Keeping track of the SMB market

Keeping track of the SMB market

Netgear started its local operations in late 1997 and made its name through hubs and switches with a focus on SMBs. ARN caught up with CEO and chairman, Patrick Lo, to discuss what the vendor thinks SMBs need today, its expanded product line-up and why it will never look at penetrating the enterprise space.

Where does Netgear currently sit in the market?

Patrick Lo (PL): We've been in Australia for more than 10 years and have always serviced the SMB segment. In the last five years we have also pushed extensively into the consumer world, but our roots in Australia are still SMB.

We started off by making a name in hubs and switches then got into a new category called smart switches about five years ago. For SMBs we have a full range of fully managed switches competing against the likes of ProCurve and 3Com. Over the last five years we have broadly expanded our offering to SMBs to go beyond switches and have aligned security products where we offer VPN routers, SSL appliances and wireless secured routers that combine a DSL modem plus Wi-Fi, VPN and SSL. That line has done quite well for us and about nine months ago we expanded into providing Network Attached Storage [NAS], which is ideal for SMBs. We also have some patent pending technology called X-Raid, which enables customers to repair disks if one fails. While the data is still online users can unplug the disk, put in a healthy disk and it repairs itself. The data is still available, so there is no disruption to data access. Data is the most important asset of any establishment so you have got to make sure it does not get lost and ensure that it is available online all the time.

What do you think the SMB market is looking for?

PL: We believe the SMB market is going to mimic the enterprise market. So whatever the enterprise market is doing today, the whole thing will transform into SMB in a few years time. Our job is to transform that complexity into simplicity at a lower price and lower maintenance costs. If you look at what enterprises are doing today it's around switching, unified threat management like anti-spam and antivirus, VoIP, wireless deployments with multiple access points and a central control, large-scale NAS, videoconferencing and security surveillance. All of that will transition to the SMB market over time.

Are there any plans to focus on the enterprise market?

PL: No. When we started the company in 1996 we recognised the enterprise is well served by Cisco. And there's already one very capable competitor to Cisco - Juniper. So there is no need for us to be in that market. What we would like to focus on is the five million companies that Cisco and Juniper do not service.

With vendors like Cisco trying to penetrate the SMB market, what makes Netgear different from its competitors?

PL: We have a single-minded focus on the SMB. While all of these vendors - D-Link, Cisco, 3Com or HP - service the SMB, their eye is really on the enterprise. We are always focused on putting the requirements and desire of the SMB market first and foremost.

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