OPEN SOURCE OPPURTUNITIES
So far, most partners have been reluctant in acquiring expertise in open source solutions and services. However, as it gains momentum, it may be imperative for partners to build an open source practice
So far, most partners have been reluctant in acquiring expertise in open source solutions and services. However, as it gains momentum, it may be imperative
for partners to build an open source practice
Over the past decade, open source software has moved from being unstable yet cuttingedge source code that only geeks used to being a robust business proposition which SMBs as well as Fortune 500 enterprises have adopted. Simultaneously, opportunities around open source for tier-2 channel partners have also expanded. Today there is perhaps no technology, vertical or domain where open source does not offer a value proposition to customers looking for a choice.
While in the first decade of the millennium the open source focus was around applications such as messaging and hosting, today the opportunities are bigger and customer bases much larger. Here are some of the
“Customers would find it easier to migrate from Windows XP to Linux. Ubuntu will run comfortably on old hardware, with lower memory footprint and disk space” PRAKASH ADVANI Manager, Partner Sales, Canonical, Central Asia
emerging opportunities you might want to consider.
According to research firm NetMarketShare, Windows XP accounted for nearly 30 percent of all desktops connected to the Internet during February 2014. Microsoft wants all these users to migrate to Windows 8 by April 8, 2014 because the company is officially discontinuing support for the OS on that date.
Microsoft estimates the market opportunity to be worth $700 million for migration to Windows 8, in India alone.
However, this may not be an easy proposition for many customers. Many are using Windows XP on older Pentium 4 computers with memory as low as 512 MB, and some of the older hardware is not suited for upgrading to the latest Windows software.
Says Prakash Advani, Manager, Partner Sales, Canonical, Central Asia, “Many customers would find it easier to migrate from Windows XP to a Linux desktop than to a Windows 8. Ubuntu will run comfortably in older hardware, and with lower footprints of both memory and disk space.”
Bengaluru-based Eastern Engineering Systems, an industrial tools manufacturer, recently migrated around 60 desktops from Windows XP. “While we moved around 30 users to Windows, we saved ` 20,000 on licensing costs alone for the OS and Office per user for the other 30 users. We could also retain most of our 3- to 4-year-old PCs for Linux,” informs S Devaraju, Head, MIS, Eastern Engineering Systems.
Customers can avail standard support from channel partners for as low as ` 1,500 per desktop per year. However, subscriptions from paid support vendors such as Attachmate (Suse) and Red Hat would be between ` 2,500 and ` 5,000 which may not look very attractive compared to the $90 being offered by Microsoft as a single-time upgrade.
Cloud and virtualization
From being a project promoted by data center vendor Rackspace three years ago, OpenStack, under an independent foundation, has matured to become a project with the maximum number of contributors after Linux.
India being a price-conscious market, many believe that customers are likely to consider an OpenStack solutions vendor to save on licensing costs.
The OpenStack Foundation is trying to promote the platform among IT solutions providers. Says Mark Collier, COO, OpenStack Foundation, “We believe that with our latest releases we have the most compelling alternative to the proprietary vendors, lowering costs for the customer and increasing profits for the implementation partner.”
While many Indian channel partners are still exploring the idea of pitching in with OpenStack, a few like Ahmedabad-based Aptira IT Services have attained the Gold Partner status. “We have already executed half a dozen projects with our Indian team, with deal sizes from $50,000 onward,” says Kavit Munshi, CTO & EVP, Aptira.
It’s not just OpenStack which is offered as an option. Virtualization software such as KVM and Xen are being deployed especially in IT-ITeS companies. “Many customers who do not need the highend management features of VMware are opting for KVM. With our expertise in KVM, we are able to offer everything that a customer wants at a fraction of the cost,” says Abhas Abhinav, CEO of the Bengaluru-based Deeproot Linux.
While a full-fledged server license from VMware would cost $4,000 (`2.5 lakh) on the street, Deeproot will deliver the services for as low as ` 35,000 with round-the-year support.
Network and security
Since the advent of OpenFlow and software-defined networking (SDN), the use of open source software to build solutions in networking has increased. A number of new technologies have evolved, and new
“Many customers who do not need the highend management features of VMware are opting for KVM. We can offer everything to a customer at a fraction of the cost” ABHAS ABHINAV CEO, Deeproot Linux “With our latest release of OpenStack, we have an alternative to the proprietary vendors; lowering costs for the customer and increasing profits for the partner” MARK COLLIER COO, OpenStack Foundation “We are urging partners to try Vyatta if their customers are looking for an alternative to proprietary networking vendors especially for VPNS and firewalls” EDGAR DIAS Country Manager, Brocade India
“NoSQL is clearly the future, and a solution provider who invests in the platform will be able to solve customers’ big data problems, and will grow faster than others” KAMAL BRAR Vice President, APAC, MongoDB
vendors have arrived, and there have been many highprofile acquisitions. In early 2012 Nicira was acquired by VMware for about $1.2 billion. Later, Vyatta got acquired by Brocade Communications.
“We are urging partners to try Vyatta if their customers are looking for an alternative to proprietary networking vendors especially for VPNs and firewalls,” says Edgar Dias, Country Manager, Brocade India. “If the customer needs support, we can offer paid subscription at a fraction of the cost of running proprietary network hardware.”
In February, Dell announced a partnership with Cumulus Networks. Both Cumulus and Vyatta run on standard x86 hardware and ship both as a virtual appliance and a bare metal OS. “By de-coupling the network software from the network switch, we are stepping into the next level of IT management. Cumulus is able to offer this at an attractive cost because it is able to leverage free and open source software,” explains Amardeep Singh Dang, Country Manager, Networking, Dell India.
“Our open source backup soluton reduces the acquisition cost for a 30-user network by $2,000 against the basic commercial offering from competition” KSHITIJ KOTAK CEO, Fortune Greycells
A number of open source networking software projects (such as CFEngine, Puppet, Ganglia and Chef) have matured, and partners have started using these to manage customer networks at a lower cost.
NoSQL and big data
One of the biggest trends in the database world is the NoSQL movement which is a radical shift providing a mechanism for storage and data retrieval that is modeled on means other than the tabular relations used in relational databases.
Over the past four years almost 100 new projects have been launched, 85 percent of them open sourced. MongoDB, the company behind one of the most popular NoSQL databases, has even set up a sales operation and is eying partners.
“NoSQL is clearly the future, and a solution provider who invests in the platform will be able to solve customers’ big data problems, and will grow faster than others. Mongo is free and open sourced,” says Kamal Brar, Vice President, APAC, MongoDB.
Recently Flipkart moved to MongoDB for its user engagement platform, while competitor Snapdeal chose Aerospike, another NoSQL platform, to speed up its product catalog.
Storage and backup
The enterprise storage market was expected to grow to $23 billion in 2013 and is expected to reach $38 billion in 2017. A research report by IHS Supply says that with the advent of software-defined storage more customers will bet on open source solutions.
“With our platform, customers can set up enterpriseclass storage on commodity server hardware,” says Vikram Fernandes, Director, Systems Engineering, Nexenta Software Systems India. Nexenta has built enterprise-class storage on top of OpenSolaris.
Mumbai-based Fortune Greycells has been shipping Blackbox, a backup and high availability solution. “We have leveraged the power of open source. Not only is Linux more stable and secure, it is not resource-hungry. According to our estimates, we bring the acquisition cost for a 30-user network down by $2,000 as compared to the most basic commercial offering from the competition,” says Kshitij Kotak, CEO, Fortune.
A number of platforms for NAS, including FreeNAS and Openfiler, have emerged over the past few years. Open source back-up platforms such as Zamanda and Bacula have also seen tremendous maturity. “We offer enterprise Bacula support at less than ` 50,000 with all the features of Symantec Netbackup which is usually priced above ` 6 lakh,” says Arvind Swamy, G-Net Solutions, Coimbatore.
Till about three years back most business applications around open source were termed immature or unstable. However, a number of new applications have since evolved, and they are seen not just as an alternative but even as a popular choice among customers.
CRM applications such as SugarCRM and VtigerCRM have seen tremendous traction in the past few years as alternatives to the SalesForce and MS platforms. Many partners have built value-added services around SugarCRM.
A popular idea is to integrate VoIP applications with open source CRM. A combination of Asterisk and SugarCRM is offered by at least 10 channel partners across the country. Bhilad-based Enjay IT Solutions has written MS Outlook plug-ins as well as mobile clients for popular platforms that integrate well with SugarCRM.
ERP and BI have also caught the imagination of several partners. Bengaluru-based Credativ and Delhibased Navyug Infosolutions are working on building solutions around OpenERP, a free ERP platform.
Delhi-based Open Labs Business Solutions is exploring the market around platforms such as Tryton (an open source ERP), Pentaho (open source BI platform), Magento (an open source e-commerce platform) and MongoDB. “The customer savings are usually in the tens of thousands of dollars when they work with us because almost all solutions are built on top of free software,” says Sharoon Thomas, Executive Director & CEO, Open Labs.
Another Delhi-based company, Samayveda, is offering support services for popular cloudbased platforms such as Amazon, Google Compute, Heroku, Cloud Foundry, Rackspace cloud and Engine Yard. “Most of these are built on open source, and we leverage our open source skills and strong understanding of REST APIs to build Support-as-aService model. Customers pay on a per hour or per month basis,” says Vikas Ruhil, CEO, Samayveda.