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"Storage will no longer be a monolith, but selectivity will be the key"

With corporate storage requirements almost doubling every year companies are now allocating separate budgets just for storage. M S Sidhu, Managing Director, Apara Enterprise Solutions spoke to Network Magazine about the future of storage technologies and the growing importance of storage in the world of business

"Apara has been one of the pioneers in revolutionizing the concept of Storage as a separate decision in India"

Can you briefly explain Apara's entry into storage solutions?
Apara has been a pioneer in revolutionizing the concept of storage as a separate decision in India. It has achieved considerable local success and is well positioned as a leading provider of end-to-end Data Storage and Content Management. It is also a market leader in the NAS segment.

We at Apara believe in bringing the best of storage technologies to customers in India and have a strong background in integrating these storage solutions for some of the leading and largest companies in the India sub-continent.

What is the USP of your organization? How do you take on the competition?
Having been in the market for the last ten years, our focus has always been on offering end-to-end storage & content management solutions. Today, the main selling point of our organization is to intensely focus on offering solutions for the mission critical enterprise, for whom data is very significant. We also have always believed in operating in an environment were we have a direct relation with the customers' business.

Our clients include mainly organizations that have sufficiently good amount of data to be managed and for whom data is very critical. Our customers generally fall under the category of the IDCs, ISPs, telecom, manufacturing and banking sectors.

As far as competition is concerned, we do not find any competition for our total solutions in the market. In fact with the kind of products in our portfolio, we command almost 95 percent market share. The other way we try to do better than our competitors is by always engaging with selective customers, with a high degree of commitment and dedication.

What storage technologies will prevail in the coming years?
With desktop attached storage (DAS) on its way out, it will be storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) that will be embraced by organizations who are teetering on the edge of a data explosion.

In the coming years, I think networking will dominate storage, and with that we can expect three types of SANs to emerge storage area networks, server area networks and system area networks. With customers getting more concerned about scalability, ease of use, total cost of ownership (TCO) and having a solution-centric approach, storage will no longer be a monolith, but selectivity will be the key.

Providing complete solutions and software leadership will become increasingly important sources for competitive advantage; delivering availability,ease of management, and interoperability will be key to success.

How serious are Indian corporates or individuals when it comes to data storage?
Gone are the days when individuals and corporate customers went in for storage solutions recommended by server vendors. These customers usually did not focus much on storage strategies. But times have now changed, and most of the storage decisions are now happening independently. Storage is now getting more significance, as this is the key to any organization's long-term success.

Can you comment on how companies here have taken to the concept of managed storage?
In India, the concept of managed storage is still far away, the main concern being security. It is still a long way to go before the true concept of Managed Storage seeps into the Indian Market.

It would not be wrong to say that the storage market is still in a nascent stage. The growth of SAN and NAS will continue to push the market ahead in spite of an overall slowdown in capital spending. Organizations will start feeling the stress of relentless growth of storage, and the increasing demands of storage management. SAN and NAS seem to be the new Gods.

Besides storage, is Apara looking to expand its business into other important areas like security, system integration?
Since security is an emerging market, we are viewing it as a serious market and are trying to address it. Though the security market is moving at snails pace, it will definitely be a big concern to most of the companies who plan to operate on the Web or are looking at Web strategies.

To make headway in this initiative, we have tied up with a company called Netscreen, which has products such as firewall, VPN and traffic shaping. The firewall from Netscreen is an ASIC-based hardware firewall, which focuses on the Appliance concept giving a plug-and-play advantage to customers.

To begin our venture into System Integration,we have started enrolling expertise into our team for servers, storage and networking and are planning to consolidate our position on network integration as well. There seem to be a lot of players addressing this market but we still feel that there gaps that can be addressed.

This will fetch us good revenues and enhance our expertise on technology.

Corporate storage requirements double every year. How are companies keeping up with this growth as their data repositories expand?
Most companies have already invested on a scalable storage infrastructure. Hence when their storage requirement increases, all they need to do is add more disks to the existing setup. Organizations that see an increase in their data needs are now adopting a scalable storage strategy. Apart from this, customers are now going in for investing on secondary storage so that the data will be safe for a long time to come.

Corporates are now also seriously looking at Remote Replication and Disaster Recovery options. This mainly helps in enhancing business continuance and is very critical for Storage Consolidation. Large institutions and organizations are now moving from direct attached storage to network storage whether NAS or SAN.

What's the ideal setup for a company that has block-level and file-level data moving through its IP networks? Does Apara have a special network design to address this requirement?
To address the above, the right kind of setup will definitely be a Gigabit SAN. This will address the performance issues as in the case of direct network connectivity. Network Appliance is now coming out with newer concepts and technologies to cater to this segment.

Indeed, Apara can certainly address this market, as we are very focussed on NAS offerings and solutions. We are right now working out similar solutions for few customers.

Mahesh rathod can be reached at rathodmp@hotmail.com

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