aims to provide a reliable communication backbone for the
banking & finance sector. Hereís how IDRBT, the organization
behind INFINET has done it. by Mahesh Rathod
is a CUG VSAT-based network that has 675 VSATís supporting
around 200 locations across India
(Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology)
inaugurated INFINET (INdian FINancial NETwork) in June 1999
to provide a reliable communication backbone for the banking
and financial sector. INFINET is a CUG (Closed User Group)
VSAT-based network that has 675 VSAT's supporting around 200
locations across India. It's for the exclusive use of member
banks and financial institutions nationwide.
INFINET being the backbone for the national payment systems
soon garnered membership from many banks and financial institutions.
This created a need for higher bandwidth speed to support
newer users. A new terrestrial network that provides bandwidth
up to 34 Mbps was setup by Cisco Systems and CMC Limited.
The aim was to enable all inter- and intra-bank transactions
at high-speed and in a reliable manner.
The need to network
inauguration IDRBT uses VSAT on the backbone and Ethernet
on the LAN. "The primary objective of IDRBT was to help
its members carry out inter- and intra-bank transactions seamlessly
through the electronic medium. We started our first IT implementation
in 1998 with an initial investment of around Rs 150 Crore
by building the INFINET", said Dr. V.P. Gulati, Director,
INFINET has proved to be very fruitful. Various inter-bank
and intra-bank applications like simple messaging, MIS (Management
Information Systems), ECS (Electronic Clearing Service), electronic
debit, online processing, trade in government securities,
centralized funds, anywhere/anytime banking, and inter-branch
reconciliation are now carried out using INFINET.
INFINET is primarily a TCP/IP based network. A detailed IP-addressing
scheme has been devised by IDRBT for all the CUG members.
The scheme has to be followed strictly by members when they
interact through the communication backbone. The network consists
of a central earth station (Hub), which is located at Hyderabad.
The Hub consists of an 11 meter antenna and other communications
equipment. The network started with one eighth of transponder
number 13 on INSAT 2B in June 1999. Later, in July 2000, a
full transponder, number 8 was allotted on INSAT 3B.
The network works on TDM/TDMA (Time Division Multiplexing/Time
Division Multiple Access) technology. The central earth station
is housed in a VSAT control center located in the ground floor
of the executive facilities center of the Institute. A DAMA
(Demand Assigned Multiple Access) overlay will be soon provided
to facilitate high-speed data communications, voice, and video.
leased line backbone with multiple 2 Mbps lines and Gigabit
Ethernet as a LAN backbone was implemented to meet greater
bandwidth needs. "The new terrestrial network links will
integrate with the existing VSAT network to complement the
total bandwidth. INFINET will now become a blend of both leased
line and VSAT network technologies. An important factor is
that the terrestrial WAN network will allow easy migration
to Ethernet speeds in future", said Gulati.
The NMS (Network Management System) of the leased line network
is located at the INFINET hub at Hyderabad. The backup NMS
is located at the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) office in Mumbai.
The institute has tied up with Cisco Systems to set up the
terrestrial network with the help of 45 Cisco routers. This
includes 25 high-end routers, security systems, NMS software,
and switches. Cisco's 7500 series routers would form the core
of the network, located in important cities, and will interconnect
various cities. Cisco's 3600 routers will be deployed at the
distribution level to enable bank branches to ride on the
network design has taken into consideration multiple paths
for any location. This ensures that data can traverse the
network and reach the destination even if the primary connectivity
is down. All the locations have been configured along with
the ISDN ports in their respective routers as backup. In an
extreme case of all the land-based lines going down, the VSAT
links can be used to send data from one location to another.
To defend INFINET from hacking or intrusion, PIX firewalls
from Cisco have been deployed in all key locations within
the network. And to address the vital issue of security of
financial transactions in the electronic environment, the
Institute has set up a Center for Security Technology. "This
center will play a key role to help evolve security standards,
protocols, certification procedures, and solutions to suit
Indian financial conditions", said Gulati.
At the end
leased line network with VSAT backup will completely revolutionize
the way the banking industry has been conducting transactions
within themselves. INFINET will also play a major role in
the member banks business strategy in future", Gulati
Mahesh Rathod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org