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Issue of February 2005 
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Enterprise Infrastructure Management

Will EIM make the grade?

CIOs thinking about the long run have to consider enterprise infrastructure management. Will this thought process evolve into concrete investment plans and have an impact upon business? Deepali Gupta searches for answers

Sunil Kapoor
Head IT
Fortis Healthcare Ltd.

IT needs and priorities vary substantially from situation to situation. Take SRL Ranbaxy and Fortis Healthcare. They are theoretically part of the same organisation, but Radhakrishna Pillai, head, IT, SRL Ranbaxy, sees information security, storage and outsourcing as priority areas, whereas Sunil Kapoor, head, IT, Fortis, lays emphasis on enterprise-wide applications, enterprise infrastructure management, and knowledge management. Similarly, within infrastructure management, segments differ in their importance to different organisations, and effective Enterprise Infrastructure Management (EIM) is imperative in almost every business scenario.

The reason good EIM falls on the CIO's shoulder is because although they do not need to prove ROI on technology investments in absolute terms, they do need to prove to the management that the organisation is getting the maximum benefit out of its existing systems. The only way that a business case can be made for it is if a CIO can prove that he or she knows in precise concrete terms what the efficiency level of each infrastructure component is. As IT departments provide better and faster solutions to the rest of the enterprise, tolerance for breakdown has decreased substantially. EIM tools that are available in the IT market may become the CIO's weapon of choice, but it seems that these tools need to evolve before they gain widespread adoption.

A common thread

CIOs concur on their approach to EIM in 2005. They plan to consolidate servers, applications and mail. While some CIOs have completed their consolidation drive, most are in the midst of it. "We implemented a centralised server and ERP for the region, and are currently working to centralise other applications," says Harcharan Singh, director of information systems, Hyatt Services India. M D Agrawal, DGM, IT, BPCL, suggests that many companies are avoiding consolidation to avoid complications, but are thereby opening up their IT infrastructure to a single point of failure.

This consolidation process extends to both the Indian and foreign operations of large enterprises. Wipro Spectramind completed its bandwidth consolidation drive in early 2004. It combined 50 of its international and 20 of its national 2 Mbps links into three 45 Mbps DS3 pipes. ICICI Bank consolidated its international channels to set up centralised operations from a single location so that its extensive domestic infrastructure could be used to service international locations.

The Human Factor

Harcharan Singh
Director of Information Systems, Hyatt Services India Pvt. Ltd.

CIOs believe that keeping tabs on desktops and end-users is a serious concern. As users become more informed about the resources available to them, they have also become careless about their computers, and this "often leads to the entry of viruses and Trojans into a network," Kapoor points out. The solution to that is to educate users. Training requires investment as well as regularly freeing up employee schedules and calling for user discipline; the latter is a price that most companies are not finding it easy to pay.

IT heads have identified some alternative methods to partly work around this problem. A common one is incident management, but the most suitable preventive method is to install monitoring devices in the known pain areas and to address each issue individually.

This solution however contradicts the perceived preference for frameworks over point products. "I prefer frameworks to point products because application integration is expensive no matter how small the integration may be," states Nihar Rao, CTO, Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance.

Is it the cost?

R P Dumasia
Information Technology - General Manager

Some CIOs expressed the view that EIM solutions were unaffordable. Because of this, some companies are forced to purchase incomplete solutions, and then monitor only some parts of the infrastructure. The result is that the benefits of monitoring systems are hardly visible. However, as R P Dumasia, general manager for IT at Great Eastern Shipping notes, with the introduction of some Indian products in the market prices have climbed down, and it is now feasible for companies to buy EIM solutions.

Great Eastern runs a combination of Oracle's database manager and Zenith's Saaz Network Monitoring System to optimise the performance of its infrastructure. Hughes Software Systems (HSS) deployed CA Unicenter for failsafe availability. Rajiv Seoni, assistant VP and head of IT at HSS uses the system to anticipate and prevent network failure, and ensure compliance with licencing. The HSS EIM solution is SMS-enabled as a backup measure (if e-mail fails). A recent case-study in Express Computer quoted K G Mohan, VP-IT, Hindustan Lever as saying, "HP OpenView has helped HLL make the working processes smooth and seamless, and standardise the IT service delivery procedures." HLL was on the look out for an ITIL-compliant solution that would track its 200 locations across India to the last detail.

Vendors have been suggesting that EIM software has seen considerable success in the medium enterprise segment, and is likely to see more. Yet from the companies mentioned above it can be seen that only the big players are adopting EIM software. The reality is that small and medium enterprises don't have infrastructures that are so complex that they cannot be managed without the aid of EIM software. Besides, it is more cost-effective for SMEs to outsource infrastructure support on an SLA basis to service providers. That said, some of India's eminent CIOs are still bearish about outsourcing.

Kapoor for one thinks that outsourcing will result in a certain lack of control over operations, and is therefore sceptical about the concept. Almost all the CIOs interviewed by us said that outsourcing of EIM will catch on— but not in 2005. In the immediate future, the consensus is that EIM tools will evolve to address the needs of big players by providing features such as a consolidated management view of all the monitoring systems.

OVER THE YEAR

  • The consolidation drive will continue as CIOs find that it will help service international locations
  • Monitoring users and desktop security will have to be addressed by training and enforcement rather than incidence management
  • With more competition among vendors, EIM products will be more affordable
  • EIM will catch on—but not in 2005

Business Matters

EIM will result in a business-centric IT strategy, automation, less risk of human error, better availability, and even accountability as every event that takes place on the network will be monitored and recorded. The way CIOs see it, this technology will become imperative for companies in the future. All that remains to be answered is whether it will be a function that organisations will outsource—or own. q

deepali@networkmagazineindia.com

 
     
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