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Fluke Networks - Test and management solutions for diverse verticals

March 15, 2009
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At a time when most companies are looking to tighten their belts, Washington-based test and management company Fluke Networks is looking to leverage the current economic slowdown as an opportunity to consolidate its presence in India.

According to Alamuri Sitaramaiah, general manager, sales, Fluke Networks India, in the face of the global crisis, customers are likely to opt for technologies that lower overheads, and improve and streamline operations. The company, therefore, hopes to cater to this demand with its portfolio of infrastructure performance and management solutions and targets double-digit growth in India over the next few years. In line with this goal, the company has, in the past year, busied itself in ramping up its Indian operations and forming several strategic partnerships.

Fluke Networks started operating in India with a liaison office in 2006. Considering the market potential for its range of services, it upgraded its office into a subsidiary company in March 2008.

Today, Fluke has established offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai and is looking to expand to Pune and Hyderabad.

The company caters to several verticals in the Indian market. Sitaramaiah elaborates, "Any customer, irrespective of segment, who has a business-critical IT infrastructure with a significant impact on business due to downtime or service degradation issues, is a potential customer for Fluke Networks' solutions. Such infrastructure is required by customers across most market segments –­ be it banking, financial services and insurance, government (e-governance), telecom, manufacturing (companies that deploy ERP or CRM solutions), IT/ITeS companies with converged networks carrying voice, data and video –­ making them all target customers for Fluke. Companies can adopt varied approaches to manage their infrastructure. They can use portable network testers and analysers to reactively troubleshoot, or use performance management solutions to proactively monitor and manage. Fluke Networks' solutions suit them all."

Fluke's basket of offerings can be broadly divided into three segments: data communication installers; enterprise networks; and telecom/managed service providers. The company offers data communication installers to certify, qualify and verify the performance of copper and optic fibre cabling systems. For enterprise customers, the company offers portable network testers and portable network analysers that help network engineers and managers to reactively troubleshoot and recover from network connectivity and performance problems.

Also on offer are performance management solutions for enterprise customers to proactively monitor and manage the performance of their IT infrastructure and applications (data, VOIP or video) over the network. For telecom service providers, Fluke provides solutions that help deploy and service xDSL and metro Ethernet services.

Commitment to India
"India and China constitute an important part of Fluke Networks' growing markets. The Indian team is being strengthened for more market penetration, and we expect high growth coming from this country over the next few years. Investments are being planned to add more technical and support personnel, upgrade support set-up, and develop and deliver technical education to network engineers and managers," says Sitaramaiah.

Over the past few years, the company has undertaken several initiatives. For example, in 2008, it acquired the intellectual property of Viola Networks, including the technologies underpinning the popular and award-winning NetAlly product line.

This has enabled Fluke Networks to provide comprehensive VOIP pre-assessment capability via cost-effective software agents, deliver advanced active network performance assessment and monitor VOIP infrastructures.

The company has also invested in a laboratory for network engineering students at Kalasalingam University near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The basic idea for this was to equip students and industry members with the necessary skills in network troubleshooting, analysis and monitoring.

The outside view
Industry analysts feel that while Fluke Networks is steadily gaining momentum in the Indian market, what remains to be seen is whether it can hold its own in terms of competition from companies such as Agilent Technologies, Rohde & Schwarz and National Instruments.

Sitaramaiah though, is confident of the company's strengths and prospects. "We own a very significant and growing position in India in the enterprise performance management and portable analysis market."

However, he does acknowledge that there may be some grey areas that the company needs to look at. For instance, "There is a latent need felt by IT infrastructure managers to go beyond the visibility that the current breed of network troubleshooting and management tools provide. Educating the customer on what is possible is the biggest challenge faced by the company today," he says.

Future goals
Going forward, the company's target in the short term is to increase market penetration in India, both in data communication and in the enterprise market. Says Sitaramaiah: "Our aim is to enter new markets with products that help customers with unmatched depth and breadth of vision in IT infrastructure performance, which they will find nowhere else."

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