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Issue of September 2006 

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Keeping a tab on IT resources

When it comes to a state’s Department of IT (DoIT), it is important to keep a check on every system and make sure that IT resources are not being abused. Then there’s the barrage of attacks by cyber criminals. Rishiraj Verma reports how the DoIT of the Government of Punjab has gone about solving its problems

Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi

The Punjab Government’s Department of IT seemed to be facing major problems relating to managing their computer systems. They were looking for software tools that would help them in this task.

Says Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi, Director-cum-Secretary of the Punjab DoIT, “The management of 500 machines in the secretariat was proving difficult. We had to figure out a way to manage things right.” Staff were starting to use office computers to download music and install unnecessary software. “We were basically repairing other people’s faults,” adds Kalsi.

Further, there was no proper mechanism for ensuring that virus definitions were kept up-to-date, resulting in security threats to computers that carried critical information. The amount of spam inundating the department’s servers was also rising.

Avoiding downtime was an imperative. The answer was to deploy a monitoring system. Remarks Amarjeet Singh, Systems Manager-cum-Consultant at the DoIT, “The critical factor was managing 500 computers at the secretariat.” He says that there was no real business case as such, and that infrastructure management was the only thing troubling them.

The DoIT conducted a thorough evaluation. A state technical committee was set up, and they evaluated a number of vendors and their solutions including HP’s OpenView and IBM’s Tivoli. Says Kalsi, “We wanted a vendor who would be ready to do undertake this project on a pilot basis.” In the end Computer Associates (CA) was chosen as the partner for implementing an information technology monitoring system.

Quick Implementation

Amarjeet Singh states that the DoIT and CA took about two-and-half months to conclude the implementation. “It was started on January 10, 2005 and was finished in seven weeks by February 25, 2005.”

According to Amarjeet Singh, the project was a success from the very start because it took less than the projected 10 weeks. He says that there were no phases per se, but the modules were implemented in a staggered manner.

Modular Problem Solvers

The Punjab DoIT implemented six major modules of CA’s Unicenter solutions. Kalsi explains that Network and Systems Management allowed them to have a centralised view of the entire network, enabling them to locate a single system that may be sending out faulty packets or using excessive bandwidth. Further, the Network and Systems Management Network Performance Option was implemented to ensure that all the IT assets could be managed centrally.

Another module that Kalsi and Singh say has helped the DoIT is the Secure Content Manager. “All we have to do now is make policies, and the software automatically scans both incoming and outgoing traffic,” says Amarjeet Singh. Thanks to Unicenter Remote Control, DoIT is now in a position to operate, scan and even isolate faults remotely, saving time and money in the process.

It’s all about control

On the benefits received due to this implementation Kalsi says, “We can now control the entire IT infrastructure in the secretariat.” According to him, it has now become much easier to pinpoint both the systems that are being used for unwanted activity as well as the URL. While the URL may be blocked, the user of that PC is first advised to avoid such activity in the future.

Amarjeet Singh cites another problem that has been solved. “Spam control has been very effective, and now the spam rate has come down to about 1 percent.”

Roadmap for the future

“In the near future, we plan to connect the entire state of Punjab on a WAN with not less than 15,000 computers”

The Punjab DoIT has plans on the IT infrastructure front. The present infrastructure management project will play an integral part in how the scaled-up infrastructure will be managed.

“In the near future, we plan to connect the entire state of Punjab on a WAN with not less than 15,000 computers,” discloses Kalsi. He adds that around 85,000 systems from the Education Network of Punjab will also be connected through the WAN.

Singh concludes: “We are planning to further augment the Unicenter solution with more modules in addition to annual technical support from CA.”

In A Nutshell
  • The organisation
    The Department of Information Technology (DoIT) of the Government of Punjab. Its main focus is to ensure that better IT services are provided to various departments that are part of the Government of Punjab.
  • The challenge
    The DoIT wanted to manage all the 500 computers in the secretariat that houses the Government of Punjab. They also wanted to make sure that there was no downtime or security threat. Cutting down on misuse of bandwidth and managing the government’s assets were other issues.
  • The solution
    CA’s Unicenter set of solutions were implemented to help the DoIT improve services for the government.
    The solution included six major modules:
    • Unicenter Network and Systems Management
    • Unicenter NSM Network Performance Option
    • Unicenter Asset Management
    • Unicenter Software Delivery
    • Unicenter Remote Control
    • eTrust Secure Content
  • The benefits
    • Spam rate cut down to about 1 percent
    • No misuse of bandwidth
    • Troubleshooting of hardware made easier
    • Various usage patterns can be generated to pinpoint the exact cause of a problem
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