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Exclusive Interview with Mr. Foong, MD, Stratus, Asia South & Mr. Monish More, CSD, Stratus India

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Metro Rail News conducted an exclusive in-person media interview with two industry experts from Stratus, Mr. Lin Hoe Foong, Managing Director, Stratus, Asia South and Mr. Monish More, Country Sales Director, Stratus India. 

Watch on Youtube: Click here

Mr. Foong is a Managing Director at Stratus, Asia South. He has a wealth of experience in the field of Information technology, Operational technology, and Technology-Enabled services.

He has a proven track record of successfully growing businesses in the Asia Pacific region, with a strong background in P&L management, global accounts management, direct sales, channel development, and go-to-market strategy execution. Mr. Foong’s vast knowledge and skills make him a valuable asset in driving business growth and delivering outstanding results.

Mr. Monish More serves as a Country Sales Director at Stratus India. He is a seasoned sales and marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience in OT, technology-enabled services, and the IT industry. He specializes in hardware-software solutions and has a strong track record in sectors like Oil & Gas, chemical, pharma, public sector, metals, and IT & transportation. With expertise in global accounts management, direct sales, and go-to-market strategies, Mr. More has successfully grown businesses in India and neighbouring countries.

 Mr. Lin Hoe Foong and Mr. Monish More, discuss their experiences, Stratus’ role in various sectors, including transportation, and their focus on sustainability, “Always On” computing solutions, edge computing, and the concept of Society 5.0. They also highlight their partnerships with major Indian firms and organizations and their future plans for the Indian market, particularly in the metros and railway sectors.

Here are the excerpts from the interview

Mr. Narendra: Starting from an inventory engineer to managing director, how has your experience been?

Mr. Foong: It has certainly been very exciting, especially how I was put in a position starting off as an inventory engineer responsible for optimizing network availability in a large mobile operator. Over time, I transitioned into helping various enterprises resolve issues and address challenges. Transitioning from my initial role to a new position in an IT company presented me with diverse challenges. I actively contributed to resolving profit and loss issues, as well as addressing customer expectations and enhancing their experience. It’s amazing starting from my country-level role in Malaysia and progressing to the Asia Pacific region, I have had the privilege of gaining exposure to various countries, including India. Now, as part of the Stratus team, I am deeply involved in the operations technology space, where I assist different manufacturing plants and Industrial Automation users in resolving their automation-related challenges. This journey has been exciting and has provided me with valuable experiences.

 Mr. Narendra: What does Stratus do? What is your specialization, and how do you use it for different services and sectors?

 Mr. Foong: First of all, we help our end users to prevent downtime before downtime happens. We provide a set of machine-critical infrastructure and compute infrastructure to help our clients achieve their goals. We use the technology “fault-tolerant” which allows an end user to experience a 99.999 per cent uptime. We play in many different industries, so in India, we started off in the banking sector in a capital Market sector. One of our largest customers here is “National Stock Exchange”, and of course, outside India, we also have many other customers in that sector. We have our forex changes in different countries. Our technologies are being utilized by securities firms across various countries in the Asia Pacific region, as well as by clearing houses and commodity exchanges. We also provide assistance to end users in the oil and gas industry across various sectors. This includes supporting companies in the upstream sector, the midstream sector, and the downstream sector, where the final products of the oil and gas industry are distributed to consumers and other industries.

Coming to the transportation itself, we are really well adopted in a lot of countries in this region in Asia South, where we are being used for visioning critical environments, including signalling systems and the management solutions for different stations that are being built to operate. In addition, we contribute to the rail industry by providing essential technologies such as door screen control systems and video surveillance systems. These systems play a crucial role in ensuring uninterrupted and reliable operations throughout the transportation process. This is where Stratus comes into the picture.

 Mr. Narendra: The Mobility landscape is changing very rapidly. With rapid urbanization, cities need sustainable transport options for their people. How are you helping in this regard? 

 Mr. Foong:  First of all, the mobility landscape is definitely changing rapidly, be it the rail industry, the air industry or the sea industry. These are the different sectors within the mobility industries wherein we are helping our customers. Within Stratus, our focus on sustainability encompasses two main aspects. Firstly, we address the issue of greenhouse emissions, aligning with the broader sustainability agenda. Secondly, we emphasize the rail system’s ability to accommodate the increasing passenger demand. This entails transitioning from single lines to multiple lines, expanding metro networks, and scaling up to serve hundreds or even millions of commuters daily. Scalability forms an integral part of our sustainability considerations in this context. At Stratus, our top priority is sustainability, which we approach through various means. Our primary focus lies in minimizing the environmental footprint of our systems by aiming to decrease carbon emissions by 2030. To uphold our commitment to sustainability, we ensure that our equipment is manufactured in an optimized environment. Furthermore, we tackle concerns related to scalability by offering highly adaptable systems capable of accommodating the growing ridership and demand in the rail sector. This all-encompassing strategy exemplifies our global outlook on the evolving mobility landscape and our unwavering dedication to fostering beneficial transformations. 

Mr. Monish More: Taking into consideration the Indian perspective, the Indian government has made a firm commitment to decreasing emission intensity. They aim to achieve a 45 percent reduction from the levels recorded in 2005. Specifically in the transportation sector, the government has set a target of reducing emissions by 33 percent. In alignment with this goal, the Indian government is implementing measures to promote rail freight over road transport. Their objective is to increase the share of rail freight from the current 35 percent to 45 percent by 2030, thereby reducing emissions. Lin Hoe’s statement regarding Stratus’s efforts to promote sustainability and emission reduction is in accordance with the Indian government’s plans. By ensuring the continuous operation of rail lines, Stratus contributes to the reduction of fuel consumption and maintenance requirements. Consequently, this aids in reducing emissions, aligning with both global and Indian sustainability objectives.

 Mr. Narendra: What is “Always On” Computing Solutions, a term globally associated with Stratus? Is the technology an add-on for Industry 4.0? What are the major benefits of technology for the mobility sector, especially in Metro and Railways? 

Mr. Monish More: In Stratus, we are proud that we have been associated with “Always On”, helping our customers to have business continuity and data integrity for last 40 years and almost one and half a decade in India. For example, in the financial services sector, the utmost importance is placed on ensuring that no transactions are missed. As an illustration, our systems are operational within the National Stock Exchange, where any downtime is simply not permissible due to the critical nature of the operations. This exemplifies the high level of criticality involved. At Stratus, one of our primary objectives is to provide the highest level of uptime for our customers’ mission-critical applications. By doing so, we aim to enhance the customer experience and ensure uninterrupted service without any disruptions. 

Mission-critical applications in various sectors, including financial services, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals, are subject to significant risks if a failure occurs. For instance, a single moment of failure can lead to the spoilage of an entire batch of pharmaceutical drugs or tons of steel coils in the manufacturing industry, resulting in substantial production losses. Consequently, it has become crucial for these industries to ensure that their mission-critical applications remain constantly operational and “always on,” leaving no room for any downtime.

Transportation is another sector where downtime is unacceptable and not anticipated. Customers and operators alike are driven by the urgency to reach their destinations without any interruptions. The concept of being “Always On” is deeply ingrained in this context, and we take immense pride in our association with this critical aspect of ensuring uninterrupted operations in the transportation industry.

In Industry 4.0, the integration and collection of data are crucial for generating useful information for customers and service providers. The concept of “Always On” in the IoT context ensures continuous data availability and real-time processing. Without a reliable and constant connection, data failures can occur, rendering the collected information irrelevant or unusable for specific transactions or understanding the current state. To harness the full potential of IoT, it is essential to maintain an “Always On” system, enabling proper analytics and the effective utilization of IoT-generated information. Real-time utilization of data from sensors and equipment is vital, as without it, the information holds no value for customers. Through its constant connectivity, “Always On” enhances IoT, allowing for optimal utilization and unlocking its maximum potential.  

 Mr. Narendra: Is an edge Computing platform similar to big data analytics? What is a Fault Tolerant system? In what ways this technology is helping rail operators in modern times? 

Mr. Foong: Edge computing is a transformative approach that involves shifting some of the computing workload away from centralized data centers to locations closer to where activities occur. For instance, in a railway setting, compute systems are moved from the data center to stations or areas near the tracks. This enables the collection, processing, and real-time decision-making based on the data, empowering train operators or station operators to make prompt decisions. It effectively brings computing capabilities to the edge.

Now, let’s consider how edge computing complements big data. Big data focuses on effectively utilizing and analyzing information gathered from various sources like sensors, IoT devices, or on-the-ground data. The question arises: where should this information be processed? In the past, much of it was processed centrally in the cloud or data centers. However, the demand for real-time processing has led to the emergence of edge computing. It allows immediate processing, data collection, and real-time decision-making at the very locations where activities are happening. This integration of edge computing with big data enables quicker processing, data gathering, and immediate decision-making at the point of action or execution. In summary, edge computing and big data work together to enhance data analysis by facilitating immediate processing and decision-making at the source.

The importance of edge computing has grown due to the increasing volume of data generated and the bandwidth required for data transfer. Edge computing optimizes bandwidth usage by processing critical information at the edge, reducing the reliance on network connectivity to central data centers. This approach saves on bandwidth and allows for more efficient data processing. Additionally, fault-tolerant technology plays a crucial role in edge environments by ensuring availability without the need for extensive IT resources on-site. With fault-tolerant technology, IT personnel can be centrally located in a command center or network operator environment, eliminating the need for physical presence in each location. This autonomous and self-recovering technology simplifies operations and enhances the importance of fault-tolerant technology in edge environments. 

 Mr. Narendra: How do you envisage the concept of society 5.0 and what digital infrastructure is needed for a super smart society, which is being accelerated in the coming years? In what ways rail sector is expected to be a part of Society 5.0? 

Mr. Foong: Society 5.0 is a highly human-centered and knowledge-intensive concept where individuals have real-time access to vast amounts of information. In the context of the rail sector, this concept translates to improved convenience and efficiency for commuters. Instead of relying on limited train timetables, we now have access to information about train schedules, optimized routes, and estimated travel times. This integration of data involves collaboration between train operators and platforms like Google to create a seamless experience for multi-modal transportation. For example, one can drive to a train station, take a train to their destination, and then use another mode of transport, such as a bus, to reach their final destination. The goal is to connect various information sources in cyberspace to enhance day-to-day human interactions. The pace of adopting these advancements varies across countries, with Japan being at the forefront. In Japan, it is so seamless that people can access a transportation prepaid wallet on a watch; they can tap the watch into the NFR near fuel contactless reader and can just pass through the gate entry. So, these things are really happening. All these things require the integration of technology.

In India, envisioning a 24×7, seven-day-a-week rail service requires a highly functional and integrated system that delivers the quality and uplifted service experience of Society 5.0. It’s very important to have their infrastructure in place, and that’s how we envisage and research that we can help a lot of networks operate and train operators to really uplift the service availability based on the different systems that they have.

Mr. Narendra: Please State your partnering or association with major Indian firms and organizations for various projects & assignments. What are the major orders on the book and significant accomplishments till date?

Mr. Monish More: As I mentioned, we have been in a decade and a half in India and made substantial progress. We are present in National Stock Exchange. Our servers keep the transaction on 24×7. In the financial services sector, we provide support to customers by ensuring the reliability and functionality of their services. For instance, we strive to prevent ATM transaction failures and ensure that customers have clarity and confidence regarding their money. This is a crucial aspect for the financial industry, and we assist numerous financial services customers in India to meet these requirements.

 We take great pride in our association with a prominent conglomerate that operates in the steel industry. With their 14 steel manufacturing plants located throughout India, we are responsible for running their mission-critical applications across multiple plant installations. In the steel industry, it is essential to track the production and distribution of steel to end-users. Our role involves providing the conglomerate with reports and insights on the status of their products, enabling them to share this information with their customers. This engagement allows us to support our customer in effectively managing their steel operations and providing transparency in their supply chain.

 At the Jamnagar oil refining facility, we have a significant presence and provide comprehensive support. Through our various installations, we assist in ensuring zero production loss for their operations. In the pharmaceutical industry, even a momentary failure or data loss can result in the complete discarding of a drug batch due to stringent compliance requirements. We are proud to serve major pharmaceutical customers throughout India, with installations spanning across various locations. Our focus is on enabling an “always on” environment to safeguard their production and compliance needs.

 In the transportation sector, we are actively collaborating with transportation consultants on major projects. We are introducing the benefits of Stratus’ “Always On” solution, which we have successfully implemented globally and in India, to upcoming metro projects. Our goal is to ensure uninterrupted system operations and maximum uptime for these metros. Additionally, we have already deployed SCADA and other mission-critical applications for the dedicated Freight Corridor, specifically the West and East Corridors.

Mr. Narendra: What are your future plans and prospect for the Indian market, especially for the Metros and Railway sectors?

Mr. Monish More: Transport infrastructure is growing in India rapidly. When there is such a complex network like a metro network with multiple phases & multiple lines. Everyone expects it to be reliable or always on and safe for operations. That’s where Stratus will come into the picture. Stratus aims to provide an always-on and dependable system that ensures uninterrupted operations and enriching experiences for customers. We offer support for mission-critical applications in the transportation sector, such as control platform doors and train signaling, both of which are vital for safety. The recent incident has emphasized the importance of uninterrupted train signaling for passenger safety. By implementing Stratus solutions, we can ensure that train signaling works without disruptions, thereby enhancing safety. We have already engaged with prominent consultants and have been involved in various metro and dedicated freight corridor projects. Our solutions have been successfully implemented in India and abroad. For example, in Korea, the entire subway system, including train signaling and control platform doors, relies on Stratus solutions. Similarly, the complete SCADA system in Singapore operates on the Stratus Always-On reliable solution. We aim to replicate these successes and make significant contributions to the reliable and safe infrastructure development in India.

Mr Narendra: Amidst the numerous ongoing infrastructure projects in India, particularly in the transportation sector, like the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project and metro projects in around 25 cities, how can Stratus contribute to modernizing and ensuring efficient passenger and freight movement, thus providing excellent service to the people?

Mr. Foong: Definitely, investment into the infrastructure is happening. A lot of digital systems are being implemented as well. Stratus is ideally positioned to support modern digital systems, including SCADA systems and advanced signaling control systems. Our primary focus is to ensure that the computing environment for these systems remains “always on” and reliable. Drawing from our experience outside India, we can also offer valuable insights and best practices to our Indian partners, operators, and consultants. For instance, I recently had a session with an operator who faced the challenge of the integration of silo systems, providing end-to-end information rather than having information of certain systems standing by itself. Our expertise can be instrumental in addressing such integration issues and bringing in valuable knowledge from international experiences. These contributions demonstrate the value we can bring to the rapidly evolving Indian rail market.

Mr. Narendra: Kindly share your views on Metro Rail News Magazine.

Mr. Foong: I would say, definitely Indian government is investing a lot into the Railway infrastructure. Sustainability and scalability are key aspects, as we aim to serve more commuters and alleviate traffic congestion across different parts of the country. Stratus shares this commitment to sustainability and believes in providing systems that are always reliable and operational. It is crucial to design and build the railway infrastructure correctly from the beginning to avoid disruptions and the need for system upgrades or improvements later on. Interruptions in rail service can be highly inconvenient for the public and must be minimized. Through this session, I hope readers have gained a better understanding of the significance of critical systems and how they can enhance the value of the rail sector. That will be my message to the readers of Metro Rail News Magazine. 

Mr. Monish More: We are grateful to Metro Rail News for providing us with the opportunity to share our insights and contributions to the transportation segment. We have established a strong presence in India over the past 15-20 years, including a dedicated team and a well-established channel network. Moving forward, we aim to expand further in the transportation sector and continue supporting our customers with the same level of excellence we have demonstrated globally and in India. By providing an always-on and reliable system, we can enhance the safety and enrich the experiences of operators and consumers alike. 

Mr. Narendra: Thank you so much for your time and for sharing valuable insights in the session. 

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