Galileo revamps its business backbone
Galileo India previously used legacy technology in its WAN.
It revamped this IT infrastructure and built a new backbone on a common routing
platform for smoother business workflow and operations. by Soutiman Das Gupta.
Anil Porter, Head, IT & Telecom, Galileo
Galileo India, a large Customer Reservation Services (CRS)
provider, used a number of links to share information between its business units
in 97 cities. The links used a number of legacy technologies which were difficult
Apart from the task of managing these different channels
of connectivity, the company also had to manage an outsourcing relationship
with SITA India which provided connectivity links to Galileo.
The company wanted to revamp its WAN infrastructure and offer new products and
services. It built a nationwide WAN on a single routing platform after which
business is fast, smooth, and efficient with little scope for failure and downtime.
Initially the company used a mixture of DSL, CDMA, X.25/28, and IP over X.25
for its WAN. The infrastructure was outsourced to various ISPs, and X.25/28
and IP over X.25 was outsourced to SITA India.
We did not have a single managed interface for the
WAN and thus felt a strong need to revamp the entire infrastructure in order
to offer our latest products and services, recalls Anil Porter, Galileos
Head for IT & Telecom.
The challenge faced by the organisation was to accommodate outdated technologies,
grapple with the issue of getting spares, and keep up the maintenance and upgradation
of the hardware needed to support legacy technologies such as X.25/28.
We realised that there was a high cost of ownership when it came to running
a setup based on these technologies. There was also the need to provide the
latest product offerings and services that are available only on TCP/IP,
The company wanted to introduce new products and services, and reduce its operational
expenditure. It also wanted to lower its cost of infrastructure and get higher
business uptime. This led to the decision to set up its own WAN infrastructure
on a single technology platform.
We began looking for a solution that would automate business operations
and offer the latest products and services that were available in the travel
industry. The infrastructure also had to be manageable in a proactive rather
than reactive manner, Porter adds.
THE CHOSEN ONE
The company realised that the customer premises equipment
(CPE) would have to possess certain capabilities for it to provide the desired
service levels. The functionalities required by the company were script-based
routing, auto-triggered PSTN/ISDN dial-out, a robust architecture, SNMP compliance,
ability to integrate with NMS, cost effectiveness compared to features, and
ease of configuration.
After evaluating several solution providers including Cisco, the company partnered
with Allied Telesyn to supply the required CPE.
The company chose Allied because its routers provided the functions that
we were looking for in an access router, explains Porter.
DESIGNING THE NEW WAN
The new WAN is designed on the simple concept of No Single Point of Failure
(NSPF). It is laid out in a hub-and-spoke topology, and has a POP-based architecture,
All the city circuits use channelised E1, and they switch to IP in the last
mile. The backbone link to the companys office in the US is through Frame
The network design objectives were based on a number of aspects.
- There was a need for high network availability since
downtime would mean direct loss of revenue.
- Leased lines were to be used as the primary media.
- On-demand backup had to be provisioned on any analog
- The CRS network traffic had to be prioritised.
- Strict access control had to be provided for inter-franchise
communication at all times.
- There had to be a provision to support fixed and
pre-allocated IP addressing for franchise terminals.
- Local Internet traffic needed to be re-directed.
- One-way dynamic on-demand routing had to be configured
to reduce routing overheads.
- Seamless integration was necessary with existing
multi-vendor network inventory.
The solution provider was also involved in the network design
process. Notes Rajesh Sahore, Country Manager of Allied Telesyn who was involved
in the project, Our philosophy was to understand the CRS system since
it was the primary business application driver. Once we understood the application
in detail, we had a clear picture of the expectations from the design architecture.
AT-AR350 routers were deployed at all franchise locations. All the primary and
secondary WAN circuits were aggregated at six service provider POPs. These were
interconnected using point-to-point circuits to form an IP cloud called GALNET.
The GALNET IP cloud connects to the CRS servers at Denver (in the US) over IPLC
On the access front, the organisation uses equipment from Allied Telesyn at
the core and a few Cisco routers.
All remote terminals and Web-based services are on the Windows platform. Trend
Micros anti-virus products are used for desktop and gateway-level protection
along with network level firewalls. Traffic generated from a remote host is
classified based on services and routed to the specific destination ports. The
rest are blocked.
ON THE WAN
All services on devices in the network, right from the remote Managed
Leased Line Network (MLLN) links to individual routers are managed. The network
is monitored 24x7 from Hughes Escorts Communications (HECLs) Gurgaon hub,
says Porter. HPs OpenView is used for network monitoring.
The entire network traffic which originates from India is load balanced on two
IPLC links at Bangalore and Mumbai that are configured as fail-overs for each
The company feels that the network is simple and stable with almost no scope
of failure. We do not need extra manpower for daily administration. The
solution has actually reduced the support staff needed to manage networking
devices, comments Porter.
Deployment began only after Galileo India finalised the main aspects of the
project such as the systems integrator, telcos, OEMs and got DoTs approval.
The deployment was planned in three phases. Phase 1 began in June 2004 and the
links were migrated by September 2004. Phase 2 started in January 2005 and was
completed by April 2005. The company is currently in the final stages of planning
The biggest issue the company faced was getting approval from the regulatory
authority, DoT, to set up a self-owned network.
Other challenges were relatively minor. One was that the IT support staff at
Galileo India was not experienced in the use of new devices, so the technical
support staff at Allied provided them with hands-on training and helped with
the configuration process.
Procuring links for the large-scale deployment involving multiple cites was
a challenge. The company had to ensure that link terminations were done as per
standards and with precision. The company had decided to use MLLN NX64 links
from MTNL and BSNL only. Then there were other issues related to site conditions
such as LAN performance and power conditioning.
After overcoming challenges with the new network, the company has completed
one year of operations on it. The various uptimes that we have been able
to achieve are 98.89 percent on remote links and 99.99 percent on the backbone
and POPs. Downtime due to remote access router failure has been 0.01 percent,
|About Galileo India
Galileo India is the Indian distribution company of Galileo
International, a company in the travel and hospitality industry. From
humble beginnings in 1994, it has now spread to 97 cities. It has 18 dedicated
offices, over 350 employees, 4,000 agency locations, and has successfully
deployed over 40,000 terminals nationwide.
The solution has provided a number of business benefits to the organisation.
- The company has been able to consolidate operations
and be agile enough to provide services on demand.
- It now has a competitive advantage in the area of
service delivery to its customers (travel agents).
- Operations are cost-effective and thus improve profitability.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
Although the new WAN has brought a lot of benefits to the company, Galileo nevertheless
feels that there are ways in which the solution could have been better.
Being in the final phase of deployment and entering into cities other than the
top six, the company has found that the available telco infrastructure and uptimes
thereof are lower than those in the top six cites. This is the principal reason
why the final phase is taking time to complete. It was also necessary to include
the cost of securing remote devices into the total cost of ownership. Since
this was not done, these additional costs made the cost of the project seem
With the business backbone in place, we wish to introduce a number of
value-added services in future. This will allow better network utilisation and
provide business opportunities for travel agents, Porter remarks.
After the third phase is over, the company plans to implement total remote management
and administration capabilities at office locations nationwide. It will include
features such as OS reload on the fly, remote online troubleshooting, and maintenance
of remote desktops. This is intended to further reduce the cost of support and
running of the network.