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Issue of March 2003 
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CIO’s discuss key issues at Nasscom

During the recent Nasscom Conference in Mumbai, there was a session titled 'CIO Infrastructure Management Roundtable'. The intention was to provide a platform for users and the industry to come together and share their views, suggestions and statistics for effective use of information technology towards improving productivity. Most of the discussions centered on infrastructure management and the areas that IS managers need to address.

The session was moderated by Reyland Villacastin, Consulting Director, Computer Associates. There were four other panelists. N. Rajendran, Faculty, IDRBT and V.K. Ramani, President-IT, UTI Bank also shared their experiences on the implementation of IT infrastructure in their respective organizations. The audience comprised of IS managers and other decision makers. Delegates also got an opportunity to raise their concerns, and these were addressed by the panelists. Here are excerpts from the panel discussions.

Reyland Villacastin, Consulting Director, Computer Associates said: "Businesses invest heavily in infrastructure management, and to develop applications, but cannot quantify where the money goes, as far as business processes go. The issue is how to account for the money and effort spent on infrastructure. This causes businesses to reflect if they are getting their money's worth."

Villacastin also stressed the importance of Client Support on the business side. "Initially client support was separated from IT. With the new applications there is no more middle man from the company talking to the client. Technology is used to directly interface with the client. There is also a need for a service desk or help desk to ensure that clients are kept happy."

According to Villacastin, other important areas are the evolving nature of infrastructure management and Discipline Management. "There is now a discussion going on about expanding infrastructure management planning—moving away from domains and going into the larger picture of disciplines. There are already a number of implementations and a number of products to provide Discipline Management. For example when you talk of performance management, it is performance management across all the different domains of network, storage, applications—this provides us the capability for the different domains to interact with each other."

Prof. D.B. Phatak from IIT-Mumbai stressed on the Affordability of IT infrastructure. "We usually talk of availability and reliability, but I would like to add a dimension called 'affordability.' In the past businesses kept investing money in IT and now everyone is asking for Return on Investment—and you know how difficult it is to give a figure on ROI."

Prof. Phatak also said there is a need to improve power infrastructure and also connectivity and bandwidth. "There is a dichotomy in the country that the major driving force in IT is electrical power. The power infrastructure in the country is so weak, that we end up spending enormous sums in ensuring that we get good quality power. We need to evaluate what is the percentage of the infrastructure costs that UPS, batteries and stabilizers take up."

Prof. Kesav V. Nori, CIO, Tata Consultancy Services said: "It is important to understand that knowledge systems are in place within an organization, which facilitate the sharing of information. But not all knowledge can be supported by information systems. So we need to understand what is the knowledge required to run a business and what aspect of that knowledge is required."

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