Re-Drafting IT & the ITO
Case files: Evolution of the ITO
Eight companies that got it right
The need to get the most from the least, a desire to stand
out from the pack, these are the motivations that have propelled the evolution
of enterprise IT and the IT department. The following pages chronicle eight
instances of how IT and the ITO are preparing for the future
How does an organisation derive the most from its infrastructure? That appears
to be a simple question, but the answer is rather complicated as each solution
First of all, there is no standard formula since each organisation is distinct
in the challenges it faces. Industry verticals vary, as do business objectives.
There is no standard template to resolve infrastructure issues, or measure the
tangibles and intangibles.
Over the next pages we see eight cases and solutions. These may be the answers
to issues that may be faced by many of you. Or they may be the starting point
to where your solution lies.
RoI at Hindalco
Efficient benchmarking, RoI measurement and process re-engineering
based on the measurement results differentiate Hindalco from the crowd. Kumar
Hindalco has always been a profit-making concern. Its
turnover was Rs 2,500 crore and the profit after tax was Rs 700 crore in 2003,
when ERP was implemented, says Sanjeev Goel, Senior Vice President, IT,
Hindalco. Ironically, this was the biggest obstacle in implementing a common
processing system. This is why change management initiatives were necessary
to convince business users.
At that point, many key people were above the age of 50. Their exposure to IT
was limited. When we tried to implement ERP, they resisted more because
they could not visualise the benefits that the systems would give later. Their
argument was we are successful and making profits. Why change a profitable
system? says Goel.
However, Hindalcos key objective was to adapt and develop best practices
which can be extended to acquired companies and subsequent projects. It also
wanted to reduce cost by eliminating waste within business processes, improve
customer satisfaction, and reduce inventory at every stage of material flow.
Other objectives included simplification of processes, cycle time reduction,
building data analysis for better decision-making and defining metrics at transactional,
operational and strategic levels.
At this point, the senior management team and IT worked hard to educate Hindalcos
employees on how to benefit using a global perspective. The key business users
and department heads were involved. It is crucial to motivate people as
a team, divide credits, and get key business people to take ownership of the
initiative to ensure that the organisation benefits from an IT initiative,
Hindalco deployed its ERP implementation in August 2002 and it went live in
September 2003. The total cost of implementation was Rs 24 crore. The ERP was
later extended to include SCM and CRM to cover 22 locations including manufacturing
units, sales offices and godowns. It integrates over 300 processes and 1200
Oracle e-Business suite was used to cover sales, distribution, procurement,
inventory, finance, accounting and manufacturing. It also implemented the MRO
Maximo maintenance module and a payroll module developed in-house.
It was the ERP that set the stage to create a new culture which constantly questions
status quo, gives agility to adapt to change and keep innovating so the change
translates to profits. Most organisations have five to ten percent brilliant
people but the remaining staff do mundane jobs for their entire life. We brought
challenge in their lives by measuring the time taken for each activity. So we
can tell them at the end of the year their precise contribution to the organisations
growth, says Goel.
Hindalco already had data from the pre-ERP days. As data from ERP started to
emerge, the organisation set up a measurement system. Many processes were identified
and divided into sub processes. This was initially done at a team level where
a team with better performance was benchmarked with the others. Similarly, within
teams there was comparison at individual levels.
Hindalcos motto is what you cannot measure you cannot improve.
For instance, in the time cycle for account bill passing, we measured
in terms of cycle time and redo. If 20,000 invoices are generated in a month
and 100 entries are wrong, we tried to increase the number of invoices and reduce
the errors, explains Goel.
Another instance was the requisition-to-pay cycle. The average time taken for
receiving, time taken to unload goods and send them to the stores, time for
inspection, time for delivery, and bill processing are all measured. Each activity
is measured in hours and minutes. The current and previous times are compared,
and then reasons for performance drops are evaluated. This evaluation is then
compared with the results that can be realistically achieved. After this, the
business user is inspired to improve his or her performance and capability since
it is transparent and shared across the organisation. It is used to analyse
employees during their annual assessment. It helps motivate, promote, and reward
Goel uses the example of reduction in the dispatch cycle from production to
allocation to illustrate this. The time taken was reduced from 24 hours to 7.2
hours. We also measured how long it takes from hiring trucks to actual
arrival of the trucks at the site. We measured truck arrival to trip completion.
Even a reduction of few hours can bring down the cost and cycle time substantially,
Tangible And Intangible Benefits
The major tangible benefit was in inventory management. In Renukoot, the inventory
came down by Rs 24 crore. The collection cycle too became faster. Faster
processing and application of payment received led to faster dispatch of materials
to the customer. We also tied up with banks to receive and pay faster,
Hindalco never asks a person to leave. We never cut down on manpower,
states Goel. He then elaborates that areas of improvement are identified and
people are encouraged to work in a better way. This helps them to handle the
increased workload without increasing manpower. This is a major intangible benefit.
Also, people take pride in their overall improvement and efficiency.
According to Goel, the ERP implementation has made a major impact at Hindalco.
The immediate benefits in terms of IT infrastructure are in term of standardisation,
common server and automation.
Further benefits depend on the role of the actual user which depends on how
effectively he analyses and uses the available data. ERP or any other
IT implementation is like a marriage. The stability and success of both depends
on long-term commitments. Extracting more benefits from an implementation takes
years, quips Goel.
Methods To Measure RoI
Goel feels that methods including balanced scorecard and Economic Value Added
(EVA) form just the basic framework to calculate RoI. They are the foundation
and good for conceptual understanding. However, most companies need to use internal
systems to measure different types of capabilities in term of performance, strategy,
efficiency and profitability. Implementing them successfully varies across companies.
According to Goel, consultants may provide many solutions. However, making them
work depends on the user company. Companies like Hindalco operate in remote
areas of states like Bihar, Orissa and UP where peoples educational skills
are lower than other parts of India. So they have to look for unconventional
solutions. We use an internal MISa customised solution for performance
measurement. We also have a monthly accounting system to give a fairly detailed
idea of how we are performing, says Goel.
Goel is of the opinion that it is very important to involve business users in
RoI measurement. Hindalco involves business leaders from inbound, outbound and
maintenance business units along with senior people from management and there
is a steering committee to supervise them. We also involved functional
users from each process, along with the technical team and consultants. The
key business users must have ownership of the initiative. Credit for initiatives
must be divided at the beginning, and co-ordinated team effort is a must for
any IT initiative to succeed, says Goel.
Initially the ERP initiative was implemented for Hindalcos aluminium business.
It is now being extended to include Indal. (See Box: Integrating Growth to examine
how Indals systems are being integrated under the Hindalco umbrella.)
The Road Ahead
In the next five years Hindalco is going to grow to
an Rs 25,000 crore company through organic and inorganic growth, prophesies
Goel. This will depend on process standardisation and resource sharing. These
include IT infrastructure and consolidation at the transaction and application
levels. Even then, Hindalco plans to quantify only RoI benefits related to cycle
time, inventory or cost management and not those which lead to manpower reduction.
|Earlier, Hindalco had only 22 locations, now there
are 53 locations including Indals operations. The company is working
on a project where sales and marketing have a common face as far as the
customer is concerned.
There will be a common system, godowns, and
branches. This is expected to be complete by the end of February 2005.
In the next four years, we will have a common system for our entire metal
business which includes copper. We also have mines in Andhra Pradesh and
Orissa as well as two mines in Australia. Everything should use the common
system including new projects, reveals Goel.
IDBI thinks outside the box
Unprecedented growth in the corporate sector has led to infrastructure
being massively scaled-up and outsourced management models being adopted. IDBI
Bank is a case in point, says Toms Mathew
Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) bank has opened its state-of-the-art
data centre at Belapur, Navi Mumbai. The new data centre will host all the mission-critical
applications of the bank. The On Demand IT infrastructure built
by IBM Global Services would support the bank in its future development plans.
IDBI Bank had a data centre at Andheri, Mumbai which was established in 2001.
After IDBI Banks mergers and acquisitions, the bank had to accommodate
a large volume of data. Being a five-year-old structure, it could not really
cope with the banks growing needs.
Choosing A Service Provider
IDBI Bank decided to give its build and maintenance contract to
an outside company and outsource the creation and management of its IT set-up
to a third-party. At the Andheri data centre, the bank has been using the Sun
platform. The bank decided to implement a new infrastructure and the contenders
in the race were HP, IBM and Sun Microsystems.
The selection process took off by deciding a selection criteria which included
initial hardware cost, operation cost for the next five years and software cost
of the software used.
IDBI Bank uses Finacle, a core banking software provided by
Infosys. Therefore, the bank had to consider the results from Finacle too. Another
factor which the bank considered was application need and the servers required.
IDBI Bank calculated projected volume of growth for the next five years.
According to Sanjay Sharma, Corporate Head, Technology, IDBI
Bank, IBM promised IDBI Bank of the lowest total cost (TCO). Although IBM will
manage system integration and management, the bank will retain assets with itself.
The contract given to IBM includes services like hardware, software, support,
Making The Shift
Since the information was highly sensitive, the bank had to ensure that there
was no room for error. The shifting process went off quite smoothly. Two different
service providers were employed for establishing a reliable network linkReliance
Infocomm and Tata Teleservices. The main servers were shifted to Belapur in
the first phase. Data shift and other shifting processes followed.
IDBI Bank took great care to make sure that the data centre shift did not cause
any inconvenience to its customers. With an eye towards this aim, the shifting
was done only on weekends. Sharma says that it took only three weekends to complete
the entire shift.
All the shifting activities were simulated to make sure that nothing will would
happen to the data sent from one centre to another. We also did extensive
stress testing to ensure that load would not be a worry, emphasises Sharma.
Reaping The Benefits
Since the data-centre is designed to handle the banks services for the
next five years, IDBI Bank need not be worried about future mergers and acquisitions.
Decrease of batch times (time for the start and end of an operation) and backup
window can be counted as the main positives. There is no single point of failure
and IDBI Bank has its backup on servers. IDBI Bank will be able to deliver multi-channel
banking to its customers.
The shift has also been a migration from Sun Microsystems infrastructure to
the IBM system. Enterprise 10000 (E10K) servers from Sun Microsystems have now
been replaced with IBM p590 servers.
The data centre employs software like IBM Tivoli and IBM TotalStorage. According
to Sharma, the technologies used ensure that it is a Level 3 data centre.
The new 13,000 sq. feet. data- centre will play a pivotal role in the banks
aim of increasing the number of branches to 500 by 2007. The bank plans to build
a data warehouse and a business intelligence centre. IDBI Bank will also set
up information kiosks with a transaction facility so that customers can check
their balance, transfer funds within the bank, and pay bills.
The consolidation race
Mahindra & Mahindra's consolidation story is about a
migration from a decentralised ERP system to a centralised one, writes Sneha
K H Nabar
SAP implementation started for Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M)
in 1996 with the required BPR, and SAP R/3 on the Windows Server platform. Starting
from SAP R/3 in 1997, slowly migrated to a centralised architecture that uses
SAP R/3 Enterprise Solution Version 4.7 in 2004.
Closing The Gaps
Even after implementing earlier versions of SAP R/3, there were inefficiencies.
So in 2004 M&M upgraded to SAP Enterprise version 4.7.
This version suited M&Ms needs better as it catered to Indian taxation
and auto industry-specific processes (using Z programs developed
by Mahindra Consulting).
Later, M&M decided to take advantage of the improved communication infrastructure
technology and do away with the high maintenance inhouse Z programs
and cumbersome data consolidation. With 55 servers (20 database servers and
33 application/DRS servers, one development server and one test server), the
company was facing operating difficulties in server-wise backup, patch upgrades
and version upgrades.
This is when the company opted for server consolidation with a fresh implementation
of SAP R/3 Enterprise version 4.7. They also decided to implement R/3 Enterprise
on a single consolidated server.
M&M went for data centre consolidation on a single server, which has
already been done at our Kandivali data centre. This includes all the M&M
servers at Worli and all R/3 servers from Nashik, Igatpuri, Zaheerabad and Nagpur,
co-located at the Kandivali data centre, says KH Nabar, Head-Business
Solutions, Corporate IT, M&M.
The company decided on Unix-based servers for its R/3 database. IBM P5 with
AIX was chosen as the server platform. M&M also decided to deploy its existing
Intel-based servers as application servers with Windows 2003. The data centre
at Kandivali provided redundancy of power, network and air-conditioning. Cisco
routers and switches are used across the network; leased lines and MPLS connectivity
to connect all manufacturing plant locations.
Spare parts depots, various area sales offices and branch offices are
connected using MPLS technology provided by BSNL. While the expected life of
the project is five years, it took less than a month for successful completion,
He adds that this helped M&M extract the maximum benefit from improved functionality
and rectify the earlier implementations shortcomings. The company expects
not to require version upgrades until 2009 for core R/3.
SAP R/3 E4.7 will provide the company with ERP-based SAP products such as IS-Auto,
SRM, and CRM within the organisation. With this setup, M&M expects to meet
business requirements such as vehicle sequencing, vehicle tracking and warranty
The company expects to improve functionality, especially India-specific requirements
and those specific to the auto industry. As the servers consolidate and become
centrally located, the required maintenance will reduce proportionately.
The total number of non-standard Z programs has been brought
down to a great extent. As a result of this fresh implementation, requirements
such as Supply Chain Planning and Business Intelligence will be better taken
care of, says Nabar.
The single server will reduce time and effort for periodic consolidation of
information and data flow. Currently, a lot of effort is invested in information
consolidation and data flow through Automatic Linking Enabling (ALE), data upload,
etc. This will be eliminated and integrated data will be available in one server.
It will improve data visibility and facilitate decision-making with regards
to inventory control, production planning and funds planning across the plants/company,
M&M can now generate company-wide analytics from a single consolidated server.
Nabar says, This would also result in reduction of time in closing accounts
on monthly, quarterly and annual bases.
From RISC/Unix to Lintel
Indiabulls migrated from Unix on RISC to Linux on the x86
platform to gain flexibility. Toms Mathew reports
T S Miglani
Indiabulls, the retail financial services company, started operations six years
ago. It migrated from Unix on the aging HP AlphaServer architecture to Linux
on the Intel Xeon platform following greater customer demand and the need for
better performance. Upgradation is a continuous process and is necessary
for growth, says Tejinderpal Singh Miglani, CTO, Indiabulls Group.
Indiabulls does real-time electronic trading on Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)
and National Stock Exchange (NSE). With over 1,30,000 customers across the country,
the company has to assure its customers that there is no room for error.
The core of every transaction is a proprietary transaction engine that has been
developed in-house. The entire system follows a multi-tier architecture. Users
can log in using an installable client application through a remote PC.
Scalable To The Max
Indiabulls built the entire infrastructure keeping an eye on future scalability.
Says Miglani, Scalability has been built into the entire systems
design. In addition to the application server and the database, there are many
subcomponents designed to achieve scalability, says Miglani.
Earlier, Indiabulls was using Tru64 Unix running on HP AlphaServers (HP DS20E
Alpha). There were no problems which forced us to go for server upgradation.
We went for server upgradation just to improve performance and scalability,
Though they had no problems with the Alphaservers, Indiabulls had some concerns
about the product. The two prime reasons why Indiabulls quit Alphaservers were
the uncertainty of their lifecycle and the undue delivery time. Says Miglani,
The delivery time for an Alphaserver is almost eight weeks, whereas that
of an Intel Xeon processor is only one week. If we want, we can also rent those
machines from the market. Also, the price of an Intel Xeon processor is much
lower than that of Alphaservers. He also says that the price-to-performance
ratio is much higher for Intel Xeon processors.
Flexible And Secure
When Indiabulls decided to go for server upgradation, it had two options. Either
it could go for Itanium processors or for 32-bit Xeon processors. Taking into
consideration the stability of the platforms and the compatibility with the
system, Indiabulls went for Intel Xeon processors.
Indiabulls uses Intel Xeon processors and Dell 5560 servers. The operating system
is Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 and the database is Oracle 9i Real Application
cluster. The latest technologies used ensure Indiabulls high scalability and
The front-end of the entire architecture is an application server. Indiabulls
employs an Order Routing System to route the transactions. All the networks
in the system are two-way connected. The transaction requests are transferred
to servers and Database Management Systems (DBMS).
The integrity of the person who tries to do the transaction is verified and
if the identity of the user is found valid, then the requests are sent to the
stock exchanges. The responses from the exchanges are updated to the database.
After the transaction is over, the customer receives a receipt.
Since the entire system runs real-time, the structure has to be secure and foolproof
to the fullest. Miglani says that the Linux platform ensures high security to
the company and the customer.
Pluses All The Way
The migration from Tru64 Unix on the Alphaserver to Linux on Xeon took almost
three months. The process started in December 2003 and ended in March 2004.
Better performance has been achieved after the deployment of the new infrastructure.
Since the system uses Linux, lack of manpower is no longer a concern for the
company. Ease of availability is another advantage that Indiabulls has experienced
from the new setup. Since the hardware employed is highly scalable, Indiabulls
believes that there is no need to upgrade hardware in the near future. Currently,
Indiabulls is trying to deliver better service to its customers. Says Miglani,
Since the system is inherently scalable, there is room to accommodate
future growth and since the software we are using is proprietary, there are
no licensing problems either.
The lease-out option
Symphony Services chose to lease its network. Sneha Khanna
finds that this move has paid off by protecting the company from the tides of
Symphony Services provides delivery centres for IP security
systems and communications infrastructure. To derive advantages of leasing,
Symphonys in-house team leased out its network and security infrastructure.
This model helps Symphony spread its investment over time for better cash flow
management. Says Stephen Hsu, Chief Financial Officer, Symphony Services, Leasing
is a valuable tool for financing network investments by spreading the cost of
new technology over time. It helps organisations manage their cash flow better
and conserve capital budgets.
In August 2005, Symphony chose Cisco Networking and Security Lease Model for
its campus expansion at Bangalore. The $2 million project will have investments
of $1.2 million during the first deployment phase. Cisco worked with its gold
SI partner Wipro Infotech to deploy the Symphony network.
An Operating Lease
The main objectives Symphony had in mind when going in for the leased model
were reliability, scalability, a balanced infrastructure investment and capital
management. This model from Cisco is an operating lease model under the Cisco
Cisco extends its equipment on operating lease for a period of three to five
years, depending on Symphonys choice. The lease period is four years.
Symphony pays rentals on a quarterly basis, says B Ashok, Senior Vice
President, IT Services, Cisco Systems, India & SAARC. At the end of the
period, Symphony will have the option to upgrade/ buyout the network equipment.
Started in December 2005, the first phase was completed over a period of two
months by Wipro Infotech. This is a three-tier IP-centric network architecture
using Cisco Catalyst 6500 series LAN switches with Virtual Private Network Services
For security, Symphony integrated firewall and security modules with the leased
model. The architecture has firewall and security modules at the core comprising
the Intrusion Detection Systems Services Module (IDSM) and Firewall Services
IP telephony is deployed with IP phones and IPCC Express, and 40 wireless access
points for the campus. There are distributions and access layers supported by
services, along with quality of service (QoS).
SLAs Cover All Aspects
Equipment used is covered under Ciscos Smartnet support. Symphony will
have access to information and assistance according to its needs.
Wipro Infotech has signed services and support SLAs with Symphony. These concern
aspects such as response time, spares support, onsite support and technical
- Response time: Response to queries and support
requests within four hours of logging the request.
- Spares support: Advanced Replacement Next
Business Day (ARNBD) of spare parts within four hours to a maximum of the
next business day.
- Onsite support: A trained Wipro Infotech
field engineer will be responsible for onsite replacement of parts.
- Technical support: Access to Ciscos
technical assistance centre (TAC). This includes online support to directly
login a TAC request or via Wipro Infotech including phone support.
Saving A Packet
Symphony expects 20 percent cost savings over three years, as there is no risk
of ownership. Another advantage is that of repayment structure as the monthly
repayments keep decreasing.
A projected residual value is deducted upfront from the networking solution
cost, thereby lowering monthly repayments and total deployment cost, explains
However, the biggest advantage is lack of technology obsolescence. Says Hsu,
Leasing shifts the risk of technology obsolescence and end-of-life equipment
disposals away from Symphony, which gives us significant savings.
Details on the second phase are still not available. According to B Ashok, Senior
Vice President, IT Services, Cisco Systems, India & SAARC, The second
phase of deployment will be in accordance with the companys business requirements
and expansion plans.
Moving with the times
TCS exemplifies the advantages accruing from bandwidth consolidation.
The company reorganised its connectivity using MPLS VPN. Sneha Khanna
MPLS VPN is fast becoming a preferred option for companies which need a private
network without going in for a complete makeover. It is providing them with
the benefits of being on a VPN, and the quality of service (QoS) advantage of
MPLS, making it the best of both worlds. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) had
these objectives in mind when it shifted from SSL VPN to MPLS VPN from AT&T
in August 2005.
VSNL provided the network links. Says Ananth Krishnan, Vice-president, TCS,
The key driver for the TCS MPLS VPN network is the ability to support
a collaborative enterprise.
The Three 'V's
Prior to this deployment the TCS network, which relied on SSL VPN, could support
only data-based applications. The company wanted a network which could also
support voice and video.
Krishnan says, TCSers across the world need to use voice, video and data
in a seamless manner, with assured quality of service. He elaborates,
We plan to use the network as a key enabler for allowing multiple corporate
applications like knowledge management, telephony, mail, chat and video conferencing.
The network is based on Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology and
is constructed using a single international private leased circuit (IPLC). The
network can support multiple MPLS-based VPNs over a single TCS physical network
infrastructure across all geographies.
A Step At A Time
AT&T will cover 130 sites in the project using an Enhanced Virtual Private
Network (EVPN) on a single backbone. This project will cover TCS sites across
the Asia-Pacific, EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa), the US and Canada/Latin
In the first phase, AT&T has covered 25 locations including TCS regional
headquarters and development centres in Hungary, China, Australia and Latin
America. Krishnan explains, The first phase has been live now for three
months. We have connectivity for 25 sites, and will be adding the remaining
ones in phases two and three. It involved setting up multiple leased lines
and backup scenarios using more than 100 large to medium routers and modems.
The company plans to cover the remaining 105 sites in the next two phases. This
will consist of approximately 52 sites in each phase. In the coming two
phases we will be covering an equal number of sites over the next six months.
We are expecting to finish the second phase in mid-2006, says Krishnan.
One of the major challenges which TCS faces is in countries where AT&T does
not have a presence. Says Krishnan, In countries like China and South
Africa where AT&T does not have a presence, they have to work with their
local partners. At times this may take longer than scheduled.
Another challenge the company faces is testing each site and making sure that
the voice and video applications are working properly once the deployment is
Gains From MPLS
One of the biggest benefits the companies feel they have gained has been the
ability to commit data rates for each type of traffic. Says Krishnan, With
MPLS we are able to manage end-to-end connections with class-of-service for
different traffic types like voice, video and data.
According to Krishnan, yet another significant benefit has been the ease of
management for the company since AT&T takes care of all the major issues.
The Real RoI
TCS is of the opinion that real RoI is in terms of its employees and their productivity.
The RoI for us has been the ability of TCS to build a global collaborative
enterprise in terms of innovation, people and productivity, feels Krishnan.
The company expects many more benefits with this deployment. The hard
RoI will be in terms of speed to market and savings on network costs, travel
and conventional telephony, predicts Krishnan.
Mahanagar Gas: Thinking Thin
Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL) used to have decentralised applications
at different offices that needed manual interfacing. A thin client approach
made things easier, says Kumar Dawada
MGL procured Citrix Metaframe 1.2 for Windows in early 2001 for a customer
billing software project. In mid-2002, this project was discontinued by their
offshore implementation partner. The cost of Citrix deployment was Rs
2.5 lakh for just the software as an existing server was used for deploying
Citrix, says Hemant Joshi, Manager, IT, MGL.
Our policy is not to throw away things. We dont have an IT junkyard.
We are always on the lookout for how best we can use our existing resources,
says Joshi. This is how MGL realised that it could use existing Citrix licences
for business needs. So MGL started using Citrix again in early 2004. The organisation
is currently using Citrix Metaframe XPs 1.0 (Presentation Server 3.0).
The Thin Solution
MGL used the thin client approach to get maximum mileage
out of its Citrix deployment.
The pilot deployment of thin clients was done in the finance department
MGL used the thin client approach to get maximum mileage out
of its Citrix deployment. The pilot deployment of thin clients was done in the
Immediate benefits included cost savings compared to desktop PCs and reduced
maintenance costs. We can give our employees the latest LCD monitors and
still end up saving more than 50 percent compared to a normal desktop PC,
says Prosenjit Purkayastha, Vice-president, Finance, MGL.
It has many IT benefits. All terminals are disk-less and so all software and
applications reside on the server. This makes it easier to manage. There
is reduced risk of a malicious software attack. It also avoids multiple points
of failure. All employees have to save their data on the server instead of the
desktop, so a single data backup can be done at a centralised location,
Blessing In Disguise
Before deploying Citrix with thin clients, MSL had decentralised applications
running at different offices requiring manual updating and interfacing. There
was also poor inter-office connectivity due to insufficient bandwidth. This
was a major issue.
MGLs main business is to supply Piped Natural Gas (PNG) to households,
small and medium commercial establishments and industries in Mumbai and surrounding
areas like Thane and Mira-Bhayander. It also provides Compressed Natural Gas
(CNG) to taxis, auto-rickshaws, cars, tempos and trucks. Being service-oriented,
a centralised billing system was critical for financial viability, confides
The Citrix deployment ensured that centralised applications became easily accessible
from all offices and locations. It also resulted in quicker deployments of such
applications. This has enhanced employee productivity across the organisation
and has contributed to employee delight due to ease of usage of the applications,
To mitigate the bandwidth problem, MGL deployed an RF link between Sion and
the MGL head office at Bandra-Kurla complex. There is very little downtime after
that. The only time they have problems is when a flock of birds fly directly
in the line of the signal. Citrix deployment ensures that all terminals have
the same network speed. It also helps monitoring the activities of the employees.
Joshi claims that it is easiest to block sites and unauthorised internet activities
on thin clients.
Lessons From 26/7
During the infamous Mumbai flood, the Kalina office was worst affected. There
was five feet water in the office which contained the billing data. However,
we ensured that the server hard disks were retrieved before water could destroy
the data on them, says Joshi.
MGL now provides key end-users with DVD-RWs or high capacity USB pen drives
or 80 GB USB hard disk to back-up individual data. Daily backup of the server
data is also undertaken on tape as a precautionary measure. The tapes are then
taken offsite for storage.
Roadmap To The Future
MGLs immediate plan is to bring about integration across the organisation
by implementing ERP. We are making the best use of our assets. However,
in the future we want to go for BI. We have 117 gas outlets; BI can help us
find out which gas station is viable or not, says Joshi.
Spinning off the IT arm
From being ICICI Banks back office processing team
six years back to its present day role as a separate entity, 3i Infotech has
become a force to reckon with. Sneha Khanna reports
Prior to 1999, the company known as 3i Infotech served as
the back office team for ICICI Bank to handle processes for bondholder and shareholder
services. Known as ICICI Investor Services at that time, it had around 50 employees.
However, it was not easy going as technological changes required in the system
resulted in investor complaints. Once the bottlenecks were sorted out, the team
started performing and things changed.
Time To Go Solo
Seeing the growth and capabilities of the group, the ICICI management decided
to make it a separate entity. Based on the technology capabilities of
ICICI Investor Services, the ICICI management decided to go in for a full-fledged
company, says V Srinivasan, CEO and Managing Director, 3i Infotech.
This was due to the perception that the new entity could bring good business.
For this, the management brought together the IT staff, 200 employees from across
the ICICI group, to form the new company which was christened ICICI Infotech.
The name was changed from ICICI Infotech to 3i Infotech in 2005, because the
organisation wanted to be known as a separate entity before its first public
Off To A Rocky Start
Things were not in the favour of the new company. 3i Infotech missed the Y2K-related
software boom and the dot com boom. In addition, the start-up suffered heavily
due to the meltdown in the IT sector caused by 9/11.
US companies started to reduce the number of vendors they dealt with, consolidating
their outsourcing to a few mid-sized or large players which made things even
more difficult for the young company. Soon after we formed ICICI Infotech
in 1999, there was a technology meltdown in developed countries. So we had to
build ourselves purely on service strategy using a solutions-based approach
and with less dependence on developed countries, says Srinivasan.
So the company decided to grow not only organically, but also by using business
acquisitions and expansion. It got into the process by acquiring Rohan Software
in 1999 followed by Ivory International and Object Xperts in year 2000. It went
on to acquire more companies in the following years.
While setting up the company one of the major challenges faced was the capital
expenditure for setting up global offices. Creating a market presence
was one of the challenges faced by our company in its initial period,
Another challenge was that the company, which served only the banking sector,
was now exposed to a wide range of business verticals. Also, as the company
tried to get a global footprint, it faced many issues. These included dealing
with a multicultural team, product localisation and fulfilment of regulatory
requirements in particular countries.
After substantial growth, the company decided to adopt the de-risking strategy
with a bigger portfolio and made its foray into software products. Says MB Battliwala,
Head, Global Marketing, 3i Infotech, Our company has successfully de-risked
its operations by spreading them across various geographies and products, and
A Name To Reckon With
Six years down the line, the company has made its presence felt directly and
through channel partners with development centres in Chennai, Bangalore and
Mumbai. It has a global presence in the USA, the UK, the UAE, Kazakhstan, India,
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.
Today the company has over 2,300 employees. Its client portfolio includes the
parent group ICICI Bank companies as well as over 500 customers from 45 countries.
The company offers IT services and software products to banking, insurance,
capital markets and ERP for manufacturing, retail, distribution and contracting.
It has also distinguished itself as a model worth emulating for many of todays