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We will invest over $1 mn in new technologies this year

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VoicenData Bureau
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GE Capital provides funds for real estate, equipment and inventory

financing; fleet services; working capital; and funds for corporate

acquisitions, re-financing and re-structurings. For its 130 mn customers, GE

Capital offers credit cards; retail sales finance programs; home, car and

personal loans; and credit insurance. VOICE&DATA spoke to GE Capital India's

CIO, Raghavendra Vaidya, the man behind all the ICT needs of the company, on how

it's providing effective communication. Excerpts

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How excited are you for technologies like 3G and

WiMax in helping your business needs?



I am excited about the potential these technologies offer for a business

like ours. GE Capital works with both businesses as well as retail customers.

The new technologies such as 3G and WiMax offer many new avenues for us

especially on the retail side. I foresee that these technologies will change the

way we interact with our retail customers. For example, we expect large scale

financial transactions through the mobile phone, and with time more people will

do it because of the access to 3G and WiMax. Of course, we have to continue to

create secure transaction pipes for such activities. Security levels and

parameters will need to evolve to meet the richness and capabilities of the 3G

and WiMax environments.

What are your green initiatives?



We are always looking for ways in which we can increase the organization's

computing capabilities without unnecessarily increasing our hardware and

software infrastructure. We have started our journey to adopt the latest

technologies in virtualization and cloud computing. We make sure that we use

energy efficient hardware architectures to make sure our data centers are green,

an initiative taken by GE Capital globally.

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How do you cope with connectivity challenges in your

branches/centers in remote areas?



With MPLS getting cheaper and stable, we rely on dedicated connectivity to

branches. In absolute remote locations, we still have to rely on DSL

connectivity. We have embarked on the virtual desktop initiatives that will help

us further bridge the gap between remote locations. Virtual desktop initiative

will take away the information security and governance issues from remote

locations to a central data center. It makes the help desk more efficient and

users more productive. Currently, we are evaluating a number of different

technologies for implementing VDI.

What are your investment plans for the technological

upgradations?



At present, to address the complex ICT requirements of various businesses of

GE Capital, we have a mix of IBM and HP infrastructure. We work on high-end

computations on IBM, and newer technology migrations like virtualization on HP.

Our software platform is Oracle, and we use several niche software packages for

specific functions. On the telecom side, we use ASPECT for our contact center

infrastructure.

As our business evolves, we evaluate the need for new hardware and software

every year. Given the spread of GE Capital's business-from commercial finance

which includes corporate lending, leasing, equity, capital markets; and consumer

finance businesses that include mortgage and credit cards-we have IT

infrastructure requirements that need to help us perform very focused

transactions. We are moving to a fully virtual Intel environment with VMware.

The IBP Pseries environment caters to our high volume transactional and

analytical database environment.

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We are committed to using cloud computing, and we are seriously assessing

some open source applications. We expect to make an investment of $1 mn over

this year in new technologies with the aim of furthering our commitment to

provide end-to-end financial solutions.

How is telecom making business more competitive?



We use telecom very effectively to service our retail customers. We have

several customer service and customer care initiatives that are IVR based. Our

telecom infrastructure plays a critical role in giving customers a choice of

payment options and a better resolution of their queries; and for us it is a

mode of understanding the evolving needs of our customer. We have moved to a

complete MPLS environment for our data networks from point to point, and this

provides business with a high speed and reliable connectivity across the

country.

What are the key trends in enterprises communications?

The top five technologies that you think are going to make a mark in the future?




VoIP, infrastructure commoditization, managed services and m-banking are going
to be very important for our kind of business. The end game is to make the cost

as variable as we can to manage the business cycles.

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Wireless has grown rapidly in the past few years. What

kind of issues and challenges has it thrown up, especially in terms of network

security and management?



At GE, we have defined standards to manage wireless and keep our company

safe.  We do have a robust security infrastructure to enable the users to

connect to wireless networks. The Wi-Fi has gone beyond PCs with most of the

mobile devices supporting Wi-Fi connectivity. This provides a lot of mobility to

the users, and at the same time poses more security and management challenges.

We always err on the side of caution when it comes to choosing between

flexibility and information security.

What are your demands regarding QoS provided by the

communications service providers?



Telecom has become much more stable and affordable in India with time. While

I am happy with the performance, we have seen some outages from time to time

owing to the physical infrastructure related issues. I am sure our telecom

providers are working on curbing the unplanned outages. The fiber network has

improved tremendously over the years, but we still face challenges regarding the

cost of bandwidth as compared to North America and Europe. We have also seen the

entry of global bandwidth aggregators of late, and that might change the game

for a company like GE which is spread across the globe and the network is very

connected.

What kind of network storage and security solutions do

you use? How satisfied are you with the services?



Depending on the business needs, a variety of N/W storage solutions are in

use from SAN to Enterprise Virtual Arrays. Security is our utmost priority,

hence best in class intrusion detections systems, firewalls and Splunk help us

manage our environment. Overall, storage is an area where I am looking for

consolidation with an added flexibility and security. I wish I could operate

storage as a commodity and manage it on the fly with no complexities of

obsolescence. I am satisfied with our security solutions.

How do you ensure that your company deploys not just

the latest, but something that adds value to the business?



A robust operating and spends review mechanism with participation from

different functions like IT, quality, finance and core business makes sure that

we deploy the 'most appropriate' technology which may not necessarily be the

latest. The important thing is that any investment should affect one of the

major business goals: top line growth, bottom line growth, productivity,

compliance, etc.

Akhilesh Shukla



akhileshs@cybermedia.co.in

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