will soon be available on tap and there are a plethora
of broadband connectivity solutions. But are enterprises
using bandwidth-hungry applications yet? by Brian
the recent past there has been talk about India being
a bandwidth-starved nation, and about how much we could
lose if we fail to upgrade capacities on broadband networks.
That consensus might change.
Considering the rate at which private sector companies
are deploying fiber optic or HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coaxial)
networks across the nation, we'll soon have surplus
bandwidth. The question is, what are we going to do
with all that bandwidth, and what are the applications
that are really going to drive bandwidth requirements?
research organizations have projected the country's
broadband requirements for the first half of this decade.
Nasscom projects 300 Gbps Internet bandwidth demand
in India by 2005. Market researcher Frost & Sullivan
predicts growth rates of over 93.6 percent for Internet
bandwidth, between March 2000 and March 2005. Industry
reports indicate India could loose out on $22.5 billion
in business earnings if it fails to address its bandwidth
While Internet access may be the main driver for bandwidth
demand, the high requirement on enterprise networks
is debatable. A clearer picture emerges when one examines
global trends and the demand drivers.
Enterprises deploy broadband networks for Internet access/international
connectivity, or for internal LAN/WAN point-to-point
Traditionally, exporters and software development houses
have been big bandwidth consumers. But now certain factors
are prompting corporates to upgrade capacities on internal
Typical applications running on corporate LAN/WANs are
messaging, ERP, CRM, SCM, databases, and customized
applications. We asked vendors, IT-Heads and network
consultants whether these applications are bandwidth
hungry, and got mixed responses. While some felt 64K
and 2Mbps links are adequate, others feel applications
like ERP are driving bandwidth requirements.
Says R N Bhaskar, Chairman E-convergence Technologies
Limited (ETL), Applications like VPN, ERP, CRM,
and SCM don't require high bandwidth. These are all
low-bandwidth applications that are manageable within
Continues Bhaskar, at present everyone uses 'thin'
bandwidth. Ninety percent of VSATs use 64Kbps or less.
Hindustan Lever for instance uses very low VSAT bandwidth
and NSE uses 64Kbps. Bandwidth requirements are low
because companies have not yet combined video, audio
and data on their networks.
Though bandwidth requirements have not grown at the
projected rate, enterprises certainly feel the need
to go in for additional bandwidth. "One of the
reasons for this is that enterprises want to have backup
links," says Anil Garg, VP-IT and New Media, Sony
Rahul Swarup, President, Enterprise Solutions, Satyam
Infoway (Sify), says bandwidth will continue to be in
short supply and corporate applications are the main
demand drivers. "If corporates adapt to applications
like ERP, then there will be a need to connect. Similarly,
Web-based applications around SCM (Supply Chain Management),
Sales Force Automation and Intranet/extranet based workflow
require bandwidth for fulfillment."
S V Ramana, VP-Systems Engineering, Cisco Systems India,
says enterprise users, consumers, service providers
and even the government demands bandwidth on tap. He
says investment from private players has seen India
record a phenomenal increase in both incoming and outbound
traffic. "There is clearly a demand for broadband
what has changed however is the supply situation. Network
i2i recently announced the opening up of its undersea
submarine cables with capacity to carry 8.4 Tbps of
traffic out of India. From mere Gbps India is now entering
the TB (Terabyte) space. Even India's regulatory framework
has turned favorable for telecommunications bandwidth
vendors and resellers."
feel the real driver for bandwidth is multimedia applications.
Years ago there was talk of "rich multimedia content"
and video being the real drivers. In reality this isn't
happening yet in Indian enterprises. However, organizations
are increasingly using their IP networks for voice communications
in closed user groups.
Some consultants say voice isn't a bandwidth guzzler
as voice streams are compressed before transmission
on data networks.
will be a big driver for bandwidth," says Ketan
Sanghavi, Managing Director, Wanland Datacom (India).
"It may seem that VoIP does not hog bandwidth,
because voice can be compressed from 64K to 14K. But
to use multiple voice channels on a network you do need
adequate bandwidth. Even if the routers are configured
to prioritize voice traffic, latency will come in."
Many also talk about network convergence. When voice,
video and data are pushed along the same pipe, bandwidth
requirements can soar. As connectivity costs drop more
enterprises will consider a common network for voice,
video and data. The real attraction here is the huge
Another driver is business growth. Enterprises, especially
in the banking and finance sector, are opting for more
bandwidth to fulfill growing business requirements.
IDBI Bank for instance, is upgrading its bandwidth by
50 percent this year, as it introduces more ATMs, branches,
and new applications.
messaging and core banking applications use a lot of
bandwidth," says Neeraj Bhai, CTO, IDBI Bank. "We
also use VoIP and have installed 80 phones on our network.
In the next few months we will have 200 phones. In the
month of March, we made 1,60,000 calls over the IP network."
K Ramaswamy, CIO, MIRC Electronics, the company that
manufactures Onida TVs, says his organization is considering
video conferencing over the network. "Doing this
over the present LAN will pose problems, so we may need
to go in for more bandwidth."
Other drivers are entertainment and distance education.
Live Webcasts of events through data networks and interactive
classroom sessions will be bandwidth guzzlers feels
connectivity options at lower costs are also prompting
many companies to consider broadband connectivity for
business operations. For instance Optical Ethernet technology
enables businesses to connect their existing Ethernet
LANs to DWDM-based optical backbones.
Transmission speeds are boosted as optical components
replace silicon in switching equipment.
The cost of wireless equipment is falling and it's also
becoming easier to set up wireless networks.
Radio Frequency links and IP-VPN are becoming popular
because of the features and benefits they offer.
What's more, all this new technology is available right
here in India from vendors like Nortel Networks, Cisco,
Avaya, Unisphere Networks, Motorola, Texas Instruments
providers have moved quickly to address corporate bandwidth
requirements, and many types of broadband solutions
are available today (See page 23). Network consultants
say CIOs/CTOs have certain concerns while choosing these
solutions. Some carelessly neglect certain issues.
Leslie Frank, partner at Lancomp Networking Solutions
(a Mumbai-based network integrator), says a manager
should look at business requirements, the geography/locations
of offices and the expectations.
His colleague Sudesh Tendulkar says managers overlook
things like securing their systems before connecting
them to shared networks.
a business is heavily dependent on broadband connectivity,
it's not enough to have firewalls or expensive security
systems in place," says Frank. "What is needed
is skilled manpower. The management of those networks
and their security is most crucial."
ISPs feel corporate customers are most concerned about
throughputs and uptime.
Praveen Shrikhande, CTO, Hathway Cable Internet says
customers worry what the performance will be like when
they buy shared bandwidth. "Besides performance,
they also worry about security. Some ask whether their
applications will run on our network, or whether we
will allow voice traffic to be transmitted."
Shrikhande says it is important for service providers
to manage the network well and offer different levels
of QoS (Quality of Service.)
Another consultant says
managers should also look for value-adds, which are
throughput and uptime top many a CTOs wish list, it
is important to carefully consider the features of each
connectivity option and understand the environment it
is best suited to. Though bandwidth is available from
many service providers, managers must study their applications,
monitor network performance and then determine their
Brian Pereira can be reached at email@example.com