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Issue of February 2004 
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Wipro Infotech’s NOC

Smooth remote management

Wipro Infotech's Network Operations Center in Bangalore has been operating for more than two years now. The company provides remote management services to its customers through the NOC. by Abhinav Singh

Wipro Infotech's Network Operations Center (NOC) was set up in mid 2001. Today 25 people catering to ten customers in India, and one each in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region, man it. The NOC's clients include Colgate Palmolive in the FMCG sector, an Indian bank, and a BPO company operating out of India. It remotely monitors and manages the IT infrastructure of its customers through secure VPN connections.

Service levels

The NOC provides services at various levels as per the client's needs. The primary level (i.e. Level 1) involves remotely monitoring a client's IT infrastructure and immediately notifying the customer in case of any problem in the system. The problem is then rectified by the services team sitting at the customer site, which takes the necessary steps to ensure that the problem does not have an adverse effect on the normal functioning of the IT system.

Level 2 of services involves managing a customer's entire IT infrastructure. This level of service does not restrict itself to this colossal task, but goes beyond detection to include the rectification of any problem that occurs. Here the NOC team's experts help the onsite services team in resolving network and system faults. Problems that require onsite efforts, such as hardware replacement and backup tape management, are passed on to the onsite team. Routine administration and diagnostic activities for network and server applications are carried out remotely from the NOC at scheduled intervals.

Planning and consulting forms Level 3 of services. Here, in addition to monitoring and management, the NOC's experts provide advisory services on capacity planning and network optimization. This level of service aims at ensuring that the IT performance, and eventually the business performance of its customers, is optimized to the fullest.

Value proposition

Anand Sankaran, general manager and business head, Managed IT Services and Total Outsourcing, Wipro Infotech says, "Since the entire monitoring is done through a tool, the customer is able to gather all network-related information based on data rather than assumptions. Moreover, customers are able to save at least 20 percent on cost, and they also have the flexibility of round-the-clock network monitoring at a lower price when compared to what they themselves would have to spend on setting up their own IT team."

Wipro Infotech also claims that the high level of redundancy at the NOC means that chances of it failing are remote. The company also claims that customers are able to get faster resolution for their network-related problems through the NOC.

Wipro Infotech has also benefited from having a NOC. Sankaran says, "Due to the long term association with the customer, the NOC helps in selling other services such as software services to our customers. It increases our share of the customer's wallet."

Equipment at the NOC

The NOC uses Sun (Sun 250 and 280) and Intel-based servers, Cisco routers and Cisco Catalyst 6509 switches. For perimeter security there are Checkpoint, WatchGuard and Cisco Pix firewalls. The NOC also uses HP OpenView and CA Unicenter for server, database and application management. It uses CA's service desk tool for helpdesk activities. Either OpenView or Unicenter is used based upon customer preferences and requirements. It remotely manages around 1,200 devices at customer sites—including routers, switches and servers.

For connectivity, it uses a secure VPN from BSNL and Bharti, and leased lines from both the service providers.

Network Security

The whole NOC is BS-7799 certified and network security is enforced at two levels—the access router level, and through the firewall. The access list is maintained in the NOC Tapping Router, that has a complete list of source and destination IP addresses—to control packets that come from the manageable element (the client's router ports or server) to the management console.

Some customers are allocated IP addresses from a shared pool while others are given dedicated IP addresses depending on the service level agreement and their requirement.

The firewalls have ports opened only for software agents to communicate to the Management console. For Remote Management Services (RMS) the connectivity between the customer network and the NOC is only through a firewall. All network segments other than the NOC LAN, are totally isolated from the RMS. The NOC LAN has private IP addresses that are not visible from the other network segments. There are password restrictions and various levels of system access for the monitoring stations that are mapped onto the engineers to the extent to which they are authorized to operate. There are different assessment levels and each engineer has access to only a particular customer network depending upon his area of responsibility. Wipro Infotech, with the client's consent, also implements a password management policy on all the managed components to further enhance the security levels.

Physical Security

Security at Wipro Infotech's NOC is very tight. To maintain controlled access to the NOC, each employee at the NOC has been provided with a smart card. The NOC is spread over two floors and an employee working on the first floor will not have access to the second. The only exceptions to this rule are the NOC manager and engineers, who are regularly required at both floors. There are Close Circuit TV cameras around the NOC to keep a track of people entering and leaving the premises.

Sankaran adds, "Wipro Infotech is also in the process of introducing a palm reader at the NOC, which will further strengthen the security. This will be used along with access cards as an added security measure."

Backup and Physical Infrastructure

Wipro Infotech's NOC is spread across 2,000 sq. ft. The temperature is maintained at 18 degrees, and there are three dedicated air-conditioners from Voltas. The NOC also has an 80 KVA UPS, and a 500 KVA generator for the entire building. For storage, a tape backup is undertaken on DLT (Digital Linear Tapes) and DAT (Digital Audio Tapes). The backup is completely automated and there is a daily incremental backup; a full backup is performed once a week. All the tapes are stored at a Tape Library at the NOC. To play it safe, some tapes are stored at a remote location for additional backup.

Abhinav Singh can be reached at abhinav@expresscompteronline.com

Advantage Clients: Wipro Infotech's NOC

  • 24x7 real time, centralized monitoring and management of critical network infrastructure.
  • By outsourcing their IT infrastructure to the NOC, clients are able to save at least 20 percent on cost and have the flexibility of round the clock network monitoring at a lesser price when compared to what they themselves would have to spend on setting up their own IT team.
  • The high level of redundancy at the NOC is very strong and chances of failure are minimized and clients get faster resolution to their problems.
 
     
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