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Stepping Up: Simplex modernises its telecom infrastructure

March 31, 2011
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Simplex Infrastructures Limited (SIL) was established in 1924. The company was listed in 1993 and changed its name to its present one in 2005. The company is involved in diversified sectors such as roads, railways and bridges, piling and ground engineering, power plants, urban infrastructure, industrial, building and housing, and marine structures.

In 2009-10, Simplex successfully completed a number of projects. These include the 12 km P.V. Narasimha Rao Expressway in Hyderabad, a container terminal at Kochi for DP World, and a 5,000 tonne per day cement plant for the Gulf Cement Company in Qatar. Simplex is currently implementing 19 projects worth Rs 50 billion.

The Indian real estate and construction industry is expected to grow at approximately 35 per cent per annum to reach $180 billion by 2020, according to industry estimates. In order to tap this huge potential, SIL recognised the need to upgrade its extremely limited communications infrastructure to one that facilitates seamless connectivity. This was done keeping in mind the organisation’s twin goals of maintaining its position in the Indian real estate space as well as ensuring business continuity.

tele.net tracks the development of Simplex’s IT and telecom set up...

Legacy system

Telecommunications and IT were always a priority for the company, right from its early days. According to Jaya Bhattacharyya, general manager, IT and MIS, “SIL began taking an interest in telecommunications as early as 1985, with the introduction of a FoxPro-based financial accounting package. This legacy system was operational till 2006 with minor upgradations being made as and when required to meet the changing needs of the organisation.”

The shift

With the development of communications infrastructure in the country and the rapid growth of its business, SIL’s top management realised that it would be impossible to sustain the company’s growth rate unless technology was used at all levels.

“Therefore, a major decision was taken in 2004 to replace the legacy telecom infrastructure and implement modern amenities and technologies. This led to the establishment of the data centre at SIL in 2005,” says Bhattacharyya.

The data centre was established using the latest technology sourced from various companies including IBM, Dell, Cisco, EMC and Oracle.

Also, all of SIL’s branch offices and project sites were connected to the data centre through several mediums. These include MPLS-VPN, VSATs, internet leased lines and internet broadband links from operators like Reliance Communications, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Bharti airtel, Tata Communications and HCL Comnet.

Says Bhattacharyya, “These operators were chosen depending on the availability of such facilities at a specific location and the costs involved. In the case of our internet leased lines and broadband links, users normally connect to this medium through an SLL-VPN set-up. Bandwidth allocation of each medium depends on the number of users.”

Moreover, the company designed and developed an ERP application as an integrated construction project management software, called “E-Construct”. 

Benefits and challenges

The company faced a few challenges in implementing the new set up. For instance, it found it difficult to connect remote project sites to its data centre and provide on-time support to resolve all IT- and telecom-related issues. Another challenge was training its employees to use the newly developed solution and familiarising them with telecom-oriented business processes.

However, the company has derived several benefits from the telecom makeover. “Timely communication with our clients, partners and the management is now ensured,” says Bhattacharyya. “Moreover, real-time monitoring of a project’s progress is easy and one can initiate necessary corrective measures for timely completion of projects.” 

Going forward, SIL has chalked out a multifold plan with regard to its communications infrastructure. It plans to develop E-Construct as a product to meet the requirements of the Indian construction industry, execute telecom-related jobs in core contracts, enhance the company’s knowledge management skills and develop the technology division as an independent profit centre

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