In an exclusive interaction with CRN India, Shibu Paul, Regional Sales Director – APAC, Array Networks, highlights the company’s business strategies in India, its contribution to the hyper convergence market, and the strategy for long-term relationship with customers. Some edited excerpts…
What is your perception of Array Networks’ business growth in India, when the market is undergoing a lot change and witnessing a slowdown?
We are growing at a positive rate of 35 per cent YOY. 2018 has been a rewarding year for Array and we should exceed our revenue numbers. The colossal growth is backed by the significant deals in BFSI, Government and enterprises. We have invested heavily in all the verticals.
Besides, our newly launched hyper converged networking and security platform solution, AVX, has received great reception from channel partners as well as customers. Recently, we even had a large enterprise deployment for our hyper converged network infrastructure solution. Also, our selected channel partners have been trained well to take Array’s hyper converged infrastructure solution into the market.
How is the market for hyper convergence evolving? What has been your contribution to address new customer requirements?
We can’t deny the fact that hyper convergence is taking over the market at a high pace. Companies are increasingly embracing hyper-converged infrastructure as a go-to technology platform to address security, productivity and other concerns. It not only delivers the performance companies are looking for, but also brings other benefits, including less networking, storage or physical equipment. It lowers IT costs, accelerates speed to market and reduces complexity related to the IT environment and the business as a whole.
Working on the same lines, we developed AVX Series Network Functions Platforms. Array’s AVX Series Network Functions Platforms address the challenges of both VARs and MSPs through hyperconverged platforms that offer the agility of virtual appliances with the performance of dedicated appliances. Each platform supports multiple instances of Array or third-party networking and security functions. VARs can develop new best-of-breed security and networking packages to differentiate their offerings while consolidating multiple discreet appliances into just one or two rack units; end-customers benefit from reduced rack space, power, cooling and cabling requirements.
We are committed to the Indian market and have lined up investments to support and serve our customers efficiently with high breed solutions. Having said, we are all set to inaugurate Array innovation labs in Bangalore with a world class testing lab for third party networking and security functions by December 2018.
Where are you planning to set up these innovation labs?
We will have our central innovation laboratory in Bangalore following extended lab setups in other metro cities, namely, Mumbai and Delhi. These innovation labs will primarily focus on building products in the security, analytics and reporting space, which is the current requirement of end customers.
We have the budgets approved and we have been looking to hire the right skilled talent who can help us in making this journey productive. We are basically looking at candidates with engineering knowledge, who have worked with end customers and large OEMs in the past. The key objective is to have a core team focusing on local and global customer requirements. There is a huge potential in the market and we want to be well equipped and armed to address the various opportunities.
What are your views regarding the increasing global investments made in the Indian market. Where do you see the opportunities?
Array acknowledges that India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and continues to propel in the coming years.
Today, the Indian market is on the target list of a lot of organisations who are looking to invest. Being in the market for so long, we understand the dynamics and have already started investing heavily in security and infrastructure solutions. To stay ahead in the game we have planned to have a development hub in India to cater for future products to the global and local markets.
Array Networks has a very stable customer base. What are the factors that have contributed in this strong customer loyalty over the years?
Array Networks has crossed more than 300 enterprise customers in India. One of our core strengths has been dedicated local support ecosystem. The support team has been increasing with the increasing customer count. We have a regional support system to address the issues across India.
Besides, Array was one of the first and few vendors to setup local RMA and local support infrastructure. Now we will be investing in local development teams to bring global innovative solutions to Indian customers. We have been able to manage the implementation timeline, in the given time frame which has favoured us a lot.
Most of our customers have been with us for a long time and we believe that our alliances will continue to grow in the future as well. Array’s customer retention has been one of the highest in our segment and adds one more feather to our cap.
What have been your channel expansion and investment plans?
We have a dedicated channel ecosystem. With support of our channel partners, we are focused on developing a skilled pool of resources. We have various channel schemes that have been recognised and well accepted by our partners. Schemes include assured margin program, assured incentive programs for leads, PoC’s, ales to name a few. Our objective has been to ensure that channel partners are rewarded for every effort and not just for sales. There is a concentrated effort to enhance training activities for channel partners to develop and certify them.
We are looking to add more partners for our hyper convergence business. We are creating an infrastructure today for tomorrow.
Since you provide dedicated hardware and infrastructure for your customers, do you have any plans to spin this as a service model through your partners?
Our strategy is to offer services through the leading CSP’s in the country. We are already working with CSPs like Netmagic to provide services through them. We will help the CSP’s to create an infrastructure which could offer our services at attractive price points. Besides, we will introduce a service model specifically for government customers as per the guidelines along with CSP’s.
What kind of qualities do you look for while partnering with Channel partners? Are you looking to expand your network?
We have more than 60 channel partners currently. Since our solutions include NFV and hyper convergence in networking and security, we look at the partner’s knowledge in networking, virtualisation and security. These three things need to fall in place.
In the near future, we will add large SI’s with a good skill sets in virtualisation, security and networking to train them on our AVX platform. Array supports SI’s who wants to put up a lab for array commercially and technically. We have few partners who have already invested in setting up the labs for Array. In addition, channel partners who are already selling HCI solutions from Nutanix make a good fit as we are complementing each other.
Apart from the Government and BFSI, which are the other verticals you would want to focus on?
Apart from the Government and BFSI, enterprise has been our focus area. With our AVX network and security virtualised platform, we expect to make great inroads into the large and medium enterprise customers. 2018 has seen a phenomenal contribution from the enterprise customers with AVX. Another segment we see potential is the service providers. From SI perspective, we would want to partner with SI’s who are addressing the global markets.