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Issue of November 2005 

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Trendsetter in messaging

Winner of the Intelligent Enterprise Award 2005 in the IT/ITeS segment, Wipro deployed technology to tackle the messaging conundrum, says Shivani Shinde

Aameer Azeemi
GM, Global IT
Wipro Technologies

Wipro received the award for its next generation messaging infrastructure that delivers availability, agility and access.

The earlier systems working on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and Exchange 2000 Server were designed in 2001 keeping in mind the company’s growth at that point of time. However, growth in terms of number of work centres and people forced the IT team to look at other options to scale up without disturbing the workflow. The new system offers reduced downtime, a centralised management interface for smooth and efficient functioning.

Problems and Concerns

With a growing number of people, the older messaging system had started giving problems. There were issues such as scalability and hardware that could not adjust to the increasing number of users and performance requirements. There were more than 100 Active Directory or Exchange servers managing more than 25,000 accounts.

“We were also planning to have additional features such as e-mail access on mobile devices, which was not possible with our earlier servers,” remarks Aameer Azeemi, GM, Global IT, Wipro Technologies. Moreover, the business has been demanding higher availability of at least 99.9 percent or more and faster and better e-mail access within office or on the move.

Victory Talk

I feel elated after winning the Intelligent Enterprise Award 2005. After the implementation we were appreciated for the work, but being recognised at a national level is another thing. It's a reward for me and a recognition for my teammates.

Also, with a growing number of users, the company wanted to automate several administration processes and enable self-service applications. Another key objective behind the project was to increase user awareness to leverage new features and enhance productivity. Security concerns were also growing, especially in terms of spam, virus attacks, and secure accessibility of e-mail and collaboration over the public Internet.

Another need was to consolidate the messaging infrastructure to improve manageability. This was done by server resizing and using SAN storage.

The new system would permit the automation and customisation of routine activities—user self-service, mail admin portal, inventory and patch management (SMS), SAP integration (account management, dynamic aliases), and proactive service management (Microsoft Operations Manager 2005).

A New Exchange

Azeemi says that after looking for options they finally decided to use Microsoft Exchange 2003 and Windows 2003 as the principal issue was one of scalability and support. “I suppose this would certainly be the first of its kind in terms of implementation. For us the confidence in the system came when we saw it being used successfully at Microsoft,” says Azeemi.

The detailing of the project was done for two months. The migration of 45,000 users spread across 25 sites was done in just 45 days. The total cost of the project was Rs 10 crore including licencing costs, hardware, and migration to a new client environment.

Immediate Results

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Wipro achieved 99.9 percent availability with this implementation. Azeemi believes that the biggest advantage of the system has been the comfort with the mobile community. “The 45-day migration, completed without any down time and with hardly any disruption of service, called for some innovation and meticulous planning,” he says.

Some of the features that have been incorporated are mobile e-mail access, anti-spam control, disk staging, query-based distribution list and N+1 clustering. Azeemi explains, “An Exchange 2003 platform technology called RPC over HTTPS, provides secure e-mail access to mobile users through the Internet.”

Wipro has deployed a SAN which allows the company to consolidate 24,000 users on to a single site.

The corporate e-mail access is provided on smart phones and PDAs using the Microsoft Outlook Mobile Access and Active Sync technologies of Exchange 2003. The use of high-end servers with a user base of 4,000 caused the backup and restoration window to increase making it difficult to maintain SLAs.

To address this critical concern, Wipro deployed Veritas’ Netbackup with a disk staging option. This option helped in shrinking the backup/restore window by backing up the huge e-mail database to less expensive ATA disks and then to the LTO 2 tape library.

The biggest benefit of the new messaging system has been reduced downtime for users. Earlier we had a distributed model, and hence a DR systemwas not in place. Since the controls are centralised now, patch installation is easier

Azeemi says, “The biggest benefit of the new messaging system has been reduced downtime for users. Earlier we had a distributed model and hence a DR system was not in place. Since the controls are centralised, patch installation is easier.” He further adds, “Since we have a clustered environment, if at any time one cluster is down the other server is up and takes over.”

The system has already started showing results on the RoI front too. There has been the reduction in TCO due to server consolidation and process automation. Since almost 4,000 mail users can be consolidated on one server from the earlier 1,500.

The Intelligent Edge

Project: Next-generation messaging system

Started: August 2004

Completed: December 2004

Cost: Rs 10 crore

Objectives: To create a messaging infrastructure that would be scaled up with the growth of the organisation and could also allow the addition of features along the way

Innovation: The consolidation of messaging servers by setting up clusters and a SAN fabric with four-node clusters of Window Server 2003 and Exchange 2003. The volume of e-mail users being consolidated on these servers is perhaps the first of its kind

Looking Ahead

The success of the systems is just the beginning of further enterprise consolidation.The roadmap constitutes e-mail archival and Information Lifecycle Management to comply with the regulatory climate, especially in backing up e-mail

The success of the systems is just the beginning of further enterprise consolidation. Azeemi wants to consolidate the growing sites (city and regional) and eventually bring the number of messaging sites to 10, including global sites. The road map constitutes e-mail archival and Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) to enable them to comply with regulatory climate, especially in backing up e-mail.

Some other objectives are the implementation of IPSec for secure communication in messaging infrastructure, service continuity as part of BCP, identity management, integration with SAP data, and single-sign-on facility for users through the active directory implementation across Wipro.

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