Aten Plans to Win the High-end KVM Switch Market
Specialized in connectivity solutions in IT, Aten International is gearing up to strengthen its high-end KVM solutions market in India. It has taken up an all round agenda to ensure its market growth in the targeted segment. Contextually, in India, it manages product distribution through Cubix Micro Systems. And it categorises all products in 2 segments, namely – entry to middle level and high-end products.
This write-up is based on my recent interaction with Aten’s team, including Rajiv Fauz – sales manager, Pan-Asia Sales Department, Jerry Liu – assistant vice president, Sales Department 1 and Nitin Naik, director Cubic Micro Systems India.
Today Aten has presence in more than 80% of top 500 companies in India, who use KVM products. In the last 3 years, it has launched many high-end products (including remotely managed ones) in the international market. As far as the entry to middle level KVM solutions are concerned, it has 55% market share at present in India. The vendor will now stress on expanding its market in the high-end segment, where it owes 30-35% share now.
According to Jerry, Aten’s popularity is based on 6 strong pillars – its brand name, products for all types of customers, high quality, attractive price tags, deliverance of right products and good delivery arrangement. In the words of Nitin, “For each category of the solutions, Aten offers 10-12 alternative models to its customers at different price tags.”
Today in India, Aten has around 700 channel partners in three different layers. The first layer is called the Gold-partners, who are highly committed, have dedicated resources to sell Aten’s products in the Indian market, and who have the technical as well as the sales manpower allocated for the product sets. They also stock the products.
The second layer, called Silver-partners, is opportunity based. They do not stock the products. But for their set of customers, they buy and resell Aten’s products on regular basis. The third layer consists of the Standard partners as and when they need – they buy the products.
“If something goes wrong with any one of our products, which is mission critical, the entire IT operation of the user organization can be at stake. Thus, customers try to make sure that they buy the right products from the right vendor, who maintains a very good support infrastructure,” said Nitin.
For high-end products’ market, first the company has to build up a complete support infrastructure. Although, normally partners give the L1 and L2 support, for some specific problems, customers need Cubix’s and Aten’s support directly. Thus, a centralised country support center is required.
“We have a big plan for the Indian IT channel,” said Nitin. “Our major business is through partners. Thus, Aten is focused on partner activities in all the regions,” he added. The vendor is now basically focusing on training the Gold and Silver partners, which together cover 200 companies all over India.
“We are training all the partners for the high-end range. We are also taking a training programme, especially focusing on how to sell high-end products to the customers,” clarified Nitin.
The company has been organizing multi-city training programmes, in which it invites not only the reseller partners, but also the people who raise prospective enquiries about its products. In metros, it organizes 3 or 4 such programmes per year.
All such training programmes are designed in such a way – that all Aten’s Indian partners can gain complete awareness of the product ranges, their technical details and deployment possibilities.
Considering the versatility of demand of its products, the company trains all kinds of partners, such as System Integrators, Resellers and others. Nitin informed, “It is a big challenge. In last 4 months, we have conducted training programmes in 5 cities. More than 200 partners, prospective buyers, engineers and managers have been trained on the range of our products. We intend to repeat this count in the next few months.”
Out of targeted 100 people for this year, 25 people have already been trained for Aten’s high-end products. It aims to train altogether 500-600 partners’ people for multiple purposes.
Although the company has been providing 24×7 support, to the partners as well as their end customers, from a service center based at its headquarter in Pune, Aten and Cubic are planning this year to have a big Support Center in India. The center will host all the resources from Taiwan in terms of product repairing facility, PCB level repairs, testing facility etc. At present, it takes 4-24 hrs for damaged products replacement following its principle ‘repair within next business day (NBD)’.
Aten is also planning to open 3 more offices in Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Coimbatore, which will take up its geographical presence to 10 cities in India within next 3 months.