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Issue of June 2003 
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Still in Demand

Expanding businesses are going in for new PCs and business applications are driving peripheral sales

The computerization of businesses across all segments in the past has led to increased demand for PCs/Peripherals. Although overall PC sales were sluggish last year, a large chunk of PC sales came from enterprises. Rapidly expanding businesses (like banks and call centers) went in for connected PCs.

That's why this segment of enterprise hardware witnessed the highest purchasing activity with many companies in all verticals making investments. Of the total respondents who invested in enterprise hardware, 89 percent invested in PCs/Peripherals.

It's the business applications that are driving the need for Peripherals. For instance, CD-writers, tape drives and hard-disks are in demand as enterprises have increased requirement for backup or archival storage. ERP applications require flexible printing options for printing documents like invoices, forms, purchase orders etc.

59 percent of respondents plan to invest in PCs/ Peripherals this year. The investment will come mainly from Govt./PSUs, and Telecom/IT/ITES companies. State governments are moving towards e-governance; so PCs/Peripherals will be required for various administrative departments. To supplement expansion plans new and existing players in the telecom space will require additional PCs/Peripherals that will be used for billing, service desk and other customer-centric services. The ITES companies will also need additional PCs/Peripherals as they scale up operations this year in the wake of an expected increase in contracts.

More employees going mobile
Indian enterprises are getting more mobile. This is driving increased usage of laptops in enterprises, which are no longer tools for only top management. That's why more than half the respondents (56 percent) said they have invested in laptops in the past. And most of these are the tech-savvy companies from the Telecom/IT/ITES vertical.

Laptops are now replacing desktops in international companies and the trend is catching on here as well. Technologies like wireless networking and desktop performance in laptops will drive sales. This year 33 percent of the respondents plan to invest in laptops.

PDAs are known more for their calendaring and scheduling functions. The two major platforms are Palm and Microsoft Pocket PC.

Although the current generation of PDAs incorporate features like wireless communications and digital photography, it is really customized applications like sales force automation, that are driving PDA usage in enterprises. Besides the Telecom/IT/ITES vertical, many FMCG companies are also using PDAs for capturing data either from the supply chain or from retail outlets, especially in rural areas.

But PDAs are expensive and so their usage in enterprises is low. Overall 15 percent of respondents are already using PDAs while the same number will invest in PDAs in 2003-04. And these are mainly the large companies.

Buying PCs or Peripherals?
1. The importance of good planning cannot be stressed enough. Since technology is evolving at a rapid pace, think long-term when buying or upgrading new PCs/Peripherals. Buy the latest and don't compromise on capacity—you'll need all that excess capacity in the near future.

2. Buy in volumes to avail of vendor discounts.

3. Don't upgrade software applications unnecessarily. New versions of software require more hardware resources or capacity. So if you must update software, plan for hardware upgrades too.

4. Make sure the vendor has a solid post-sales support policy.

Power for your IT infrastructure

Power conditioning mainly consists of UPS, voltage stabilizers and diesel generators (DG sets). DG sets are essential for servers and networking components, especially in zones where power infrastructure is weak.

Naturally it will be mainly the medium and large enterprises that invest in DG sets. UPS is essential for all companies that use mission-critical servers regardless of the state of power infrastructure in their respective zone. And voltage stabilizers protect PCs used in workgroups.

Overall, 63 percent of the respondents have invested in Power conditioning equipment. Of these, 75 percent are from medium-sized companies, 65 percent from large-sized companies and 56 percent from the small-sized companies. A large number of companies from the Auto/Auto Components vertical have invested in Power conditioning. This is because most of the manufacturing units are located in zones (particularly in the north) where power infrastructure is weak.

Looking at planned investment, overall 34 percent of respondents said they will invest in Power conditioning equipment this year. Most of these are from large enterprises (42 percent), but medium-sized companies (38 percent) and small-sized companies (28 percent) also plan to invest in this area. It's mainly Auto/Auto Component and Services companies that will invest in Power conditioning equipment. More Services companies are moving to smaller towns and cities where power is not stable.

Revved up server architecture

Hero Honda Motors has reworked on its server architecture to provide dedicated platforms for applications, storage, mail, backup, and database management.

Stronger server infrastructure
Hero Honda Motors deployed applications on Oracle to create a single data repository and make it accessible to authorized users. These new entities demanded higher throughput and better scalability. "To address this issue of running bandwidth-hungry applications efficiently across the LAN, we decided to strengthen the existing server infrastructure," says S.R. Balasubramanium, CIO, Hero Honda.

The company deployed IBM RS/6000 midrange servers (the H70 and F50 series) for running Oracle, and IBM RS/6000 SP servers for running the SAP modules. Says Bala, "The RS/6000 is a very reliable and scalable system. IBM AIX which is shipped with the boxes also performs very well."

As a part of server consolidation and database growth, they migrated from SSA (Special Storage Architecture) box to ESS (Enterprise Storage Structure) and plan to migrate to SAN. For controlling database growth, archiving of documents have also been taken-up.

Tivoli Storage Management (TSM) has been implemented for taking automated backup of all servers and desktops. Other modules of Tivoli, ie Netview & Tivoli Enterprise Console are being implemented for monitoring health of network and servers respectively. The company runs Lotus Notes Domino Version 6.01 (to manage its messaging needs) on IBM's X-Series servers. It has employed a range of devices to handle backup, bridging, firewall, modem, RAS (Remote Access Server), and mail gateway functions.

GNPL’s switched traffic management

Goodlass Nerolac Paints Limited or GNPL has a robust network that supports ERP, Data Warehousing, and 750-odd users nationwide. The HO (Head Office) LAN runs ERP, a data warehousing suite, 300 nodes, and connects to the nationwide WAN. To ensure a trouble-free LAN traffic GNPL deployed Cabletron SSR 8600 and Enterasys Matrix E5 switches.

J.S. Gonsalves, Senior Manager, IT says, "Our data center at the HO 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 is important that the data traffic in this location is absolutely smooth and error-free."

The LAN switching infrastructure
In 2000 the company implemented SAP R/3, the ERP setup was connected to 70 locations nationwide and served 750-odd network users.

The 300-odd desktops in the HO LAN access various ERP and warehouse applications from different areas in the LAN. The Enterasys Matrix 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 K.V. Ranganathan, Senior Manager, IT.

"The superior features and design of the switching solution, and the fact that it was future proof made us opt for the technology. Only four switches meet the requirement of the entire organization over a campus-wide network, and also provides 100 percent redundancy in the network," said Gonsalves.

Factories at various cities use Cabletron ELS 100 switches as the core switch over a fiber backbone.

DR plans
The company has plans to deploy storage consolidation and disaster recovery solutions. "Our LAN infrastructure gives confidence to introduce new applications without worry of LAN performance issues," claimed Gonsalves.

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