Nerolac Paints Limited is one of India's premier
paint companies with a turnover exceeding Rs 750
Crore. It's the market leader in industrial/automotive
segment and manages over 90 percent of the OEM requirements.
The network has a robust ERP, Data Warehousing,
and 750-odd users nationwide.
The HO (Head Office) LAN runs a mission-critical
ERP, a Data Warehousing suite, 300 nodes, and connectivity
to the nationwide WAN. The LAN traffic needed to
be smooth and error-free with no scope for bottlenecks
and bandwidth throttle to ensure trouble-free performance.
The company decided to concentrate on its LAN
switching infrastructure to ensure trouble-free
LAN performance. After evaluation it deployed a
Cabletron SSR 8600 and a stack of three Enterasys
Matrix E5 switches.
The HO LAN's switching architecture is efficiently
designed to ensure minimal downtime and efficient
traffic management. There hasn't been any downtime
in the HO LAN for over 18 months, since the network
upgradation. And the company has deployed VLANs
for better network management.
on image for larger view
(Goodlass Nerolac Paints Limited) runs mission-critical
ERP, Data Warehousing applications, a LAN of 300-odd
nodes, and a WAN of 450-odd desktops from its Head Office.
And the entire LAN is managed with a minimal switching
infrastructure. A look at how the paint company's LAN
switching infrastructure addresses its technology needs.
by Soutiman Das Gupta
data center at its Mumbai HO (Head Office) houses a
number of important components of its technical infrastructure.
It's where the server infrastructure for its ERP and
Data Warehousing applications, VSAT communications equipment,
and desktop workstations for 300-odd users are kept.
The data center is also connected to Comsat Max in order
to provide seamless integration with the service provider's
VSAT and VPN infrastructure.
This allows free flow of data between the ERP servers
and the company's various factories, depots, and regional
offices scattered nationwide. "Our
data center is very critical to our business as it is
the heart of the organization. It's from here that we
distribute ERP data and maintain communication links
to our 70 locations nationwide. It's extremely important
that data traffic in this location is absolutely smooth
and error-free," explained J.S. Gonsalves, Senior
K.V. Ranganathan, Senior Manager, IT adds, "Since
a lot of data traffic flows between the VSAT locations,
ERP servers, and users in the HO, it's important that
the LAN is well structured. The switch is the gateway
between the servers and the rest of the users. So there
should be no scope for bottlenecks and bandwidth throttle."
company felt that a good way to ensure efficient data
flow was to focus on the LAN switching infrastructure.
After considering aspects like performance, cost, design,
manageability, and other benefits, the company chose
to use Enterasys' Matrix E5 switches and SSR (SmartSwitch
Router) 8600 and ELS 100s. "Our LAN has been operating
on these switching devices for over 18 months and we
have never had any downtime," said Gonsalves.
IT Initiatives were built in four phases. The first
phase of computerization began in the early 60s, the
punch card era. "We had a team of data entry operators
and data was fed into a central repository. The information
was then collated and used to generate reports for various
departments in the organization," explained Ranganathan.
The second phase of computerization began in 1985. The
company began to automate some of the applications in
the HO and depots. There was a mix of manual and automated
data entry operations.
In 1990, due to rapid business growth, the company felt
it was unreliable to depend on a mixed breed of data
from online and offline sources. The data had to keyed
in and verified, a process, which took a few months
to ensure that the information was accurate. This lead
to the third phase of computerization.
As a part of the third phase, the company using Unix
and Cobol as the development platform built applications
for various processes like manufacturing, sales, and
accounting. These applications were rolled out in 1991.
In 1997 the first WAN connectivity was established between
the HO and the company's manufacturing plant in Kanpur
through VSAT. Microsoft Mail was deployed to take care
of the mail requirements.
The fourth phase
The company's first LAN was deployed in 1993 using hubs
and coaxial cables in the HO and served a group of 25
users. The LAN was then upgraded in 1996 to handle additional
traffic. Subsequently in 1998 the company went for a
total revamp of its LAN across the HO and factories
based on a switching architecture.
In 2000 the company went live with SAP R/3. This was
the fourth phase of IT initiatives. In this phase the
HO LAN was further upgraded, the factories had fiber
backbones installed, and all the depots adopted LANs.
The ERP setup was thus connected to 70 locations nationwide
and served 750-odd network users.
Depot locations connect to the data center via TDM/TDMA
VSATs through the Comsat Max hub center over a 2 Mbps
leased line link to the HO and the ERP servers. The
link is backed up with a 128 K ISDN link as well as
a 128 K DAMA link. The factories connect to the HO through
PAMA VSATs directly. In addition, each depot has
a redundant VPN link to the data center.
In the LAN
ERP setup comprises a range of Sun servers for application
configuration, testing, and production. The Sun StorEdge
A5100 disk array and a StorEdge L400 tape library are
attached to the SAP database servers for data storage
and backup respectively. Wipro NetPower servers power
areas like SAP data archiving, employee portal (Knowledge
Management and Workflows), and Web. A Compaq ProLiant
server runs SAS data warehousing applications, and a
HP Netserver runs MS Exchange.
The data archiving server runs the IXOS archiving software
that moves inactive SAP data from active storage to
passive storage. This frees up storage resources on
the main storage A5100 boxes. The archived data is kept
on a HP Jukebox 220 and is always available for query.
750-odd users who are online can query the ERP servers
anytime. The users make requests for various queries,
reports, and data throughout the day. This generates
high traffic density and the switch has to have the
capability that complements the performance of the other
equipment like servers and routers to handle very high
volumes of data and ensure good performance," explained
The SSR 8600 is the backbone LAN switch on which all
the mission critical servers converge and is the gateway
to all users on the LAN and WAN via the router. The
switch is layer 4-capable and has features like policy
management, security, and QoS.
The 300-odd desktops in the HO LAN access various ERP
and warehouse applications from different areas in the
LAN. Three Enterasys Matrix E5 switches handle data
access. "Each switch is configured and used like
a layer 2 device. These also have the capability to
be upgraded to layer 3 or 4 to support more business-critical
applications. The switches can also be managed remotely,"
said Ranganathan. The eScan and MailScan Antivirus Suite
of products protect the desktops. The HO desktop antivirus
signature database is automatically updated through
A Checkpoint VPN-1/FireWall-1 software on a Nokia IP330
device protects the HO from any malicious intruders.
LAN switching and management
superior features and design of the switching solution
and the fact that it was future proof made us opt for
the technology," said Gonsalves.
like the switching solution because it is simple for
the administrator, elegant in design, and only four
switches meet the requirement of the entire organization
over a campus-wide network. It also provides 100 percent
redundancy in the network," claimed Ranganathan.
GNP has implemented VLANs in order to reduce network
broadcasts, improve response time for applications to
HO users, allow better manageability, and provide differential
access to applications. VLANs have also helped to save
administration time and offers increased security and
dynamic IP addressing on the LAN.
The factories at various cities use Cabletron ELS 100
switches as the core switches over a fiber backbone.
A few 3Com switches from the earlier phase of LAN implementation
are used in locations where there isn't much data traffic.
Network Solutions has been given the responsibility
of managing the LAN infrastructure at various locations
of GNPL. Comsat Max manages the WAN infrastructure.
The company plans to deploy storage consolidation and
disaster recovery solutions. "Our robust LAN infrastructure
gives confidence to introduce new applications without
worry of LAN performance issues. We will continue to
work closely with our vendors and look at them as our
partners. As we pay for the solutions now, the solutions
pay back in the long run." said Gonsalves.
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at