Enabling communication at thousands of branches

HP’s going after the UC market with a couple of packaged solution-sets that bring together best-of-breed components along with a smattering of HP services know-how. By Prashant L Rao

The Unified Communications (UC) market in India has been growing of late and HP’s Networking Consulting and Services (NCS) team has been taking note. Consequently, it’s gone and announced a couple of solutions that bring together various best-of-breed components along with services and integration from HP.

Uday Birje, Country Manager, Networking Consulting & Services, HP India, commented, “We are rolling out UC-ready WANs across the country. These can handle both video conferencing as well as UC. We pick up large contracts from banks or government departments that involve about 2,000 to 3,000 locations.”

Setting up a network to connect these offices to a company’s data center that’s typically located in a major city where there are no constraints on bandwidth or skilled workers can be challenging as far-flung locations don’t have those benefits. Rather the networking technology that’s used has to change and a seamless handover has to be maintained. Then there’s the fact that the setup has to be foolproof and reliable as there will be no one to fix it if things go wrong.

HP’s NCS team takes care of setting up a DR site, deploying the networking gear that’s required and it acts as a consultant for the pipe. “We do an assessment and then lay out the topology and make our recommendations. The next challenge is to roll it out. We take care of assessment, optimization and modeling of existing networks. We are involved in the entire lifecycle,” added Birje.

While choosing partners for creating these solution sets—there are two, one build around Microsoft Lync and the other around Polycom’s Rich Media Communications. As per HP, it chose these two partners based on the fact that they supported open standards.

The target segments would be BFSI and government.

“Banks have a mandate from the RBI to install video conferencing across all of their locations. They have also received a mandate to deploy video surveillance. Similarly, the traffic police in many cities are setting up video surveillance,” said Birje.

Another trend that’s emerging in the UC space in India is that service providers are attempting to offload 3G traffic onto Wi-Fi networks. Basically, we are talking about Wi-Fi in malls, residential apartment complexes etc.

Yet another area where NCS is finding demand is in the domain of IPv6 where it has received an order from a large bank to provide IPv6 assessment as well as transformation.

The AppSystem for Microsoft Lync is a package that brings together an F5 box, a Riverbed appliance, licenses for Microsoft Lync, HP servers & storage and, if required, NCS also takes care of integration with Polycom.

The modus operandi is to do a preliminary UC workshop where HP NCS involves the customer’s management team and studies its requirements. Then it simulates what the UC setup will look like in a virtual environment. This is a two or three day exercise that gives the potential customer a taste of what to expect and shows the business benefits that are likely to be delivered.

Obviously, consulting before a deployment isn’t going to make NCS the big bucks. The real money comes afterwards when the deployment takes place and HP equipment is part of the package.

“In the pre-deployment stage, the consulting portion is in the 10% range. However, once you get into the implementation, the share of consulting can be as high as 50%. If you spend $1 mn on the project, $500,000 could well be the consulting part of that,” commented Birje.

According to him, the UC sales cycle can last from six months to a year. Large customers, like Public Sector Banks, apparently prefer to outsource the entire infrastructure management to HP while smaller companies are more likely to make an outright purchase and run things in-house.

All in all, UC is popular and in a time when the economy is stalling, companies are encouraging the deployment and use of this technology as opposed to running up humongous travel bills. In such a scenario, it’s natural for HP NCS to vie for its piece of the pie.

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