Netgear is a manufacturer of network-based products and solutions such as switches, wireless access points and connected storage devices, targeting both the home and small to medium business markets.
The firm was also one of the winners of the V3 Technology Awards for 2015, picking up the most reader votes in the Best Business Storage category for its ReadyNAS Desktop Series of network attached storage systems.
Netgear prides itself on providing networking, storage and security solutions that offer much of the same capabilities that can be found in high-end enterprise hardware, but without the cost and complexity typically associated with such products.
This is not surprising when its customer profile is about 50/50 consumers and small to midsize companies. While the latter need to keep up with the latest technology driving businesses, they tend not to have a large IT staff or anywhere near the same level of expertise as large enterprises.
V3 spoke to Peter Hannah, Netgear's regional director for the UK, Ireland and Nordics (pictured), about the major events of 2015, and how he expects the coming 2016 to shape up for his firm and the broader technology industry.
V3: What have been the highlights of 2015 for Netgear?
Hannah: Over the last few years, Netgear's business has grown up in the B2B environment from those little unmanaged switches that everyone has through to managed and web-managed switches as well, and this year we launched a chassis switch, with blades that let you tailor the network to your own environment, which is a great opportunity for SMBs to start to build resilient networks with stacking and failover.
On the storage products, we revamped the range three years ago, and we've been growing and building on that from small consumer desktop boxes through to desktop boxes and rack-mount for business, up to the top end where we have ReadyDATA, which is a hardened storage chassis. We've also done some partnerships with the likes of StorageCraft to create a product called ReadyRECOVER, which give businesses storage with backup and recovery all in the one box.
In the second half of this year, we launched some new ac [802.11ac] business-class access points, and in the next quarter, I think we'll see the market switch between 802.11n and 802.11ac move beyond 50 percent. We see ac as being about 50 percent of the sales now. That's another area where large enterprise vendors have created ac products, and we're now able to take that and bring it to the masses.
We also launched a product called Business Central Wireless Manager, which gives you cloud-based management of access points.
What are your plans for 2016?
From a channel perspective, we're looking to continue to grow our reseller base. We trade with about four and a half thousand partners on an annual basis, and our goal is to try and recruit more of those partners, but also make sure we educate those partners and be useful to them. We have a partner portal, and there will be more basic training on that, giving partners the basics around switching, wireless and storage.
From a product perspective, there will be greater build-out of the B2B portfolio, so that, if a customer is rolling out 802.11ac wireless, they've obviously also got to have a network that can support that volume of traffic, and so they need greater depth in 10Gbps networking. 10Gbps links to storage are also critical, so our entire business portfolio will support the growth in data requirements that SMBs will ultimately have.
Equally, from the consumer perspective, we have our Arlo home security product that you will see more advances in, and we're looking at ways of capitalising on the Internet of Things and enabling people, whether business or consumer users, to be able to do everything you need to do from an end to end perspective.
What are the biggest challenges facing your customers?
Organisations are continuing to roll out wireless and sometimes they're seeing it as a necessity, and actually it's a very attractive thing for organisations to do, particularly if they want to attract a younger workforce. We have a graduate recruitment scheme here, and as millennials are becoming employed, they want to bring a smartphone or a tablet to work and use that as a business tool, so organisations that want to keep them have to be flexible in the working environment they provide.
What do you think will be the biggest trends for 2016?
Clearly, the Internet of Things, although it's not a new thing, will impact more and more people's lives, whether that's from a consumer or business perspective. I think we'll see in 2016 more growth in machine to machine (M2M) communication, but equally from a consumer perspective, more connected things on the network, and that's a key area for Netgear.
Also, cloud is not a new thing, but from an SMB perspective, as you get things like Office 365 becoming much more prevalent, SMBs will start to understand what the cloud really means for them, whether that's an offload to the cloud or a mix of private cloud and public cloud, and I think resellers are going to start to get more of a handle on the types of managed services they are going to offer in that environment.
How do you feel about winning a V3 Technology Award?
We're really pleased, actually. That's two years running we've won an award with V3, and it's excellent to get the recognition as well, particularly with the ReadyNAS range.
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