Deploys Gigabit At The Desktop
robust voice, video and data transactions becoming
crucial to organizations in their effort to improve
their business processes and expand their reach, Gigabit
Ethernet (GE), the evolutionary phase of Ethernet
and Fast Ethernet, has become a cost-effective and
easy to upgrade solution. Though initially GE was
being deployed by most organizations only at the backbone,
large organizations such as Bharat Heavy Electricals
Limited (BHEL) are discovering the benefits of deploying
it for desktop connectivity.
one of the largest engineering enterprises and foremost
power plant equipment manufacturers, has in its portfolio
over 180 products related to the power transmission
industry, transportation, oil and gas, non-conventional
energy sources and telecommunication.
14 manufacturing divisions, eight service centers
and four power sector regional centers, BHEL's project
sites are spread across the country and the world,
with regional operations divisions in various state
capitals in India.
in association with Tata Elxsi, a Bangalore-based
IT company, deployed a Gigabit Ethernet for LAN connectivity
at its Heavy Electricals Equipment Plant (HEEP) at
Haridwar, with an investment of about 250-Lakhs.
Heavy Electricals Equipment Plant (HEEP) located in
Haridwar, north India, is one of the major manufacturing
plants of BHEL. The core business of HEEP includes
design and manufacture of large steam and gas turbines,
turbo generators, hydro turbines and generators, large
AC/DC motors and so on.
is used extensively for design development, engineering
calculations, computerized drafting, issue of manufacturing
information and for a number of on-line business applications,"
points out Ashok Bhatnagar, additional general manager,
head of Information Technology Center, HEEP, Haridwar.
The earliest infrastructure that could be called a
network was a thick Ethernet-based network covering
primarily the engineering departments, which was used
basically for implementation of network floating licenses
of software and for sharing of costly resources such
as large size printers and plotters.
to the implementation of the LAN, RS232-based connections
from PCs and Vt-220 Terminals to servers through telephone
cables served the purpose of a network at HEEP. This
comprised of several serial connections and four segments
of thick 10 Base 5 coaxial cable network spanning
about 1500 meters. Ten Mbps bandwidth was shared amongst
more than 150 nodes. "It was not fast by any
standards and definitely not fast Ethernet. Still
at the heart it was Ethernet, following the same rules
for connectivity," points out Bhatnagar of HEEP.
drivers were used in abundance and data was carried
across on floppies, as there was no computer connectivity.
Hence, on-line computer applications were limited,"
the factors that prompted the need for a robust and
well designed network, Bhatnagar says, "Maintaining
these networks was difficult because even a single
malfunctioning transceiver would bring down the entire
network. The transfer of graphical data from the central
storage and running of certain applications across
shared disk space was slow. In spite of the problems
this network proved to be a good training ground for
the users and the IT staff."
since the connections were mostly on serial lines,
web-based applications were not feasible. The business
applications therefore operated mainly in terminal
GE LAN NETWORK
Bangalore-based systems integrator, Tata Elxsi Ltd.
designed and implemented the Gigabit Ethernet LAN
at BHEL's HEEP, in July 2000. "The high-speed
LAN at BHEL's HEEP is the biggest campus network in
the country," says Madhukar Dev, VP-Marketing,
Tata Elxsi, Bangalore.
Elxsi is an information technology company, and part
of the $10 billion Tata Group, with expertise in system
design, development and integration. It offers systems
integration solutions to the Indian market and design
and development services to the international market.
Elxsi was involved in the project right from its inception
and design stages. We took almost two years to design
and plan the implementation strategy", points
out Anirban Chowdhury, corporate manager, marketing,
Tata Elxsi. The implementation team comprising of
five people was spearheaded by G.V.Singh, the then
head-customer support, Tata Elxsi, New Delhi.
network was implemented on Nortel Networks' switches
and routers, and cabling from BICC, UK.
The network exceeds 75 km. of cable length, including
17 km of high-speed fiber optic cable from BICC Brand
Rex of UK. Closer buildings are connected with six
core, 50 micro multi-mode fiber. The fiber connectivity
for the other buildings is single mode fiber, enabling
longer fiber segments.
Tata Elxsi configured the high-end LAN using Nortel
Networks' layer 3 switches, connected in a mesh topology.
"Having decided to go in for Gigabit solution,
the next thing was selecting active components, deciding
on the number of switches and their locations,"
topology features a three-tier architecture including
two 'layer 3' tiers and a single tier of layer 2 switches
to the desktops. The main switches are based on recent
advances in ASIC's capabilities. These switches combine
layer 2 switching with layer 3 routing capabilities,
giving low latency path through the network for streaming
applications such as video and voice traffic.
support multiple QoS levels to deliver extremely low
latency for the priority traffic, even when switching
or routing at millions of packets per second,"
explains G.V. Singh. These switches have hot swappable
modules, which reduce network disruption during module
replacement and offer failsafe redundancy to protect
against faults and failures. They feature a cost-effective
modular design, enabling them to be configured with
a limited number of modules at the time of deployment.
Additional modules can be added as the network requirement
The three central switches of the LAN are provided
with redundant switching fabric, redundant CPU, and
failsafe backbone implemented at the core of the network.
"There is enough redundancy incorporated at each
stage of the design," says Anirban.
"The LAN is a blend of the most advanced technology
available with robust and failsafe design. The network
is designed keeping in view the data traffic requirements
of a huge organization such as BHEL for the next eight-10
years," points out Anirban of Tata Elxsi.
has been achieved by the provision of space for additional
switches in the existing panels. The same network
can be extended to 2,000 nodes from the present capacity
of 1,250 nodes by putting additional switches/ports
in existing panels in future. "The main design
criteria of this network has been reliability and
scalability," explains Madhukar Dev.
network enables managers to create up to 127 port
or policy based VLANs. Membership in workgroup segments
can be determined logically instead of user location
based grouping and changes can be easily configured
as the network envelopes standard based VLANs. Trunking
on all ports allows multiple logical links on a single
interface between switches or between switches and
A firewall has been installed to protect the network
from external intrusion. Besides, VLANs have been
implemented to segregate the network into smaller
domains and restrict traffic. A network management
server constantly monitors the activity on the network
and controls unwarranted nodes/traffic.
network is managed in an integrated environment with
the Nortel Networks Optivity Campus network management
network seamlessly connects the business servers,
CAD/CAM infrastructure, numerous desktop computers
spread across the plant, hospitals, shop floors, DNC
systems and NC Machines as servers and clients. The
LAN connects a total of about 1,350 nodes, which include
Windows-based PCs, IRIX-based engineering workstations
and about 16 Unix, IRIX and Windows NT-based servers,
spread across the entire plant.
HEEP is integrated with the other BHEL units through
HV NET (satellite link). Initially, connectivity was
limited to only some of the nodes in the plant. However,
presently this is available to every desktop and is
used primarily for sharing of information and data
of common interest--for instance, material inventory,
collaborative engineering for products to be supplied
to common customers--with other units.
Gigabit And Not ATM?
Bhatnagar of HEEP explains that initially there was
a lot of debate on which was better: Gigabit or ATM?
After going through a number of presentations, discussions
and white papers, HEEP opted for Gigabit. Familiarity
with Ethernet network was one major point in favor
the reasons for choosing Gigabit, Bhatnagar explains,
"For us it meant no additional training for users
and maintenance staff. On the cost front too, as per
our understanding, a pure Ethernet network worked
out to be cheaper as compared to the nearest ATM solution.
In addition, for our kind of environment, involving
mainly data transfer, we did not really need the QoS
feature. This feature is required for real time applications
such as audio and video conferencing and is considered
a plus point for ATM over Gigabit."
Bhatnagar found that opting for the ATM solution did
not mean ATM right up to the desktop. Conversion of
cells to frames was necessary at some stage, to make
it compatible with the network cards in existing desktops.
Presently the GE LAN is being used for the following
IDEAS for CAD/CAE, ANSYS for FEA and Autocad for
for project management.
for drawing management.
applications covering material management, material
receipts, inventory planning and control, issue
of manufacturing information, dispatch, invoicing
etc. have been developed by an in-house team.
addition there is an intranet site including a
knowledge base for information sharing. E-mail,
connectivity to other units of BHEL, connectivity
to the Internet are other applications. In the
future ERP will also be run on this network.
For Tata Elxsi, designing and implementing the GE
LAN for HEEP, BHEL was a far more complicated and
challenging task as compared to designing a layout
for a regular office building. HEEP's geography, with
massive manufacturing blocks, huge machines, live
high-voltage cables and working overhead cranes made
the implementation process a very dangerous and arduous
huge span of the plant area and structural constraints
in the sheds further complicated the task. "Many
sections of cables running at a height of nearly 15
meters from the ground level had to be welded in the
close vicinity of high-tension electric cables and
operating cranes. Our installation team was exposed
to such risks," explains Anirban from Elxsi.
proper cabling routes up to desktops and arranging
suitable power supply points for the network switch
panels, in such terrain, was the most difficult task
for the Elxsi team. A lot of coordination with various
internal agencies of HEEP was an imperative.
addition the operation consumed considerably more
time than anticipated as heavy rains hampered civil
work and posed a major problem resulting in delays,"
network is capable of handling data, voice and video
with ease and of supporting advanced technologies
and facilities such as video conferencing, transfer
and fast access of large data over the LAN and via
the WAN, and the Internet. "This will help a
large organization such as BHEL computerize its business
processes in totality and bring total operations of
the organization on-line including implementation
of advanced applications such as ERP, Web-enabled
Internet/intranet applications, Object Oriented Databases
etc. This has enabled us to take the intranet and
Internet culture to every desktop," points out
is surprising that BHEL, despite being a public sector
unit has deployed a gigabit Ethernet LAN, one of the
latest technologies in the market in India today,
considering the fact that hardly any privately owned
corporates or even MNCs, have considered this option.
major business applications that are on-line and integrated:
processing, product planning, manufacture, packing
list, dispatch list, invoicing etc.
planning, indent generation, purchase order, material
receipt, document retirement, issue and storage.
pricing, product costing, finance and so on.
related to personnel, HRD, payroll processing
applications such as e-mail, drawing management
and the intranet web site for information sharing
is also fully operational.
accrued Primary benefits
of non-production time, through on-line data entry
and availability of information on demand.
of functions through use of IT
of computer resources,
of web technology based applications,
of network floating licenses for software, which
reduces the cost.
of centralised data storage and backup,
printing of all drawings
of all documents on electronic media for ease
of updation. Digitisation of data from a number
of online applications, for future connectivity
to the outside world.
of new technical and biz applications such as
Murthy can be reached at email@example.com