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Worldwide Campus

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Once upon a time, companies boasted of having offices in

Manhattan, Munich, Madrid, Mumbai, and Manila. Each office managed its set of

customers and suppliers, with a lot of 'good advice' coming in from the head

office. There was precious little governance or standardization. Paradoxically,

the use of third-party service providers has catalyzed better governance and

standards in captive or shared-services centers scattered in distant parts of

the world.

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There are multiple ways to implement the concept of a

worldwide campus. Regardless of the company having globally dispersed teams

working on disparate pieces of work, what binds these offices together is a

defined, common architecture and a shared-enterprise objective.

Boston-based Fidelity, the world's largest mutual-fund

company, for example, has subsidiary offices in most countries, which service

local markets; has captive centers in India to service its global operations;

has outsourced to almost half a dozen third-party IT service providers and

itself functions as a human resources and benefits administration provider to

companies such as General Motors and Novartis.

Fidelity is one of the many hundreds of multinational

companies that have such complex setups. With services on their way to becoming

commoditized (See Driving Down Prices, Global Services, April 2006), the global

playing field is no longer open only to companies with deep pockets.

Increasingly, smaller companies are also acquiring capabilities offshore,

largely through outsourcing relationships, including managed services. In the

area of product development, for instance, it is not uncommon to find tech

startups developing their software products in Bangalore. So much so, that a

significant number of venture capitalists demand that startups build an offshore

angle to their business plans.

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Such complexity in operations is nothing new; it has been

happening in other industries for decades. In manufacturing, for instance,

components may get produced in China and Taiwan, assembled in Malaysia and

packaged in and shipped from China. All these activities may be coordinated from

the US.

“The services industry, and BPO in general, is just

starting to catch up with its manufacturing brethren,” says Brian Maloney,

recently appointed as President of the newly formed Unisys Global Industries.

Maloney has been CEO of AT&T Solutions and COO of Perot Systems.

Making the Right Connections



Of course, placing the right tech investments is the lifeblood of the

ever-growing worldwide campuses. There is no denying that it is the enormous

amount of fiber-optic cables-the fat bandwidth pipes-spread under the oceans

and telecom connections that form the backbone on which global operations rest.

But, how technology is deployed across various locations and what it means for

different users-parent company, subsidiaries and provider

companies-determines the flow of information in this complex network.

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Multinational companies typically possess a complex, routed

network with thousands of devices and end points. Network-management centers,

distributed across multiple continents, will have diagnostic and repair

capabilities.

Sustaining the

Connections

Technology, as they

say, is only an enabler. It is people, and their ability to communicate

that make it work to suit their business needs. Brian Maloney, president,

Unisys Global Industries talks about the importance of communication in a

worldwide campus

What

is key to managing a worldwide campus?



It almost doesn't matter what your configuration is.

What matters is your communication; otherwise things get out of alignment

quickly, deliverables are missed and the customer suffers. For too many

people communication is on their checklist-“did we write this thing in

C++ yesterday as we were supposed to.” That's necessary, but people

need to go beyond that and create a context. I'm a firm believer of goal

alignment. The big picture has to be recognized by all, they have to be

able to see their role and how it ties to the big picture. In this

context, the deliverables and activities make a lot more sense. Then there

is the daily management-metrics and deliverables management-I don't

care what country or place that happens from.



communication is not as simple as having everybody in the same room and

saying “this is what we will do today, tomorrow or next week.” Now you

have to deal with the distance, time differences and cultural

differences-when you and I have a conversation, we may be using the same

language but we may have different nuances to the words.

How

does effective collaboration happen?



You need to have somebody who is close to the customer and the

customer's business processes. In day-to-day problems, you need somebody

who can understand what the CIO and business unit head are wrestling with

and translate that back to the people who are doing the system-designing

code work in India. This has to be an ongoing collaboration, on a

day-to-day basis. The good news is that technology allows that. At

AT&T Solutions customers>, we took engineers from Asia, Europe and the U.S.A. and put

them in the customer's premises for a couple of weeks.

How

are decisions taken in this widespread mesh?



Let's take an example of a global insurance company that says

“I don't sell policies that are multinational policies; in general. I

sell policies that are local -I sell home loan insurance or other kind

of insurance in the United States, in European countries, and now I want

to sell in India and China. “ The big decision will be made in the

corporate headquarters that will say “let's expand in country A and

country B.”  But, those markets are all different, so they subsidiaries> make those local decisions.

“During the day when the United States is open business>, we might have done most of the network management in the US,” says

Maloney, explaining the industry's follow-the-sun approach that is now quite

the norm. “During the rest of the clock, we might do it from Asia and

Europe.”

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A tangle of distributed, decentralized and multishore

operations requires CIOs to develop a global vision. They need to be able to

think about managing data, networks, users and security issues at the local

level and then integrating them with the global network. They have to think

through questions that may seem straightforward in the context of a local or

regional office, yet become complex solutions in the context of a worldwide

campus. While larger companies may be more familiar with these issues, it's

the first-timers that need to grapple with them. Here are some questions to

consider:

Where does the data reside? The nucleus of this worldwide

campus -both in terms of technology and business decisions-remains in the

head office of the parent country. All the applications and data reside in the

parent country - the US in the case of most American companies-or may be

spread across a few regions of the world. These data centers have very rigorous

backup and coordination capabilities.

Why is data concentrated in one place? Moving the

applications and data to local offices is a costly and complicated endeavor,

requiring each office to replicate the infrastructure around the data

-security, redundancy, fail-over, backup and policy. In the context of

outsourcing, this will completely negate the cost-arbitrage advantage.

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“If you move applications , the cost of

outsourcing will drastically jump. You will need to plan for fail over of data

centers and application redundancy between the locations, which will get

costly,” explains Vikrant Varshney, India Representative, the Business

Continuity Institute, UK.

How is data accessed? Connectivity is determined by the

amount of data to be transferred and the speed at which it has to be

transferred. These will be used for voice over IP (VoIP), e-mail (companies

prefer collaborative systems such as Lotus Notes), official chat clients (not

AOL or Yahoo), video and tele-conferencing.

“Every location, almost every building of ours is

equipped with VoIP and video conferencing. We also have our own portal-based Web

conferencing where we can invite a third party or a partner we are working with

to participate,” explains Padmaja Krishnan, director, communications

infrastructure, Computer Sciences Corporation. CSC serves as a good example of a

worldwide campus-it employs 80,000 people, is present in 92 countries and

conducts business in 34 languages.

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Who has access to what data? Users in other locations can

access the data located centrally depending on their rights of access-users in

a captive setup may have different access rights to those in a third-party

setup, while the project-management team may have an entirely different set of

access rights. Even within the captive setup, for instance, the management team

may have access to accounting and HR-related information, while the team lead

may have access to information related only to the applications-development

project that he is working on.

“Whether you are five, 50 or 5,000 people, access rules

remain the same,” says Varshney. “And that's where it is easy if you have

a thin client environment.”

Companies follow one of two means to give access rights:

One involves restricting access of everyone by default, and then selectively

giving access to some users; the other involves making the system accessible to

all by default, and then configuring it to deny access to some users. The first

approach is a more secure one.

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How is the network secured? Remote security and monitoring

is paramount, and companies usually follow some typical measures such as

permissions-based access, passwords, firewalls, intrusion-detections systems,

virtual-private networks,  thin

clients, encryption, digital certificates and, increasingly, biometric

technology.

Some companies, and often governments, dealing with

sensitive data do not give external users the right to access their data

centers. Instead they get the service provider to position some of its people

within their premises.

By Juhi Bhambal

in New Delhi, India



vadmail@cybermedia.co.in




Republished with permission from Global Services


(www.globalservicesmedia.com)

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