 15 lakh government schools. In terms of demand, education is followed by the government sector, which forms 30 percent of the projector market. Notes Saji Kumar, Head, Product Management, Acer, “In the last couple of years various departments of the

Wireless projectors, as well as new projector technologies such as DLP 3D-ready, Full HD, LED, short throw and ultra short throw, have increased the utility value of projectors 20

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government have been spending for modernizing their IT infrastructure which includes the auditoriums and conference rooms which require projectors. In many states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bihar, to save on time and costs, the Chief Ministers are emphasizing the need for video conferencing rather than physical meetings with far-flung district officials. The Ministry of Defence is also spending huge sums on modernization.” Apart from the government, BFSI, media establishments, the hospitality industry and corporate majors are also investing in projectors. These form around 25 percent of the market. “Corporate houses with diversified businesses require projectors for their large boardrooms across cities. With better broadband availability, more companies want to have their discussions through videoconferencing,” says Guleria. Technology advancements have also boosted projector sales. Wireless projectors, as well as new projector technologies such as DLP 3D-ready, Full HD, LED, short throw and ultra short throw, have tremendously increased the utility value of projectors. Adds Guleria, “3D-ready projectors are required in education as they help in understanding stuff like human anatomy and architectural designs. Educational institutions need projectors with high contrast and stereo solutions. Ultra short throw projectors can be used even in small classrooms. We have also seen good demand for full HD projectors, especially from SMBs and the home segment. In addition, we see traction for the ultraportable and handheld projectors which are meant for traveling executives.” Meanwhile, vendors are seeing demand shift toward wireless projectors—Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and with USB capabilities—because they save on installation costs. “More than 40 percent of our products are Wi-Fi-enabled. A lot of the demand for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is coming from defense organizations as well as large enterprises,” informs Sharma. Another technology that’s growing fast is LED. “LED projectors are light-weight, provide better resolution, and save on power consumption,” says Kumar. What’s more, the prices of projectors are expected to fall further. Informs Kumar, “We have a range of entry-level projectors which are available for as low as `15,000, and as volumes grow this could fall further. With such prices, projectors will become affordable even for home users.” n

market focus PSG too integral to HP Meg Whitman, CEO, HP says the decision to keep the Personal Systems Group was easy, but came after exhaustive analysis of its importance to HP’s broader business n Kevin McLaughlin


fter exhaustively studying the potential impact a sale or spin-off of its Personal Systems Group, Hewlett Packard officials concluded that such a move would have too much of an organizational domino effect to be worth the risk. HP’s consideration of its PSG options, which Meg Whitman, CEO characterized as an “incredibly rigorous analysis,” began after Leo Apotheker, former CEO’s bombshell August 18 declaration that HP was looking at a possible sale or spin-off of PSG. HP’s analysis involved crossfunctional teams led by subject matter experts who examined the linkages between PSG and the rest of the HP business, including revenue and cost synergies, onetime separation and startup costs, and execution risks, Whitman said in a conference call held to discuss HP’s decision to keep PSG. “We had 18 different teams, with experts in each area, who dove deep into this,” Whitman said. “It was an impressive thing to watch on a pretty accelerated time frame.” Despite the considerable expenditure of corporate brainpower this endeavor likely involved, Whitman said that once the analysis was completed HP’s best course of action was quite clear. “The decision was actually very straightforward,” Whitman said. “HP and PSG are better together.” HP channel partners are generally quite pleased with the company’s decision to retain PSG. Many were horrified by the business implications of Apotheker’s original 12-to-18-month window for rendering a decision on PSG, and they are impressed that Whitman was able to get it done just weeks after taking over as CEO.

“PSG is a major factor driving HP’s supply chain efficiencies, component pricing, distribution channels and solutions portfolio, and these synergies amount to more than $1 billion in annual operating profit”

However, one longtime PSG solution provider couldn’t help noting that HP could have avoided the whole mess by conducting its strategic assessment of PSG behind closed doors. “I am glad HP did such a thorough analysis of PSG. But couldn’t they have done this before announcing they were looking at a sale or spin-off?” said the source who requested anonymity. The analysis also showed that PSG is a major factor driving HP’s supply chain efficiencies, component pricing, distribution channels and solutions portfolio, and that these synergies amount to more than $1 billion in annual operating profit, Cathie Lesjak, CFO, HP said. “A spin-off would cause us to lose those synergies, and require incremental investment in channel, sales and marketing,” she said. “The cost of creating a new worldwide brand would be significant.” The combination of PSG and HP’s Enterprise Storage Server Networking division also gives HP “significant supply chain and pricing leverage,” according to Lesjak. In fact, PSG is so intertwined with HP’s business that building a new brand would result in about $1.25 billion in one-time startup costs, a figure that includes new systems for IT support and finance, Lesjak said. Of course, there was already plenty of publicly available data to make the argument against a PSG sale or spin-off, like the fact that PSG generated $2.3 billion in operating profit over its last four quarters which is a record for the division over a one-year period. The $40.7 billion in revenue that PSG pulled in during fiscal 2010 speaks pretty loudly too. Now, 10 weeks after Apotheker’s bombshell, HP has the cold, hard data to show that the role of PSG in its business is very much like a vital organ, one that, if removed, could have lasting negative impact on the organization as a whole. “We believe that the one-time upfront separation and startup costs are material,” Lesjak said on the conference call. “Right now we have much better ways to allocate our capital to generate higher returns.” n

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cover story

As the personal computer begins its fourth decade, younger and smarter rivals have begun surging ahead. Is it time to draft an obituary? n Ramdas S


he personal computer is now 30 years old. Over the past three decades it has revolutionized the IT industry which made it reach nearly onefifth of the world’s population. The fortunes of IT majors such as Intel, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Acer and Apple were built around the PC. However, with the recent rise of the tablet and the smartphone, the PC as we know it has started losing its charm. Following HP’s decision to quit the PC business— which the vendor subsequently reversed—there has been widespread speculation whether the PC is a thing of the past. IBM, which introduced the PC in 1981, and exited the business to focus on the more lucrative services and software business in 2004, reiterated that it believes that the PC era is over. (This through a post on


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the IBM Smarter Planet blog by Mark Dean, CTO of IBM Middle East & Africa, and one of the designers of the original IBM PC.) During the iPad 2 launch, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs also stated that the future belonged to post-PC products such as smartphones and tablets. Even Dell issued a statement following its Q32011 results that the PC industry was sluggish and that margins were falling. Does this mean we are heading for a post-PC era? Is the tablet the future of computing? Should PC partners worry about it?

Shrinking margins Most Indian IT channel players have been wary of the PC business over the past few years, and have expressed

cover story resignation that most partners sell PCs because they need to keep customers happy and engaged. Some of the large systems integrators and solution providers have taken the decision to exit the PC business altogether or scale it down to less than 25 percent of their business. “Last year, we decided to quit the PC business which contributed 60 percent to our topline. We only supplied to some pending projects. As a result, our topline dipped by around 28 percent during the fiscal. We felt that to sustain a decent bottomline it was important for us to reduce our dependence on PCs,” says Prateek Garg, CEO, Progressive Infotech. Declining margins are said to be the reason why HP took a call to exit the PC business. According to its SEC filings for the last four quarters, HP’s topline from the PC business was about $40 billion, and its net was estimated to be about $1.8 billion, which meant an average margin of 4.8 percent—much less than the double-digit margins of its other divisions. Its a different thing though that the new CEO, Meg Whitman has now reversed that decision. Sachin Rao, CEO of the Bengaluru-based Archos Technologies, estimates that a partner would make 2-5 percent in a large deal involving PCs. “When it’s a transaction-based deal, where there’s no special value addition, the margins are wafer-thin. If it’s a dollar transaction, the margins could be as low as 5-10 dollars per PC. To keep a customer engaged, the partner may insist on providing the first level of support—but it could also mean that a single service call could negate the margin made on a PC.”

Lower PC growth Through the eighties, nineties and even the first decade of this millennium, the PC market has grown steadily in double digits. However, in the past two years, the annual growth rates for the PC industry as a whole have shrunk to single digits. In June this year IDC lowered its expectations for worldwide PC shipments in 2011, predicting only 4.2 percent YOY growth instead of the earlier projected 7.11 percent. The primary reason IDC gave for this downgrade was the proliferation of media tablets and smartphones with applications powerful enough to replace PCs. “Consumers are recognizing the value of owning and using multiple intelligent devices, and because they already own PCs they’re now adding smartphones, media tablets and e-readers to their device collection,” explains Bob O’Donnell, Vice-president, Clients &

Displays, IDC. “This has shifted the technology share of wallets to other connected devices.”

The tablet threat In August, market research firm UBS, which does exclusive studies on the tablet and smartphone market, updated its tablet sales forecast for 2011 to 60 million. The number is noteworthy as it’s one-sixth the size of the PC market that’s projected by IDC to be about 360 million units. UBS expects the tablet numbers in 2012 to be 80-90 million units. It took the PC almost a decade and half to reach the 100 million mark; UBS says the tablet may take only three years to touch that figure. Yet most analysts are cautious about the growth of tablets. “We do not expect a complete takeover of PCs by tablets. There will still be several hundred million PCs sold worldwide for several years because people will still need PCs for certain tasks. However, there are several applications for which we use PCs today that can be more easily done with tablets. Besides, tablets are easier to carry around, and are definitely trendier,” says Vishal Tripathi, Principal Analyst, Gartner India. The most influential vendor in the tablet space is Apple. The vendor sold nearly 15 million units of its iPad during 2010. “Apple has been the trend-setter so far, and is definitely driving the post-PC computing revolution,” adds Tripathi. The company is said to have sold around 9 million units of iPad during Q22011, and is projected to sell close to 40 million during 2011. Following Apple’s success, almost all other PC vendors have tried emulating it by launching their own tablets. Dell and Acer were the first to do so. HP acquired Palm in 2010 to launch its own tablet. However, lack of interest from consumers has forced HP to shelve its plans and look for a buyer for its WebOS — the operating system for the PDA—division. In India so far there are no clear statistics about the size of the tablet market, but industry pundits estimate the numbers to be at the maximum of 25,000 units a month. “In India we have not seen the kind of traction that’s being noticed globally. The price of the tablet, which is more than that of a netbook, and the lack of quality 3G in several parts of the country, could be two of the reasons,” says S Rajendran, CMO, Acer India. There are several who believe that the tablet market is all set to take off. “When the netbook was introduced in 2007 there were few takers, but then the market slowly started to lap it up. The hype surrounding tablets is hundred times more than that which

“Our topline dipped by around 28 percent during the last fiscal because we took a decision to lessen our PC business to sustain a decent bottomline”

“In India we have not seen the kind of traction that’s being noticed globally. The price of the tablet and the lack of quality 3G could be two of the reasons”

Prateek Garg

S Rajendran

CEO, Progressive Infotech

CMO, Acer India

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cover story “When the netbook was introduced there were few takers, but then the market started to lap it up. The hype surrounding tablets is 100 times more” Sandeep parasurampuria CEO & Director, iBall

surrounded netbooks,” says Sandeep Parasurampuria, CEO & Director, iBall. The company recently launched Slide, a tablet which has actor Hrithik Roshan as its brand ambassador. Parasurampuria hopes to sell 75,000 units by the end of the current fiscal. Meanwhile, with the launch of the Aakash tablet— in a project promoted by the National Mission on Education through the Ministries of Communications & Information Technology and Human Resource Development—a new price-point has been set. Aakash is expected to be priced at `1,500 and would be made available to 504 universities across the country. Canada-based Datawind, which won the contract for manufacturing Aakash, is set to launch a `3,000 commercial version. “It will also function as a mobile phone. We are aiming to sell around 300,000 units of the commercial version in FY2012-13. We have established a new production line in Hyderabad to manufacture these low-cost tablets,” says Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, Datawind. Not everyone is impressed by the low-cost solutions. “We can ship 7” tablets starting as low as `4,500, but I do not believe there exists a consistent market for such devices, or that they would replace PCs totally,” says Harish Kumar, CEO, Connoisseur Electronics, Bengaluru. The biggest problem with tablets is that while they can be used for simple applications such as quick messaging or browsing the Internet, users will need a PC for most other applications. Bengaluru-based

Unified Stickman had run a pilot project for a leading Indian multinational to migrate one of its departments from PCs to tablets. “While the TCO studies were definitely in favor of tablets, there were practical issues. User feedback was that several applications were more tedious on a tablet than on a PC. Consider writing a really long email of more than a dozen paragraphs and you will see why a PC still makes more sense. Similarly, if a user needs to create presentations and complex spreadsheets he would see the issues with a smaller screen tablet. If you are a developer, or a power user, then the tablet is definitely not your choice,” says Satheesh Nair, CEO, Unified Stickman India. He adds that the multinational decided to abandon the project till larger screen devices were available. Others argue that as a PC replacement a 10” tablet is always recommended. “[But] a 10” tablet would be priced on par with a netbook or an entry-level notebook which is definitely more powerful and more functional. So where’s the benefit?” questions Sunil Kumar, CEO, Lampo Computers, Bengaluru. While most enterprise channel partners agree that tablets are a game-changer, they do not expect tablets to replace PCs. “We have still not seen any indication from our customers that they would like to replace PCs with tablets,” says Neel Shah, Director of Insight Business Machines, Mumbai. L Ashok, CEO of the Chennai-based Futurenet Technologies, feels that at this point of time tablets will not be a threat, but will be complementary to the personal computer. “You’ll be surprised to note that tablets are bringing new and critical users to information technology. For example, there’s this CEO of a corporate who was not at all comfortable with computers; then he tried an iPad—and is now hooked on it. Tablets will add new users, and create demand for fresh applications and uses.” Ashok stresses that for corporates to start using tablets widely there needs to be better enterprise-class applications. “Is there a shrink-wrapped version of SAP client for any tablet

PC Shipments by Region and Form Factor, 2010-2015 (Shipments in millions) Region

Form Factor







Mature Markets Desktop PC 57.7 54.9 56.0 54.5 53.4 53.3 Mature Markets Portable PC 108.8 105.4 116.7 127.3 141.3 153.6 Mature Markets Total PC

166.5 160.3 172.7 181.7 194.6 206.9

Emerging Markets

Desktop PC







Emerging Markets

Portable PC







Emerging Markets Total PC

180.5 201.3 225.8 256.7 293.2 334.6


Desktop PC 145.8 147.0 152.3 154.5 156.0 158.3


Portable PC 201.2 214.6 246.2 283.9 331.8 383.3


Total PC

Source: IDC


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347.0 361.6 398.5 438.4 487.8 541.5

cover story platform? Are there good, strong client applications for other platforms? Customers would like to see such applications.” Shah is of the opinion that beyond PDAs and tablets, the threat to PCs comes from changing computing paradigms. “Many of our customers are very serious about desktop virtualization and cloud computing, technologies that make the PC and PC-operating system really irrelevant. If the present pilot projects succeed, there would be mass adoption of both VDI- and cloudbased apps within enterprises—and I feel enterprises would choose thin clients over PCs.” Partners are also wary of the Bring Your Own Device practice that’s being explored by some MNC companies. “Many organizations are providing the choice of client devices to their employees. Depending on company policy they also fund a portion of the acquisition

“Many customers are serious about desktop virtualization and cloud computing, technologies that make the PC and PCoperating system irrelevant” Neel Shah

Director, Insight Business Machines

cost. Since the applications are secured in a virtual environment, it really does not matter to the enterprise whether an employee connects with a full-fledged PC or a thin client or a tablet,” says Shah of Insight. Some in the industry point to niche applications— such as in healthcare, retail and education—that would be tablet-friendly and that would drive their

analyst view Vishal Tripathi, Principal Analyst, Gartner India, on how tablets and ultrabooks will impact the Indian market How much of an impact do tablets and other MIDs have on the PC market? Do you see them cannibalizing the PC market? How large is the tablet market in India? Globally we definitely observe the tablet market booming, and this has slowed down the PC market, especially the PC consumer market. But we don’t see that being a trend in India for the moment. Gartner does not officially track the tablet market in India. However, my personal estimate puts the number at around 200,000 units during 2011. We have a 10 million+ PC market for 2011. In India at least, few are buying a tablet as a PC alternative.

the big four—Dell, HP, Acer and Lenovo—are likely to dominate the pole positions, the niche players such as Toshiba, Sony, Samsung and Asus are becoming very aggressive with both price and market positioning. Overall, the Indian notebook buyer and the channel partner have a wider choice now.

Intel claims that by 2012 40 percent of notebook shipments would be based on the ultrabook form factor. Do you see that happening in India? Vishal Tripathi Certainly not at the present price-points which are upward of `49,000. 70 percent of the Indian market for notebooks is at the Do you mean to say that tablets will not affect the PC market sub-`35,000 price-point. We will need to see more affordable in India? models, but I believe ultrabooks are likely to speed up Present trends indicate that the effects would be minimal. PC technology refresh among both consumers and enterprises. penetration in India is abysmally low at 41 per 1,000 compared to China which is at 203 and the US at 1,038. This means we The netbook market seems to be stagnant. What are the have a long way to go, and the PC market will continue to reasons? grow. A tablet with a 10” screen from any popular brand is The price difference between netbooks and entry-level presently priced higher than a netbook, and most feature-rich notebooks is not very high. Moreover, except for Acer and tablets cost more than a notebook. Price is still an important Asus, almost all other major manufacturers have of late been factor in this country. Tablets will still be purchased, but that less aggressive in netbooks. Also, there have been very few would be more as another gadget for the tech-savvy user large institutional or corporate deals for netbooks. rather than as a PC replacement. I am not saying that the tablet market will not grow, but The desktop market seems to be alive despite prices of that the chances of it cannibalizing the PC market are rather notebooks sliding down. low in the near future. In B-, C-, D- and E-class cities consumers are still buying desktops. The white box PC market continues to be strong, What are the latest trends in the notebook market in India? and this will continue. All-in-One PCs have been growing over I believe during Q32011 the market has certainly grown, the past few quarters, and vendors, notably Lenovo, have been though official figures have not yet been ascertained. While extra aggressive with great SKUs at attractive price-points. n

Tablets will still be purchased, but that would be more as another gadget for the tech-savvy user rather than as a PC replacement

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cover story “A retailer can book orders through a tablet with his distribution executive, a doctor in a hospital can access online patient records on his tablet”

“They forecast the end of the PC when thin clients were launched, then when netbooks came along. I believe tablets will add more customers to the IT landscape”


N Sivakumar, VP, Strategic Marketing, Product Management & Service, Toshiba India

CEO, Futurenet Technologies

use. “There are several segments today where the PC is considered cumbersome, and where tablets may fit in. These are new markets and not PC-replacement options. For example, a retailer can book orders through a tablet with his distribution executive, and a doctor doing the rounds in a hospital can access online patient records on his tablet,” says Ashok.

The ultrabook factor One of the main casualties of the impact of tablets and smartphones on PCs is chip major Intel. Since most tablets use processors from ARM, Qualcomm and Nvidia, Intel has decided to take on the tablet brigade with the ultrabook. According to Intel, ultrabooks, which incorporate new CULV Intel processors with integrated graphics and flash-based SSDs, have five hours of battery life, mainstream performance and ultra-fast start-up. In a press statement, Intel said that the ultrabook is


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the future of the notebook PC as we know it, and that ultrabooks will have 40 percent market share in 2012. “The ultrabook is yet another PC form factor which will expand the market. We are betting on ultrabooks bringing in new customers and spurring technology refresh in certain segments,” says N Sivakumar, Vicepresident, Strategic Marketing, Product Management & Service, DS Division, Toshiba India.

Conclusion Sivakumar says that the PC era is far from over. “They predicted the end of the PC when thin clients were launched, and also when netbooks and smartphones came along. I believe tablets will add more customers to the IT landscape, and that there may be a few new users who first buy a tablet and then start using a PC.” He says that all form factors will co-exist, and that the market will continue expanding—an assessment many in the channels think is accurate. n

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special focus Embracing the cloud More partners are moving to provide cloud services to their customers as SMB adoption is growing at a rapid pace n AMIT SINGH


recent study by AMI Partners indicated that 200,000 SMBs would adopt cloud computing solutions, mainly Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), in the next five years. With their high scalability and pay-as-you-go pricing model, cloud services offer greater business effectiveness at lower cost. For the SMB segment, cloud services lower the barriers to market growth by lowering technology costs and upfront investments. Says Neha Jalan, Senior Associate, AMI Partners, “Although 40 percent of the SMBs are PC-penetrated, three-fourths of them do not have an in-house technical support team, especially small businesses (1-99 employees), hence they tend to adopt affordable cloud services with a monthly fee.” Leading vendors are driving this forward by providing a range of cloud-based platform and application services. There exists plenty of space for the tier-2 channel to provide additional dimensions to the existing service portfolio. With cloud vendors providing partners with the skills and resources required to deliver cloud-based services, the opportunities for the IT channel are bright. “Most SMBs have made little investment in IT infrastructure, and are therefore considering cloud services without any upfront investment,” says Sanjeev Gupta, CEO, Albion Infotel. “Channel partners have lots of opportunities for providing installation, integration, customization and maintenance services to these customers.” So far the bulk of SMB cloud spending has been on SaaS-based messaging and collaboration, and CRM, payroll, accounting, financial and Web conferencing applications. Channel partners are earning respectable sums by reselling cloud services to their customers, and have plans to expand their cloud offerings by partnering with more vendors and offering more applications. “We have signed up more than 15 customers in the past several months,” reveals Suresh Ramani, CEO, TechGyan, Mumbai. “We expect to earn about `15 lakh

“Although 40 percent of SMBs are PC-penetrated, three-fourths of them do not have an in-house tech support team, hence they tend to adopt affordable cloud services”

“We have plans to offer disaster recovery solutions from Netmagic, security solutions from Trend Micro, and infrastructure solutions from Amazon”

Neha Jalan

Suresh Ramani

Senior Associate, AMI Partners


in annual commissions in FY2011-12 against the `6 lakh earned in FY2010-11 from Microsoft cloud services alone.” According to Ramani, Microsoft offers 12 percent commission per new seat signed up, and 6 percent commission on renewals, so the quantum of business TechGyan is expecting is more than `1.25 crore during the next fiscal. TechGyan is also looking to add new vendors and cloud services to its portfolio. “We are looking for applications complementary to Microsoft’s messaging and collaboration products. We also have plans to offer back-up and DR solutions from Netmagic, security solutions from Trend Micro, and infrastructure solutions from Amazon,” Ramani adds. Mumbai-based Questa Software currently offers Office 365 and has plans to expand its portfolio by partnering with Cisco and CtrlS to offer applications including CRM, hosted infra management software, and data backup and DR solutions. “To make that happen, we have plans to double our employee strength. We expect to garner `24 lakh in commission in FY2011-12 from cloud services,” says Manish Tandon, MD, Questa. “Besides providing CRM and email applications from Tata Communications and Tulip to about 20 SMB customers, we recently introduced data storage solutions,” informs Sandeep Vahi, Director, Compton Business Solutions, Delhi. “With these storage solutions and plans to introduce industry-specific applications such as ShawMan CRM for hospitality, we aim to increase our cloud customer base to 10,000 in the next two years.” “An SMB cloud partner can earn up to 18-20 percent margin and 5-6 percent month-on-month subsequently,” suggests Sandeep Salman, an IT consultant who is helping two start-ups in Delhi to drive their IT business using cloud offerings. Beyond reselling cloud services, a few partners have transformed themselves into cloud providers and are seeing benefits beyond incremental sales opportunities. They are hosting servers and applications, and offer

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CEO, TechGyan

special focus “We offer Albion-branded CRM, email, efax, HRMS and document management services in our SaaS portfolio, and have around 250 customers in the US and UK”

“With plans to introduce industryspecific applications such as ShawMan CRM for hospitality, we aim to increase our cloud customer base to 10,000”

Sanjeev Gupta

Sandeep Vahi

CEO, Albion Infotel

Director, Compton Business Solutions

their own white-labeled services to SMB customers in India and abroad. “We offer Albion-branded CRM, email, efax, HRMS and document management services in our SaaS portfolio, and have around 250 customers based in the US and UK, and about 70 customers in India,” informs Gupta. “In our IaaS portfolio we offer solutions such as hosted contact center, application hosting, co-location, managed hosting and virtual private server, and cater to about 50 customers. We have also recently introduced the PaaS portfolio targeted at software development companies for the testing of applications.” Gupta adds, “After recording 108 percent revenue growth in cloud services from `2.5 crore in FY2009-10 to `5.2 crore in FY2010-11, we expect large contracts and target `10 crore in FY2011-12 with our focus on introducing industry-specific applications.” Orient Technologies, another partner offering

white-labeled cloud services, aims to grow its cloud services revenue from `50 lakh in FY2010-11 to `3 crore in FY2011-12. “With a dedicated team for developing solutions for backup and DR as well as other customized Web-based applications, we are also aiming to offer IaaS. We have plans to invest `1 crore to expand manpower and build hardware, software and licenses,” informs Jayesh Shah, Director, Orient. In order to achieve greater penetration of cloud services, “Partners need to opt for high-value competencies for specific solutions and sophisticated cloud technologies,” advises Jalan. At the same time, there’s a need to educate customers about the benefits of the cloud. “Most cloud partners are educating their customers about the benefits including reduced capital expenditure, reduced administration costs, improved resource utilization, and easy implementation and scalability,” says Salman. n

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role model Flying in the face of militancy In the early nineties, when others were leaving J&K, Inderpal Singh returned from the US to start an IT business in the troubled state. Today his company Aman Technologies is regarded as a leading solutions provider in the country n Amit Singh


nderpal Singh started his career as a Systems Analyst at Tata Motors in 1986 soon after completing his Integrated BE (Hons) - MS (Hons) from BITS Pilani. In January 1988 he moved to the US to work as a software consultant at the Bank of America. He remained in the US till 1992 and worked as a software consultant in several other organizations. Following his ambition to set up his own IT business, he came back to India in November 1992 and established Aman Technologies in February 1993 with an initial investment of `5 lakh. The company started by offering telecom equipment, and later moved to selling PCs and printers. Aman got focused on systems integration following its partnership with Wipro in 1993.

The beginning If not in the IT business, Singh may have continued his career in the US, or may have joined his father’s applesand-walnuts export business. “Jammu being a small place there was little appetite for IT in the nineties. IT awareness was quite low, and businessmen were not motivated enough to adopt IT solutions. Moreover, the conditions were adverse with militancy spreading in the valley. Without losing hope we visited prospects and motivated them to use IT solutions to grow their businesses. We penetrated deep into our customer base and worked closely with our clients,” recalls Singh. “Our annual business revenue in 1993-94 was lower than my annual package in the US,” Singh reveals. “However, we survived and grew due to the moral support extended by my parents and the encouragement from my wife. A determined approach and a high morale worked wonders for us.” Aman Technologies got a major breakthrough with a branch automation project worth `10 crore for J&K Bank in 1999. The company installed PCs, servers, storage, database, Unix OS, LAN and Infosys branch

“Jammu being a small place there was little appetite for IT in the nineties. IT awareness was quite low, and businessmen were not motivated enough to adopt IT solutions” 30

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automation software in 400 branches across the state. Then in 2000 the company implemented a `1.5 crore IT and communication equipment interlinking project at various army locations in Srinagar, Anantnag, Kupwara and other places. Aman also extended its focus to the education sector and implemented various projects in universities in J&K. “In 2008 we implemented the EduManage ERP solution project worth `1 crore at the Islamic University of Science & Technology (IUST), Awantipora. In this project, besides the ERP solution, we also implemented server, storage and LAN,” informs Singh. The company’s stature was further consolidated by its maturing partner relationships with Wipro, HP, IBM, Cisco, HP and Dell. Notes Singh, “Our partnerships with OEMs helped us to create talented manpower and a structured approach toward business and services.”

Current business Aman Technologies attained significant topline growth of 62 percent in FY2010-11 with revenue scaling from `9.92 crore in FY2009-10 to `16.07 crore. While systems integration contributed 45 percent to the revenue, corporate reselling brought in 40 percent and the remaining 15 percent came from services to its 5,000 customers. The company’s key clientele includes large education institutions in J&K such as Jammu University and IUST, and government and PSU customers such as the Ministry of Defence, Jammu Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC), and Power Development Department (PDD). “We undertook complete turnkey projects focused on solutions and systems integration. These projects helped our bottomline growth. In addition, we acquired several new accounts including Central University of Kashmir, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University and J&K Police Department,” says Singh while explaining their main growth factors in the last fiscal. Besides acquiring new accounts, the company penetrated deeper into its existing customer base to earn more revenue. “We helped our principal companies like Wipro and IBM to get some good projects, and got our bottomline in terms of ORC (overriding commission) and incentives,” Singh adds. “We also tried to keep a

Role model









in terms of information availability, check on expenses, and limited our MILESTONES proper usage of time and resources, manpower expansion.” less wastage and decrease in daily Under the Community Service sales outstandings. Meanwhile, the Centers project for the Department of Established Aman certification from the Directorate of IT, J&K Government, Aman supplied Technologies after returning Industry & Commerce has improved laptops, laser MFDs and Web from the US our credibility and helped us get cameras, and implemented LAN and government contracts.” broadband at 400 Khidmat Centers Bagged branch automation in rural areas of the state in 2009 and project from J&K Bank 2010. “To enable Internet services, Onward journey spread IT awareness, facilitate J&K Working on the business philosophy Executed IT and Govt pension disbursement, and aid of ‘customer is king,’ Singh communication equipment certain banking facilities in remote considers customer satisfaction interlinking project at various areas of the state, we expect 500 and customer building to be his more such centers to come up in primary tasks. While recognizing army locations J&K,” says Singh. the immense opportunities in the Implemented EduManage ERP Aman also implemented an IT industry, he warns about the e-courts project and ESIC hospital tough competition ahead due to the project at IUST computerization project with Wipro, number of incoming participants. Executed Khidmat Centers and earned `40 lakh and `30 lakh He says delayed payments and from these projects respectively. outstanding payments are the project in rural areas of J&K The solutions in these projects major challenges to his business as entailed desktop virtualization and they restrict his ability to invest in Bagged accounting solution deployment of PCs, thin clients, upcoming projects. project from the state Power servers, storage, printers and LAN. While continuing its focus on Development Corporation The company also implemented the education and government the Karishma hospital management sectors, the company wants to target Received ISO 9001-2008 solution at the Sher-I-Kashmir other sectors including banking certification Institute of Medical Sciences, and and telecom, and expects to garner set up IT infrastructure worth `60 revenue of `20 crore in FY2011-12. Implemented a billing lakh in 2009 and 2010. “Besides our focus on hardware and solution project for the Power In 2010, along with a Delhisoftware implementation, and IT Development Department based CA firm, Aman implemented consultancy in the government and a project worth `2 crore for education sectors, we are focusing on JKSPDC to convert its single-entry providing security and ERP solutions accounting system to a double-entry system. Informs and targeting sectors like telecom, finance, banking and Singh, “Providing a turnkey solution, we built a data healthcare,” Singh says. “We expect 20 percent growth in center using IBM blade servers, Microsoft and Red Hat revenue in FY2011-12 and about 15 percent in FY2012OS, Oracle database, and IFS ERP. The accounting system 13. We intend to increase our profitability by getting direct was converted using Tally, and then ported to IFS ERP. We billing projects from our customers. We are also gearing connected 20 locations of JKSPDC. We’re also bidding for up to provide cloud and virtualization services.” phase-II of the implementation of HR and management modules and connectivity across over 40 locations.” On a personal note Aman developed and implemented a billing solution With his leadership mantra of empowering oneself for project valued at `2.5 crore across 41 collection centers independent decision-making, Singh considers Azim of the PDD in 2011. The company provided PCs, servers, Premji to be his role model. “I respect his simplicity and storage, networking and printers along with an operating down-to-earth approach. His ethics have brought Wipro to system from Microsoft. Phase-II of this project, worth an enviable level.” `160 crore, has been awarded to Wipro; Aman will be A member of Lions Club and Jammu Club, Singh implementing it with Wipro in the next three years, and runs an NGO, International Community for Regional maintaining the infrastructure for the next seven years. Development & Co-operation, which creates IT awareness The company won ISO 9001-2008 certification in in rural areas and helps rural folk to establish micro2010. Comments Singh: “The certification has helped us businesses. In his free time he likes to socialize on Facebook and LinkedIn, read magazines like Time and CRN, and play cards and lawn tennis. He travels a lot and has explored most of Europe, US and Asia. His favorite “I liked Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara because movies include Sholay and Devdas. “I also liked Zindagi of the inspiration to think beyond our Na Milegi Dobara because of the inspiration to think professional lives and spare time for beyond our professional lives and spare time for ourselves and our families.” n ourselves and our families”

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tech focus From Complex To Simple With Drobo’s LED-based monitoring and set-and-forget administration, iSCSI storage has never been so easy n Edward J Correia


etting up and maintaining an iSCSI storage array can be a challenge, even for an experienced IT administrator. Reducing the job to child’s play is Drobo, which recently expanded its line of compact, high-density SAN devices for small businesses with the Drobo B800i iSCSI Storage SAN for Business, an 8-bay iSCSI SAN that might just be the easiest RAID array that the CRN Test Center has ever set up. While it might not be the cheapest SAN appliance at $3,999, the Drobo B800i more than makes up for its price tag by completely eliminating the need for an experienced administrator. Thanks to its BeyondRAID system, the administrator’s qualifications are reduced to the ability to recognize blue, green, yellow and red LEDs. Gone are the decisions of which RAID level to select, how many drives to put in, and of what size, spin speed and SATA version they need to be. Out of the box, simply insert one or more 3.5-inch SATA drives (free of rails or carriers) of any capacity up to 3 TB and boot the Drobo. Its clever firmware does the rest, figuring out the best way to protect the data using the drives it was given. A line of 10 blue LEDs indicate capacity in use; a new one lights up whenever another 10 percent of the array is occupied. Need more storage space? Just pop another drive into an available slot and Drobo absorbs its capacity and expands available space. No available slots? No problem. Just rip out your smallest drive and pop in a larger one. Data is automatically redistributed. While it’s reconfiguring itself, LEDs on the affected drives alternate between green and yellow to warn against removing them. The company says that such actions will have no effect on users. To test this claim, we ran the IOmeter benchmark utility and monitored I/O traffic and throughput while adding a drive to the array. The 1 TB drive we added blended with the six existing 2 TB drives in about five seconds, after which performance dipped about 10 percent, from 930 IOPS to 840 IOPS. Drobo’s proprietary RAID software protects data after a drive fails (as indicated by a red LED); the ailing drive can simply be yanked out and replaced, and our tests bore out this claim. If two drives fail or are removed at once, all hell breaks loose unless dual disk redundancy is selected during setup (disabled by default). Drobo does warn about it in its documentation


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and demonstration videos, and the software recovered from this scenario anyway, even though we left the default setting for tests. Drobo’s administrative tool is called Drobo Dashboard, and is by far the best iSCSI software we’ve seen as far as ease of setup is concerned. Included for Mac OS X (Intel only) and Windows, this tool is only really needed for initially configuring network settings, creating and modifying volumes, and taking basic snapshots. Drive formatting choices include NTFS, multi-host and none. NTFS, HFS+ and FAT32 file systems are supported (EXT3 is in beta). Capacity

is selected with a slider in 2 TB increments, with explanations of the impact of each choice (for example, selecting 16 TB might cause Windows to take a long time to start up). Thin provisioning is hard-wired, and permits volumes to be created in excess of physical capacity. The only remaining step before making the volume available to the network was to launch an iSCSI Initiator, which on our test laptop saw the drive on the network and mounted the volume for storage and performance testing. From a dual-core Dell Latitude E5510 running 64-bit Windows 7 Professional, maximum transaction performance with 32 Kbyte reads over one of its two Gbit Ethernet channels was 1014 IOPS, while throughput topped out at 31.7 MB/s at the default frame size of 1,500 bytes. In terms of ease of use, iSCSI SAN setup doesn’t get much simpler than with the Drobo B800i. Its LED-based monitoring and automatic administration make the device an ideal solution for resellers looking for a setand-forget storage appliance for servers, and individuals that can be checked from afar and maintained minimally onsite with no specialized expertise. The CRN Test Center recommends Drobo B800i. n

channel buzz Dell India Tech Connect Summit Dell recently concluded a 2-day India Tech Connect Summit which was organized at the Taj Gateway, Bengaluru. More than 50 partners participated in the training aimed at enhancing the expertise of Dell channel partners across India. The ‘India Tech Connect Summit’ serves as a platform to update Dell partners on all its enterprise offerings, especially the solutions. The training was carried out by V Satish, Partner Enablement Manager, Dell India, and Uday Shankar, Enterprise Trainer, Dell India. “In the past two years Dell has made 12 acquisitions that have strengthened its storage and services portfolio. This initiative was aimed at developing a fraternity of technically-savvy partners for our enterprise business

showcase and exemplifying Dell’s enterprise technical strength, capabilities and ROI for the customers in products and solutions,” said Suresh Reddy, General Manager, Global Commercial Channel, Dell India.

The initiative comes in quick succession after the restructuring in the Global Commercial Channel aimed at increasing Dell’s penetration of and footprint in the market especially in tier-2 regions. n

Smartlink Distributors Meet in Dubai Smartlink Network recently organized its 13th Smartlink Yearly Ivy League Family Distributors Meet 2011 in Dubai. The event was attended by all Smartlink distributors with their family members, as well as the vendor’s senior management. The summit included adventurous and fun-filled activities such as a trip to the AquaVenture theme park (the largest water park in the middle east), Dolphin Bay, The Underwater World and Lost Chambers (where the distributors experienced marine life), Atlantis Dive Center (scuba diving) and an exclusive desert safari and gala dinner. “The objective of the meet was to bring a refreshing change in our distributors’ daily routines and give them and their families time to rejuvenate and move forward with more vigor and purpose. Success is all about the way we progress,

change with times and situations, and how we face challenges and innovate,” said KR Naik, Executive Chairman, Smartlink Network. “It was a very memorable and one of the most adventurous

distributors’ meets my family and I have ever attended. It was filled with breathtaking activities. We look forward to the next such meet,” said Anil Gupta, Artek Enterprises, New Delhi. n

To feature your company’s events in CRN, send write-ups with photographs to

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New Products Buffalo TeraStation Pro WSS storage

D-Link DGS-6604 xStack chassis switch



uffalo Technology launched its TeraStation Pro WSS, a RAID-based network attached storage. It runs on MS Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 workgroup edition and is available in capacities up to 12 TB in a desktop model and up to 8 TB in a rackmount model. It is powered by Intel Atom 1.66 GHz dual core / 2 GB RAM, and has front loading hot swap hard drives with lockable front panel. It includes active directory support, disk quota support and scheduled shut down. The product price ranges from `1.42 lakh for a 2-bay table-top model to `3.45 lakh for a 4-bay rackmount. It comes with a 3-year warranty, and is available with authorized partners.

-Link introduced its DGS-6604 xStack chassis switch which offers 10 Gigabit Ethernet aggregation and Power over Ethernet support. It offers a high-speed switch fabric with capacity of up to 576 Gbps and system performance of up to 428 Mpps. Other features include bottleneck-free distributed packet switching/ routing, intelligent line cards with on board Level 2/Level 3/Level 4 switching controllers, up to four redundant load-sharing power modules, replaceable fan module, 802.1D/w/s spanning tree, 802.3ad link aggregation and virtual router redundancy protocol support. It comes with 1-year warranty, and is available through Ingram Micro and Redington. The price is available on request.

Kingston Wi-Drive


ingston launched the Wi-Drive in India which offers extended storage options in 16 GB and 32 GB for Apple devices. It provides pocket-sized portable storage and easy file sharing on the iPod Touch (Gen 3 and 4), iPhone (3G, 3GS and above) and iPad. It comes with integrated Wi-Fi, and compiles and organizes files, music and videos in separate folders. The 16 GB drive comes for `9,900 while the 32 GB version costs `11,900; come with a 1-year warranty, and are distributed by Fortune Marketing.

AOC i2353Ph IPS LED monitor


OC has launched its In-Plane Switching (IPS) LED monitor, the i2353Ph, in India. The IPS panel technology addresses three main limitations of regular twisted nematic panels which include wider viewing angle, real color and solid panels. The monitor has a slim profile in a metallic finish body, light-emitting touch keys and a tilt flexi wall mount. It also has LED backlight and a high DCR of 50 million:1. It provides wide access to digital entertainment with the 2 HDMI ports and hidden multimedia speakers. The 23-inch monitor is priced at `11,990, comes with a 1-year warranty, and is available with authorized distributors.

The products featured here have not undergone any benchmarking or testing. The trailers contain information provided by vendors and distributors. To feature your company’s products in CRN, send write-ups with photos to


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shadow ram GET

Mukund retires



hile Acer is unwilling to either confirm or deny it, the news is that the soft-spoken Managing Director of Acer India, WS Mukund, is calling it a day at the PC maker. Mukund has been at the helm of Acer from 2001, and has been instrumental in the company’s rise to the top five players in the Indian PC market. Harish Kohli, the current Chief Sales Officer, will succeed him. Mukund started his career with Blue Star where he handled sales. He then became a partner with Meera Dynamics, a distributor for WS Mukund ICIM and DCM Data. He later became the General Manager at Pertech Computers before moving to Acer in 1998 as the Marketing Director of Acer Middle East. n

“I want to end poverty” Kamal Gulati, Head, Atempo, monitors the company’s India operations. Prior to joining Atempo he was Lead Channel Manager, Information Management, IBM. He also worked for TCS as Global Sales Manager, NCS.

Kamal Gulati

If not in the IT industry: I would have been a film critic as I am a movie buff. Biggest passion: Reading and

collecting antiques. Behind the wheels: Porsche and Jaguar. Gadget I can’t live without: My iPad & iPhone. Weekends are for: Family and friends. Favorite holiday destination: Greece. Hate the most: Unprofessional behavior. Favorite movies: Mughal-e-Azam and Schindler’s List. Favorite star: Dilip Kumar. Role models: My mother and Steve Jobs. Ultimate ambition: To make Atempo the most preferred content security brand. Wildest thing I have ever done: Encountered a tiger while I was on an adventure holiday in the Gir forest. Thing I most want to do: Scuba diving. If I became the PM: I would want to end poverty in our country. Celebrity I would like to spend a day with: Hema Malini. One person I would like to meet, and why: The Prime Minister, to ask him why he is not taking stringent action against corruption. Deepest and darkest fear: Retirement. n 


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CRN November 1, 2011  

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CRN November 1, 2011  

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