Most wanted technologies
Here's a list of the ten technologies that CIOs are dying
to deploy, says Prashant L Rao with inputs from Deepali Gupta
Only if there is an application that has to talk to
several others does it make sense to put it on a Service Oriented Architecture
What would a survey be without a top ten list? Which is why,
we bring you a list of technologies that range from the mundane (ERP) to the
bleeding edge (SOA) and everything in between (storage management, wireless,
what have you..).
ERPstill the toppermost
Its still the real thing for the Indian CIO. Decades after it made its
début, ERP continues to dominate corporate thinking. Of course, along
the way its managed to subsume other technologies so that you find modules
as disparate as HR and supply chain management finding their way into whats
still labelled as ERP. Then, of course, there remains the fact that the migration
from an ill assorted mix of legacy applications, accounting software and other
sundry tools to ERP is still very much an ongoing part of the Indian IT revolution.
Organisations are optimising the investment made in ERP and other process
automation applications by extending it to customers and other stakeholders,
says Radhakrishna Pillai, CIO, SRL Ranbaxy.
Securitylock that system down
This isnt really a technology but its a pressing
concern related to it. Survey respondents voted it the second most important
technology consideration on their agenda. Living, as we do, in a world where
every other day brings news of some new incidence of systems being breached
with horrendous resultsits clear why CIOs think so. India Inc. is
just moving from the basic anti-virus and firewall kind of perimeter security
to Intrusion Detection Systems, Access Control Devices, cryptography, identity
management and security appliances. In terms of security policy, more than 61
percent of organisations that have invested or are planning to invest in security
have one. Unfortunately, that fervour doesnt extend to keeping tabs on
the efficacy of said policy. Two out of three companies fail to conduct security
SOAglue for the enterprise
S Anantha Sayana,
Corporate IT L&T Infotech
Service oriented architecture (SOA) is the latest wrinkle
on the Web Services front. Except that SOA goes far beyond what Web Services
intended. This technology ties right into the enterprise CIOs desire to
redesign, rejig or otherwise rationalise his or her IT set-up. India Inc. is
taking to the concept with a healthy dose of caution. S Anantha Sayana General
Manager - Corporate IT, L&T Infotech says, We are evaluating the technology,
to see where it will fit in the organisation. Because one thing that needs to
be understood about SOA is that I dont need it if only two applications
need to talk to each other. Only if there is one application that we anticipate
will require to talk to several others on several occasions does it make sense
to put it on an SOA. So we intend to do a pilot over the next 12 months, and
here is how we will go about it. The pilot will be in several stages where
a publisher that can be used by many other applications will be identified.
Stores and DNS servers will be created so that applications across the group
will know that this new SOA application exists. Finally the published application
will be stored, retrieved and managed.
General Manager, Information Systems, Godrej Industries
Mani Mulki, General Manager, Information Systems, Godrej Industries
says, Currently we do not use SOA. We are conducting a pilot, however.
He goes on to add that Indian organisations are not mature enough in terms of
technology to use SOA. They are still gearing up for a change and it will be
a while before they use SOA.
Corporate data centres
India Inc. is moving from anti-virus and firewall kind
of perimeter security to Intrusion Detection Systems, Access Control Devices,
cryptography, identity management and security appliances
A data centre isnt an application, its more of
an application repository. That said, in the last few years, corporate data
centres have, for want of a better word, mushroomed. They are everywhere and
the server room has died, unmourned. L&T Infotech is a typical example.
The company has an in-house managed data centre and it uses CA Unicenter to
monitor the same. This is one area where government/PSU organisations are the
most enthusiastic with 42 percent rating data centres as a top technology priority.
Auto components, oil/power and manufacturing were other verticals that were
bullish about data centres.
Accumulating data in warehouses
Indian organisations are not mature enough in terms
of technology to use SOA. They are still gearing up for a change and it
will be a while before they use it
There comes a time in the life of an organisation when it
finds that its databases are too big to manage and it needs a fresh approach,
better tools to handle this monster. Thats when CIOs start combining databases
and scrubbing their data to get it ready for mining and analysis. Data warehouses
arent new, they started long ago. Take the case of Godrej Industries which
is moving from its existing Oracle DW with an OLAP front-end platform to a Microsoft
system. Of course, as in everything else, each organisation has its own
way of looking at the problem. L&T Infotech has taken a different approach.
We do not have a consolidated data warehouse for all the business modules.
For every individual business we use the SAP module for this. For corporate
usage we are looking at solutions to automatically pull the required information
rather than having to do it on a need basis, says S Anantha Sayana, General
Manager - Corporate IT, L&T Infotech.
Once youve deployed a SAN (or a NAS) you might think that your troubles
are over. Theyre not, theyre just beginning. Storage management
is a quagmire that the wary CIO dreads. Thankfully, things are getting better
though inter-operability still remains a concept thats more theory than
practice. The last time we at Network Magazine asked CIOs what their biggest
concern regarding storage was, they replied interoperability. Telecom
is the biggest consumer by far of SANs. Its not unusual that theyre
the most concerned about storage management. All those call detail records (CDRs)
need careful handling.
Storage softwares popularity has soared over the last couple of years
as two trends have converged. First off, concepts such as virtualisation and
storage grids have come of age. Secondly, software standards have emerged that
permit hardware from several vendors to be managed using a single console (thats
the Holy Grail of storage management; were not quite there yet but were
on the way).
Message in a bottle
Messaging/Collaborations presence on this list is a reflection of the
ubiquity of e-mail and, of late, Instant Messaging (IM). Messaging is the lifeblood
of modern corporate life. With the advent of regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley
Act (SOX), its significance has only gone up. Once again, telecoms
interest in this technology is high with half the organisations in this industry
segment voting for it. Government/PSUs are also enthused about it, 33
percent of respondents from this vertical picked messaging/collaboration as
a high priority technology.
With Microsoft Exchange dominating the messaging scenario, it follows that many
organisations have deployed Windows-based solutions for collaborating. The pioneer
in this segment, Lotus Notes has its adherents as well. We expect the number
of organisations using this kind of application to grow and even mid-sized companies
will employ these tools to their advantage.
Commerce with an e
Companies that have a mobile workforce, especially those
in IT/ITeS or education will benefit enormously if they roll out WLANs
in their offices or campuses
When you think of e-commerce, the first segment that springs
to mind is FMCG. Thats why it is intriguing that oil/power is the biggest
booster to e-commerce with 38 percent of respondents favouring it. BFSIs
next with 31 percent. And what of FMCG? Its trailing with only 14 percent
of participants believing in the value that selling or trading online brings
to their businesses.
CIO, SRL Ranbaxy
SRL Ranbaxys franchise collection centres and its customers
(doctors etc.) use a Web service to get the test results and order tests. We
have already implemented the e- Lab service, the commerce part is missing because
we do not transact the service charges through the Web site, says Radhakrishna
Pillai, CIO, SRL Ranbaxy. However, customers can request a test and download
the report from the Web site. Billing is done as a separate activity through
the companys back office.
W is for wireless
For all the hype surrounding wireless LANs, interest is quite tepid. Only 16
percent of respondents across verticals cited this technology. No vertical displayed
strong interest with the highest levels emerging from auto components (27 percent),
services (26 percent) and FMCG/Retail (22 percent). L&T Infotechs
policy on WLANs seems representative of India Incs take on wireless computing.
We have WLANs in conference rooms only. We do not intend to deploy it
in sections of the industry that are already wired. There is an obvious constraint
of security in a WLAN. We have put in a wireless access security policy in place
to help that, and we ensure a central mechanism to authenticate users,
says Sayana of L&T Infotech.
Mulki of Godrej concurs, We have a WLAN in our conference room. Theres
no benefit and WLANs are more vulnerable.
Despite that, wireless computing is important. It fits right into the ongoing
boom in notebooks, wireless ones to be precise. Companies that have a mobile
workforce, especially those in IT/ITES or education will benefit enormously
if they roll out WLANs in their offices or campuses.
The customers king
Organisations are optimising investments made in ERP
and other process automation
applications by extending these systems to customers and
CRM rounds off our list of most wanted technologies. IT/ITeS
and auto components are the verticals that are strong for CRM with 29 and 24
percent of respondents from these verticals respectively naming it as a key
technology. CRM is a valuable tool for customer facing organisations such as
banks or even government organisations that would do well to adopt these tools
and change their image for the better. That said, it has to be backed by process
changes and it needs a strong ERP foundation. Until India Inc. finishes deploying
ERP to its satisfaction, CRM doesnt have a prayer.
Prashant L Rao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deepali Gupta can be reached at email@example.com