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Issue of April 2005 

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Power Conditioning in SMBs

'The Indian SMB market is a gold mine'

After the power stabilisation in the Indian metros, it's time for businesses in small towns to invest in power conditioning. Gene Hayden, Vice-president, Sales and Marketing, Emerson Network Power, talks to Deepali Gupta about the options available for SMBs.

How important is power conditioning in the Indian market?

Power conditioning forms a critical component of the overall infrastructure. One experiences a diverse scenario in different pockets of the country. While the metros have good power supply, the interiors reflect a different picture altogether.

There is a lot of growth happening in B-class cities due to the BPO boom. There is always a need of fast and efficient service-oriented Network Uptime Solution providers to protect these mission-critical applications. Apart from tier-I cities, the tier-II cities such as Pune, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh will further fuel the growth for the power conditioning market in India.

How are power conditioning needs in India's B-class cities different from power conditioning requirements elsewhere in the world?

Firstly, the availability of electricity from the power grid is unpredictable and both the frequency and voltage levels are often poorly regulated. As you move towards the interiors, you will realise that there are frequent power cuts on a daily basis, unclean power, other basic constraints such as earthing and cabling, and a lack of a viable infrastructure catering to a large population to compound the problem. The supply-demand mismatch further worsens the power availability to the loads used in remote interiors. Because one cannot exercise control over an unreliable utility supply, the motivation that drives small businesses in India to buy a UPS stems from a cautionary approach to insure against the likelihood of a power failure.

What will Emerson's focus be in the near future?

Emerson will consolidate its position in the SOHO and SMB segments. We plan to address the channel segments by providing availability solutions for VoIP Telephony Systems.

A strong area of focus has been the Engineering and Services segment. Here too, Emerson will have new offerings such as an online Availability Assessment Tool-a risk assessment tool to evaluate the criticality of infrastructure compared to the business process that it supports. It provides threat analysis and the vulnerability of the system to Network Downtime, and it is similar to a dashboard.

How will a dashboard or similar tools help the senior management? What are the new features that are being added to such products?

Today's decision-makers need immediate access to mission-critical information and dashboards provide a visual information cockpit for the enterprise, allowing users to focus on important issues.

Dashboards supported by real-time data availability and analysis empower organisations to identify root causes of performance issues, analyse emerging trends and highlight progress hold-ups so that they can make faster, smarter decisions. The dashboard provides a single access point that allows users to publish reports and graphs easily, while providing extensive drill-down and analysis capabilities.

What is the size of the SMB power conditioning market? How do these products cater to the unique needs of SMBs today and in future? What is the difference between SMB and SOHO?

The Indian SMB market is a gold mine that needs to be tapped. It is estimated to be worth Rs 900 crore. About 54 percent of the IT spend in the country comes from the flourishing small and mid-sized business segment, which is growing at a rate of 20 percent per annum. According to IDC, there are about 1.7 million organisations that can be classified as SMBs or Small Office Home Office (SOHO) set-ups. These organisations spend about Rs 3,400 crore on IT products and services.

SMBs are more varied in shape or form and can be segmented in more ways than one: size, number of employees, revenue, international presence, whether independent or part of a larger group. At the bottom of the SMB market segmentation, one can find the so-called SOHO market. The behaviour patterns of the SOHO segment are very close to those of the consumers.

Through its network of Business Partners and Channel Partners, Emerson is constantly reaching out to the SMB segment. Notably, within the SMB segments, the awareness of business continuity solutions is growing at a very fast pace and SMBs are fast realising the importance of Network Uptime for their businesses.

SMBs in India are, however, extremely price conscious. They typically forget to factor in vital issues such as the total cost of ownership and the service component. With their limited budgets, they want a good quality product. Therefore, last year, Emerson launched UCS 24X7, an uninterruptible cooling solution for smaller server rooms to provide smaller businesses a viable option compared to the more expensive Precision Air Conditioner solutions that were previously available.

What level of maintenance will the new products require? Does it make sense for CIOs to invest in newer products if the long-term maintenance costs will be low, or is the difference too small for them to consider?

All products require maintenance on a regular basis. This does not imply that the solution will otherwise be subject to frequent product breakdowns, but as solutions today power super-critical environments, products have to be maintained by predictive failure avoidance. This is the only way to ensure low downtime. Products and battery monitoring using local or remote monitoring solutions play a major role in maintaining of high nines uptime.

However, all the new products are easy to maintain and have communication capabilities. Ideally, the communication allows the products to be monitored from any one place in the network or in the security office. This reduces the need for maintenance specialists. These units are sold through business partners trained to sell and service the equipment. They follow strict SLAs during the warranty period and offer comprehensive annual maintenance programmes for all these products post the warranty period. This makes the maintenance of the equipment absolutely hassle-free for the SMB customer.

How do you see the power conditioning market evolving in India?

The power conditioning market is getting more sensitive and mature to the evolving needs of the businesses. With India assuming a key role in the Asian economy, businesses have attuned to the fact that they need to be robust in terms of infrastructure to attract and retain investors. Hence, Network Uptime is being viewed strategically and upcoming businesses realise the importance of factoring and aligning it as a key component in the overall business model.

As far as the UPS industry is concerned, people today are more sensitive to transients in networks and harmonics. In addition, IT companies are maturing to the concepts and significance of earthing and grounding, and there is an increasing priority to ensure that proper measures are taken in the initial stages itself. More than understanding the critical load requirements, businesses are beginning to pay special attention to the environment in which the application will run and are thus increasing demand for Power Quality Audits.

Deepali Gupta can be reached at

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