Breaking Digital Barriers

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In a short span of 5 years, NComputing has deployed over 13 lakh seats in India and shared computing devices in over 50,000 government schools across the country. Excerpts from an interaction with Manish Sharma, VP – Asia Pacific, NComputing Inc

Manish SharmaHow does NComputing help in making the country digitalised?
NComputing tries to spread the benefits to millions of students and the underprivileged workforce across the world that do not have the privilege of access to computers due to budget constraints faced by organisations and institutions. There are schools located in the rural areas of the country where they find it difficult to access the technology they require for making the school digitalised. NComputing has reached them and has helped in setting up a computing infrastructure at a much lower price.

NComputing has been the enabler for providing computing/digital access to millions of people – not only in India, but also globally. With its array of affordable desktop virtualisation (also called shared computing) solutions, the company is working closely with the central government, majority of the state governments, and with many nongovernment agencies in the country to enable digitisation in the country by making computing solutions available at the most economical price point so that the benefits of computing reach far and wide.

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Please give us a business overview of NComputing, its offerings for various sectors, revenues and performance.
NComputing’s mission is to enable everyone in the world to have access to computing at an affordable cost. The NComputing solution is based on a simple fact: today’s PCs are so powerful that the vast majority of applications only use a small fraction of the computer’s capacity. NComputing’s virtualisation software and hardware tap this unused capacity so that it can be simultaneously shared by multiple users. Over a million NComputing seats have been sold to thousands of organisations to slash their computing costs by as much as 70 per cent and electric consumption by 90 per cent.

In the education sector, every subsegment (primary, secondary, college, university, training centres) needs to have computer labs or computers in classrooms so that students can learn about computers and learn their subjects on the computer through e-learning programmes (for example, english, science, math). Pretty much all educational institutions have limited funds for computer equipment. We enable them to use their existing budget and stretch it so that they can double or triple the number of students who can have computer access for the same cost.

In the business sector, there are many small and medium businesses that also have limited funds and watch every rupee of spending. Since most business users only use the computer for accounts, web or other low-intensity work, they use at most 5 per cent of the PC’s power. We enable them to share that computer’s excess capacity with many more users. They also like NComputing because they have to maintain far fewer PCs than before. In government, we provide affordable computing for government offices (municipal, state, central) in urban as well as rural areas. In addition to government offices, NComputing is also a great fit for community computing centres and e-governance projects.

How does NComputing make computing accessible and affordable?
In a short span of 5 years alone, NComputing has deployed over 13 lakh seats in India, which is helping in transforming the lives of over 2 crore users in the country, daily. These 13 lakh seats comprise 5 lakh seats under government education (through various projects), 4 lakh seats in private education including schools, colleges, training centres, universities, etc; and another 4 lakh seats in SMBs and enterprises – these mostly focussed at verticals like manufacturing, service oriented organisations. The NComputing solutions are built specifically to break the price barrier, and have a unique way to enable computing access for people from different customer segments at a fraction of the cost of the traditional all-PC set up. While initially it was difficult for people to break away from the conventional/traditional way of computing, over time, as they realised the value that a revolutionary technology such as NComputing can deliver at half (or even lesser) the cost of the traditional computing set up. Its adoption across domains and verticals such as education, business, government, manufacturing, banking and finance, retail, and so on, has grown dramatically.

Please elaborate on your solutions for schools. How many countries have adopted them so far? How have these schools benefitted from these solutions?
There are a million public schools in India, and the vast majority of them cannot afford to provide their students with a sufficient number of computers. Our solution enables a school to set up a 40- seat computer lab for less than the cost of 10 standalone PCs. We are growing rapidly worldwide, mostly in developing nations like India. Over the next 5 years, the growth of computing will be in the emerging markets and underserved markets. Emerging markets are wellknown – these are the countries where PC penetration is still less than 300 per 1,000 population. What is also interesting (and often overlooked) are what we call “underserved” markets. So, there is still a large need for additional computing – if only the cost was more affordable. So, we see tremendous opportunity to bring affordable computing to the next billion people around the world. All the state governments are increasing the budget for the computer education. Their aim is to give computer education from the school level itself.

What are your views and perspective on the current demand for your product in the Indian market?
NComputing is an ideal product for the Indian market, making computing simpler, affordable and extremely energy efficient. The value the product can deliver is being understood by the government as well. Over 15 state governments have either deployed or are seriously evaluating this technology for their various projects. India is a huge potential market for NComputing and therefore it is a focussed country for the company. We are investing in teams and strengthening our channel and support network to service the rapidly growing customer base.

From your global experience of digitisation what are the biggest and immediate roadblocks that you foresee in the implementation of India’s ambitious ‘Digital India’ programme?
In India, the key challenges in achieving 100 per cent computer digitisation include limited funds for setting up and managing IT infrastructure, limited staff, acute power shortage; dependence on power backup systems and related costs; poor connectivity due to location in remote areas, and so on. Considering this scenario, ‘Making India Digital’ programme is a great way to develop the digital backbone of the country. There is no denying the fact that facilitating more and more computing access can go a long way in enabling digitisation of an economy, especially when it comes to emerging economies. This is true for India also. Hence, there is a great need to create a strong pool of computer literate people who will take India to the next level. The Indian government has been playing its part in enabling the spread of ICT in the country. However, leaving everything to the government is perhaps not the right approach; private sector also must support the government and play its part in making this endeavour successful. NComputing’s initiative to make computing affordable has also been a step in the same direction

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