Cover Story: Infrastructure and Asset Management
Manage better and automate this year
In 2004 Indian enterprises will need to automate systems,
introduce better management practices, and have a practical view of their IT
Any successful Indian enterprise of today will have its business infrastructure
tightly coupled with its information infrastructure. In such a scenario where
business relies heavily on IT, it's important to know that a problem exists
before it impacts critical business applications.
Good infrastructure management ensures that all the components
required to deliver quality performance are performing at optima llevels. And
through proactive and centralized management of the infrastructure, a company
can even forsee performance breakdowns and compromises.
Trends in 2004
So what do we expect will Indian enterprises do in the area of enterprise infrastructure
and asset management in 2004? S.R. Balasubramanian, Vice President, Information
Technology, HDFC Bank says, "Enterprises will put more focus on implementing
automation tools. These tools will help IT personnel get alert messages much
before a failure occurs. Companies will be able to avoid possible downtime and
make sure that customer service is always maintained."
"In the area of infrastructure management, Indian enterprises will concentrate
on managed services in 2004. Industries will try to focus on their core businesses
and outsource infrastructure management functions. And depending on the cost,
leasing may be a favoured option," says Subhash Palav, General Manager
- Information Technology, HPCL.
V.K. Ramani, President, Information Technology, UTI Bank, spoke of banking industry
specific trends of 2004. "The adoption of technology for banking services
will continue at a healthy pace. The major thrust will be in areas like procurement
of ATMs, expansion of LANs and WANs, building data center infrastructure, power
supply setups, building security infrastructure, and the need for network monitoring
tools. Facilities management practices will be the key to successful operations."
Challenges to infrastructure
Although 2004 will see a number of changes in the way Indian enterprises will
manage infrastructure, the operations are not without challenges.
"Currently, land lines form the primary means of communication, but their
reliability needs to be improved considerably. Regardless of advancement in
technology, the last mile connectivity still remains a challenge. There are
also other challenges like obsolescence of equipment, and poor service support
at remote locations," says Palav.
The banking industry will continue to grow at a quick pace in 2004. A quick
growth rate along with rapid amendments in governing rules will pose a number
of serious challenges.
Ramani comments on these challenges. "The challenges are a function of
growth in a number of branch applications and the increase in products and services.
The Governments will depend on the Banks' retail outlets for collection of taxes
and other revenue. So it will be a challenge to find ways to integrate banking
systems with the payment mechanisms. This effort will require a large-scale
process engineering function."
Assets to keep
Managing IT assets is a responsibility that many Indian CIOs may not take seriously.
But IT asset management is all about nurturing the infrastructure, which runs
the IT in organization, and is directly related to TCO.
Gone are the days when CIOs thought that the network's fine if the software
and databases are working fine. They now have to pay more attention to the other
peripheral areas like power and air-conditioning.
Says Balasubramanian, "Your applications may be up-and-running but if the
AC is not working you have to shut down your server. And this infrastructure
which is vital for functioning of IT should be owned by the IT department."
Ramani feels that in the banking industry aspects like replacements, upgrades,
obsolescence, and inventory management are very important. At the desktop level
the mapping of inventory will become critical, as the users will access several
applications. And the computing power of servers needs to be harnessed for better
A basic way to begin enterprise asset management is to plan activities like
server and desktop consolidation, and right-sizing hardware with applications.
You can use rack and blade servers to save space, power requirements, and cost.
The use of thin clients for workstations that run specific applications is a
good idea to save license fees and avoid system administration hassles.
The monitoring of availability, response times, and fault
repairing will be the key components of network management in banking and financial
company networks. Sophisticated software tools will increasingly be in demand
as the critical business operations will depend on network performance and availability.
The introduction of real-time gross settlement system by RBI will require the
banks to remain connected. And failure to respond to transactions will result
in financial loss to the banks.
Channel management will depend on a robust connectivity infrastructure. Internet
and intranet services will aid the communication systems for customer interaction
and transaction settlements. And intranets will enable the banks to optimize
the utilization of the information repository that is available for efficient
conduct of business.
Multiplicity of database servers and application servers will be the inevitable
consequence of increasing computerization. Consistency of response and synchronization
of databases need to be addressed as strategic requirements.
Handling critical aspects
In reality many organizations are busy fighting fires, and there's less scope
and thought for better infrastructure management. An ideal situation is where
the CIO is very aware of all the options available to get better value out of
the existing infrastructure. The CIO can do with the efficient use of strategies,
management skills, and technology tools.
Here's some of the goals the Indian CIO can have for better infrastructure management
- Increase productivity by automating manual processes.
- Reduce complexity through more accurate and efficient data collection,
and manage diverse platforms by sharing common tools and services.
- Reduce costs by building the system with application-focused products that
cross all platforms with the ability to deploy infrastructure management solutions
only as needed.
- Maximize the existing infrastructure investment by effectively centralizing
existing and new environments.
- Deliver a common communications infrastructure through a central GUI and
by providing a common presentation interface with the ability to view all
components of your infrastructure.
- Keep track of all IT infrastructure assets and make strategies to utilize
them optimally to derive best value out of it.
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at email@example.com
|Here's what a few vendors and service providers have
to say about infrastructure and asset management trends in Indian enterprises
Abhik Biswas Manager, Product Marketing, Network
Management, Cisco Systems
"Enterprises in India today are doing more business on their
networks than ever before. They need vendors to develop solutions that
make their networks easy to manage and simple to roll out new network
Kalyan Kumar, Technical Marketing Manager, Converged
Networks Business Unit, HCL Comnet
"Infrastructure management is a complex domain that needs constant
attention. Offshoring infrastructure management can enable Indian enterprises
to focus on your core business while the vendor performs what it does
best - manages your infrastructure."
Sharad Sanghi, Managing Director, Netmagic Solutions
If 2003 could be considered as the year that hailed the acceptance
of remote infrastructure management by Indian Enterprises, 2004 will see
the consolidation of services. Qualified service providers will be able
to act as one-stop providers of infrastructure requirements."
Akash Saraf, Jt. MD, Zenith Infotech Ltd
I foresee 2 major trends in the area of network management. First,
a radical simplification and cost reduction in network management products.
Second, network management tools will cover the entire gamut of infrastructure
aspects from applications to network devices. And the new generation software
will be able to pinpoint the crux of the problem in the network management
cycle. This will reduce the MTTR (Meet Time To Repair)."