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Issue of December 2006 

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IT streamlines ECGC operations

ECGC assists exporters in recovering bad debts by offering insurance and extending protection against payment risks. The corporation faced challenges with regard to its business operations which it surmounted with the help of IT. By Dominic K

The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC) has 51 branches and five regional offices across 45 locations. For it to be in a position to offer credit risk insurance cover to exporters, it needed technological support. IT proved its worth as a business-enabler for ECGC and its end-users, mostly exporters in this case.

The organisation

ECGC was established in 1957 by the Government of India with the motive of strengthening the export promotion drive by covering the risk of exporting on credit. Being essentially an export promotion organisation, it functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of Commerce, Government of India.

The organisation is managed by a Board of Directors comprising representatives of the Government, Reserve Bank of India, and the banking, insurance and exporting community. ECGC is currently the fifth largest credit insurer in the world in terms of coverage of national exports. Its present paid-up capital is Rs 800 crore and authorised capital is Rs 1,000 crore.

ECGC offers credit risk insurance covers to exporters against loss in exported goods and guarantees to banks and financial institutions. This enables exporters to obtain better facilities from financial institutions. It also provides overseas investment insurance to Indian companies investing in joint ventures abroad in the form of equity or loans.

The set-up

ECGC’s network has been designed in a hub-and-spoke architecture. The IT set-up is controlled and administered centrally from the corporation’s head office at Mumbai. The three hubs in India are located at Express Towers (Mumbai), Delhi and Chennai. The connectivity between the hubs and the spoke is established through 64 Kbps leased lines from MTNL and BSNL. The three hubs are connected to each other using 2 Mbps leased lines.

The deployed network equipment includes switches from D-link and the 2950 series from Cisco. The routers deployed are also from Cisco, the 1751 and 3600 series, while the firewalls are from Check Point and Cyberguard (the FS500). Further, it has custom-built applications with dedicated servers as per needs.

A 1 Mbps broadband pipe from Reliance Communications connects the ECGC branch and regional offices to the Web. This is again centrally controlled from Mumbai. Every branch and regional office primarily connects to the Mumbai office which in turn establishes a Net connection for the office in question.

Applications galore

The applications deployed include a custom-built ERP application. Tata Infotech (now merged with TCS) built this package mostly on Microsoft platforms barring the database which is on both SQL Server 2000 and Oracle 9i version 2.

The payroll server runs Developer/2000 and connects to the Oracle database with the help of Pro*C, the embedded SQL environment of Oracle. Developer/2000 is an Oracle tool for creating forms that help administrators design and customise forms and reports. The package also offers support for writing triggers on objects to add functionality to them and capture errors. With respect to security, ECGC has installed Symantec Enterprise Edition anti-virus software.

Dedicated servers

ECGC has deployed dedicated machines for running Exchange 2000 messaging, application server, database server, e-helpline server, testing server, payroll server and shipment upload server.

The shipment server is dedicated to shipment processes and applications used by exporters while the e-helpline server is for the company’s 600 employees. Through the helpline, users can log calls that are handled by Wipro Infotech. The latter is responsible for facilities and remote management. ECGC’s IT is remotely managed and administered through Wipro Infotech’s Mysore NOC. All the high-end servers at ECGC are from HP while the mid-range servers are from IBM. The servers from HP include the HP ProLiant DL 760, DL570 along with IBM x365, x206 and x225. A proxy server running Wingate with Websense content filters is in place.

Layered security

The security deployed at ECGC includes Host Intrusion Detection System and Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS). The host-based IDS is deployed on an IIS server. While the Check Point firewall along with NIDS is deployed on two dedicated Nokia IP350 security appliances.

Next change

ECGC has given TCS the mandate to act as consultants for IT changes to be introduced. The final report is out and ECGC plans to follow the recommendation and deploy the migration in a phased manner.

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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