FOCAL POINT: Find out how big data is providing avenues for organizations to streamline their business processes. PAGE 37
ChannelWorld STRATEGIC INSIGHTS FOR SOLUTION PROVIDERS | COVER PRICE Rs.50
PRASANNA, CEO, Kryptos, is counting on the increasing popularity of opex models to drive growth.
Inside NOVEMBER 2012 VOL. 6, ISSUE 8
VC’s new entrants are going to town about their new innovations. Should the established players be worried? PAGE 12 The Grill: Theresa Caragol, Vice President, Global Channels, Extreme Networks, has revamped the company’s channel approach. PAGE 15 On Record: Denis Dorval, VP, EMEA & APAC, Alfresco, articulates the distinctive proposition as a preferred ECM vendor in the Indian market. PAGE 20
The transition to IPv6 isn’t news. But that it represents an untapped business opportunity for solution providers is. PAGE 34
Face Off As more Indian companies turn their backs on capex-led IT, four partners show you how to run an opex business. >>> Pg 22
Between Cisco and Juniper, who will have an edge when Software Defined Networks become a reality? PAGE 42
Juniper NetworksÂŽ wireless LAN solution provides secure, scalable connectivity for mobile users and every one of their Wi-Fi enabled devices. Combined with unprecedented reliability and unified management, Juniper provides the most dependable infrastructure for the mass deployment of mission critical mobility applications, including voice, video, telemetry, and location services. With a comprehensive family of the most intelligent and advanced controllers, access points, and management tools, Juniper enables nonstop indoor and outdoor mobility for enterprises of all sizes, from small retail operations to the largest campuses. With Juniperâ€™s WLAN solution, organizations can build end-to-end, high-performance wireless infrastructures that deliver a seamless, secure, and reliable mobility experience regardless of where, when, or how users access the network. juniper.net
+ Ăž Inbound Response Management Priya Sharma v:1800 209 3062 f:022 66765553
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n EDITOR’S NOTE
Ode to Experimentation The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies. —Napoleon Bonaparte Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. —Barack Obama
OR CLOSE to 200 years, Macedonian military strat-
egy revolved around the phalanx. Each unit was a square formation formed by 256 infantrymen armed with sharpened wooden spears nearly 18 feet in length. Used to devastating effect by Alexander the Great, the phalanx kept the enemy pinned while heavy horse-borne cavalry broke through their frontline. In battle after battle, Alexander’s rivals found themselves at the mercy of the formidable and nearly indestructible phalanx. That’s the reason why the Macedonian emperor’s successors continued to employ it. That is till the Battle of Pydna on June 22, 168 BC. That afternoon, as the battle moved into uneven terrain near a hill, Macedonian infantrymen struggled to maintain formation allowing the Roman legionaries the room to exploit gaps. Faced by the more maneuverable Roman legions, the slowmoving phalanx gave way in less than an hour, with Roman swords turning the Macedonian infantry’s very rigidity against itself. The battle was decisive for other reasons as well—it marked the beginning of the rise of Rome. Why this lesson in ancient history? Simple. 2
In the war between rigid systems and more flexible approaches, the latter will triumph. As management expert and author John Hagel points out, conventional business strategy approaches emphasize the need to develop a detailed strategic blueprint and then tightly couple operational initiatives to execute the blueprint. The rationale for this is understandable: The need to drive more efficiency in business and the desire to cut costs. But faced with the growth of uncertainty in business environments, systems start to develop cracks and become less
n A radical reshaping of the way your company is set up may help tackle today’s battles and tomorrow’s wars.
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
viable. What some CEOs are beginning to push for are systems with greater flexibility, which allow for experimentation while reducing the risk element. Flexibility not only enhances the ability to react to new market demands, but also creates the opportunity to anticipate new market forces and help shape the changes that will challenge others. Only organizations that nurture flexibility and resiliency, and work toward greater financial visibility are more likely than not to survive the crisis, nay, even thrive. The options are limited, typically knee-jerk and scary. Gut instinct, giving in to impulses, or even allowing the current economic scenario to directly dictate a response, is likely to prove ineffective. The answer to the crisis, I’m convinced, lies in building a different organization ground up—one that is
more responsive and less hierarchical and, even one, that’s based on a business model focused on dealing with rapidly changing economic realities. How do you look at deferred payments from clients? Would you be willing to bet on a new and different technology or principal? Would you be open to giving a stake in your organization to your staff? Are you willing to back off and allow your colleagues to become more responsive to client needs? Are you willing to not stand on ceremony and truly delegate? Can you think of the need to co-opt your closest rival in creating value for both organizations? If you had to set up your organization from scratch what would you retain and what would you dump? These are but some of the questions that have come up in recent discussions that I’ve had with your peers. Some reflect the tough choices that are being forced on you by a dynamic market; others, are paths that make sense whatever the external situation. There is no one true path that will help all solution providers emerge from the current situation. That will depend on business imperatives and, more importantly, on the choices you make. Choose wisely. Choose well. n Vijay Ramachandran is the Editor-in-Chief of ChannelWorld. Contact him at email@example.com
FOR BREAKING NEWS, GO TO CHANNELWORLD.IN
Inside INDIAN CHANNELWORLD ■ NOVEMBER 2012
■ NEWS DIGEST 07 Oracle’s Cloud Offerings’ Price | Oracle has finally answered a
big question hovering over its emerging family of cloud services: What do they cost? 07 Reaching Out to SMBs | NetApp and Cisco have revealed ExpressPod, a new converged infrastructure for SMBs based on its predecessor. ExpressPod fills out a mid-sized offering the partnership had been lacking.
but there’s a lot of yeast in that hype. Should organizations pay heed to Microsoft’s promises? 33 Bart Perkins: Skeptics haven’t got their due. Often, their presence provides a reality check to organizations. But it is vital that you differentiate between the good kind and the bad.
■ THE GRILL 15 Theresa Caragol, VP, Global
Channels, Extreme Networks,
08 Indian IT Services Market to Soar | The Indian IT services market is forecast to reach $10.2 billion in 2013, a 12 percent increase from an estimated $9.1 billion in 2012, according to Gartner. 10 Blame the PC Slide on Windows 8 | Customers
holding back until Windows 8 is released, as well as businesses completing the refresh of their inventories, have triggered a drop in PC sales over the past three months compared to last year.
■ NEWS ANALYSIS 12 Gunning for VC’s Big Boys |
VC’s new entrants are going to town about their new innovations. Should the established players be worried?
■ OPINION Cover Photograph by SRIVATSA SHANDILYA Cover Design by UNNIKRISHNAN A.V
02 Editorial: Vijay Ramachan-
dran believes only organizations that nurture flexibility and resiliency, and work toward greater financial visibility are more likely than not to survive a crisis, and thrive. 17 Steven Vaughan-Nichols: Microsoft is insisting that Windows 8 is the best thing since sliced bread,
has revamped the company’s channel approach.
■ COVER STORY
■ FAST TRACK
22 Clearing Out Capex
32 Surendra Chikkala, MD,
CA&S Solutions, believes Vizag is all set to become a premium solutionsbased market. Institutions in Andhra Pradesh’s second-biggest city are turning to the cloud.
More and more Indian IT leaders are turning to opex IT models driven by the payment flexibility it offers and the benefits associated with it, including avoiding the need to build and maintain solutions. Yet, not very many tier-2 partners have embraced opex models. If you are one of them, here’s how to do it.
34 IPv4 to IPv6
The transition to IPv6 isn’t news. But that it represents an untapped business opportunity for solution providers is. The transition represents a revenue-spinning opportunity for channel partners. But only if they can figure out in what form the opportunity comes in and where to find it.
FOR BREAKING NEWS, GO TO CHANNELWORLD.IN
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD ■ NOVEMBER 2012
Publisher, President & CEO Louis D’Mello Associate Publishers Rupesh Sreedharan, Sudhir Argula
36 Nishant Gupta,
Director, Radiant Info Solutions, pitted his ambition against the recession. His ambition won. He has, since, increased mindshare among customers by ensuring that their requirements are met .
■ ON RECORD
20 Denis Dorval, Vice President, EMEA & APAC, Alfresco, articulates the distinctive
Geetha Building, 49, 3rd Cross, Mission Road, Bangalore - 560 027, India
■ FOCAL POINT
37 Plugging Those Leaks
BIG DATA: Big data provides social data
and other publicly available data that can be analyzed and used to understand the customers’ sentiment and needs before they become issues or problems that lead to churn. This is a significant advancement for organizations that, until now, had to rely on customers’ frankness and candor to understand issues.
40 The 7 Steps in Big Data Delivery
BIG DATA: The big data trend represents
proposition as a preferred ECM vendor in the India market.
■ FACE OFF
42 Defining the Network: Between Cisco
and Juniper, who will have an edge when Software Defined Networks become a reality?
the evolving need to process large amounts of data with a new crop of technology solutions that aren’t necessarily your father’s database. So, what does a company need to consider when contemplating getting started with big data? Here are seven steps that could help you get started.
Editor-in-Chief Vijay Ramachandran Executive Editors Gunjan Trivedi, T.M. Arun Kumar Associate Editor Yogesh Gupta Deputy Editor Sunil Shah Assistant Editor Online Varsha Chidambaram Special Correspondents Radhika Nallayam, Shantheri Mallaya Principal Correspondents Gopal Kishore, Madana Prathap Senior Correspondents Anup Varier, Sneha Jha Correspondents Aritra Sarkhel, Debarati Roy, Eric Ernest, Ershad Kaleebullah, Shweta Rao, Shubhra Rishi Chief Copy Editor Shardha Subramanian Senior Copy Editor Shreehari Paliath Copy Editor Vinay Kumaar Lead Designers Jinan K.V., Suresh Nair, Vikas Kapoor Senior Designer Unnikrishnan A.V. Designers Amrita C. Roy, Sabrina Naresh ■ SALES
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PAGE 08: Indian IT Services Market to Soar PAGE 08: Is Cisco Filling the Gap? PAGE 10: Blame the PC Slide on Windows 8 PAGE 12: Gunning for VC’s Big Boys
F I N D M O R E A R T I C L E S AT CHANNELWORLD.IN
Oracle’s Cloud Offerings’ Price
RACLE HAS finally
answered a big question hovering over its emerging family of cloud services: What do they cost? While not giving a public price for every one of its cloud products, Oracle’s website now has pricing for its on-demand database and Java development service, as well as for some applications. Pricing for the database service, which uses version 11g R2, starts at $175 (about Rs 9,000) per month for one schema, 5GB of disk storage and 30GB of data
transfer. A mid-tier option costs $900 (about Rs 47, 000) per month with one schema, 20GB of storage and 120GB of data transfer. For $2,000 (about Rs 1 lakh) per month, developers get 50GB of storage and 300GB of data transfer, but still only one schema. The Java service is also priced in tiers, starting at $249 (about Rs 13,700) per month for a single WebLogic server and rising up to $1,499 (about Rs 82,500) for four servers, with storage and data transfer amounts also rising accordingly.
Still unknown is how much Oracle’s upcoming IaaS, is going to cost. This is of particular interest since Oracle is positioning the IaaS as a competitor to Amazon Web Services, which is known for its lowcost IaaS. Oracle plans to price its IaaS competitively but would rather land deals that incorporate its full cloud stack, rather than just sell commodity compute cycles in bulk, said Abhay Parasnis, SVP of Oracle Cloud. The public pricing for the database and Java service come as Oracle is now ready to offer them broadly to customers after working extensively with some large companies to work out all the kinks, Parasnis said. “One of the key tenets for us is to match the enterprise-grade SLAs customers expect.” Oracle’s pricing seems higher than that of its rival Salesforce.com, “but what they are providing in general is deeper in functionality,” said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. As a result, Salesforce. com customers have to add certain components, Wang said. “So the main point is, get it all with Oracle or piecemeal it with Salesforce.com. The pricing is market-competitive.”
— By Chris Kanaracus INDIAN CHANNELWORLD
Reaching Out to SMBs NetApp and Cisco have revealed ExpressPod, a new converged infrastructure for SMBs based on its predecessor, FlexPod. ExpressPod fills out a mid-sized offering the partnership had been lacking. Additionally, Cisco and NetApp will announce new storage clustering capabilities to FlexPod and the release of a validated VMware solution for the Oracle Real Application Cluster (RAC) . ExpressPod, a prepackaged
and tested architecture that includes FlexPod’s new storage clustering and RAC capabilities. ExpressPod integrates Cisco UCS C-Series servers, NetApp arrays, and Cisco Nexus switches with infrastructure management. Last year , NetApp announced an entry-level FlexPod configuration to support nearly 1,000 end-users. — By Lucas Mearian
Indian IT Services Market to Soar
HE INDIAN IT
has slowed in the past year services market is because of global economic forecast to reach challenges, the growth $10.2 billion (about fundamentals are on relaRs 53,000 crore) in 2013, a tively solid footing, driven 12 percent increase from primarily by growing doan estimated $9.1 billion in mestic consumption. For 2012, according to Gartner. this reason, GDP growth is India’s IT services marexpected to remain steady ket offers significant opin the longer term. Serportunities for vices spending IT service proon transparency viders because and efficiencyof the increasing related projects The forecasted needs and wants from the governincrease in the IT services market of IT buyers. ment, such as for 2013 compared As companies e-governance to 2012. grow in size and projects, inscale, the market cluding Unique is likely to see larger IT Identification Authority services deals with more of India, and Accelerated sophisticated deal engagePower Development and ment practices. Reforms Programme, “Despite facing a sloware expected to drive serdown in the past two years, vice spending.” the rate of growth of India’s Government infrastrucIT services sector remains ture projects will strongly relatively high,” said Arup drive IT, in conjunction Roy, principal research anwith the expansion of the alyst, Gartner. He says, “Alfinancial services and manthough India’s GDP growth ufacturing sub-sectors.
The Indian domestic IT services market is transitioning rapidly, with profound changes in buying needs and behavior. The number, size, and scale of IT services deals are increasing. Buyers are becoming more sophisticated in their sourcing practice and vendor management. Deals are transitioning from first to secondgeneration outsourcing. The Indian market of the future is likely to see efficiency and enhancement-based deals in energy and utilities, transportation, education, and parts of government bodies. “Service providers wishing to enter into the Indian market must factor in the rising infrastructure and IT labor rates, along with high attrition levels, in their planning exercise for their operations costs, as well as local regulations and bureaucratic challenges in establishing and operating businesses in India. Leveraging tier-2 and tier-3 cities for Indian business is a tactic that could be used in conjunction with the mainstream delivery from tier-1 locations,” said Roy
Is Cisco Filling the Gap?
left open the possibility of revisiting the ADC market. Oppenheimer believes that re-evaluation will result in an OEM deal with Citrix and a possible acquisition of the company’s NetScaler assets, according to this post in StreetInsider.com. “From a technology standpoint, NetScaler is a highquality solution relative to Cisco’s discontinued ACE and one that Cisco can sell as a standalone
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
DellSonicWALL appointed Amit Singh as the new country head for India. A Dell executive for the past three years, Singh’s recent role was as regional sales manager for South India. He has more than 13 years of industry experience in various organizations such as Redington, Vitage Systems, and Nirmal Datacomm. Intel has announced the appointment of Kumud Srinivasan as president for Intel India. Kumud succeeds Praveen Vishakantaiah. Srinivasan has been with Intel for over 25 years, and has held several business and information systems positions within Intel’s manufacturing and information technology organizations. Red Hat announced the promotion of long-time Red Hat employee Arun Kumar from senior director of business development for APAC to general manager for Red Hat India.
— By Team ChannelWorld
Cisco could buy Citrix’s networking business if an expected OEM deal involving the latter’s application delivery controller product bears fruit, Oppenheimer analysts said. Oppenheimer & Co. issued bulletins stating that Cisco is expected to fill its recent ADC hole with Citrix’s NetScaler product under an OEM arrangement. Cisco killed its own Application Control Engine (ACE) product but
MIND THE GAP Cisco may fix its ADC void with a Citix product.
ADC to enterprise/SMBs,” the site quotes Oppenheimer as stating. “While OEM relationships are tough to execute, Cisco has a strong sales force and now a strong product to sell. We see little go-to-market conflict as we expect Cisco to focus on
standalone solutions while Citrix will focus on bundling with its own solutions.” Longer term, Oppenheimer believes Cisco could move to acquire NetScaler for $1.5 billion (about Rs 7,000 crore) to $2.1 billion, or five to seven times fiscal 2012 revenue. Such a deal would put pressure on market leader F5 and Radware. Citrix acquired NetScaler in 2005 for $300 million (about Rs 1,650 crore). Spinning it off would allow Citrix to focus on its core virtualization business, Oppenheimer notes. — By Jim Duffy
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Blame the PC Slide on Windows 8
USTOMERS HOLDING back until
Windows 8 is released, as well as businesses completing the refresh of their inventories, triggered a drop in PC sales over the past three months compared to last year, a dip that may recover by yearend, experts say. The Windows 8 trough— the suppression of PC sales because customers want to see Windows 8 before deciding to buy it or something else—was definitely a factor in the numbers, says Ezra Gottheil, senior analyst with Technology Business Research. “That a new operating system suppresses sales in the quarter preceding its availability is proven by history,” Gottheil says. “It even happens to Apple.” That said, other factors came into play, according to Gartner. “Professional PC shipments in the US began slowing in the second quarter of this year, and they continued the trend in the third quarter,” says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner in a written statement. “The results indicate that the replacement peak may have passed in the professional sector.” Plus there is a continuing slowdown in consumer PC sales, she says. In a statement announcing its third-quarter PC sales numbers, IDC says some of the slowdown can be pinned on a “loss of mindshare” among students who historically respond to backto-school sales.
The research firm says PC sales worldwide were down 8.6 percent between the second and third quarters. Gartner numbers say that sales were down 8.3 percent as compared to the same period last year. The numbers are surprising despite an already conservative outlook exposing vulnerability of PCs to the threat of other devices and the loss of mindshare among buyers who until recent years have flocked to back-to-school promotions in the third quarter for PCs, IDC says. Another factor is the global economy; people have less money to spend and buying a new PC is pushed
TheWorld BYOD remains unmanaged: Ovum
While the BYOD phenomenon has entered the mainstream with 70 percent of smartphone-owning professionals using their personal devices to access corporate data, almost 80 percent of today’s BYOD activity remains inadequately managed by IT departments, according to analyst and research firm, Ovum. It indicated that nearly half of the respondents’ employers’ IT departments either did not know of BYOD or were ignoring its existence through a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. —Nermin Bajric
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
down the priority list, says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. “Overall economic performance —GDP and consumer confidence—have more to say about PC sales historically, and the economy is affecting the market in general,” he says.
HP’s New BPO Analytics Service
HP Enterprise Services has announced its new BPO analytics services that are designed to accelerate discovery of growth opportunities, efficiencies, and cost savings, while supporting improvements in compliance and mitigation of risk. With the new HP Business Analytics Services, HP BPO professionals can analyze structured and unstructured data methodologies to derive insights, facilitate decisions, and define recommended actions for clients across a variety of functions such as marketing, sales, customers, supply chain, finance, and human resources. — Team ChannelWorld
“They’re interested in a touch tablet so they’ll buy a few [Windows 8] and try them out on the sales group and executives,” he says. “They want the manageability of Windows 8 but something more interesting than what they had [laptops].” — By Tim Greene
HDS, Brocade join hands
Brocade,has announced a range of its Ethernet and SAN fabric switches have been integrated by HDS for networking technology in its new UCP converged infrastructure solutions. The Brocade products that will be offered through Hitachi UCP are the VDX 6720 switch for Ethernet fabrics, VDX 6746 embedded switch for Ethernet fabrics, and 5460 embedded switch for Fibre Channel SAN fabrics. — ARN
n NEWS ANALYSIS
Gunning for VC’s Big Boys
Video conferencing’s new entrants are going to town about their new innovations. Should the established players be worried? By Shantheri Mallaya 12
LifeSize recently made a slew of announcements pointing to the disruptive technologies they’re bringing to the video conferencing table. They say they can offer better quality video at a lower price, and that their technology makes them better prepared for a BYOD world. Their innovations are pitting them against established big boys Cisco and Polycom. Could this be the start of a dramatic change in the VC pecking order? Are these sticks and stones, or the pebble that will bring down Goliath?
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
PROPRIETARY VS OPEN SYSTEMS One of the disruptive features newer player like Vidyo and LifeSize are tom-tomming about is centered around interoperability—a customer benefit, they allege, that Cisco and Polycom do not allegedly support. (For the other features, see interview on the next page) “The term “disruptive” is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by designing for a different set of consumers in the new
market. We are confident that the R&D we have invested heavily into over the last several years has made us one of the leading innovators in our domain. Universal Video Collaboration (UVC) is a strong testament to that,” says Deepak Braganza, country manager, LifeSize India. Their claims assume more importance given two large trends: VC moving out of the boardroom and the bring-your-owndevice (BYOD) phenomenon. Both these drive the need for increased interoperability. “BYOD is, undeniably a reality,” says Krishan Giridhar, founder and MD, Presto Infosolutions, a Polycom partner. Gupta says that personal VC is the order of the day. “If you look at it broadly, the key underlying issue is not interoperability at the enterprise level, but more about proprietary protocols on personal VC such as Facetime, Gtalk or Skype, amongst others,” he says. The established players aren’t taking these charges lying down. “These claims by certain vendors are not true,” says Minhaj Zia, director-collaboration, Cisco India. “Cisco takes its position as a leader, as an open system player adhering to industry standards and implementing a common protocol, pretty seriously. Also, we have built an entire architecture, focusing on security, unlike some of the other newer players, who are still relatively small.” He says that for players like LifeSize or Vidyo, the emphasis is on video, while the Cisco approach is more about the entire network,
A Disruptive Game Changer
Ruchir Godura, VP, India and South Asia, Vidyo Inc, talks about introducing disruptive technologies in VC. Aren’t you late entrants in the VC market in India? Yes, while we concede that, we also have game changing technology as our card. This will take VC from being a fairly proprietary technology to an open cloud mode. The idea is to bring VC out of the board room to any device, anywhere. Vidyo and other new players such as yourself have claimed to possess disruptive technologies that would change the face of VC quite dramatically. How do you substantiate this? Vidyo is considered a disruptive technology. A disruptive technology is one that disrupts the established industry norms. Vidyo delivers a complete product family of HD video conferencing products using a much simpler design and at a much lower which places premium on interoperability. Abhimanyu Gupta, MD, Actis Technologies, agrees that interoperability isn’t really an issue with the offerings of the established players. “Interoperability is a key factor, that’s true. But most of the big players like Cisco and Polycom use
price. Three key factors make it disruptive. The first is SVC (scalable video coding). This is a new video industry standard that enables HD video using a standard internet connection. The second key factor is the Vidyo architecture does not use an MCU (multipoint control unit) when multiple parties connect, as these are expensive. Vidyo uses an application layer router in the middle. The third key factor in the Vidyo product line is software. It uses off-the-shelf hardware. This reduces expenses. It is now affordable for the small business and a disruptive game changer in the industry. You still have Cisco, Polycom, among others to contend with… Cisco and Polycom have only recently made announcements about the cloud. We foresaw the cloud atleast four to five years ago, and are commercializing the open cloud mode in an aggressive way. And even for a customer, upgrading their existing infrastructure might turn out to be incredibly expensive. With us, the customer can scale to 10,000 users without having to replace video coding. industry standards. These aren’t what you’d exactly call proprietary protocols.” The concept of proprietary protocols arose when Cisco came out with its first telepresence system, Cisco CTS, which used proprietary protocols. Eventually they came up with MCUs (multipoint
Juniper Networks and Vidyo have announced a strategic alliance very recently. And, so what does this entail? We are in the process of devising details. The announcements will be made in due course. We are happy to see the confidence Juniper Networks has reposed in us, as they view us as very futuristic. What will be your go-to-market strategy for India? We will be approaching the service providers and the SI/ distributors. The service providers will host and offer VC through the opex model. Through Wipro and HCL, VC will be a part of their large capex projects. We have closed a partnership with a leading French telecom service provider that is coming into India for VC as a service. We would possibly devise suitable models with them to reach enterprise and government customers. If “Why Vidyo?” is clear, then the battle is half won. The real growth in VC is yet to happen with mobility and the cloud. And I believe we have the best advantage with quality products with ease of use. —By Shantheri Mallaya
control units) to mitigate the problem. However if you take Cisco-Tandberg, LifeSize or Polycom, they are all interoperable, Gupta says. Giridhar from Presto agrees. “It would be inappropriate to say that the VC systems of the larger players are not interoper-
able. In my opinion, not only do they adhere to industry standards, but they also support third party technologies.” From a Polycom perspective, Neeraj Gill, MD, India & SAARC, Polycom, says that very few vendors give customers an open enterprise collaboration platform that natively interoperates with the broadest set of applications ranging from IM/ presence, telephony, web conferencing, video collaboration, mobile, social and more.
VC ON THE CLOUD? Vidyo’s jargon of the ‘open cloud’ and Polycom’s recent announcements on CloudAXIS, a global launch that will reportedly see light in India in a couple of months, has shifted the discussion to VC on the cloud. There are mixed views on whether VC on the cloud will become a reality. On one side, vendors say it will emphatically. On the other, partners are more cautious. “We believe VC is definitely moving to the cloud at a very fast pace in a bid to make it more accessible to a wider audience of consumers and businesses,” says Gill. In fact, Polycom states that Airtel and Tulip are already using Polycom’s RealPresence Cloud platform to deliver VaaS (video as a service) solutions Indian to SMBs and enterprises. Polycom’s CloudAXIS reportedly takes a step further and promises to extend enterprise-grade video collaboration to users of Skype, Facebook, Google Talk, and other business video applications via a browser.
n NEWS ANALYSIS “It enables or quickens the adoption of video as a service within the market or VCaaS (Video Collaboration as a service) and not just video as a service,” says Gill, Players such as LifeSize are jumping in with endpoint connections claiming to cost as low as $100 (about Rs 5,400) per-userper-month for an endpoint connection to the service and $30 (about Rs 1,620) per-user-per-month for a desktop client, which includes a camera and hardware to host and manage a videoconference session. The subscription allows for unlimited use of the service. “Today, we have many SME customers who are utilising our cloud platform,” says Braganza of LifeSize India, According to Zia at Cisco, the discussion on cloud is nothing new. It’s just that too many people, namely the new entrants, are talking about it now. “We have mature solutions and our service providers have services that they have deployed since the last three to four years,” he says. While the jury is still out on whether the cloud will become a reality Gupta from Actis is talking to customers on the hugely under tapped potential of UC. “While Polycom’s latest cloud announcement will be a wait-and-watch for us, we feel customers in India are still largely ignorant of the power of UC, and that VC is only a subset. We want to educate the customer to look at UC as a whole and not VC as a silo,” he says. Does that make capex and proprietary technologies cost prohibitive? No, 14
The discussion on cloud is nothing new. It is just that the newer entrants are talking about it now. We have mature solutions and our service providers have been deploying it for the last three to four years.” MINHAJ ZIA, DIRECTOR-COLLABORATION, CISCO INDIA
It is a misnomer to say there are newer players in this space. The VC market is still dominated by a handful of proprietary technologies and players unlike the hardcore audio market.” NAVASHREE PANDE, GM-AVSI, ENKAY TECHNOLOGIES
Interoperability is a key factor, that’s true. But most of the big players like Cisco and Polycom use industry standards. These aren’t exactly proprietary protocols.” ABHIMANYU GUPTA, MD, ACTIS TECHNOLOGIES
says Zia, observing that it would be a harsh allegation to make. Cisco VC is quite competent, competitive and the premium, if any, is justified due to the value and support delivered to the customer, he says Partners such as Presto and Actis foresee that large infrastructure projects will continue to exist in niche markets. So, capex is not out, at least not as yet. But, then there will be the growing service provider space that will embrace VaaS and VCaaS. So, the ideal strategy would be to retain capex and opex optimally. “The real impediment to the growth of VaaS and VCaaS lies in the bandwidth. Resolve that, and then it is a level playing field,” says Giridhar at Presto.
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
WHO WILL HAVE THE LAST LAUGH? For all their assertions, market figures point to the continued dominance of established players. According to Frost & Sullivan, Polycom has a market share (by revenue) of 50 percent followed closely by Cisco at 37 percent for 2011-12. LifeSize has around 4 percent. An array of smaller players command the remaining 8 percent. The new players, clearly, have a long way to go. “It is a misnomer to say there are new players in this space. The VC market is still dominated by a handful of proprietary technologies and players unlike the hard-core audio market, where you can see hundreds of new entrants introducing disruptive technologies,” says Pande.
She believes that the socalled new entrants in the VC market are not technology vendors who have remained largely the same, but SIs who are entering and forging partnerships with these vendors at an exponential pace. The market is expected to see a CAGR of 20.1 percent over the next seven years. The key vendors are likely to make the best use of the opportunities that lie ahead of them—be it the cloud or otherwise. Both Cisco and Polycom have made tactical acquisitions and partnerships to augment their VC strategy. Vidyo’s recent alliance with Juniper Networks might be a tactical move by both the parties to counter Cisco and gallop ahead in this space.
Dossier Name: Theresa Caragol Designation: Vice President, Global Channels Company: Extreme Networks Current Role: Overseeing strategy and successful execution for Extreme Networks’ worldwide channels, encompassing more than 700 partners in more than 50 countries. Career Graph: Caragol worked with Ciena as VP of Channels and Alliances. There, she established a strong and diverse partner ecosystem and industry-recognized channel program. In the last 17 years Caragol has worked for IBM, Nortel and Bay Networks.
the globe. That’s essential for an organization whose channel-base is growing. We need to make some of the key partnerships truly global. To achieve this, we have already launched phase-1 of our global partner program, which ensures returns to partners who have invested in Extreme Networks. Channel enablement programs and marketing are two areas that partners say Extreme Networks has lagged behind in recent years. When you came on-board this April, did you look into these areas? Yes. I got in touch with a few partners across the globe. While they agreed unanimously that our products are great, they felt that Extreme was not using the channel very effectively and was not building business partnerships with the channel. I think there is a huge difference between channel and real partnerships. And, that’s what I hope to be driving across the world.
n THE GRILL
VP, Global Channels, Extreme Networks, has revamped the company’s channel approach. You masterminded the channel program at your previous company, Ciena. How different is it to work with a company that already has a legacy partner program? When I joined Ciena, they were trying to define their channel. While we changed that in five years, here at Extreme Networks, it’s all about the channel. We are immensely channel-
focused, and my challenge was to take it to the next level. The exciting part for me is that different geographies are doing it differently. India has its own way, while Latin America’s doing it totally differently. While that’s good, because it’s entrepreneurial and that’s how you win, we have to figure out how to apply best practices across
You have spoken about the need for the channel to be represented as a single entity. Considering that Extreme Networks’ a decentralized organization, how will you ensure this happens? Before I joined, we did not have a formal channel structure. We had a global partner program, but it wasn’t the same across continents.
n THE GRILL | THERESA CARAGOL different countries to discuss various topics.
We are trying to bring normalization to partner programs across the globe. We have a global strategy and role-based regional execution.
Our CEO, Oscar Rodriguez, recognized the need to have a formal channel organization. We hired some good talent to build an infrastructure that has a sales leadership in the region and a program enablement team that is supporting this sales organization which can better enable the channel. We are trying to bring normalization in partner programs across the globe. We have a global strategy and role-based regional execution. We also came up with a Global Partner Advisory Counsel, to provide a common platform for representatives of 16
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
You also had plans to rationalize your partner base, and cut underperforming partners. Do you think this is smart move, considering that most partners today work with multiple vendors and mostly go by customer preference? Is it fair to expect a particular partner to be active all the time? I am big fan of quality over quantity. I believe that it’s better to have quality partners with whom we can have strong relationships. There definitely are a few ‘tactical’ partners who we work with whenever an opportunity arises. But there’s also another set of partners who are very consistent across the globe. They have a high-level of technical competency and a deep customer-base with whom they form a very strong relationship. They are often regional in nature or vertical focused. They typically sign up with vendors that are best of breed, and then build a portfolio of multiple vendors. So, we may not be the big guys, but a lot of these partners are extremely keen on signing up with us. That’s the profile we are interested in. Those are the partners that I want us to be investing into. It’s not that we are not going to support the others, but presently, I am trying to build two levels of support. While Extreme is known for quality products in the datacenter space, partners feel that you need to focus more on OEM relationships so as to be a big player in the converged datacenter architecture space. Don’t you think a lack of such partnerships will limit your growth, despite having some of the best products? We already have different ecosystem partners. On the physical security side, we have partnered with Axis and Milestone. Besides, on the datacenter front, we just announced that we are VCE Vblock ready, which is a key step. We believe that the ecosystem consists of solution providers, distributors, technology partners and consultants. That way we communicate and support each of them differently. The Advisory
Counsel helps all these partners to act together and share ideas across the globe. We are creating a community among our partners so they will be able to benefit from each other. Is ‘focus’ your answer to competition from players like Cisco, who are into several things? We are going to remain focused. Campus, enterprise and education are going to be our key focus areas. From what I am hearing, the Avaya acquisition of Nortel has really worked out, and we see an opportunity there. The whole datacenter market is just beginning to get created. We also bet big on physical security. I want partners who can go all-out and look at multiple areas, and be able to sell our solutions accordingly. While BYOD holds a lot of potential, there seems to be a disconnect at multiple levels. CIOs in India think they don’t find partners who have the right expertise, while partners feel that they need more handholding from vendors. How will your channel encash this opportunity? In India, our partners are already on the job. We are really strong in the education sector. A lot of partners have accumulated skills in BYOD as they grew. So it’s not by design, but by default. We have a lot of tier-II partners who are surprisingly strong in mobility solutions. We have a significant number of campuses that are deploying BYOD solutions. We will gradually look at the enterprise segment as well. From a portfolio perspective, we are already pretty strong in BYOD. You were quite prompt in coming up with an SDN strategy. But SDN still seems to be in an incubation stage. Do you have clarity on how your partners should look at it as a market opportunity? SDN is a big focus within the company and I think we are well placed compared to some of our competitors. The reason is that we are the first to come up with a modular OS. We already have SDN capabilities in our products. Given the architecture of our OS, it’s very easy to go into an SDN frame. If you take any of our competitors, they don’t have a modular OS across their product lines, so they have to rebuild that before they become SDN-ready. I think we have our nose ahead in this space. —Radhika Nallayam
STEVEN J. VAUGHAN-NICHOLS
Leap into the Dark Microsoft is insisting that Windows 8 is the best thing since sliced bread, but there’s a lot of yeast in that hype.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was cutting-edge and 300bit/sec. was a fast Internet connection—and we liked it! He can be reached at email@example.com.
T’S BEEN reported—and Intel isn’t denying it—that Intel
CEO Paul Otellini told his Taiwanese staff that Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is being released before it’s fully ready. This is shocking only in that it suggests that there were people who thought otherwise.
Yes, it is somewhat shocking that Intel is talking smack about its biggest partner, though Otellini softened the blow by adding that he was sure Microsoft would patch Windows 8 up to acceptable levels after its release. But then you consider how Microsoft has been treating all its hardware partners lately. Surface, the tablet that Microsoft is manufacturing and selling itself, is a slap in the face to all of its Windows 8 and RT tablet partners. Phone makers were thrown under the bus when Microsoft announced that no current phone hardware would support Windows Phone 8. As for Intel, it’s got to be annoyed that Microsoft is now supporting Windows on ARM processors. But Otellini’s assessment itself isn’t shocking. Even if every bit and byte in Windows 8 were rock solid, who outside of Windows fanatics—the ones who probably have Microsoft stock in their 401(k) plans —really wants Windows 8 in his office? If you haven’t already, take a long, hard look at Windows 8. You can do it; even if you don’t have a Microsoft Developer Network or TechNet membership, the Windows 8 RTM code is free for anyone to try. It runs quite nicely in Oracle VirtualBox or VMware Workstation, so you don’t even need to dedicate a PC to it. You’ll find that the interface formerly known as Metro is a disaster on the desktop. Your office PCs probably have nice, big screens, but they can hold only one Metro application. It’s a tremendous waste of space. Do you usually open applications via the Start button? Well, guess what—it doesn’t exist in Windows 8. Ev-
erything that everyone on your staff ever knew about how to use Windows is gone. Windows 8 is not a Windows upgrade. This is not a misstep like Vista, to be followed by a real step forward, as happened with Windows 7. This is a giant leap into the dark. Microsoft, of course, is insisting that Windows 8 is the best thing since sliced bread, but there’s a lot of yeast in that hype. For example, Windows 8 was supposed to be the most secure Windows ever. What’s this, though? Windows 8’s Internet Explorer 10 had an enormous Adobe Flash security hole before it was even officially shipping, and Microsoft took its own sweet time about admitting to the problem and patching it. Here’s the bottom line. Windows 8 is going to cost your firm a lot of money, both in direct costs and in training time to familiarize employees with a desktop that will only get in the way of their longhoned Windows skills. For that investment, you get no appreciable benefits. Want something that will work well for you and your company? Stick with Windows XP. It’s supported until April 2014. Or move up to Windows 7. You can still buy it on new PCs, and it’s supported until at least January 2020. Want to try something different, better and cheaper that won’t require as much retraining as Windows 8? Then take a look at Google’s Chrome OS. Whatever you do, stay away from Windows 8. Your IT staff will thank you, your employees will thank you, and, perhaps most important of all, your CFO will thank you. n NOVEMBER 2012
HOTLINE PRODUCT INNOVATION
D-Link Showcases Networking Solution for Enterprises The enterprise product range offers a cost-effective and hassle-free infrastructure networking solution. D-Link recently showcased its enterprise networking solution—a cost-effective and hassle-free infrastructure. The company’s enterprise solution incorporates switching, structured cabling, surveillance and storage, security,
are committed to acquiring substantial market share in the near future. Our enterprise networking solution is another step towards helping large enterprises build a strong and reliable business network.”
uct portfolio along with our integrated approach offers uninterrupted network and cost-effective solutions that helps businesses run efficiently. D-Link’s enterprise solution aims to offer streamlined integration, central-
Our enterprise networking solution is another step towards helping large enterprises build a strong and reliable business network.
TUSHAR SIGHAT, CEO, D-Link (India)
and software, all of which form major components of any secure, reliable, and manageable network solution. Talking about D-Link’s enterprise roadmap, Tushar Sighat, CEO,D-Link (India) said, “2012 can easily be termed as the year of ‘big initiatives’ for us at D-Link, and one of the key focus areas for D-Link this year is the large enterprise domain. To address this segment, we have already defined our strategies for 2012-13 and
For over 25 years D-Link has been offering end-to-end networking solutions that deliver state-of-the-art networking support for businesses across various industries. D-Link’s switching, wireless, security, IP surveillance, storage and management solutions deliver bestin-class performance. Elaborating on the latest enterprise solution offering, Sanjay Sehgal, VP-Enterprise & Project Business, D-Link (India) said, “Our robust prod-
surveillance traffic. An optimized IP surveillance solution requires uninterrupted connectivity. This has generally required elaborate QoS and virtual networking controls that must be configured manually by skilled administrators. D-Link switches eliminate these concerns through an advance function known as auto-surveillance VLAN. Switches automatically detect and add specified cameras to the VLAN, eliminating the need for manual configuration. This surveillance network, though using the same network infrastructure, is designed to ensure that critical bandwidth, is available for surveillance traffic regardless of the performance of the data network. This means that, even in the event of packet storms, heavy traffic, and other disruptive events, a reliable surveillance feed is always maintained.
ized management, simplified trouble-shooting, guaranteed interoperability and ease of use. With our 5S Solution we are confident that segments like datacenter, enterprise, education, healthcare, retail and others will be able reap maximum benefits.”
Switch Infrastructure D-Link switches are particularly suited for deployment in a mixed environment that includes both data and IP
D-Link has an entire range of high-end copper and fiber range for high-end applications like datacenters and server farms. D-Link’s current portfolio of structured cabling includes the Cat 6a, Cat 6 and Cat 5e range of LAN cables, patch panels, keystone jacks, patch cords, and face plates on the copper side. The fiber range includes fiber cables, fiber connectors, couplers and pigtails. Most D-Link cabling products adhere to stringent EIA/TIA and ISO/IEC international standards. That means all the cables and components offered by D-Link confirm to the highest international standards and are verified by thirdparty laboratories like ETL and UL. Further, D-Link structured cabling products are backed
CUSTOM SOLUTIONS GROUP
D-LINK DGS-1500-52 by an international product performance warranty.
Surveillance and Storage Over the past several years D-Link has cultivated an extensive line of IP surveillance cameras suitable for deployment in a variety of installation scenarios, both indoor and outdoor, day and night. When used in combination with PoE switches, select camera models can be powered using a single network cable, reducing the need for tedious electrical wiring. This allows cameras to be placed in locations that would have otherwise been inaccessible. When combined with D-Link’s wireless solutions, cameras can be placed virtually any-
where for the comprehensive monitoring of premises. Surveillance systems call for specialized storage designed to cope with a constant stream of surveillance data. D-Link Storage Accessible Networks (SAN) and Network Video Recorder (NVR) solutions are designed specifically to handle IP surveillance records. Administrators can maintain a repository of surveillance footage that is secure, redundant, and easy to manage. D-Link storage solutions are also highly scalable, so storage can be expanded as needed.
Security With today’s shifting security environment, companies are
constantly trying to keep up with the need to safeguard their networks from numerous threats. D-Link NetDefend Unified Threat Management (UTM) firewalls meet this challenge with a powerful security solution to protect business networks from a variety of threats.
Software Any modern surveillance solution would not be complete without management software to care for both aspects of the network. D-Link’s D-View and D-ViewCam software offer an intuitive graphical user interfaces to manage all aspects of the network and IP surveillance infrastructure respectively.
D-Link India Q1: On High Growth D-Link (India), the end-to-end networking solutions provider for consumers and businesses, announced the unaudited financial results for first quarter. Sales revenue for Q1, 201213 was up by 115 percent at Rs 7,664.73 lakh against Rs 3,560.26 lakh in Q1 last year.
Similarly, sales revenues for Q1, 2012-13 were up by 7 percent at Rs 7,664.73 lakh from Rs 7,145.45 lakh compared to the previous quarter, which ended 31st March, 2012. Elated with this growth and commenting on the results, Tushar Sighat, CEO, D-Link (India)
Revenues Go Up and Up
D-Link India’s Q1 sales revenues beat last quarter’s—and last year’s—numbers. 7,664.73 lakh 7,145.45 lakh
said,“This has indeed been a very good quarter for us, as we managed to carry forward our growth momentum. We witnessed holistic growth coming from all product categories along with good traction from the enterprise business. Our initiative in enhancing D-Link’s presence in the large enterprise segment yielded positive results with more tier-1 and tier-2 partners joining hands with us.” “Increased Internet penetration and awareness resulted in good pull from the consumer side and helped us strengthen our position as a leader in Internet connectivity devices. We also noticed a high level of acceptance in the consumer space for lifestyle networking devices, which was motivating. In fact, this quarter we launched quite a few innovative devices for consumers that included a host of mydlink cloud enabled products.”
D-Link DGS-1500-28 is a 52 Port Managed Pro Giga Switch. DGS-1500-52 features built-in smart fans that contribute to continuous, reliable, and ecofriendly operation of the switch. Using a thermal sensor that can detect temperature change, the fans can react accordingly by utilizing different fan speeds for different temperatures.
D-Link’s DCS-6113 is a Full HD Day & Night Vandal-proof Fixed Dome Network camera. This is an indoor fixed dome camera equipped with industryleading high definition (Full HD) megapixel resolution and H.264 compression that enable high-quality video footage to be recorded. The DCS-6113V connects to a network to provide high-quality live video over the Internet. The robust camera housing is IK-10 certified, allowing it to withstand a high amount of force. This camera is capable of capturing video in both dark and light environments thanks to its built-in IR LEDs and IR-cut removable (ICR) filter. The bundled 32-channel recording software simplifies the process of managing multiple IP cameras. The camera also has a built-in MicroSD card slot which can be used as a local backup by storing important events on an easily retrievable MicroSD card.
as we don’t need heavy field organizations to take the product to market. Second, we get a quick check on whether we are developing a good pitch or not. With an open source product, the community size swells if the real problems are addressed effectively. That’s possibly true with proprietary products too, but the real value lies in addressing a large community through open source.
ON RECORD n
Denis Dorval, Vice President, EMEA & APAC, Alfresco, articulates the distinctive proposition as a preferred ECM vendor in the Indian market. By Yogesh Gupta
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
What did you pursue an open source path with content management instead of proprietary solutions, which is more mainstream? DORVAL: As an ECM (enterprise content management) software company built on commercial open source, the intention was to deliver a quick and fast platform. The idea was to disrupt the ECM landscape by offering easierto-use software at a much lower cost to a market that fast-growing (in terms of usage and content management proliferation issues) and was flanked by legacy vendors offering complex and high cost solutions. From a go-to-market perspective, open source allows for an instantaneous test-and-try model that can be extended anywhere in the world. It’s a great distribution model,
How beneficial has this market disruption been? DORVAL: Open source was the focus of our business model and it still forms a major component of our product roadmap. The model was similar to Red Hat in terms of a subscription-based model from a revenue standpoint. With over 2,500 enterprise customers and 250-plus partners worldwide, Alfresco is no longer just seen as a de facto disruptive player, but as a leading provider in ECM, especially for innovative solutions. With open source, vendor lock-in is flexible compared to traditional proprietary software. Running a subscription-based model is like running for elections every year. If customers are not happy with the service or the value they get, they exit. Hence, we are on our toes all the time. We are wellpositioned to drive the hybrid content management market to a new era. Many enterprises prefer multi-technology vendors across their IT infrastructure. How can a niche vendor like Alfresco win an ECM deal? DORVAL: In some conservative accounts, IBM can
DENIS DORVAL | ON RECORD n have an extremely powerful account control especially when the factor is no longer about leveraging technology for competitive advantage. When a CIO or a company wants to make a decision objectively on business application or technology, then we have an upper hand.
What is your short-term and long-term strategy for the India market, both businesswise and partner-wise? DORVAL: We invested in India by fielding a team, with Vivek Pai as the country manager. We want to build a core team in Mumbai and will field staff in Delhi and Bangalore eventually. Our target is the Fortune
who contribute to the code more have seen their businesses take-off.
The estimated compound annual growth rate for ECM through till 2015. SOURCE: GARTNER
Open source demands alliance with other technology vendors. What is your equation with them? DORVAL: Our channel partners function more as systems integrators. The market is dominated by Windows Linux, UNIX,
DORVAL: The content management partners approaching us are partners with IBM, EMC and others. However, they weren’t seeing much value because these vendors maintain status quo when it comes to technology. They are also losing market share in ECM. It’s not because there is no appetite for content management in the market, but because the technology has been locked in from the 1990s, which often creates friction in modern datacenters. For them to jump technology is too much of an investment. The big disruptive market players are Alfresco and Sharepoint. From a partner perspective, there are
Other vendors are building different products for the cloud. But Alfresco on the cloud, is the same as Alfresco on premise. This is the new disruption, as we deliver unified experience across content management through a same platform across devices and the cloud. Will big data, social networking and the cloud coerce CIOs to give a serious look to Alfresco and its open source vision? DORVAL: India’s telecom and Internet connectivity market is yet to mature. However Indian CIOs will have no choice but embrace cloud and mobility in next two to three years. Cloud,
Running a subscription-based model is like running for elections every year. If customers are not happy with the service or the value they get, they exit. 200 companies mostly, though the Tier-II segment will see an increased partner involvement. We are well positioned in financial services, banking and insurance, and government sectors. We are forging closer ties with India’s large systems integrators. We are also identifying smaller boutique partners to deliver solutions to corporate India. When we look to onboard partners, we look for expertise and skills in content management or solutions which are powered on an Alfresco platform. The biggest percentage of codes comes from our channel partners including ISVs. Smart partners exploit open source to their benefit, and those
Oracle, Microsoft and IBM. Therefore, we did not want to offer ‘no choice’. From a stack vendor or a technology standpoint, we follow the changing market and invest in the stack which you cannot afford not to have. In terms of technology, we are agnostic. We integrate well with SAP and Salesforce. We were heavily involved with the CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) standard (with EMC and IBM) as a part of the core set up. HP, IBM and EMC have had a well-entrenched partner ecosystem for many years. Why should an enterprise partner work with a new vendor like Alfresco?
no new customers for both vendors. Partners also end up competing against the professional services provided by. Hence they are interested and believe in our technology for a lot of leads, contracts and new projects. How can channel partners effectively sell Alfresco’s modern architecture to enterprise customers? DORVAL: Only 30 percent of companies use the direct box to deliver business solutions. Further, our subscription base means that there is no big capex for the customer. The cost of developing applications and deploying on an Alfresco platform compared to the other vendors is less risk for channel partners.
big data, and social networking are influencing some of the core content management capabilities. However it does not change people’s opinion about open source.Cloud is a reality, but we believe that everything will not go on the cloud. About 80 percent of content will be secured behind firewalls on premise, but the remaining 20 percent needs to be pushed out on the cloud. Content proliferation is increasing rapidly, which will be a big challenge for organizations—big and small. There is great appetite for better software and improved experience at lower cost, and we are ideally positioned to deliver that. n
As more Indian companies turn their backs on capex-led IT, four partners show you the ins and outs of their opex businesses. By Radhika Nallayam
HE word reseller is going to need an overhaul. And soon. In a world that’s fast being defined by opex-based IT projects and ‘service providers’, the reseller
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
could soon be synonymous to a dodo. If you think that’s an extreme view then study these numbers: Over 75 percent of Indian CIOs say IT funding is
one of the major challenges they face, according to CIO research (CIO is a sister publication to ChannelWorld). Combine that with the growing number of CIOs who
COVER STORY n say that they see a growth in their opex budgets next year (the study is yet to be released so specific numbers can’t be shared), instead of capex, and you begin to see why resellers need to start looking at opex models more seriously. But more flexible payments (read lower upfront costs) are not the only benefit user organizations look for in an opex model. More often than not an opex model is associated with a non-onpremise model. And organizations—even large
ones with healthy IT teams—love the hands-off, hassle-free, value proposition non-on-premise models offer. Subscription-based models are not exactly new. There are large hosting and service providers who already offer pay-per-use models to their enterpriseclass customers for both hardware and software. But tier-2 solution providers have, so far, been inclined towards capex models, primarily because of the huge upfront investments
they entail and the lack of instant returns. A few, who despite being not extremely cash-rich, have decided to take the bull by the horns. And, they have come up with smart strategies—like services revenue, shorter payment cycles, large volumes transactions and strategic partnerships—to counter cash flow challenges. Here are four companies who have dipped their toes into the opex pool and then decided to plunge.
THE FOUR ROADS TO OPEX
THE NEW-AGE DISTRIBUTOR >>> xx Kryptos Networks offers flexibility to the providers of flexibility.
THE RENTING ROUTE >>> xx LA Technologies demonstrates why the renting business isn’t as passé as you might think.
THE TRANSACTION TYCOON >>> xx THE CLOUD WAY >>> xx Ace Data Devices believes that the opex-model is going to explode.
Netspider Infotech shows you how a transaction-based model can be profitable, despite the sizeable investments for partners.
n COVER STORY
P H O T O B Y S R I V AT S A S H A N D I LYA
Enterprise customers want a pay-per-use model. But so do the good people offering that flexibility. That’s where Kryptos Networks comes in.
HEN CHANNELWORLD first
interviewed Prasanna (he only goes by one name, like Usher, minus the bad attitude), it was easy to think the CEO of Chennai-based Kryptos Networks was off his rocker. It was 2007 and the cloud with its pay-for-use culture hadn’t quite broken out on the scene. IT investments were paid for upfront, just like they had been for years. Capex was king of the IT spending block and few questioned its authority. But Prasanna had already begun to poke at the status quo. “We identified the growth potential of the pay-asyou-go business model and how new concepts like cloud computing and remote management would revolutionize the industry. We realized that as connectivity improved, a lot of service providers would actively push their hosted offerings and we saw a huge potential as an SPLA (services provider license agreement) based business,” says Prasanna. Fast forward five-years: Kryptos has partnerships with more than 300 hosting companies in the country, who primarily offer cloud services to enterprise-class customers. Using the SPLA model, service providers and independent software vendors can license software from vendors so that they can provide software services and hosted applications to their customers. Kryptos, like a new-age cloud distributor, sits in between the vendor and service providers. Kryptos works with vendors like VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, and Parallels to procure software licenses for hosting companies, who in turn use these licenses to offer services to end
“We realized that as connectivity improved, a lot of service providers would actively push their hosted offerings and we saw a huge potential an SPLA (services provider license agreement) based business.” PRASANNA, CEO, KRYPTOS NETWORKS 24
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD MARCH 2012
customers on a pay-per-use basis. It’s a model that works for everyone: Vendors get their software to new markets without having to build and manage hundreds of relationships, and service providers get to use software on a payper-use basis, creating better cash flow and less dead inventory. “In our service provider program, the license ownership is never transferred from the principals or OEMs. Only the ‘right to use’ is shared. The advantage for service providers is that they pay only for how much they can sell. With a traditional model, irrespective of whether service providers make money or not, they are required to invest in the software. With service provider program, providers install the license and start paying a vendor only when they add customers. Only a service provider’s success will bring me revenue,” explains Prasanna.
BEYOND BASIC DISTRIBUTION Kryptos does more than just act like a bridge between vendors and an archipelago of service providers. Unlike a traditional distributor whose primary aim is to act as an intermediary, Kryptos brings a lot of value to the table. Prasanna believes that unless licenses are built into services, they will have no value. Hence, Kryptos works closely with its service provider partners to help build their subscription-based business. “We work with them on different business cases, and help them package services to end customers. We also help them in architecting a solution, and even with implementation if they do not have the required skills. If the hosters also want us to manage the solution, we do that for them, on a
WHY IT WORKS v The services provider
license agreement model allows service providers to rent software as they need, ensuring that they aren’t investing in software unnecessarily. As a bridge between vendors and service providers, Kryptos benefits from the marketing activity of both groups.
v It keeps vendors happy
because partnering with Kryptos increases its reach. And it keeps service providers happy because Kryptos helps them turn software into service offerings that sell.
v As more enterprise
customers demand subscription-based models, more service providers will offer them that model. That’s more money for Kryptos.
and applications. So it’s no surprise that 40 of Kryptos’ 60 employees form its technical team. There’s a market for the model Kryptos pushes if its revenues are any indication. In just two years, Kryptos has almost tripled its revenue and has also grown the number of service provider partnerships it has. Today, it’s partner list includes all the major datacenter hosting companies, telcos, and cloud service providers in India. Some of these partners include key names like Net4,
grators and help them connect with its service provider partners to jointly offer cloud-based solutions to end users. While the service provider community contributes the major share of its business (it drives 90 percent of the company’s revenues), it also sees an opportunity in partnering with ISVs and lately with a few major SIs as well. Kryptos connects ISVs with its service provider partners to build various applications for end customers. The two partners then jointly take the cloud solutions to the market. This ensures more feet on the street for Kryptos, and also access to newer markets that are typically not addressed by huge cloud hosting companies. Besides, the ISV partnerships make the application story quite compelling for the end users. On the SI side, the story is more exciting. While the service provider business is expected to flourish further, Kryptos is bullish about its new SI partnerships. Most vendors, says Prasanna, do see an opportunity in reaching out to new markets through the SIs. Currently, Kryptos has partnered with about 20 SIs and the aim is to reach out to at least 100 SIs within the next six months. What makes these partnerships exciting is that Kryptos provides its SI partners with an option to white label these services and sell it to their customers under their own brand. Apart from the major virtualization vendors, Kryptos has strong associations with brands like VMUnify, Veeam, CloudByte and StopTheHacker. com. And while software is the major focus for Kryptos currently, it has plans to venture into a similar model for hardware in the near future.
There’s a market for the model Kryptos pushes if its revenues are any indicator. In just two years, Kryptos has almost tripled its revenue and has also grown the number of service providers it partners with. pay-as-you-go model. We charge them based on the number of customers they acquire,” says Prasanna. All of this means that Kryptos is expected to have tremendous technical know-how across various layers of the infrastructure, including hardware
Sify, Ramco Systems, and Netmagic Solutions, HCL, TCL, CtrlS among others.
BRANCHING 0UT Kryptos also extended this model to include systems integrator as well. Kryptos partners with systems inte-
As the industry moves towards subscription-based models, more and more players in the ecosystem of service providers, SIs and vendors, will benefit. That’s money for Kryptos. If Prasanna is a fruitcake, then cut us a slice n
n COVER STORY
The Return and Returns OF RENTING
The renting business might seem old hat. But a closer look at LA Technologies’ business shows otherwise.
ENTING IS outdated. After
all, in the new era of hosting and cloud computing, when actually having to touch and manage hardware is considered an absurdity, why would anyone rent? And if no one wants to rent, then a business based on renting is as crazy as creating a ladder to the moon. Or is it? Not if you ask Mumbai-based LA Technologies. Renting hardware makes up 30 percent of the system integrator’s topline. Lawrence Albert, founder and director, LA Technologies, is proud that amidst the rush of new technology jargon, his company’s been able to discover ongoing opportunities from a fairly old concept. If you think you can make a run at such a business, here’s a SWOT analysis of LA Technologies’ renting business.
STRENGTHS For anyone who thinks that renting is past its prime, picture these enterprise use-case scenarios: An application that needs to be tested. A migration project at a large organization. A project that needs to scale up fast. A one-off project. A hard-to-get piece of hardware that goes bust. A trusted vendor failing to deliver hardware in time. You get the idea, it’s a pretty long laundry list.
WHY IT WORKS v For enterprises: Renters
offer features that others players find hard to match, including a higher speedof-order-fulfillment, and shorter-term deal, as low as three months.
v For SIs: Renting creates a
steady stream of income, a blessing in uncertain times. And it also allows renters to get a foot in the enterprise door, which can lead to more profitable service and support deals.
ing very large enterprises. Our clients include major IT/ITES and financial organizations undergoing migration projects. In fact, we’ve supplied the entire infrastructure for some of India’s major banks, for a quarter, on an opex model, while they migrated to their new datacenters. Interestingly, some of these projects were extended to multiple quarters because of delivery delays from OEMs,” he says. LA Technologies’ experience shows that there’s a healthy business model here. Since it ventured into renting
storage, networking, power and cooling, UPSes, IP phones, and firewalls. The depreciated value of the inventory that LA Technologies currently possesses is around Rs 4 crore and it keeps investing more. All that ready-to-ship hardware is a key strength for renters. “When equipment conks out at 1 in the morning, no tier-1 partner is ready to provide replacements on a war-footing. They will take at least one business day. But LA can provide it within a matter of few hours,” says Albert. “Our huge stock of equipment helps us make deliveries within really short deadlines.” The terms that renters like LA Technologies offer also work to its benefit. “While OEMs or tier-1 partners will only rent out equipment for at least three years, we are very flexible. We give equipment for a term as short as three months,” says Albert. For LA Technologies, the renting business also ensures a constant stream of revenue, a blessing in these uncertain times.
LIMITATIONS Renting, however, is not everyone’s cup of tea. Even companies like LA Technologies that have a proven track record, have to rely on a very traditional approach—word of mouth marketing. “The renting business runs on references from happy customers, which is the reason why we don’t market it very aggressively. Most customers come to us,” says Albert. That makes it hard to profit from emergencies. With a number of customer requests stemming from outages that need to be plugged fast, it only makes sense that LA Technologies should profit from emergencies. After all, practically everyone else does it, from dry cleaners who charge premi-
In the last year, LA Technologies has seen more competition from vendors and large solution providers have seen the untapped potential in the renting market and want a piece of the pie. All of these ideas look great on paper, but the question is: Do renters have real customers? Plenty according to Albert. “Renting requests come from all types of organizations includ26
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
about five years ago, LA Technologies witnessed consistent growth in that space. The company provides the entire gamut of basic infrastructure hardware components including, servers,
ums for a one-day turnaround, to cab services that charge higher rates for taxi booked within 30 minutes of departure, compared to those booked a day in advance.
Unfortunately not. Given the inherent dynamics of the business (read: word-of-mouth marketing), it’s critical for renters like LA Technologies to ensure an untarnished reputation. “We can’t hold a knife to their throat because customers will never refer us to anyone else after that,” says Albert. In fact, LA Technologies does not work on a fixed charge model (the average industry charge, says Albert, is 7 percent of the cost of the equipment they are renting) and focuses more on customer retention, which, Albert says, is key for a business like renting.
“We don’t want to be known as a mere hardware renter. The idea is not to transport hardware to a customer’s place and go back. We work with customers on integrating it with existing infrastructure and offer services on top of it,” says Albert. The result is that LA Technologies has greater skin in the game, which is seen as a value-add, which gets it better margins. “Additionally, we provide installation and support as a service, where the rest of the warranty is on us,” he says.
Like most smart businesses, LA Technologies is looking for more ways to get out of the transactional relationship associated with renting—and create opportunities that will ensure a tighter bond between its customers and itself. That’s why it’s turned to services and support. Not only do these allow LA Technologies to interact with its customers on a more daily basis and deepen its relationship, it also creates an additional stream of revenue for the company. LA Technologies, says Albert, typically focuses on providing hardware that is part of a larger solution and positions its integration capabilities as another USP.
In the last year, Albert says that there’s been an increase in pressure from competition. More vendors and large solution providers, he says, have
“The idea is not to transport hardware to a customer’s place and go back. We work with customers on integrating it with existing infrastructure and offer services on top of it.” LAWRENCE ALBERT, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, LA TECHNOLOGIES
seen the untapped potential in the renting market and want a piece of the pie. Albert says that he now runs into competition from vendor financing arms and tier-1 players more often. The latter has also begun to open its doors to short-term projects, once a benefit only players like LA Technologies offered. These large players also provide financing options to their customers, an area where a tier-2 player like LA Technologies find it hard to compete. However, Albert isn’t caving in. He says he has already initiated tie-ups with banks so that he can offer financial support to customers. This, coupled with LA Technologies’ traditional strengths like quick delivery and services capabilities, should give the company an extra fillip. None of this worries Albert too much. While systems integrators like LA Technologies have consciously developed their renting business so that they complement their core SI business, Albert believes that there’s enough potential in the model for it to be a stand-alone business. And competition from larger players is not likely hamper growth, he says. “Your growth depends on your willingness to re-invest into the business and expand. There is no dearth of opportunities.” n
n COVER STORY
Ready For the
DOWNPOUR Ace Data Devices has been offering cloud-storage services since 2010, and it’s betting that this opex-model is going to explode.
EARS FROM today, when historians tell our children the story of IT circa 2012, the shift to opex models is going to be an important milestone and they will point to cloud computing as the incendiary that lit the first flame. Like many historians, they will be wrong; opex models have existed before cloud computing. But it’s hard to blame them for thinking that. While the cloud isn’t the first opex model, it’s definitely served as a tipping point for the opex-IT movement. It’s what fired CFO imaginations as they dreamed of a world where sunk IT costs were a thing of the past.
Ace Data Devices wants to be part of that future. And to do that it’s made sure it’s changed with the times, by introducing a cloud version of its storage and back-up offerings. The good news? It’s making money.
THE BIG VAULT While continuing with its on-premise storage solutions, Ace Data took a very important decision, in 2010, to offer back-up-as-a-service to its customers. However, it didn’t want to sell another vendor’s cloud offering. “After evaluating the changing IT landscape, we decided to be a cloud
service provider for our customers and came up with Backup Vault, a cloudbased backup and recovery solution,” says Neeraj Mediratta, CEO, Ace Data Devices. “We have been in the storage and back-up market for a very long time and in recent times, we’ve definitely seen an interest in cloudbased back up among CIOs. It’s clearly being seen as option—rather than continuously investing in hardware,” says Mediratta. Backup Vault is a cloud optimized back-up solution and is proffered to customers on a monthly, pay-as-you use model. It has the ability to back up data from a host of end devices in-
“We have been in the storage and back-up market for a very long time and in recent times, we’ve definitely seen an interest in cloudbased back up among CIOs.” NEERAJ MEDIRATTA, CEO, ACE DATA DEVICES
cluding smartphones, desktops and laptops, and servers, irrespective of operating system or database. All customers need to do is provide an interface server in their environment on which the back-up software can be implemented. The software then interacts with the local network to deduplicate, compress, and encrypt data from various devices, before sending it to the public cloud, an infrastructure hosted and owned by Ace Data. For users—from individual users and professionals to mid-to-large enterprises—this eliminates the need to invest in back-up servers, various back-up devices like tapes or disks, software licenses and manpower. The investment that’s been pumped into Backup Vault, technically a white label product from Ace Data, is phenomenal. At the back-end of Backup Vault, the infrastructure comprises servers from HP, storage from EMC, networking from Cisco, virtualization tools from VMware, and back-up software from the Canada-based Asigra. Ace Data has topped this with its monitoring and billing tools. Backup Vault is currently provisioned to host 100 TB of data, and its capacity is increased on a regular basis.
FROM DRIZZLE TO SHOWER For other system integrators who want to follow his lead, Mediratta says that they should expect the gradual adoption of cloud storage that he’s experiencing. Data-sensitive organizations, he says, will take some more time to move to the cloud. Mediratta says that as of now, CIOs are trying to understand the concept and are
WHAT TO EXPECT If you’re a system integrator that wants to evolve into a cloudstorage provider, here’s what you want to be prepared for.
v Recognize that while uptake is slow, it is sure. A high percentage of clients who test cloud storage services end up signing much larger deals.
v Realize that because of
the cloud’s opex model, it opens up a whole new layer of clients who couldn’t previously afford storage.
v Figure out that the best
time to approach a potential client for cloud storage is when they are refreshing hardware and software for back-up storage.
v Understand that you need to create attractive, but simple, pricing models.
backed on the cloud. And many of the multi-terabyte customers that Ace Data currently has, initially moved only small gigabytes of data to the Backup Vault cloud. Mediratta isn’t surprised or disheartened by the gradual uptake. “Growth hasn’t been phenomenal, but it’s in line with what we expected,” he says. Ace Data already has a few enterprise-class customers from various industries
are only going to be repeated. They will have to invest in tapes and other back-up solutions as they generate more data,” he says. On his end, Mediratta is doing his best to make cloud storage an attractive proposition by creating pricing slabs. One of the principals Ace Data’s pricing model uses is ‘the more you store, the less you pay’, ensuring a win-win proposition for both Ace Data and its customers. Also, the piece of software that the user deploys allows users to set various policies for archival and compliance, and ensures complete control over how data has to be stored and archived. While a lot of CIOs are still worried about putting their data onto the cloud, thanks to compliance and security-related reasons, back-up is something they will soon move to the cloud, Mediratta firmly believes. In the last year, Ace Data has seen a number of its on-premise customers move to a subscription model. Its recent deal with Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals is a case in point. The hospital has moved lot of its business critical data to the Backup Vault. Mediratta also believes that more CIOs will investigate cloud-based back-up when the next cycle of reinvesting in back-up solutions comes around. “We did not venture into the cloud with the expectation of winning a lot of customers overnight. We know that it’s going to be a gradual transition,” he says. Despite the growing interest in Ace Data’s cloud offerings, traditional back-up solutions still form a significant chunk of its revenues. That, Mediratta believes, will change. “Our
Like a tiger that’s tasted blood, customers who have savoured the benefits of cloud storage want more. Many of the multi-terabyte customers that Ace Data currently has, initially moved only small gigabytes of data to the Backup Vault cloud. testing it with small amounts of noncritical data. But like a tiger that’s tasted blood, customers who have savoured the benefits of cloud storage want more, he says. Mediratta points to clients who have tested Ace Data’s cloud offerings who are now seriously looking at moving big chunks of data to be
including healthcare, media, exports, and real estate, among others, and he expects more to sign on. “Cloud-based backup is now being considered by customers who haven’t, so far, looked at back-up seriously. And, those who have already invested in on-premise back-up solutions realize that their investments
on-premise solutions are going to those customers who do not want to send data to the cloud or who are too large for a cloud model. They are upgrading their on-premise backup solutions. But a more dynamic CIO would surely see more value in the cloud; that has been our experience so far,” he says n
“We realized that the transaction-based model was actually sensible, and that its profitability would be higher compared to ordinary box sales.” SAMIR DHINGRA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, NETSPIDER INFOTECH
P H OTO BY K A P I L S H R O F F
Living on a
A transaction-based model calls for sizeable investments for partners. But as Netspider Infotech shows, it’s a profitable business. 30
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
HIS IS do-or-die. It’s hard to be certain if that’s exactly what was going through Samir Dhingra’s mind, but it wouldn’t be too far off the mark. It was 2002, and as the managing director of a start-up, Dhingra had just pitched a OCR software and scanners’ solution at the Reserve Bank of India— and he needed it to work. The problem was that the deal wasn’t exactly going his way. The RBI wanted this solution but didn’t want to dole out the capex necessary for the project. It did, however, offer Dhingra the deal if he was willing to take an unusual route: A transaction-based model. At that point, such a model was unheard of, says Dhingra, who remembers having to mull of the approach. “It would mean that we would own the solution and the customer would only pay to use it. We realized that the model was actually sensible, and that its profitability would be higher compared to ordinary box sales,” he says. Part of Dhingra’s decision might have had something to do with the need to keep his company solvent. But whatever his primary motive was, one thing is clear: The transaction model has since made his company, Netspider Infotech, a lot of money. Today, Netspider Infotech is one of the largest system integrators to offer transaction-based digitization solutions to government departments. Much of its success came after Dhingra took the formula he worked out with the RBI and offered it to other government departments. “In 2005, we saw a major breakthrough when the government of Odisha decided to collect student data for state fund allocation on a transaction-
COVER STORY n based model. This ‘e-shishu’ project received the Prime Minister’s Award in 2006-07. In 2007, the Ministry of Defence awarded us with a huge digitization project. It required handing about 20 crore documents for provident fund and pension disbursement across India. Post 2007, a number of customers including the Controller General of Accounts, the government of Rajasthan, the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the NIC, and Sahara India have all engaged us to digitize their documents using a transaction-based model,” says Dhingra. In the last year alone, Netspider Infotech, which has over 45 government departments on its customer-list, has quadrupled its customer base, and it’s also doubled its revenues every year.
WHAT MAKES IT CLICK? Would you buy an entire five-star hotel just to enjoy the luxuries it provides? Or would you pay for a room and get the same experience? That’s the logic Dhingra gives his potential customers. In addition, he points out to them that the service he offers allows his customers to capitalize on Netspider Infotech’s expertise, something they would have to build—and maintain—if they were to go on their own. “In most cases, the customer is not an expert in managing large-volume scanning. The opex model could be a little expensive for them in the long run, but if you consider the discomfort customers have to go through if they used a capex model, it’s actually cheaper,” he says. “Our logic is: If a customer has got a very expensive car, but one he doesn’t know how to drive, he could crash it.” For customers, the transaction-based model eliminates a lot of the baggage that a traditional on-premise model comes with. With an on-premise model, the customer tends to face a lot of challenges with respect to troubleshooting. It also calls for a lot of involvement and know-how. “On the other hand,” says Dhingra, “the subscription model gives more customer satisfaction. Additionally, all our processes are quite mature and ISO-certified.” The governments sector forms a big part of Netspider Infotech’s business and it also focuses on large-scale
WHAT TO EXPECT If you want to offer transaction-based services you should be prepared…
v For High investments. You’ll
need to find the capital to fund the infrastructure that your customer doesn’t want to buy. Also, be prepared for the cost of refreshes.
v To be Patient. A transactionbased model like the one Netspider Infotech uses is popular with the government. But payments could often be delayed.
v Build expertise. In a
transaction-based model, the customer not only passes the risk of owning a solution to you, but also the job of finding and maintaining the skills needed to run the solution. Understand that you need to create attractive, but simple, pricing models.
v Create mature and standard
processes. Like any paid-for offering, customers expect high levels of service. Netspider Infotech, for instance, got its process ISO certified.
scanning projects, where the volumes are very high. Over the years, it has achieved a high level of expertise, and customers trust the company enough for them to outsource all their digitization requirements, says Dhingra. Netspider Infotech scans its customers’ documents and hosts it as a Web-based document and content management system, providing customers with a single solution for all their digitization needs.
GROWING BUSINESS For those who want to follow in Netspider Infotech’s footsteps, it’s important to be aware that a transaction-based model calls for a lot of investment initially. Netspider Infotech invested in infrastructure—servers on
which it hosts the document management system—and a huge number of scanners and specialized equipment, as it has to address various customer requirements. In addition, because most manufacturers only provide standard support, Dhingra says that Netspider Infotech has had to invest significantly in skilled manpower as well. Besides that, there are on-going investments needed to manage the infrastructure. It’s also important to note that Netspider Infotech chooses to invest in equipment that are long-lasting, giving it a sizeable window before it undergoes a hardware refresh. The investments it has made into the business have been worthwhile, going by the company’s healthy revenue growth. “We are recovering the investments we made in equipment and software. We have, in fact, recovered the cost of critical equipment,” says Dhingra. “Initially, profits were quite high. Currently, though the profit percentage is not very high, the volumes are huge.” Competition, be it from traditional resellers or players with similar model, is tolerable, he says. Dhingra says he often stumbles upon traditional resellers who propose on-premise solutions. But it isn’t a struggle to convince customers of the advantages of an opex model. Principals that Netspider Infotech works with are also bullish on the model. In the last few years, they have been very diligently promoting an opex-based model, Dhingra says, through their Indian service providers. Another thing that works for Netspider Infotech are the government rate contracts that it signed up for. These, says Dhingra, allows it to work with government sector customers without getting into tenders. Dhingra believes the government sector is a literal gold mine of digitization opportunities. “The large digitalization projects, which are our core focus, come mainly from the government sector. We are planning to stay put, as our money is safe, though delayed, with government sector customers. Besides, digitization processes in the government vertical is never-ending. It gives us constant business,” he says. Do-or-die? More like wager-and-win. n
n FAST TRACK
P h o t o g r a p h b y S R I V AT S A S H A N D I LYA
SOURCE: CA&S SOLUTIONS
Snapshot Founded: 1997
Headquarters: Vishakapatnam F YOU think Vizag is just
broad roads and beaches, then Surendra Chikkala, MD, CA&S Solutions can help you change that perception. The Vizag Chikkala knows includes the many institutions you’d expect from Andhra Pradesh’s second-largest city. And they’re more IT-savvy than you think. Here’s proof: Since the end of 2009, Chikkala has been selling educational institutions and manufacturing companies an on ‘ERP on Cloud’ model. “Educational institutions here, be it engineering colleges or schools, love the opex model. The initial apprehension about the cloud and ‘pay-as-you-go’ is the key challenge. But once the decision maker is convinced, they are hooked,” he says. For those who want to open up
Branches: Bhubaneswar Key Executives: M. Srinivas, Key Account Manager; S.K. Dhal, Branch Head Revenue 2010–11: Rs 10 crore Revenue 2011–12: Rs 14 crore Revenue 2012–13 (projected): Rs 18 crore Employees: 30 Key Principals: IBM, HP, Lenovo, TCS Key Business Activities: System integration, service provider, cloud services Website: www.cassolutions.in
offices in Vizag, Chikkala has a piece of advice: Ensure that pitches are never aimed below the level of
a key decision maker of a company or institution. “No one below this level actually understands where we come from and what we are trying to sell,” he says. A long standing player in the local market, CA&S Solutions, started off as an assembler, but today shares premium relationships and goodwill with big vendors like Microsoft, IBM, HP, and Lenovo for most of its solution portfolios. The enterprising entrepreneur has carved out a small and efficient team, comprising six members, dedicated to Tata ION solutions, including sales people to engineers for monitoring and servicing. Besides being a service provider for Lenovo, Chikkala says it’s the company’s impeccable equations with IBM that landed it the sign-up for Tata ION. Through the years, the company has increased its revenue. In FY 20011-12, CA&S clocked Rs 14 crore and is projected to hit Rs 18 crore mark in the current fiscal. Not one to rest on his laurels, Chikkala plans to focus on targeting his core verticals more aggressively than before, though he is not expecting outstanding results at the very outset, due to the slowdown in the market. The company has recently opened a branch in Bhubaneswar. “With new customers already on our radar, our strike rate is good, and we hope to maintain a growth rate for 2013,” he says.n — Shantheri Mallaya
Surendra Chikkala, MD, CA&S Solutions, believes Vizag is all set to become a premium solutions-based market. 32
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
Value the Skeptics Skeptics haven’t got their due. Often, their presence provides a reality check to organizations. But it is vital that you differentiate between the good kind and the bad.
Bart Perkins is managing partner at Louisville, Ky.based Leverage Partners, which helps organizations invest well in IT. Contact him at BartPerkins@ LeveragePartners.com.
ORKING WITH skeptics can be painful.
They consume valuable time with questions that can seem pointless. Nevertheless, the right kind of skeptics can be highly valuable, especially during project planning.
Skeptics come in two flavors: Negative and loyal.Negative skeptics actually hope for failure. Their dire predictions never end. They frequently slow progress by revisiting previous decisions. They can demoralize their teammates and derail projects. Loyal skeptics, however, are invaluable. They challenge commonly held beliefs and ask questions others avoid. (Like toddlers, their favorite question is “Why?”) They help teams anticipate problems and develop contingency plans. When disagreements arise, they force debate until solutions are developed. Loyal skeptics can come from any department in the enterprise and any level on the org chart, but they are all competent, respected and objective. The best skeptics have widespread organizational creditability, and their seal of approval helps convince others of project viability. It can be difficult to distinguish between negative and loyal skeptics. The difference often lies in their objectives and motivations. Negative skeptics criticize everything; loyal skeptics scrutinize everything. Where one is mainly interested in finding fault and pointing fingers, the other seeks to clarify and improve project planning and execution. Negative skeptics are often motivated by power or politics, loyal skeptics by a desire to reduce risk and thus help ensure project success. Once they’re comfortable with the final plan, loyal skeptics sometimes function as guard dogs, protecting the project from external disruptions. They push back against the inevitable requests for additional functionality in the middle of a project, questioning the impact of proposed changes.
They will fight to defer new features in order to protect schedules and resources. Projects that produce no benefits make organizations reluctant to invest in other IT-enabled initiatives. Skeptics often question a project’s business beneficiaries closely about how they will achieve planned benefits. After the project is complete, loyal skeptics help push the organization to deliver the benefits specified in the business case. Project managers (and other team members) often dread interacting with skeptics, and many try to keep them off their teams, fearing they will slow progress and be divisive. Some misguided organizations punish skeptics for questioning aspects of important projects. At one Fortune 500 company, the QA leader on a large project asked such difficult and embarrassing questions that the project leader had her transferred off the project. Six months later, when the project’s schedule and viability were in jeopardy, the company hired consultants to rescue it. The consultants’ approach incorporated many of the skeptic’s initial suggestions. Listening to their own insightful QA leader would have been a more effective, more timely and far cheaper solution. Bad news does not improve with age. Don’t avoid skeptics—seek them out! Teach your team to value the contributions of loyal skeptics. Their pesky questions will save you time, money and effort down the road. It’s always better to know where the potholes are so you can avoid driving over them. A loyal skeptic is an invaluable resource and a critical element of longterm project success. Who is yours? n NOVEMBER 2012
I L LU S T R AT I O N BY U N N I K R I S H N A N A .V
IPv4 TO W
IPv6 The transition to IPv6 isn’t news. But that it represents an untapped business opportunity for solution providers is. By Aritra Sarkhel
AY BACK in 1973, Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf created the IPv4 platform. Over the next few years it became known as a path-breaking platform for its ability to cater to a sea of users. A lot has happened since then. The exponential increase in the number of the Internet’s users has led to the exhaustion of 32-bit IPv4 addressees. This has necessitated the introduction of a new platform: IPv6. None of this is news. But here’s what is: The transition represents a revenuespinning opportunity for channel partners. But only if they can figure out in what form the opportunity comes in and where to find it.
home or at offices are all connected to the Internet. Even automobiles are connected. Enterprises in India are looking towards upgrading their network equipment so that they are ready for future platforms,” says Benoy C.S., director, ICT practice, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia & Middle East. Soumyadeep Roy Chowdhury, research associate, Netscribes, agrees that mobility is going to drive IPv6 adoption. “The enterprise mobility trend is gradually catching up with a number of industries in India. IPv6 provides superior security enhancements and makes associated business operations less cost intensive,” he says.
THE V6 ENGINE
On the ground, however, it isn’t like IPv6 is at the top of a CIO’s to-do list. But that’s where the channel can make
Theoretically speaking, the 128-bit IPv6 platform can support a gargantuan 340 duodecillion IP addresses. An increasingly tech-savvy economy like India, with an Internet-user population of 121 million and growing at about 40 percent a year, is going to want a lot of those addresses. At the same time, there’s an explosion in the number of people accessing the Internet using mobile phones. “IPv6 adoption in India has become a priority because of the explosion of devices in the market which are constantly connected to the Internet. Devices at 34
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
THE CHANNEL PLAY
IPv6 adoption in India has become a priority because of the explosion of devices which are connected to the Internet. Enterprises are upgrading their network equipment so that they are ready for future platforms.” BENOY C.S., Director, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia & Middle East
a difference, says Chowdhury. “Channel partners can play a crucial role in IPv6 adoption in India. They can engage customers, increase awareness, and help in the readiness assessment to implement necessary measures.” To be clear, educating enterprises isn’t for charity; there’s money to be made in the process. “Channel partners are major beneficiaries in this upgrade and migration, and can play a role with consultancy services,” says Benoy from Frost & Sullivan. That’s exactly what Hyderabad-based Shell Networks did. “When you look at the opportunity of your client wanting to migrate to IPv6 from previous platforms, you need to understand the infrastructure of the client. So, what we are doing now is IPv4 to IPv6 migration analysis of the customer’s network,” says director A.L. Srinath.
NETWORK | FEATURE n Ananthram V. Varayur, director, Webcom Information Technology also thinks that there’s plenty of consulting potential around IPv6. “Consulting as a business opportunity is vital for our current customers and new accounts. A lot of consultancy offers are coming up for IPv6.” What partners do is no rocket science, but it is, nevertheless, significant. They run a detailed study of a customer’s network infrastructure and inform them of what’s needed to make a transition to a 128-bit based IPv6 platform. “We plan to help customers with their queries related to IPv6’s importance for the enterprise and how they should ideally make this transition,” says Varayur. In Bangalore, Peak XV Networks took the consulting gig one step further when it deployed IPv6-ready infrastructure for a retail company in the Middle-East. “We analyzed their network infrastructure and found that most of their equipment was only IPv4 compatible. To prepare them for the future, we helped them with an IPv6 transition across 30 locations in the Middle-East, and ensured that their entire network is IPv6 ready,” says Deepak Hoskere, MD, Peak XV Networks. Similarly, Noida-based Emarson Computers profited when it helped an MNC, working in the white goods space, migrate its existing network infrastructure to IPv6 across its branches worldwide. Sumeet Prakash, CEO, Emarson Computers, points out
A lot of services will be engaged to ensure a robust and efficient transition, which gives integrators a massive opportunity to rake in profits.” SURESH MISHRA, CEO, Wizertech Informatics
ROADBLOCKS TO IPV6 ADOPTION—AND IPV6 REVENUE Most IPv6-compatible products are not completely bug-free and there’s a lot of apprehension in terms of transitioning to these newer products as more research still needs to be done as far the security layer is concerned.” SUNIL MEHTA, SVP & Area Systems Director-Central Asia, JWT There is a scarcity of IPv-trained professionals in India. Also, the level of awareness among enterprise senior management is low, making it difficult to convince them of the need to adopt IPv6. SOUMYADEEP ROY CHOWDHURY, Research Associate, Netscribes Although consultancy services for such a migration are a strategic opportunity, as a channel partner I’m not confident how much revenue I can make from consultancy because enterprise customers want consultancy for free along with product upgrades.” ANANTHRAM V. VARAYUR, Director, Webcom Technology The biggest challenge is compatibility issues between IPv4 and IPv6. People still aren’t serious about end-to-end implementations of IPv6 right now. There is no hurry or urgency. SUMEET PRAKASH, CEO, Emarson Computers that there are two opportunities in the IPv6 realm: network expansion and compliance.
THE GOVERNMENT PUSH One vertical that’s investing in getting ready for IPv6 is the Indian government. All government websites—including state government and PSUs— are mandated to be IPv6 compliant by December 2012. An IPv6 task force was created few years ago to ensure the completion of this project. “The task force is open to SI’s on a voluntary basis. It is not funded by the government. I am making an appeal to tier-2 and tier-3 channel partners to come forward and join the task force. This is a massive opportunity for them,” says R.M. Agarwal, deputy director general, Networks & Technologies, Department of Telecom, GoI. Kolkata-based Wizertech Informatics facilitated an IPv6 transition for a PSU. “We did an audit for them and provided infrastructure reports and costs relating to the upgrade,” says Suresh Mishra CEO, Wizertech Informatics, who says
that the margin for Wizertech’s enterprise clients is about 25 percent. Shell Networks is also in the process of assessing the networking infrastructure of a state government department in South India. “We have already given a scope document and a bid to the client. We are focusing on this opportunity because it’s mandatory for state governments to be IPv6-ready,” says Srinath from Shell Networks. The government has also approved the creation of a Centre for Innovation for IPv6, which will be functional in a couple of years. This will invite more system integrators’ and private entrepreneurs to join forces and assist the GoI in this migration. “We shall invite more such companies. This is going to be a PPP model (Public Private Partnership),” says Agarwal. Migration to IPv6 is inevitable. It’s now up top channel partners to turn it into a profitable venture. “A lot of services will be engaged to ensure a robust and efficient transition, which gives integrators a massive opportunity to rake in profits,” says Wizertech. n
n FAST TRACK
Radiant Info Solutions
Integration Business (Data, Voice, AV)
P H OTO b y R . LO H I A
SOURCE: RADIANT INFO SOLUTIONS
Headquarters: New Delhi Revenue 2009-10: Rs 4.2 crore Revenue 2010-11: Rs 7 crore
Revenue 2011-12: Rs 8.3 crore
NTELLIGENCE WITHOUT ambi-
tion is a bird without wings,” said the eccentric painter, Salvador Dali. Nishant Gupta, director, Radiant Info Solutions, embodies Dali’s surrealist observation. “I’ve always had the urge to do something on my own, rather than working for a huge brand, where an individual’s contribution is often overshadowed by the company’s reputation,” says Gupta. As a fledgling company in 2007, Radiant Info focused on servicing computers before it decided to become a publicly-listed company. But, its launch as a systems integrator was greeted with gloom; a slowdown mired IT budgets, and made it hard for a newcomer like Radiant close deals. What really hurt was that cash flow challenges held the company
Employees: 25 Key Principals: Molex, Leviton, Netrack, Yealink and Draytek Key business activities: Distribution of networking components, system integration for data, voice and AV projects Key technologies: Networking, servers, datacenters, security surveillance, audio visual implementations Website: www.radiant.in
back from taking on large deals that came its way. Gupta’s ambition refused to let him give up. He tapped contacts from his old job, who helped him find business, he says. But it was the government projects he bagged that re-
ally allowed Gupta to stabilize business. “These projects kept us afloat financially during the recession. Our payments were stable and saw a constant growth rate.” A major milestone was a networking implementation for a public sector hospital in Rajasthan in partnership with AGC Networks. “It was one of the first digitization projects in the healthcare sector for the Rajasthan government. All these networking implementations helped build brand value and has catapulted us into the big league,” says Gupta. What also helped was the standard Gupta drove for project implementations, procurement measures, and payment procedures. Creating processes around these helped Radiant achieve an ISO 9001:2008 certification. Today, Radiant is not only an endto-end system integrator in networking, security, infrastructure solutions, but is also a national distributor for Molex and Leviton. As a distributor for Leviton, Radiant supplied most of the networking components for the new phase of the Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL), and as a seasoned system integrator, it implemented one of the biggest end-to-end networking projects for Mumbai-based Reliable Builders, in partnership with Molex. Gupta now intends to split Radiant into two. “While Radiant will take care of the integration part, the other half will handle our distribution business,” he says. n —Aritra Sarkhel
Nishant Gupta, Director, Radiant Info Solutions, pitted his ambition against the recession. His ambition won. 36
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
BIG DATA, BIG BUSINESS
Illustration by UNNIKRISHNAN A.V
EVERYTHING ABOUT BIG DATA
Plugging Those Leaks Big data is providing avenues for organizations to streamline business processes. By Allen Bernard
service representative answers a call from an irate customer. “This darn thing I bought just doesn’t work!” he exclaims. “I’ve tried and tried to get help from your service folks, but they’re
always late and they can’t fix it either. I’ve had it with you guys. I want my money back!” There’s silence as your rep calmly listens to this obviously unhappy customer—and pulls up a raft of information about him,
Organisations are viewing big data predominantly as a business prospect rather than an IT challenge and are moving fast to do something about it, according to a recent global survey by data integration software provider, Informatica Corporation. It showed that nearly 70 per cent of organisations are now considering, planning or running big data projects—with 44 percent now considering, 22 percent planning, 13 percent testing or 20 percent running big data projects. The survey report, Balancing Opportunity and Risk in Big Data, was drawn from poll of almost 600 IT and business professionals worldwide and assessed the state of big data projects and understanding of big data strategies. In the survey, most respondents cited the management of growing transaction volumes (74 percent) as the most relevant aspect of big data to their organisation. The company claimed that this statistic indicated significant challenges in the more traditional enterprise data realm. However, other respondents picked newer technologies as well, with 46 percent selecting technologies such as Hadoop and NoSQL for efficiently processing big data. It also found that the management of big interaction data, including social media data (35 percent), mobile device data (31 percent) and machine-generated data (22 percent), is rising in relevance. Informatica said that 71 percent of the respondents intend to improving efficiency in business operations by doing more things with more data. This is followed by increasing business agility (51 percent). — By Hafizah Osman ranging from a few years’ worth of transaction data (from the data warehouse) and service call information (from the service department databases) to call history (from the CRM system) and what he’s said about your company on Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere. There may also be a stream from previous online chats or, thanks to cookies, a list of where he’s been when searching your website. All this information is compiled so the rep can see, through a visualization tool, that this is actually a good customer who’s just having a bad day: He hasn’t been troublesome in the past, he frequently Tweets
and therefore has a high Klout score (which makes him a social media influencer, presumably with lots of followers), he gave you a Facebook “like” and he spends a fair amount of money with you. This gives the rep the green light to offer this customer a refund, a free return shipping label and a coupon for 20 percent off his next purchase. The customer is happy; and, even better, he’s decided you aren’t so bad after all. Case closed.
PROMISING BIG THINGS Customer service reps don’t have a red light, green light dashboard view quite yet, but for companies on the
n FOCAL POINT | BIG DATA bleeding edge of big data analytics, the scenario described aboveis happening today, says Eric de Roos, senior directorof product management for business intelligence vendor MicroStrategy. “Big data gives you a more in-depth understanding of what people are doing and how they are engaging with the organi-
zation. Ten to 15 years ago companies were just storing transactional data,” he says. “Now we are tracking more behaviors. We give people logins, we store cookies. When they come back, we know who the customer is, what pages they click on and what they’re looking for.” This information is of immense value for organizations
HOW TO AVOID
IG data is a powerful lure, promising to turn the massive volumes of data inside an organization into a pool of intelligence that promises deep, actionable insight into every aspect of a business. however, if you don’t plan well, the lure could prove expensive. “Big data has big spending risks,” says Jeff Muscarella, IT spend management consultant with NPI Financial. Muscarella warns that big data projects can easily ring up seven-figure price tags after you finish paying for the hardware, software and services, and sometimes the glowing business cases presented by vendors lose their luster when you look closely. “A lot of times, when you pull them apart, they’re not as rosy as they seem,” he says. That’s not to say that harnessing the power of big data is a mistake, Muscarella explains. But it does mean that organizations seeking to base their decisions on data need to start by gathering real data on how a big data project will benefit the business. “This is not just new technology,” Muscarella says. “It’s new technology solving a business problem that we often haven’t proved. That’s important for CIOs to keep in mind. The business is going to
some 65,000 Facebook users and their friends, and you start to get a much clearer picture of what that customer thinks of you and, just as importantly, your competition. Customers Tweeting, blogging and liking things on Facebook simultaneously accumulate an “influence score” and engage with your brand,
BIG DATA SPENDING PITFALLS
be coming to them with all sorts of half-baked ideas for what they can do with big data. They have to ask: Will it really drive revenue? How and for how long? What will it take to build it? They need to make sure they have a crisp focus on the mission; that it is going to have a return on investment.” When you’re exploring a big data project, don’t dive in head first, Muscarella warns. Start with open source tools like Apache Hadoop and build a test case. Muscarella says. “Pick something that’s manageable. Start on a small scale to prove your hypothesis. For instance, if we could mine the sensor data or Web clicks or the purchasing habits, would what we do with these results will improve our business.” “Don’t get trapped into building the infrastructure yet,” he adds. “Prove it first and then go back and architect your solution. Assume that however you solve the problem, you’re probably going to throw it away and start over. That’s OK because at least you proved the business need before you spent a lot of money.” Once you proven the business need, it’s time to look at the infrastructure required to manage big data. Big data projects scale to petabytes and potentially exabytes of data,
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
looking to streamline their business process. This data, combined with transactional information, gives companies a good picture of an individual customer’s value, de Roos says. Add sentiment analysis from the IBM Infosphere Streams Twitter API and the MicroStrategy Wisdom engine, which tracks the 15 million “Likes” of
so making sure you get your storage infrastructure right is essential. Muscarella says that despite vendors’ arguments in favor of standardizing on a storage provider, it’s better to leverage storage virtualization technology to introduce competition in low-risk, nonstrategic areas. “You don’t want to standardize on just one vendor,” he says. “You might want to do some of it in the cloud and you might want to do some in your internal data centers. You want to keep your options open.” He points to hospitals that he’s worked with that standardized on a single vendor. The initial deal seemed good, he says, but when their upgrade cycle came up a few years later, they didn’t have any choices and the offers they received were far different than they would have been otherwise. “The value you get varies widely depending on whether you have any options,” Muscarella says. “Use a multivendor strategy. Once you identify your upgrade cycle, make sure you go through all your agreements to make sure that in the vendor’s mind, you have the option to switch.” Pay for Analysis Data mining and business
intelligence software and services are most often sold in the context of a business case, which means that vendors will fall over themselves to provide you with a free business case analysis, Muscarella says. They’ll want to bring consultants to your site for several days, speak to your business owners and help you understand what they can bring to the table. It’s better, he says, to pay them for the analysis or hire a third party to conduct the analysis. That gives them liability if the analysis proves mistaken and gives you a much better chance of receiving an honest, complete assessment. Beware of the Bundle Whether you’re buying hardware, software or services, avoid the all-you-can-eat agreements, Muscarella warns. “We always tell people to beware of the bundle,” he says, noting that vendors often offer a deal in which customers can use any of the tools in their toolbox for one flat fee. Instead, make sure to ask for time and materials quotes in addition to fixed bid quotes. He notes the time and materials bid can provide valuable insight into how a vendor looks at a project and how many hours they think it should take by resource and task. — By Thor Olavsrud
says Wilson Raj, global customer intelligence director for SAS. These “digital traces,” in turn, can be harnessed to get a full view of that customer. Since this level of customer experience analysis remains in its early days, only the most adventurous clients combine Twitter feeds with YouTube headers, aggregate sentiment analysis from Web-generated data sets and the blogosphere, and wrap it all in a natural language processing (NLP) engine in order to deem a customer happy or sad. As these technologies mature and corporate
ine, says IBM’s director of Emerging Technologies David Barnes. “The cost of getting started with this isn’t that great. That’s the cool part of these massively scalable systems. I can start on my MacBook, decide I like it, take that exact same code and spread it across 100 servers.”
USING BIG DATA TO PREDICT NETWORK You can also use big data on the back-end to make sure your offerings are what you say they are. TMobile, for example, continuously analyzes 2 PB of network performance
prevent—network outages that could have been caused by faulty Android applications, Twiford says. (After all, a smartphone user without network access might make a customer service call similar to the one described at the beginning of this article.) Twiford and her team also use handset data to determine whether they may need to open the floodgates if, for example, they anticipate a large volume of video suddenly hitting a given geographic area—Boston on the Fourth of July, Times Square on New Years’ Eve
Journalists on the campaign trail have used Wisdom to track down Mitt Romney supporters at their favorite restaurants. How? If they “like” Mitt and they “like” Joe’s Diner, reporters know they can stake out Joe’s and get some interviews.
BIG DATA WILL MAKE BIG STRIDES Big data, while intriguing, remains in its early days. Big data doesn’t come easily—or, for that matter, cheaply, as Wisdom Pro starts as $25,000 (about Rs 13 lakh). Companies working to integrate the
Big data provides social data and other publicly available data that can be analyzed and used to understand the customers’ sentiment and needs before they become issues or problems that lead to churn. This is a significant advancement for organizations that, until now, had to rely on customers’ frankness and candor to understand the issues. IT departments find the time, talent and resources, they’ll catch up with this trend. They’ll have to, says Rita Sallam, Gartner’s BI analyst and research vice president. “Advanced analytics must be more pervasive to deliver significant value and competitive advantage to an organization,” Sallam wrote in her February report, Advanced Analytics: Predictive, Collaborative and Pervasive. “To date, use of tools and processes for building advanced analytic applications and deriving and consuming insights have been limited to a small number of highly trained and experienced statisticians, analysts and operations research professionals.” Moving these tools into the hands of line-ofbusiness users may not be as hard as you would imag-
data on its IBM Netezza data warehouse, loading nearly 20 billion rows and processing nearly 150,000 ELT jobs daily. In a fiveminute span, says Christine Twiford, who works in T-Mobile’s network engineering department, as many as 60 users may be executing load and query operations on the system in near-real time. The main focus of network engineering is optimal network performance in the name of customer experience, she says. “We use clickstream data to calculate the speed of downloaded songs. This gives us a great proxy for understanding throughput speeds at the tower level, as well as handset speeds.” With this data at the ready, T-Mobile has been able to predict—and
and so on. This is exactly the opposite of what happened at some Olympic venues, where usage overwhelmed the networks set up to serve both event organizers and fans. These streams can be used to get in front of an emerging trend—or a presidential candidate. Say a coffee chain using Wisdom to better understand its customers discovered they have an “affinity” (to use MicroStrategy’s parlance) for a new type of chocolate hitting the market. If the company wanted to make a quick decision based on this preliminary but compelling insight, it could stock that chocolate in the stores where Facebook “likes” are highest, notes Warren Getler, MicroStrategy’s vice president of Corporate Communications.
many silos of internal data with intelligence from the Web and sentiment analysis from NLP engines, then, are riding the curl of this wave. Such firms are in the minority. Fewer than one percent of companies are currently using big data this way, says independent customer strategist Esteban Kolsky. However, that will change, he adds. “Big data provides social data and other publicly available data that can be analyzed and used to understand the customers’ sentiment and needs before they become issues or problems that lead to churn,” Kolsky says. “This is a significant advancement for organizations that, until now, had to rely on customers’ frankness and candor to understand the issues.” n
n FOCAL POINT | BIG DATA
The7Steps in Big Data Delivery
Everything in IT points towards big data. Here are seven steps to maximize its potential. By Jill Dyché
HE BIG data trend rep-
resents the evolving need to process large amounts of data with a new crop of technology solutions that aren’t necessarily your father’s database. So, what does a company need to consider when contemplating getting started with big data? First, they need to know what big data is. Here is how I define it: “The emerging technologies and practices that enable the collection, processing, discovery and storage of large volumes of structured and unstructured data quickly and cost-effectively.” As more IT departments research big data alternatives, the discussion centers on stacks, processing speeds and platforms. And inasmuch as these IT departments are savvy enough to grasp the limitations of their incumbent technologies, many can’t articulate the business value of these alternative solutions, let alone how they will classify and prioritize the data once they identify it. Enter big data governance. In fact as we look at the emerging need for big data, the platforms and processes discussions are only part of the overall approach to big data delivery. In reality we’re seeing seven steps in realizing the full potential of a big data development effort:
BENEFITTING FROM DATA GOVERNANCE Entrenching data governance processes on behalf of a big data effort ensures that: v Business value and desired outcomes are clear. v Policies for the treatment of key data have been sanctioned. v The right subject matter expertise is applied to the big data problem. v Definitions and rules for key data are clear. v There is an escalation process for conflict and questions. v Data management—the tactical execution of data governance
policies—is deliberate and relevant. v There are decision rights for key issues during development. v Data privacy policies are enforced.
Collect: Data is collected from the data sources and distributed across multiple nodes—often a grid—each of which processes a subset of data in parallel. Process: The system then uses that same highpowered parallelism to perform fast computations against the data on each node. The nodes then “reduce” the resulting data findings into more consumable data sets to be used by either a human being (in the case of analytics) or machine (in the case of large-scale interpretation of results). Manage: Often the big data being processed is heterogeneous, originating from different transactional systems. That data usually needs to be understood, defined, cleansed and audited for security purposes.
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
Measure: Companies will often measure the rate at which that data can be integrated with other customer behaviors or records and whether the rate of integration or correction is increasing over time. Business requirements should inform the type of measurement and ongoing tracking. Consume: The resulting use of the data should fit in with the original requirement for the processing. For instance, if bringing in a few hundred terabytes of social media interactions helps us understand whether and how social media data drives additional product purchases, then we should set up rules for how social media data should be accessed and updated. Store: As the “data as a service” trend takes shape, increasingly the data stays in a single location as the
programs that access it move around. Whether the data is stored for short-term batch processing or longer-term retention, storage solutions should be addressed. Data Governance: Data governance is the businessdriven policy-making and oversight of data. As defined, data governance applies to each of the six preceding stages of big data delivery. By establishing processes and guiding principles it sanctions behaviors around data. And big data needs to be governed according to its intended consumption. Otherwise the risk is disaffection of constituents, not to mention overinvestment. Most staff members charged with researching and acquiring big data solutions focus on the collect and store steps at the expense of the others. The question is implicit: “How do we gather all these petabytes of data and where do we put ‘em all once we have ‘em?” But the processes for defining discrete business requirements for big data still elude many IT departments. Business people often see the big data trend as just another pretext for IT resumebuilding with no clear end game. Such an environment of mutual cynicism is the single biggest culprit for why big data never transcends the tire-kicking phase. Data governance is an insurance policy that the right questions are being asked. So we won’t be squandering the immense power of new big data technologies that make processing, storage and delivery speed more cost-effective and nimble than ever. n Jill Dyché is vice president of thought leadership, strategic products for SAS.
n FOCAL POINT | OPINION
Turning On the Spotlight Big data is here to stay. But, as with all new technologies, there is an air of uncertainity around it. Even so, big data deserves our attention.
John Webster is a senior partner at Evaluator Group, a storage research firm. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ERHAPS YOU’VE heard that the next new thing
in IT is “big data” and concluded that the hypecycle machine is turning out another attentiongetter. I’m not big on predicting paradigm shifts, so I won’t in this case. But I will say that if you’re an
IT professional, you ignore big data at your peril. I believe this one is all it’s cracked up to be and more. First, a word of caution. As with the cloud, we are now in the definition stage. New and often conflicting definitions abound as vendors attach their own meanings to the term big data. The most common source of confusion results from the conflation of big data storage with big data analytics. Big data analytics is the big deal. Big data storage is really nothing more than storage that handles a lot of data for applications like high-definition video-streaming. One large storage vendor that has yet to make a big-data statement told me that his company was considering “Huge Data” as a moniker for its big data storage entry. Seriously. Someday soon, big data storage will begin to support big data analytics. Right now, though, I think it’s key to first figure out if the vendor is pitching storage or analytics. The definition of big data analytics is also getting pulled in somewhat conflicting directions. One can start with an understanding of data warehousing and add capabilities that the classic data warehouse doesn’t offer. For starters, big data analytics encompasses unstructured and structured data. It’s widely believed that 80 percent of all data is unstructured. Big data analytics means that unstructured data—the bulk of what’s out there—can now be mined. The classic data warehouse user sets up queries and gets results anywhere from a day to a week later, whereas the goal for
many big data analytics processes is to deliver results to users in real time. Finally, data warehousing works with a limited number of data sources. Big data analytics has the power to combine disparate sources—like a supply chain tracking system that commingles RFID, GPS and product shipment data—to deliver information previously unattainable. I could say that any definition of big data analytics must combine all three of these attributes, but that would be misleading. What isn’t helpful is relabeling something as “big data,” like saying a traditional data warehousing product is now big data simply because it handles bigger data volumes. Rather than quibbling over definitions at this stage, what we really should be after as IT professionals is understanding and hopefully leveraging what is new. The ability to encompass unstructured data into the business analytics process is new. The ability to converge multiple data sources—structured and unstructured—is new. And the ability to produce new types of information in real time is decidedly new and powerful. Here’s why I think that big data is worth the attention. Yes, it has the potential to deliver new types of information to both business users and consumers in real time. Beyond that, however, lies the promise of a style of computing that more closely mimics the functioning of the human mind as it takes in data from many different sources, forming thoughts and making decisions in real time. For IT, that means moving from the provisioning of services to making a big impact on business results. n NOVEMBER JANUARY 2012 INDIAN 1, 2009CHANNELWORLD CHANNELWORLD41 41
n FACE OFF
Cisco Vs. Juniper
Director–Systems Engineering, Juniper Networks, India
VP, Borderless Networks, Cisco India and SAARC
Defining the Network C
Who will have an edge when Software Defined Networks become a reality?
ISCO HAS aligned itself with the definition of SDN
as proposed by the Open Network Foundation, and has led several aspects of technical specification development over the past year. We believe that the future of networking will be categorized by a unification of hardware and software. Since customers prefer an application-centric view of their networks, we have adopted a multi-threaded approach for our strategy around SDN. Leading the SDN wave, Cisco recently unveiled its Open Network Environment strategy—popularly known as Cisco ONE. The Cisco ONE approach will be executed through a rich set of APIs, agents and controllers, and overlay networks. New offerings included onePK (One platform kit)— a developer kit across Cisco’s entire network infrastructure, spanning across IOS, NX-OS and IOR-XR. Further, Cisco’s Nexus 1000V has been enhanced to include OpenStack support, VLAN-VXLAN gateway functionality, as well as multi-hypervisor support for deployment in cloud and multi-tenant environments. For us, SDN and OpenFlow are integral aspects of the Cisco ONE strategy. They provide different solutions based on customer motivation, whether they are enterprise users, service providers, cloud providers, or massively scalable datacenters. Our strategic roadmap around SDN involves educating the workforce and partners to come up to speed with these emerging concepts. The acquisition of privately-held vCider is well-aligned to Cisco ONE’s strategy and solidifies Cisco’s stance in this space. As a company, we will continue to invest in, and bring synergy across both hardware and software, drive consistency between physical and virtual, and blur the boundaries across the network.
INDIAN CHANNELWORLD NOVEMBER 2012
T ITS core, the SDN approach aims to extract more value from the network, by allowing applications to interact with the network, optimize resource allocation, and collect important intelligence from the network. Long before the term SDN was coined, Juniper’s disruptive network architectures were built on the premise of using innovative software to give customers unprecedented levels of flexibility and control, with the end goal of transforming the economics and experience of networking. By simultaneously simplifying and opening up the network, Juniper pioneered the core capabilities and concepts behind SDNs. With the QFabric datacenter architecture, Juniper has leveraged the SDN approach to challenge the status quo in datacenter switching. In the process, QFabric has reset the bar on datacenter connectivity and performance, and is the first commercially available SDN. We have introduced a series of groundbreaking innovations through our “programmable network” initiative. Junos SDK is the first in industry to open up a world-class routing engine for open development. In addition to this, Juniper is dedicated to accelerating key capabilities and technologies that will be critical for SDNs to realize their full potential over the long term, like simplifying networks to optimize SDNs, initiating and accelerating SDNs, and fusing innovation in network software and hardware. Juniper is in a unique position with its ‘New Network’ vision to drive the SDN wave.
— As told to Shantheri Mallaya
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