|A server farm: Take our word,
this business is fertile
can withstand seismic shocks up to 8 on the Richter scale, boast
motion and thermal detectors, video surveillance, biometric sensors,
the finest fire detection equipment money can buy, and enough backup
telecommunication links to reassure a schizoid paranoid. They are
data centres, or server farms, hi-tech warehouses that are into
the business of internet and enterprise hosting; in layspeak that
means they host the websites of companies and provide outsourced
data management solutions. Given the information-heavy nature of
today's businesses, the business of data centres is a lucrative
one with margins touching 70 per cent in some cases.
A senior executive at Tata Indicom Enterprise
Business Unit (the Tata Group inherited VSNL's server farm business
when it acquired the company) claims that the data centre business
has grown at a cumulative average growth rate of 50 per cent over
the past three years. Expectedly, the company is increasing the
number of its data centres from four to six. Across its server farms
that occupy 40,000 sq ft of space, the IT serves customers such
as Akamai and Rediff (internet hosting), and Asian Paints and Global
Trust Bank (enterprise hosting). Sify completes the Big Three of
India's data centres business: it has two server farms that occupy
17,000 sq ft. With the rest of the world looking for disaster recovery
centres far away from their HQs, and with the Indian telecom boom
well and truly on-bandwidth is key to the business-this is one crop
that could do well in Indian climatic conditions.
Never-ending Telecom Story
Episode X: Basic operators go to court.
|The telecom tangle: I'm not
roaming, just re-registering
India's telecom saga-the one concerning
the legality of basic telephony companies providing full-fledged
cellular services-has more twists and turns than a K-weepy on Star
Plus. One reason for that is economics: For, while the market is
booming-around 2 million Indians go mobile every month-most cellular
telephony companies are bleeding. They would love to raise prices,
but competition from companies such as Reliance Infocomm (which
provides mobile telephony services without having paid a licence
fee for the same, they point out) prevents them from doing so.
With a Group of Ministers now considering the
legality issue, and with the pink dailies replete with pieces on
how the government plans to curb the mobility of services offered
by basic telephony companies, thereby making them operational only
within a limited area, the Association of Basic Telephony Operators
(ABTO) has filed a plea before the Supreme Court, asking the court
to ensure that India's telecom regulator gives them a fair deal
(read: no licence fee, and no change in the licence agreement).
The ABTO argues that its members provide a full-fledged mobile service
(roaming across circles) by offering subscribers the option of re-registering
in the new circle they go to, something similar to cellular telephony
subscribers who opt for pre-paid cards when they move across circles.
This, it adds, is legal and doesn't violate any of the terms of
their licence agreement. This may be the first time that basic telephony
companies have gone to court (surprised?), but it can only ensure
to exacerbate an already messy situation.
"We Are Sitting On A Growth
|Phaneesh Murthy: Encore
a first of sorts, palm's new handhelds, Tungsten E, Tungsten T3
and Zire 21 were launched at the same time in India, as they were
in other parts of the world. Palm's chief evangelist Paul
D. Leeper and Daren Ng, Sales Director for South Asia,
Australia, and New Zealand, were in India for the mid-October launch.
They spoke to BT's about
their view on the Indian market and global trends in the portable
computing space. Excerpts.
This is the first time India is part of
a global launch of an entire range of products. Have you seen any
specific rise in numbers in this market?
Daren Ng: We don't break the numbers,
but India is a huge market opportunity and recent quarters have
seen a demand for price sensitive products like the Palm Zire and
the Palm M500. We don't treat India as a market for obsolete products,
which is why we are here with our latest range.
Do you see anything unique about the Indian
market's adoption of handhelds?
Paul Leeper: We see a specific trend
towards usage of mobile devices to bridge the gap between the laptop
and the desktop across the APAC (Asia Pacific) region. Overall,
APAC and Europe have adopted wireless technologies much faster than
Palm has been in a spot of bother with competitors
launching lower priced products in the market...
Leeper: The growth areas exist, we are
sitting in one of them right now! We simply maintain that we have
the best products.
Ng: Fighting goliaths like Hewlett-Packard
and Microsoft is not easy. All I can say is that we are focused
only on the handheld market, it's all we do.
Metro Is Here
Even before the scheduled launch of its
Indian operations-slated for around the time this magazine hits
the stands -Metro Cash and Carry, the world's fourth largest retail
chain has got the competition talking. Most Indian retailers aren't
wishing it luck. One alleges that it violates Indian law. Fact is
Metro-each of its two distribution centres in Bangalore is spread
across seven acres and stocks 17,000 stock keeping units including
food, fast-moving consumer goods, jewellery, garments, and consumer
durables-will sell only to retailers (government regulators prohibit
transnationals from retailing). ''We will cater to professional
customers such as hotels, traders, offices, and other institutions;
purchasing power and it systems will help us provide quality products
at the lowest possible prices," says Harsh Bahadur, Managing
Director, Metro India. Traders used to credit from distributors
may think twice before shopping at Metro, but we see nothing but
anti-competitive sentiment in the allegations of competitors.