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Network Overhaul: Cochin Port Trust leverages telecom to integrate operations

August 31, 2011
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The Cochin Port Trust (CPT) is situated on the southwest coast of the country, on Willingdon Island, an artificial island in the backwaters of Kerala. CPT is located strategically close to the busy international east-west shipping routes.

Quick to recognise the potential of telecom as a strategic business tool, CPT took rapid steps to upgrade its communications set-up. The aim was to create a value chain encompassing everyone involved in the production process, thereby streamlining information flow.

tele.net takes a look at the port’s telecom-related initiatives so far...

Legacy system

In the early days, the port implemented simple computer wide area networks (WANs) and local area networks. For external communication, it used fax machines and telephones. The lack of streamlined communication access and information exchange made project tracking difficult.

To improve project control and execution, monitor daily tasks and enable further growth, the company realised it needed to upgrade its telecom infrastructure.

The shift

The first task was upgradation of the WAN set-up. To achieve this, the company opted for a multi-tiered structure, which included DLC (local loop), DLC (NLD), internet, VSATs and ISDN lines.

For last mile connectivity, CPT opted for DSL and Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi helped achieve seamless wireless connectivity across the premises. To secure its network, the port opted for three mediums – access logs, security audits and firewalls. While security audits systematically evaluate the security of the company’s information system by measuring how well it conforms to a set of established criteria, firewalls protect the resources of the port’s network from users from other networks.

In terms of enterprise applications, it adopted web hosting, VOIP, video- and audioconferencing, and email. The port also utilised the internet as a strategic tool to reach out to its customers and vendors. Users could access company information, financials, recent initiatives, etc. on the website and track their containers via GPRS-enabled mobile handsets or through the site. In terms of enterprise mobility applications, the company utilised mobile email, mobile data connectivity and conferencing facility. Apart from the obvious advantage of any time, anywhere mobility, these applications provided the company with a cheap, flexible and easy-to-use medium, which enabled everyone in the company to be up to date with new developments.

The port also set up a data centre to serve multiple functions, such as ensuring server uptime, data recovery and back-up, and storage management.

The software applications used in the company include business intelligence, ERP and inventory management.

Challenges and benefits

Although timely upgradation and installation of solutions and systems that meet the company’s communications needs is a demanding task, CPT did not encounter any major hurdles. The transition from a basic to an upgraded telecom set-up was fairly smooth.

While downtime can be an issue at times, overall, CPT has benefited significantly from its telecom initiatives. The use of ISDN, for instance, has enabled high bandwidth access, permitting users to download data, and stream voice, data and video faster. DLC local loop connectivity has offered the port permanent, reliable and high speed connectivity unlike its earlier dial-up connection. Also, it has given the port a large variety of bandwidths to choose from, making it easier to customise its broadband package. It has also proved to be a cost-effective solution, as the port deals with a heavy load of data and information as well as uses bandwidth-hungry applications on a daily basis. This medium has helped prioritise traffic.

Conclusion

With a responsive and efficient telecom and IT infrastructure in place, the organisation can now carry out its day-to-day activities more efficiently. In addition, it is able to reach out to its customers better via the company website. Overall, CPT has been able to consolidate its business operations and create room for growth  in the future.

 
 
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