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Issue of November 2002 
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XSPs: Tata ISP
IDCs for everyone

A data center is essential for any company with a robust IT infrastructure requiring round-the-clock maintenance. But every company doesn't need to build its own data center infrastructure and can outsource the needs to an external Internet Data Center (IDC). Soutiman Das Gupta takes a look at Tata Internet Services (TISL) IDC to get an idea of what data centers in India can offer to its enterprise customers

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Any organization with robust IT infrastructure is certain to maintain an Internet Data Center (IDC) that stores a large part of its hardware infrastructure and centrally manages applications like security, storage, ERP, and CRM. Most large companies have built on-site IDCs that are equipped with the requisite hardware and applications to manage their networks.

"Data center services consist of a range of implementation services, ranging from creating websites to integration with legacy systems, through infrastructure provisioning and management through actual Web hosting. Earlier the demand was basically for providing Web implementation services. These days however, the focus of customer demand is shifting to ongoing operations of Web solutions. The resulting increase in the difficulties involved in managing the ongoing operations has contributed to the success of data center outsourcing," says Sanjay Srivastava, Product Head - Data Center Services, TISL.

Many companies irrespective of size can use the facilities of an external IDC that offers a large range of services and features. "Outsourcing IDC services can provide number of strategic and tactical benefits. The strategic benefits are that you can improve business focus, gain access to ready resources and processes, receive accelerated results and benefits, reduce risk, and free resources for other functions. The tactical benefits are that you can manage and control operating costs, make capital funds available for other projects, avoid high cost of procurement of applications and hardware, and spend a lot of resources to maintain and manage the infrastructure," says Sanjay. Let's look at TISL's IDCs in Mumbai and Hyderabad to have an idea of what this data center has to offer.

Service offerings
The principal options for IDC outsourcing include hosting and co-location. However, customers are beginning to realize that these options only address part of the problem. As a result, managed services are gaining importance.

The service offerings of the IDC are:

  • Shared hosting
  • Dedicated Hosting
  • Co-location
  • Managed Services
  • Customer work area

Shared hosting
Shared servers offer clients the ability to host their website or application on a professionally managed server at a low quarterly cost. Shared servers provide individual websites with redundant connectivity and 24x7 monitoring for a fraction of the cost of a dedicated server.

The website is stored on high-performance Intel Processor-based servers that are maintained and managed daily.

All servers are protected from power supply breakdowns and electrical surges. Shared hosting is available on the following platforms:
A. Shared hosting on NT 4.0
B. Shared hosting on Windows 2000
C. Shared hosting on Linux

Customers can also use other services on shared hosting like e-mail solutions and bandwidth options. The customer will have to pay only for the bandwidth that is actually used. They can be charged either for data transfer on a per GB basis or on fixed bandwidth usage in multiples of 64 Kbps.

Dedicated hosting
Dedicated hosting servers are single computers fully devoted to the needs of one customer. They allow for faster access to information and provide the customer with greater flexibility to add advanced database and e-commerce applications.

Collocation services
Collocation refers to an approach where a customer 'collocates' its servers in an environment in which it can take advantage of the provider's floor-space as well as access to network bandwidth. The customer is provided with rack space, bandwidth, access to the Internet, UPSs, and 24x7 server monitoring. Customers will be required to bring their own equipment and choose rack space and connectivity that best meets their individual needs.

Managed services
Outsourcing the management and monitoring of mission-critical Internet operations is crucial for stability in an increasingly complex networking environment.

TISL's IDC offers these managed services at extra costs:

  • Managed security services
  • Firewall services
  • Intrusion Detection services
  • Risk assessment
  • OS hardening
  • Backup services
  • Messaging solutions
  • System services
  • Reporting
  • Database solutions
  • Network assessment, design and implementation services
  • Load balancing
  • Disaster recovery

Customer work area
Customers have the facility of a dedicated work area within the IDC premises. The work area has access to all facilities required by the customer to manage its servers.

Both of TISL's IDCs together make for over 20,000 sq ft space. They have precision-controlled cooling systems, power conditioning equipment, and multiple generators. Network management tools ensure pro-active monitoring of leased circuits and helps identify problem areas quickly. The data centers have raised floors and a range of physical security features. The security features include smoke detection and fire suppression systems, motion sensors, biometric sensors, proximity card readers, video camera surveillance, security breach alarms and a 24x7 helpdesk that provides service to its clients.

Network-related services
The company has a WAN which comprises 52 POPs and it is a partial mesh network. Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad are connected over a multiple nX2 Mbps backbone. This mesh configuration eliminates single point-to-point fiber link failures. Among other POPs, Chennai is parented to Delhi and Hyderabad, and Bangalore is connected to Mumbai and Hyderabad over nX2 Mbps. All the 5 POPs are connected to upstream carriers like Cable & Wireless/Teleglobe over nX2 Mbps.

Multiple nX2 Mbps are peered with VSNL in Mumbai to exchange domestic traffic with other ISPs/IDCs within India. And with the help of network management tools, the IDC can continuously monitor bandwidth usage and can advise the customer on the usage pattern thereby facilitating bandwidth upgrades at the right time.

Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at

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