SMB customers should opt for a monthly subscription model for required services

DQC News Bureau
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Thakkar firmly believes that SMB customers in India are willing to opt for

a managed service model when it comes to security. This is why Syntesia recently

discontinued its direct sales model and decided to work only with the channel


Can you shed some light on your security-on-demand model?

When I co-founded Syntesia in 2005, we saw a great potential in the SMB

space with the way they were connected online. We also saw a big growth in Asia

as well as in the managed security services. The best analogy to offer is that

of people getting power supply or cable TV without buying the physical

infrastructure or managing it.

Similarly we decided to offer a unified threat management (UTM) box to SMB

customers where we will remotely manage everything. If customers wanted to

configure their box directly, they could simply avail our managed services

without buying our UTM device.

Why did you decide to go direct when you started your Indian operations?

When we started Syntesia we knew that the channel is in need of a matured

product, which is well-known and has a good installed base. That is why we

decided to first tap into market directly to create a good client base. This

model helped us get direct customer feedback. In fact, it was based on this

feedback that we even made a couple of changes to our products. For instance, we

had a smaller box earlier because we thought that Indian SMBs did not have a lot

of online traffic. But then we realized that this was not the case, we made the

box bigger.


Why should SMB customers invest in UTM instead of standalone devices?

It does not make sense for enterprises to opt for UTM devices because their

online traffic load and security needs are different, which could be better

handled by a standalone device. But the basic needs of an SMB customer is

firewall, anti-spam and anti-virus, which they can get from any UTM device. The

other technologies like content filtering or VPN are add-ons.

We tell our SMB customers that they should not invest too much money in the

device and opt for a subscription model where you pay monthly for all these

above mentioned services. This frees their funds for other infrastructure



What is the profile of the SMB customers you are targeting? What benefits

does your solution provide them?

We are targeting SMBs with 25 plus users who normally do not have any

servers but have desktops and laptops. Our entry level solution has an

installation charge of about Rs 20,000 and with a monthly subscription fee of

approximately Rs 2,500.

In that the customers get 24x7 support, configuration and free replacement if

the box fails. This aside our partners can also earn from the services component

of the business.

What is the channel network that you are trying to build?

Right now we are in talks with about 50 partners in East, West and North

India, of which half have signed up with us and are maintaining inventory.

Did you know?
  • Kaushik Thakkar is also Executive VP-Strategic Sales and Alliance of

    Portwise Inc, which offers security solutions to enterprises
  • He is an avid golfer, but in order to strike a balance with two work

    profiles and spending time with his family, he gave up golfing
  • Now he unwinds by hitting the gym every morning
  • He is a Bollywood buff and to ensure that he can catch the latest

    Hindi movie in the US, he has joined a DVD rental club, through which he

    watches four new movies a month. He catches up on more Hindi movies on the

    in-flight entertainment channels while flying down to India

Two years ago while we were selling direct, we started signing up channel

partners and we had around 15 active partners. We stopped selling directly in

the end of 2008. Now we will work with regional distributors like Sterling

Infoways, Vora Brothers, SafeNet, etc who will then support an extended network

of resellers. We are working with five regional distributors to see how we can

target the market differently where we can cannibalize the existing channel

which are selling our competition's brands

Since we were in the direct business we know the customer's need well. We now

have to train our partners, get them to stock, put them in touch with customers

and hand-hold them through the process initially so that everything goes



Vinita Bhatia