ITC -“Communications infrastructure is core to business initiatives”

VoicenData Bureau
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ITC has heavily invested in communications infrastructure to reach out to

rural areas. VVR Babu, CIO, ITC talks about how the communications

infrastructure is important in taking the business initiative further and the

challenges he faced with the service providers. Excerpts:


How important is the communication/network infrastructure to your

enterprise in its current and future business prospects?

Our communications infrastructure network comprising of VPN, VSAT, leased

lines, etc., is the main backbone for the company to conduct business. This

network is spread across the length and breadth of the country and presently

integrates 380 plus operating locations of the company. It also connects us to

our customers, suppliers, and other business partners. This network will

continue to grow as IT penetrates to integrate all our business partners.

What are some of the key issues you witness in your communication and

network infrastructure?

Non-availability of terrestrial links to a majority of our remote, rural

locations still persists. Though most service providers claim a pan-India

presence, most of the locations we want to include in our network lack the basic


key mantra

Wireless holds great promise but unless the service providers and operators guarantee dedicated bandwidth I would not be able to run my business applications over these networks. Aligning IT planning according to the fast-changing technology scenario is a difficult but important aspect to be kept in mind

VVR Babu


Enforcement of service level agreements with service providers is still a

challenge. You can be very articulate and very well define the SLA while signing

the contract. But to implement it is an ordeal.

High uptime SLAs are still very expensive and this is one area that needs to

be addressed. As the telecom industry in India is still evolving; the industry

dynamics do not allow us to plan too far into the future. Especially with the

current changing scenario in terms of technology and policies, it is very

difficult to chalk out a roadmap way ahead in the future.

What are the problems you face as a CIO?

Customer-focused service delivery: though vendors paint a very rosy picture,

the fact is that the customer focus is still amiss.


Lower MTTR (mean time to resolve): though the SLAs spell out stringent rules

for uptime, the time spent on resolving the problems is still very high.

We cannot truly take the benefits to the end user due to constraints from the

SPs. Consistently, there are higher expectations from the end-users with respect

to uptime and speed, which can be delivered once the SPs deliver the speed and


How do you resolve these problems?

A single vendor currently services our VPN. We would like to move to a

multi-vendor solution thereby derisking the dependency on one vendor. As there

is only one person providing the services, there is no immediate fall back to

continue the service offerings. There may be back-up plans in place but that

still puts you in a situation where you are dependent on a single service

provider. We hope that the multi-vendor strategy will also allow us wider

pan-India coverage and provide redundancy in the network.


How do you see the current infrastructure setup-as an impediment or an

impetus to the growth of business and organization?

The current infrastructure is definitely an impetus for growth of ITC's
diverse business portfolio.

ITC's businesses have leveraged this infrastructure to create new business

processes and models. E.g.,e-choupal for dis-intermediation and demand

aggregation at the village cluster level; or the greetings cards business that

used the Web for distribution of catalogs to distributors and collection of

their orders from day one.

What are the key trends in enterprise communication? What top 5

technologies are going to make a mark in future?

Implement MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) technology, as it is the

first complete and stable convergence protocol for data, voice, and video

infrastructure. MPLS offers a number of advantages over traditional

point-to-point technologies, including lower cost, greater scalability, and in

many cases, improved reliability.

Minu Sirsalewale