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Interview

Wireless works for India – Raja Vairamuthu, Aruba

Founded in 2002, Aruba helps businesses engage with exactly what they need, at exactly the right time, no matter what the device or location.  With their patented Mobility-Defined Networks (TM) Aruba automates performance optimization and security actions that used to require IT intervention, so the network engineer can stop being the IT authority and become the IT ally. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, they  have offices throughout the Americas, Asia-Pacific/Japan and Europe/Middle East/Africa.   India is a large focus market in Asia Pacific for Aruba, and also houses more than half of Aruba’s employee strength in its offices in Chennai and Bangalore. 

Raja Vairamuthu AS, Regional Sales Director, Aruba Networks India, interacts with Educationtechnology on the developments in the wireless market in India, Aruba’s growth plans and focus areas.

  1. What is the change in Wireless scenario in India? What are the industries that are going for wireless? 

About 5 years ago, enterprises and individuals were not accustomed to being connected wirelessly.  People want to see physically wired connections between their laptop and network switches.  When Aruba launched in 2002, people considered wireless as luxury and a backup for wired networks.

On the other hand, four years ago, mobile phoneswere used predominantly for voice and not for data communication. Nowadays mobile phones are used for chatting and online shopping all of which  rely on data communication of mobile networks.  Most of the smart phones have 3G connectivity feature, and in India 4G is about to be launched.  But the primary data communication in the mobile these days are through wireless hotspots.  This has eventually led to BYOD implementations in the enterprise.

A few years back, wired networks were considered more secure. Every employee could see a physical connection and that their devices are behind a firewall and feel in control and safe.  Things have changed since then. Now in a wireless setup, a network administrator can configure guest access or employee access and provision resources to access.  This done through a wireless controller, that allows access to internal resources.

AICTE rules mandate that every college should provide wireless access to students.  Most of the colleges have provided wireless and therefore Internet access to employees. This has removed the need for wired networks, as there are challenges in providing wired network ports to each student at their hostel points, for example.  Because of this mandate and convenience, wireless in education campuses are booking.

  1. How do you see Wireless in Indian education institutions change? How will the end user benefit?

In the next 3 years, all colleges in India will be completely wireless enabled.  Every hostel room, administration and academic block will be Wi-Fi enabled.  This will enable the students to be mobile and still access Internet and resources from anywhere inside the college campus.What we achieve through wireless enablement is mobility.

Even in schools, students can access Internet, search a topic and prepare and give answers.  Online collaboration will help better learning.  The teachers need not be available all the time to clarify any subject matter.

Most of the colleges that we approach now have a digital library.   The content on library servers can be accessed through wireless networks from anywhere in the campus. We have deployed in IIT’s and IIM’s and covered most of the A schools in India.In my region (South India), SRM is our biggest customer.  In SRM, about 11,500 students are registered and 1500 Access points enable them toconnect resources inside the campus and on the Internet.  Each student has one laptop, one iPad and one mobile – three devices are registered per student.

  1. There are 5 year old wireless installations. Is Aruba targeting them for upgrades?

There are various wireless technology standards 802.11 a/b/g/n.  The latest standard in practice is 802.11 ac.  Now 802.11 AD will be the new standard that will be launched in India shortly.  These standards dictate the speed of wireless networks.  One should keep in mind that wireless is about shared bandwidth.

Existing 802.11 a/b/g/n devices like laptops and mobile devices operate at 2.4 GHz. Latest laptops and Macs, operate at 2.4 and 5 GHz.  The newer devices are increasing daily in number. The older access points operate at 2.4 GHz, and therefore, the latest gadgets (endpoints) will switch to lower speed because of the limitation of the access point.  At Aruba, we are identifying and replacing these older access points to empower and enable the newer end points access 5 GHz bandwidth.

One of the unique features of Aruba’s Wireless Access Solution vs competitors is called ‘client match’.  The existing technology in vogue with other wireless technology players limits roaming clients (end points)  through ‘stickiness’.  So wherever you go, you will still connect with the regWireless-works-for-Indiaistered access point irrespective of distance. Unless a disconnection happens, the device cannot scan, switch and register with another access point which is nearest. But in Aruba, it is all about seamless roaming.   The WAP software ensures that you are attached to the nearest access point even when you are roaming.  This change happens seamlessly and helps end users have a transparent network access. This single feature has helped us win many clients.

  1. How does Aruba work with ISPs?

We work with leading Telecom service providers in India.  They leverage our technology and their business model (OPEX).  We sell the Wireless Access point to the Service Providers as one time capital expenditure.

  1. What is the working model with Distributors, Value Added Resellers and other channels? What are the incentives for partners?

Aruba is a California, Sunnyvale, US- based company.  Aruba started in the US, and we have a major share in the Enterprise Market in the US and globally.  In India, we have four National distributors and more than 50 authorized partners.

We conduct partner training twice a quarter, region-wise.  We also offer certifications to our partners – ACMA, ACMP, ACCP, and ACDX.  We have about 60+ certified engineers with resellers.   We are planning to train partner-engineers and achieve another 100+ partner certifications.  This is done through WebEx for a duration of 5 days, and exam coupons are given for the certification exam.  Based on numbers and levels of certified engineers, each partner gets into a certain discount range.  Similarly if the partners achieve targets, they get additional incentives and annual awards.

  1. How big is Aruba in India, in terms of employee strength?How is Aruba’s business in India?

Totally we have around 1700 employees globally.  There are three categories – sales,TACand R&D team. There are less than 20 people including sales and presales.  We have 150 people in TAC and R&D in Chennai.  Bangalore, which is our Global R&D and TAC centre, has more than 700 employees, and supports global clients.  That way, India is blessed.

Aruba is the leader in Wireless in India – in Education vertical, Enterprise WLAN and Mobility.  Aruba focuses on Enterprise, Education, IT/ITES and Manufacturing verticals.  We participate in Government tenders on an opportunity basis.  We recentlywon a large contract with BSNL.  Leveraging Aruba’s state of art wireless technology, BSNL providesseamless wireless experience to their enterprise customers.   We aim to achieve 20 million USD in terms of sales this year, with each region contributing to about 2.5 to 3 million.   We sell about 3000 Access points in a quarter.  We are now the largest unit in Asia Pacific by revenue.

  1. What are the innovations of Aruba as a brand?

Aruba is investing big time in Research and Development, as customers are constantly seeking innovations – our Automated Guest Access and seamless indoor and outdoor wireless access solutions have resolve some seemingly impossible deployment issues.  We support both Centralized and Distributed (Instant AP) solution.

  1. How does Aruba support its install base?

Aruba provides all access points with limited lifetime warranty.  This means that we support access points 5 years from end-of-sale date.  We offer ArubaCare and PartnerCare support options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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