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Streamlined Services: Enterprises opt for next-gen technologies to improve business operations

January 31, 2012
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Enhancing their organisation’s telecom infrastructure to ensure flexible, transparent and always-on connectivity kept most enterprises busy in 2011. Going forward, the segment is looking to adopt advanced technology platforms, such as IPv6 and cloud computing, for their voice, data and internet requirements. tele.net spoke to a cross-section of enterprise customers, ranging from media houses to retail majors, to assess their experience in 2011 with regard to their communications infrastructure and their technology road map for 2012…

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What major initiatives did your company undertake in 2011 with respect to its communications infrastructure?

Subramanya C.

We replaced multiple E1s with DS3 ring architecture. This included the diversification of the service providers we use for our operations on the east-west coast and the Atlantic-Pacific regions. We also replaced multiple T1s in the DS3 ring architecture and Ethernet links with the US to connect to our customers. The technology used to access the internet was upgraded to the highly reliable border gateway protocol architecture. The bandwidth of our multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connection in the country was upgraded and we changed from a hub-and-spoke architecture to mesh architecture.

Rajiv Chawla

We undertook several initiatives, including:

•  Consolidating our email system

•    Implementing an SMS-based indenting system for retail outlet dealers to ensure trouble-free booking for all their fuel requirements.

Sitendu Dash

We have chalked out a road map to transition from the IPv4 platform to the IPv6 platform.

Sunit Datta

We have shifted our students’ mail server (including its storage) onto the same domain as the faculty. We also implemented a dedicated high-end server for our library system. Besides this, we initiated the process of automation of our campus management system in 2011.

Anish Kalucha

We are in the process of evaluating the various options in mobile devices and smartphones to be used in different functional areas. The current telecom- and videoconferencing facilities have been extended to cover more of our offices, which has helped in providing synchronous training to our staff.

Apurba K. Kundu

Last year, we added new MPLS connections in our organisation, which were sourced from Sify Technologies.

Bala Meshram

During 2011, we upgraded our wide area network (WAN) infrastructure. This process included:

•   Connecting our branch offices and data centre through redundant MPLS links

•   Connecting our data centre and head office via redundant point-to-point leased line connectivity.

Subhasis Nayak

Bata India undertook major initiatives to ensure the failover of its network across the country. We utilised the services of various other internet service providers (ISPs) other than our primary ISP, Reliance Communications. These services have been configured in the firewalls present in our communications set-up to ensure automatic failover.

Anantha Radhakrishnan

This year, we implemented the session initiation protocol technology in our voice communications infrastructure. The benefits achieved with this implementation include:

• Reduction in the total number of network hops

•   Minimising our hardware footprint.

Khushru D. Siganporia

The highlight of 2011 was the implementation of a high bandwidth converged network. The Taj Group of Hotels embarked on an ambitious project to roll out a high bandwidth network in its new hotels and those that undergo renovation. This network, called the Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON), is used by operators to support their subscribers spread across huge geographical distances.

Arun Varma

We have revamped our telecommunications infrastructure by implementing state-of-the-art exchanges. These include primary rate interface and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) services.

B. Venkataramana

We started the process of implementing Oracle in the organisation. As part of this, the IT infrastructure was revamped, which included the upgradation of the existing WAN, servers and storage platforms, and user equipment such as PCs, printers and laptops. With regard to WAN infrastructure, we upgraded the bandwidth of our remote locations and replaced the switches and routers as well.

Senior official, Axis Bank

We migrated our point-to-point leased line network to MPLS with dual redundancy for critical locations. We outsourced our mail management system to reduce infrastructure overheads. We also introduced the eFax technology, voicemail and videoconferencing systems to meet our business requirements.

What are the unresolved issues and concerns with regard to your company’s existing telecom and IT infrastructure?  

Subramanya C.

Migrating the remaining TDM platforms to the IP platform is high on our agenda. Enhancing the efficiency in the cross-connect charges at co-locations is another issue. With acquisition and outsourcing being undertaken by telecom service providers, the service and implementation time has reduced significantly. Also, we are yet to implement cloud computing and offer the business as a service option to our clients.

Rajiv Chawla

We are yet to choose an alternative service provider for MPLS services. Also, we intend to migrate to the IPv6 platform.

Sitendu Dash

Transitioning to the IPv6 platform is yet to take place in the organisation.

Sunit Datta

We prefer not to use the term “unresolved”. The process of implementing the campus management system has been extended to this year. The project’s initial requirements have been modified and additions have been made. Moreover, we have narrowed down the list of relevant software applications, and hope to identify the project’s overall requirements and the time frame for implementation within a month.

Anish Kalucha

The biggest concern is the acceptance of various initiatives within the organisation. To overcome this problem, all the IT initiatives undertaken by the company are implemented with the complete involvement of business users.

Bala Meshram

The lack of response from the communications network and constraints in bandwidth are the major concerns.

Subhasis Nayak

Severe congestion in our communications network and the inability to optimise existing bandwidth are the major concerns.

Anantha Radhakrishnan

While there are no specific unresolved concerns, we continue to face problems with our telecom vendors. These issues pertain to the lead time for delivering WAN links (we expect very little lead time, which is not the case).

Khushru D. Siganporia

The biggest concern today is the lack of products and services for the hospitality segment from telecom service providers. Also, the IP PBXs and IP end-points are not commercially competitive and therefore, these cannot be used for mass deployment.

Arun Varma

Existing bandwidth plans need to become more affordable.

B. Venkataramana

We have no major issues and concerns because we design and manufacture telecom access equipment, such as wireless routers and switches, ourselves. As our headcount grows, we continue to add more nodes and copper lines.

Senior official, Axis Bank

The seamless integration of MPLS networks via network-to-network interface (NNI) circuits is a major concern in India. This is because one service provider does not allow other service providers to link to their network through the customer. In this scenario, most enterprises are unable to leverage their MPLS networks to the fullest. Also, video and VOIP services are unable to merge across various technology platforms or service providers.

What are your company’s plans with regard to its communications infrastructure over the next two years?

Subramanya C.

We plan to partner with service providers to create a highly resilient, cost-effective, and scalable network to connect our delivery locations and customers worldwide.

Rajiv Chawla

We are planning to choose an alternative service provider for all our locations. We also plan to migrate to the IPv6 platform.

Sunit Datta

We plan to implement videoconferencing to further enhance our communications network. Faculty and guest lectures will be archived in our LAN and on our website to ensure easy and instant access for our students. Also, we plan to design a micro-site, where existing students can access campus-related academic information on the go through their mobile handsets.

Anish Kalucha

The company plans to undertake multiple energy conservation and management initiatives on the demand side. For example, sharing of information pertaining to consumption patterns and overloads with our consumers through web portals, SMSs, etc. This would involve online data communication from the meters to a central site.

Apurba K. Kundu

We have not yet chalked out a specific plan.

Bala Meshram

Our future plans include the following:

•    Implementing a secured connection to various applications and portals through the web.

•   Integrating the SMS platform with SAP technology and various other application software used in the organisation

•   Implementing a dedicated videoconferencing facility for the management

•   Setting up infrastructure that would support webinar sessions

•  Setting up a WAN for our disaster recovery site

•     Implementing solutions for the optimisation of WAN.

Subhasis Nayak

We plan to opt for more virtual private network (VPN)-based communications across our offices, instead of the current internet-based communications set-up for all applications.

Anantha Radhakrishnan

We plan to opt for technologies that facilitate the optimisation of our WAN set-up. We also plan to examine the feasibility of deploying voice services on the cloud platform. Establishing a video-enabled contact centre is also on our agenda.

Khushru D. Siganporia

The Taj Group of Hotels plans to enable multiple IP-based services on our networks. We will also implement more IP-based systems to offer high speed internet access, IPTV facility, telephony, video-on-demand, etc.

Arun Varma

We may implement a unified communications platform for our office sometime next year.

B. Venkataramana

Our immediate goal is to improve our communications and business processes by implementing electronic paperless systems, both for internal and external communication. We have already implemented Oracle enterprise resource planning systems companywide. We have also introduced Agile, a product life-cycle management system, to automate the processes required to introduce a new product. We want to improve communication between the plants and the rest of our nationwide offices by introducing videoconferencing. This, we believe, will strengthen our communications set-up.

Senior official, Axis Bank

We would like to consolidate the infrastructure used for voice-based communications in our offices across the country. We plan to achieve this by deploying the services of two operators to ensure dual redundancy in the voice network. We would also like to avail of many telecom services on an on-demand basis and introduce the “work from home” concept by using the best communication infrastructure possible.

What technology trends do you expect to witness in the enterprise segment? Which of these are of the most interest to your firm?

Subramanya C.

We expect IP, reliable wireless technology and secured mobile solutions, cloud-based offerings and bring-your-own-device-based solutions to come to the fore. Moreover, technology solutions for remote agents or part-time workers are expected, but only after obtaining the regulator’s approval.

Rajiv Chawla

We expect 3G, 4G and Wi-Max services to gain ground. A unified communications system for the entire organisation is eagerly anticipated.

Sitendu Dash

A transition to the IPv6 platform is expected.

Sunit Datta

Cloud computing may be the biggest technology trend in 2012. The only problem with this platform is that we have to store sensitive data in a remote location and the secrecy of the data depends on the MoU signed between the enterprise and the vendor/service provider. In case of a disaster, one is dependent on the service provider. So, one has to make a compromise between the investment required and reliability.

Bala Meshram

The technology trends in the Indian enterprise segment will include:

•  Cloud computing: Enterprise IT will centre on developing hybrid private/ public cloud applications, and improving security and governance.

•   Extreme low-energy servers: Slow physical servers that are tiny and use low amounts of energy, which can handle huge amounts of data, can be used for 10-15 per cent of enterprise workloads.

•    Big data: Many products will be launched to handle the “big data” challenge. Enterprises have to realise that they just cannot store it all.

•    Media tablets and beyond: “Bring-your-own-technology” has become the norm at workplaces, not the exception. With this, the IT segment will need to address security and management challenges.

Subhasis Nayak

Bandwidth optimisation, both for wired and wireless communication, is a major technology trend we expect to witness in the Indian enterprise segment. Although the communication process is shifting towards wireless systems, optimisation, which relates directly to the performance, is a major concern.

Anantha Radhakrishnan

•    Network access control for end-point security

•    Adoption of a virtual private and public cloud.

•    Adoption of the “bring-your-own-device” model.

Khushru D. Siganporia

Cloud and mobility are not new concepts for the Indian enterprise segment. However, the penetration of cloud services and mobility applications will continue their upward growth trend. Mobility is the future of businesses. More business is conducted in real time and between geographically dispersed situations than ever before.

Arun Varma

We will be watching the trends and newer technologies available for corporates of our size and strength that increase the productivity and client interface experience.

B. Venkataramana

We believe 2012 will be a great year for telecom equipment manufacturers, with 3G rollouts in full swing and the expected launch of broadband wireless access services. The expected rollouts will impact telecom equipment demand on two fronts. First, on the access and enterprise side, there will be a huge demand for customer premises equipment, such as USB dongles, modems and base transceiver stations. Second, adoption of new technologies will now be infrastructure driven, where subscribers of these new services will drive huge data and voice requirements onto the operator’s networks, requiring the operators to upgrade, overhaul, or build additional back-haul networks to meet this demand.

Senior official, Axis Bank

Most of the organisations are looking to consolidate their voice infrastructures, adopt VOIP solutions, telepresence and cloud computing technologies, which will play a vital role.

What are the company’s telecom-related priorities?

Subramanya C.

•    Demanding highly reliable, scalable low-cost telecom solutions that have a quick turnaround from service providers

•    Ensuring decreased international latency and reliability on the internet and IPLC-based networks.

Rajiv Chawla

Choosing an alternative service provider for MPLS services is high on our agenda. Adopting unified communications is equally important.

Sitendu Dash

Implementing the latest technologies that best cater to our communication requirements is a priority.

Sunit Datta

Encouraging students and the faculty to communicate via electronic mediums, implementing online tests and evaluation processes, and ensuring our communication systems, data and disaster recovery processes are secure, are on our priority list.

Anish Kalucha

Our key priorities are enabling the senior management to obtain the required information on the move, facilitating quick access to information by our field personnel.

Apurba K. Kundu

We implement new technologies and enhance our communications set-up purely on a need basis.

Bala Meshram

Implementation of a WAN set-up for our disaster recovery site is our priority.

Subhasis Nayak

Shifting to a VPN-based network for our retail outlets (on a pan-Indian basis) and making information available online are our priorities.

Anantha Radhakrishnan

•      Optimising our communications set-up through the deployment of pay-per-use/scalable models

•    Adopting technologies that enable mobility and the work any time, from anywhere concept

•   Establishing a multi-channel communications platform, unified contact centres and using social networking tools.

Khushru D. Siganporia

Implementing unified communications across all platforms is one such priority. This would enable comprehensive and effective collaborative experiences for our employees and teams on demand.

Arun Varma

So far, our telecommunications requirements are all taken care of.

Senior official, Axis Bank 

Consolidating our voice-based communications infrastructure as well as integration of MPLS and NNI are our top two priorities going forward.

 
 
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