APC to push into Irish enterprises

9 Sep 2005

American Power Conversion (APC), a US multinational that has its EMEA distribution, technical support and call centre in Galway, is planning a major push into the Irish market, with a strong emphasis on the enterprise sector, a senior company official has revealed.

Meeting Irish media for the first time since his recent appointment as UK and Ireland managing director, Rob Potts (pictured) said the company would be targeting large businesses as part of a global push to increase its footprint in this US$7bn-8bn sector.

The firm, which posted revenues of US$1.7bn in 2004, is best known for its UPS (uninterruptable power supply) products that allow businesses of all sizes to stay operational in case of power outages. In recent years, it has successfully branched into other areas, notably cooling, in line with the business trend of consolidating computer resources into high-density data centres and server farms.

“If you have a rack with blade servers, there could be a requirement to cool 200 kilowatts of heat – that’s the equivalent of two hundred 100 watt lightbulbs per rack. If you don’t cool that rack, it will overheat and eventually shut down,” said Potts.

As the company has grown, it has evolved into a total physical network infrastructure supplier, spanning power, racks, cooling, management software and services. It has also moved into the mobile computing area, offering a range of retail products, including mobile UPS solutions, long-life backup batteries for PCs and mobile Wi-Fi routers.

While large customers still only account for a fairly modest 15pc of revenues, this market segment is growing at an annual rate pushing 40pc, compared with double-digit growth in the core SME segment. APC’s enterprise focus is firmly on financial services firms, IT corporations and telcos – in fact any organisation running large data centres. Here in Ireland, it has several large retail banks on its books as well as the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at National University of Ireland Galway, which is using APC’s InfraStruXure UPS system to ensure continuous operation.

APC’s systems are priced according to the scale of the installation and go from hundreds of euro into several hundred thousands, according to Potts.

He added that APC would be appointing additional account management personnel at its national sales and marketing operation in Clonshaugh, Dublin, to support its push into the Irish market. In addition, it opened a new solutions centre at its Galway site in April, which houses a megawatt UPS system and aims to showcase APC technology to what Potts described as “C-level” business executives, such as CEOs and chief financial officers. The centre will also offer pre-configured solutions that incorporate the APC hardware and management software. Potential and existing customers will have the opportunity to configure solutions ‘in-line’ and take a close look at APC products as well as sit down with technical experts from the company to solve specific issues.

Potted noted that the opening of the solutions centre was part of the Galway operation’s strategy to move into higher value-added activities.

APC, which even company insiders admit is secretive to the point of paranoia, will divulge very little about its Irish operations. No revenue figures are disclosed — not unusual for a large publicly quoted company — but what is unusual is that it will not even put a figure on the number of people it employs in Ireland. However, it is known that the headcount at its Galway facility, established back in 1989, runs into hundreds, making it one of the biggest employers in the West.

By Brian Skelly