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JK INDUSTRIES -“The biggest challange is getting dedicated bandwidth”

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VoicenData Bureau
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JK Industries has its operations spread all over India. Sharma discusses the

challenges he faces in providing an effective, good-quality communications

network between various factories, procurement centers, and distributors. He

explains why he would take some more time to deploy wireless applications

throughout his organization. Excerpts:

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As an enterprise user, do you see the integrated telecom operators

providing one-stop, cost-effective solutions as a good thing for your

business? 



Couple of years back there was no company giving all services on its own;

there was nothing as single-window shopping. For enterprises like us it made

sense to buy services from different vendors and negotiate accordingly.

key mantra

Branding and past record of the service provider matters a lot. The history of services and the market feedback gives an insight into the level of offerings. Based on these, one can at least evaluate the various service providers

SS Sharma

Now we have an infrastructure in place, the backhaul is there, and a lot of

investment has been made in all this. The concept of integrated players is good

news but it doesn't make sense for us to knock down the existing

infrastructure and put in money for services from one vendor. For those who are

renovating or starting afresh, buying services from one operator across India

would ensure consistency in services.

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Do you see any regulatory issues hampering your communication network

planning?



Directly, there is no regulatory roadblock. But as regulatory constraints

affect the operator's offerings, it is reflected in our planning too.

What role does wireless play within your enterprise? What kind of benefits

has it brought to you? Has there been any move to integrate any mobile

application within your organization?



Wireless is an integral part of any communication network. Though we have

lots of plans to implement wireless applications across our organization, it

would take a couple of years before they are fully deployed.

We have implemented an SMS-based application with which our field employees

know what product has left the factory, at what time, and also determine when it

would reach the destination.

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There is one application through which we push similar information to the

target audience. We are also trying put e-mail on the mobile devices.

Wireless access technologies like Wi-Fi hold good promise. I am trying to

introduce wireless access in the office premises but the process would take

time. Already all our laptops are Wi-Fi enabled. If wireless gives us the

desired bandwidth then connecting our wide area network over it would be

possible and easy.

Are you open to sharing your company network with your partners and

suppliers? What are the concerns while doing so?



We are contemplating giving restricted access to our suppliers. They would

be able to logon to our network and vice versa. This would give information such

as dispatch and delivery schedules. On the sales side, our dealers would be able

to share information on money outstanding, delivery status, and inventory.

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The main concern here is security. We would have a network on which client

software would reside and give access to outsiders who can retrieve what they

want. The entry would be restricted.

What all should a CIO keep in mind while dealing with a service provider?

What do you think are the key elements of a good SLA?



Branding and past record of the service provider matters a lot. The history

of services and the market feedback gives an insight into the level of

offerings. Based on these, one can at least evaluate the various service

providers.

Having technological know-how and support systems for these technologies is

also important. A small company might have good offerings but if it cannot give

support, the whole exercise falls flat.

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Couple of years back, service level agreements (SLA) were absent. There was a

contract where we had uptime guarantees, there were penalty clauses, and all the

other obligations. This contract has been given a name-SLA. But the clauses

have become more stringent.

We are contemplating SLAs but have not singed one yet as it puts many

obligations on both the parties and it is not always possible to fulfill them.

What challenges do you foresee in the coming days?



The main challenge for me is to ensure dedicated bandwidth across my wide

area network connecting all my centers. Not only in the last mile, I would like

similar bandwidth across my network so that there are no bottlenecks and data

does not get lost in between. At the moment I get around 48 kbps on my VPN,

which has a combination of dial up and leased line. With this speed I cannot

even send reports. Couple of months back we tested bandwidth over wireless

networks. The test was successful but till now no service provider has been able

to guarantee dedicated bandwidth and that project is still hanging on fire.

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The fast changing technologies are another problem. It is difficult to keep

pace and by the time one decides on one technology, it changes and something

better comes out. It is a viscous cycle and if I am spending money then would

like the best in breed for myself.

Reining in cost of service is another challenge. Things like shortage of

funds have delayed the Wi-Fi deployment. And, more importantly, management wants

any technology to be weighed in terms of

return on investment and total cost of ownership.

Anurag Prasad

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