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Issue of January 2003 
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xSP Profile: Sify Internet Data Center
Playing host to your commerce

It's sensible for an enterprise to outsource its hosting needs than to build a suitable infrastructure. And if the applications are India-centric, it's even more sensible to host them in an Indian data center. Here's a look at Sify's Level-3 data center to understand how it can help your organization carry out commerce. by Soutiman Das Gupta

For many businesses, it's a better idea to outsource its hosting needs rather than tackle the challenges of building a suitable infrastructure on-site. Avinash J., President, Hosting Services, of the Satyam Infoway Limited (Sify) Internet Data Center (IDC) at Vashi Infotech Park in Navi Mumbai, talks about the advantages of outsourcing.

  • It costs about six times more to build equivalent infrastructure
  • Allows focus on core business
  • Eliminates the threat of obsolescence
  • Reduces man count overhead
  • Allows to 'pay as you use'
  • Provides rapid Scalability

"However certain context may necessitate the building of IDC's as in the case of various governments migrating to e-governance and financial institutions seeking their own infrastructure."

Click on images for larger view

The right host
Sify claims to be the country's first Level-3 IDC and to have the country's first offsite disaster recovery center at Tidel Park, Chennai.

"As businesses grow into virtual enterprises, there is a greater need for a physical environment to keep the servers running 24x7x365. Outsourcing management and monitoring of mission-critical Internet operations is crucial for stability in an increasingly complex network environment. High website traffic and various e-commerce applications demand that companies find reliable network solutions in order to meet mission-critical requirements for availability, redundancy and scalability. The right Web host will provide you with a high-performance network to meet critical business application demands online. And you can focus on acquiring new customers while your Web hosting partner addresses the technology needs," says Avinash J.

The IDC offers a number of services to its customers.

The managed services offerings include backup services, full weekly off-site storage in fireproof vaults, and utilization reports of resources like bandwidth, memory, CPU, and HDD.

Security services include OS hardening, Intrusion Detection services, incident handling, penetration testing, patch testing, vulnerability assessment, and firewall analysis.

Value-added services include basic alert services, SSL acceleration, content distribution, local load balancing, global load balancing, on-demand video streaming, and live video streaming.

Off-site disaster recovery services are available at Chennai and Mumbai in a hot standby/cold standby mode.
A range of mail services include POP and IMAP mail accounts, and mail relay.

Hardware and software services include procurement, configuration, installation and maintenance. This IDC offers 24x7 premier support for Microsoft, and has expertise on Solaris, Win2K, and Linux platforms.

The other services include, server monitoring, network monitoring, outside-in monitoring of site availability; server configuration, back-end network design, and legacy database integration.

A team of Web services personnel takes care of e-commerce applications, storefront applications, transaction applications, authorization applications, and fulfillment applications.

And the above services are bound together with a customer service team and Service Level Agreements (SLAs). The network SLA offers 99.6 percent uptime.

The IDC LAN has been segregated into two areas, A and B. LAN A is dedicated to Internet access, and LAN B is dedicated to management access and direct customer access to their servers for management. If one LAN fails, the other takes over automatically. The segregated access ensures that Internet bandwidth is not hogged by the IDC and customer management on servers. The border routers, core routers, and switches are all set up in a redundant architecture.

"The WAN architecture ensures that an application hosted at the IDC is not more than three hops away from any location in the country, irrespective of the ISP used. This keeps local traffic local, and eliminates the need for India-centric applications to be hosted overseas, avoiding the slow browsing speeds due to longer paths traversed over choked international bandwidth," said Avinash J.

Sify claims that its IDC has 30 times more capacity than any other service provider in India, and provides the following information about its network:

  • Sify's private terrestial data network has high-speed multiple 2 Mbps links from DoT.
  • Spans 46 cities nationwide.
  • Has IPLC-based international gateways and has tied up with MCI Worldcom.
  • Uses satellite based gateways to provide bandwidth of 100 Mbps.
  • Uses existing bandwidth through VSNL of 70 Mbps.
  • Has a hosting bandwidth backbone of 36 Mbps.
  • Is also a local service provider which ensures that a browser is never more than 3 hops away from any site hosted at Sify's IDC.

DR sites
Sify hosting has commissioned two full-fledged offsite Disaster Recovery (DR) centers at Chennai and Mumbai.
These DR centers are fully operational and are manned by a specialized team on a 24x7x365 basis.

IDC architecture
The IDC is built over an area of 7,000 sq. feet. The floor is raised by 19 inches to accommodate equipment and can withstand 500 Kg/sq. mt. The ceiling in the server farm and electrical panel area is made of aluminum which is perforated and coated with fire retardant powder. The ceilings in other areas are coated with gypsum.

There are two 120 KVA UPSs and the company proposes to install four 400 KVA UPS in future. The battery allows uninterrupted use for 15 minutes and then a generator set takes over.

The environment is precision-controlled and has adequate fire detection and fire protection capabilities. The access control system uses access cards, CCTV, and biometric devices.

The data center area has provision for locked cages and cabinets for added physical security.

If an organization's applications are India-centric, it makes better sense to host it in India, rather than in a remote country. Colgate-Palmolive India Limited has recently used Sify's IDC services to host an online application which can be archived and accessed globally, and used as a resource center by other Colgate offices worldwide. The IDC's other clients are HLL, NSE, Godrej Soaps, Ranbaxy, and Bayer India.

Avinash J. says, "Our IDC has achieved a Level-3 certification which is benchmarked against global standards. This along with the advantage of having a dedicated hosting backbone super-imposed on our ISP backbone means that India-centric offerings would be served better by saving a longer path a browser would have to take of hosted outside the country."

Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at

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