13 May 2016 13:29 IST

Dell taps customer feedback to drive server innovation

Ravi Pendekanti, Vice President, Server Product Management, Dell Inc.   -  BL

Company focusing on price/performance and service support, says Ravi Pendekanti, VP of Server Product Management

Ravi Pendekanti, Vice-President of Server Product Management and Product Marketing at Dell, was in India last week after attending an annual field readiness seminar in Singapore. Dell is close to leading server sales in India, he told BusinessLine.

What is Dell’s strategy to lead server sales in India?

We are well on our way to lead server sales in India and the mantra we are adopting to get there is: customer-inspired innovation, where new product feature innovations happen as a result of customer feedback. I am the executive sponsor for six major Global 500 customers of Dell, of which four are in India, all of whom I will meet during this visit. Right now, we are shipping our 13th generation servers and when we move from introducing one generation of servers to another, we do it after incorporating customer feedback.

In the process, Dell has come up with many industry-first, customer-inspired innovations.

Name some of your industry first, customer-inspired innovations…

One of our customers said a lot of time is wasted in data centres, where hundreds of servers have to be hooked up and configured individually.

To solve this problem we came up with iDRAC Quick Sync which uses NFC, an industry-first, to enable customers to tap their smart devices on the server to set it up. Zero Touch Servers is another innovation which allows customers to configure one server and use it to sync hundreds of other nodest with one touch. We have OpenManage Essentials, which allows customers to monitor and manage the health status of Dell servers, storage, network and firewall systems as well as multi-vendor hardware environments.

When do you think Dell will be the undisputed Number 1 in servers in India?

We want to get there as fast as possible and are already over 50 per cent of the way there. In Q2 of calendar year 2015, Dell lead with 39 per cent market share in servers, which was 5 per cent higher than the closest competitor, according to IDC data.

In unit shipment numbers, we are steadily gaining market share and closed calendar 2015 with 54 per cent year-on-year growth in units shipped with the Number 1 rank. We were Number 2 in server revenue growth at 55 per cent.

What is driving server sales for Dell in India?

First, customer-inspired innovations are boosting sales. Second, we are the only end-to-end IT solutions provider in the market today, where we are not building products and technologies in siloes but are putting solutions together, allowing customers the convenience of going to one single vendor.

Third, we are making sure we have the best services support function. If you buy the best car, you need somebody to be able to take care of problems speedily.

The verticals that are driving server sales for Dell in India are BFSI, telecom, e-commerce, retail and healthcare.

Dell is eyeing a $23-billion India opportunity for its end-to-end IT solutions in 2016. How much of that will come from server sales?

According to Gartner, the worldwide IT industry is estimated to be a $70 billion market in 2016. There are four different pieces to this market — connectivity devices like phones and laptops constitute 30 per cent of the market, the services piece constitutes 18 per cent, software constitutes 14-15 per cent and the rest goes into enterprise infrastructure (30-35 per cent), which comprise servers, storage and networking. Typically, within that 30-35 per cent, servers contribute 40-45 per cent.

What are your key focus areas for innovations going forward?

Besides providing RAS (reliability, availability and serviceability) to customers there are two things that are becoming very important focus areas for us — price/performance and interoperability.

Our servers can have the best performance but if the price is too high, it doesn’t help. On the other hand, if we have the right price without all the necessary performance features, it doesn’t help. Therefore, we are focusing a lot on getting the right price/performance.

As much as we would love all our customers to buy Dell solutions, that is not the reality. Hence, ensuring interoperability is key.

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