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Hybrid IT Infrastructure Is The Key To Future Businesses: Girish Sharma, Assistant General Manager, Netmagic Solutions

Girish Sharma – Netmagic

Hybrid-IT-Infrastructure-Is-The-Key-To-Future-Businesses:-Girish-Sharma,-Assistant-General-Manager,-Netmagic-SolutionsFor the next five years, most organizations will use hybrid IT infrastructure – data center colocation, managed services and cloud – along with in-house systems

The need for IT to be more agile to support the growing business needs in a highly connected environment and at the same time keeping a tab on costs is prompting many CIOs to explore new ways to configure their IT infrastructure. This is giving rise to a new (old) breed of hybrid IT infrastructure enabling CIOs to integrate their existing legacy systems with new and innovative options of utilizing IT to deliver the WOW experience to their customers.

A recent survey of 550 IT leaders (CIOs, IT directors, vice president IT, senior IT managers) done by Vanson Bourne, a research-based technology marketing consultancy, revealed that for at least the next five years, most organizations will use a hybrid mix of outsourced services – data center colocation, managed services and cloud – along with in-house systems.

But what exactly is a hybrid IT infrastructure? Put simply, hybrid IT is an infrastructure option that includes an internal IT set up complemented with an external option (data center hosting, colocation and cloud). Having a hybrid IT infrastructure is advantageous as it enables organizations to consolidate, unify and scale up resources, thereby, enhancing their functionality to create highly responsive and adaptive IT infrastructures.

Hybrid IT should not be confused with hybrid cloud. A hybrid cloud (private + public) is a subset of the bigger hybrid IT strategy.

Hybrid IT Enhance Agility
CIOs and their teams are always under pressure, as business demands IT infrastructures that support innovation and also provide speed to market. And all this with no incremental costs. These constant demands to innovate and speedup time to market are forcing many IT departments to rethink the way technologies are being used. Most IT departments today are evaluating ways to leverage their current infrastructures along with new options of deploying technologies but at the same time keeping control over certain processes and systems. In short – optimizing the IT infrastructure to meet growing business needs.

Adopting a hybrid IT approach enables organizations to have a customized infrastructure that suits their specific needs and can be further customized as per the changing market and business environment. A hybrid IT infrastructure goes a long way in providing a flexible, scalable and a high performance driven technology environment that supports current and future business demands. Thus, a technology refresh or obsolescence (in future) is no longer a key concern and the IT department can focus on more strategic initiatives.

Hybrid IT enables business enterprises to: Run the business – Outsource hosting, security, server virtualization, etc resulting in optimizing key operations and lowering the associated costs. The internal IT departments can focus on innovating new ways to drive strategic initiatives; and grow the business – Deciding on what processes/workloads need to move to a hosted environment and what needs to kept on-premise, developing and deploying new applications. This helps organizations to speedup time to market, accelerating delivery cycles and giving way to innovations to deliver new products and services.

Business Priorities
Business needs of organizations will determine the optimal mix of services they require. Every company needs to identify the business priorities and metrics that are key to succeeding and then map these to the IT imperatives needed to drive these objectives.

To determine the right mix of IT infrastructure for supporting the business needs one first need to analyze these needs against several parameters including risk and security, OpEx vis-a-vis CapEx and business agility. This is very much like a game of blocks where according to one need(s) one can build the blocks to form a ship or an airplane or a bus.

Mitigating risk and maximizing agility are the likely reasons why many CIOs are opting for colocation for their mission critical applications. Colocation helps them to reduce disruption to business applications and maintain control over them. Colocation is essentially moving the existing applications and servers to a third party data center that assures you of a highly reliable and robust infrastructure and guaranteed uptime built in to the service level agreements (SLAs).

A good example for colocation is the financial sector – data center colocation in this case ensures security of mission critical applications carrying proprietary information. These firms may use cloud for other functions like creating development and test environments or running proof-of-concept tests of big data analysis algorithms.

Most companies use on-demand and pay as you use model for unpredictable spikes in business when it becomes necessary to scale up the infrastructure on a fly. Having dedicated infrastructure and managed services for workloads that are more predictable and can be planned for is more economical.

Business Case
Generating Revenue Streams
IT is not just the underlying infrastructure for a business enterprise; it enables business processes. Enterprises need flexible and scalable IT infrastructures that can flex and bend with them. Outsourcing thus becomes an advantage, whether it is managed hosting for transaction-intensive businesses, cloud services for workloads or application production and testing or entire platforms.

Increasing Business Agility
Managed services including cloud, provided by external service providers enable business enterprises to adapt and become responsive to a changing business environment. Scaling up during business spikes, scaling down when not required, adding services for business expansion and growth and allowing businesses to focus on their core competencies brings in the much desired agility in a competitive marketplace.

An external service provider not only provides the desired solutions but also expert advice on achieving an optimal hybrid IT mix for the company.

Reducing Capital Expenditure (CapEx)IT
Opting for colocation or a managed hosting model helps companies to do away with CapEx associated with building a state of the art data center with world-class energy and cooling facilities. These savings can be put to more strategic use for growing and expanding the business.

Adhering To Security And Compliance
The financial services and the pharma sector have to comply with mandatory regulatory and compliance guidelines. Managed hosting services providers of today provide strong multi-level technology, policies, and procedures to protect their customers’ businesses, systems and data.

Future Is Hybrid IT
Key to success of a hybrid IT strategy is an organization’s ability to integrate outsourced and in-house IT services to ensure smooth delivery of business capabilities to its customers. The current opinion is that this year will see an increasing trend towards data center colocation as the dominant delivery model as business organizations move to outsourced services while still retaining control over their IT infrastructure. Colocation is the first step towards their journey to a hybrid cloud.

IT will play a main role in increasing performance in the near future, hence IT leaders are finding ways to reduce costs and increase scalability, agility and flexibility coupled with better service and security. The time for Hybrid IT has finally arrived and IT decision makers now need to adopt this strategy to have an edge vis-a-vis others.

Girish Sharma, assistant general manager, Netmagic Solutions

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Leveraging Data Center Interconnect To Address Future Internet Demand: Ryan Perera, Country Manager, Ciena India

Ryan Perera – Ciena
Leveraging-Data-Center-Interconnect-To-Address-Future-Demands:-Ryan-Perera,-Country-Manager,-Ciena-India
Ryan Perera, country manager, Ciena India

India has emerged as the third largest Internet market in the world thanks to the phenomenal growth of smartphones and mobile app adoption. Increasing popularity of over-the-top services, such as messaging apps, online gaming, and video streaming have further led to explosion of Internet content in the country.

Today, India boasts of having the largest user base of Twitter and the second largest user base of Facebook. Data from KPCB further says that India has more than 70 million You Tube users. With the ongoing expansion of 3G and rollout of 4G networks, Internet consumption is only going to increase.

Couple this with the aggressive migration of the enterprise segment to cloud-based services, and emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is easy to see that the bandwidth demand is only going to intensify. Further, data consumers inherently expect the content to be delivered instantaneously with high quality and from anywhere, anytime and on any device.

These activities will demand highly scalable, secure, and reliable data centers to hot and serve accessed content and applications. In an effort to enhance the customer’s end-user experience by cutting down latency and localizing content delivery, service providers are forced to open more and more data centers in metro areas closer to end users.

India is following the global trend of having data centers closer to the customer to decrease latency and improve the user’s experience. So, it is not surprising that data center providers are beginning to deploy data centers in country. A case in point is Microsoft, which has recently brought online three cloud data centers in India to improve performance of Azure services for its business customers in the country. Amazon Web Services has also recently announced plans to build cloud data centers in India this year.

Indian data centers are undergoing a major transformation to support a paradigm shift in traffic patterns, bandwidth increases and proliferation of apps. Buoyed by positive sentiments in the economy and driven by government initiatives like Digital India and Smart Cities, the Indian data center infrastructure market, comprising server, storage, and networking equipment, was worth $2 billion in 2015, according to a recent Gartner report.

These data centers need to be interconnected in order to provide seamless scalability, reliability and to host content closer to the user while increasing application performance. Data Center Interconnect (DCI) has emerged as a key factor in ensuring successful delivery of content. To put it simply, if data centers are not connected, they cannot provide ubiquitous application services to end-customers.

However, there is a strong need to modernize DCI so the providers are able to efficiently provide real-time content with minimum latency to the end consumer. As well, the network that interconnects user-to-content and content-to-content ultimately dictates the overall user experience.

Innovative Solutions To Overcome Interconnect Challenges
Unless modernized, the obsolete DCI solutions can hold back the data center providers with potentially negative consequences. Currently data center operators face a number of challenges, such as access to fiber plant and route diversity, limited space, limited power availability, security issues and increasing cost.

Fortunately advancements in technology bring huge advantage to the data center providers to effectively address these challenges:

Distance: Latency is dependent on the distance between the two data centers. Data centers must have a connection with the lowest possible latency to maintain an acceptable user experience. Technology breakthroughs in Digital Signal Processing (DSP) empowers networking equipment providers to introduce packet-optical platforms capable of compensating for various fiber impairments. It lets large data flows to be carried over several kilometers over different fiber types, without compromising speed or performance.

Capacity: The networking equipment connecting the data center must be capable of providing reliable, high-capacity connections that is scalable as the requirement increases. Coherent optics has emerged as technology of choice of modern service providers looking to scale connectivity into the gigabits and even terabits level as demanded by many data centers.

Security: Information stored in data centers is usually business-critical and confidential. Data center providers need to take extra measures to ensure reliability and security of the information. While disk encryption has been deployed by the service providers for many years now, businesses are now insisting on in-flight encryption for enhanced data protection from the time data leaves one data center to the time it reaches another.

Operations: An efficient interconnection between two data centers has to be rapid and reliable. The manual network operations are generally slow and error-prone. Today’s data centers need to be dynamic in nature and should be geared to address continuously changing and often, unpredictable requirements. Technology advancements allow automation of operational tasks through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and associated applications, which allow end-users to create custom applications to address day-to-day operation requirements without any intervention.

Cost: Even as adoption of new interconnect technology is a must for data center providers; they need to ensure that network costs don’t increase exponentially and that they remain financially viable. Technical advancements enable data centers to reduce cost at several levels. Automation enables data centers operators to bring down their operational cost. Agile and efficient scalability further leads to a drop in the CAPEX/OPEX for the data center operators.

The Indian market is fast adopting global culture where end consumer expects access to content anywhere, anytime, and with high quality. This can be made possible only with efficient data center networks, which are scalable, secure, reliable and easier to manage. As the demand for content increases the Indian data center operators would do well to adopt new technological approaches to meet their current and future DCI requirements, which will help them to reduce operating costs, enhance agility and flexibility.

Ryan Perera, country manager, Ciena India

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Overcoming Network Virtualization Challenges: Nitin Mishra, Sr VP, Product Management, Netmagic

Nitin Mishra – Netmagic

Overcoming-Network-Virtualization-Challenges:-Nitin-Mishra,-Sr-VP,-Product-Management,-NetmagicOrganizations that have already realized the benefits of server virtualization are willing to take the next step and move on to network virtualization.

By combining hardware and software resources and functionality into a single, software-based administrative entity, these organizations can reap the benefits of greater data center agility.

Network virtualization has its own set of challenges. Unlike a server, the network is a dynamic, fluid, multi-vendor environment that was not built with keeping network virtualization in mind. To complicate matters further, not all data centers are fully virtualized and not all workloads are suitable to run in virtualized environments. Organizations can overcome these challenges with proper planning and following the best practices in network virtualization.

Creating Strong Foundation
The robustness and success of a virtualized overlay network depends on the stability and strength of the underlying physical network. Before embarking on network virtualization ensure that the physical network is robust and in good shape. To ensure high performance, the physical network should be application – location neutral, exhibit any to any connectivity, be non-blocking, have low latency and jitter and should make sure that there is no packet loss under congestion.

Enabling Universal Connectivity
Network virtualization requires connecting applications between virtual networks (based on different encapsulation protocols like VXLAN or NVGRE), between virtual and physical networks and between physical data centers. This is where universal software defined networking (SDN) comes in. A universal SDN gateway provides a robust, advanced and a flexible physical and virtual network routing and bridging connections and translations required for inter, intra and cross-virtual network communications. The universal SDN gateway allows compute resources to move between networks within a physical data center, between physical data centers or between a physical data center and a cloud environment.

Bridge Between Virtual And Physical Worlds
Virtual networks need to connect to a physical device and legacy physical applications and database servers to reach a client application. Bridges or Layer 2 gateways supporting the connection between physical environments should be deployed as close to the physical resources as possible. Gateways for larger pool of physical resources should be deployed in upper tiers of the data center network to realize efficiencies of scale. For connecting to a large pool of resources such as a data center or large number of applications, gateways should be deployed at the network’s core/aggregation tier. Additionally, gateways should be deployed at the edge routing tier when running multiple virtual networks within a single physical environment as in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Network Performance, Degradation And Reliability Issues
Virtual overlay networks are designed to imitate all aspects of the underlying physical network. This leads to performance, degradation and reliability issues of the overlay network specially when broadcast, unicast or multicast packets flood the devices within a broadcast domain. Broadcast, unicast and multicast flooding places an exponential burden on the servers hosting the virtual network.

Hardware-based overlay replication offloads broadcast, unicast and multicast packets from the virtual network, allowing purpose-built hardware-based devices to convert these packets into standard broadcast, unicast or multicast packets. These packets are then forwarded to their receivers, delivering performance, scale and reliability.

Single Approach To Security
Using a single security approach to protect both physical and virtual resources reduces errors and security gaps that can occur when multiple methods are used. A single approach will also simplify administrative tasks and prevent duplication of efforts, reducing overhead.

Network Management And Automation
This approach should be extended to network management and automation efforts as well. A single approach to providing consolidated visibility into the entire network will help identify and arbitrate where issues lie. It is also advisable to establish a single point of automation to achieve consistent behavior across physical and virtual networks.

Nitin Mishra, senior vice president, Product Management, Netmagic

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Trends That Will Drive Sales Enablement: Snehashish Bhattacharjee, Global CEO & Co-founder, Denave

Snehashish Bhattacharjee – Denave

Snehashish Bhattacharjee - DenaveFive significant global trends that will shape the business of sales enablement in 2016

As economies the world over continue to grow, many enterprises are focusing on adopting an aggressive sales approach. This has become imperative because changing market conditions have impacted and altered the buyer environment. Sales enablement, in that regard is a nebulous concept, defined differently by different organisations. In simple words, the process of sales enablement not only includes methods that empower the sales team, but also practices that impact each step of the sales cycle. As an all-inclusive and end-to-end approach, it defines best practices for strategizing, implementing, recruiting, enabling and analysing these aspects to drive optimal returns for enterprises and enable success in sales.

The elements of sales enablement aim to restructure and improve the sales cycle processes, the capabilities of the sales force, as well as the quality of sales tools and resources. In fact, many leading B2B firms have adopted this process as a tactical enabler. Here are five significant global trends that will shape the business of sales enablement in 2016.

Telesales: Telesales, which is now coming out from under the shadow of tele-operations, is an implementation strategy adopted by businesses that are looking to convert their feet-on-street soldiers to consultative managers, using the science of tele operations. One of the most talked about sales approach for the 21st century is that of arming your telesales force with consultative selling approach. Telesales engine is increasingly becoming the option of choice given the turnaround time, low geography barrier and optimum RoI (Return on Investment). Of course, there needs to be alignment with the overall objective that the organization is set out to achieve.

As part of the sales team, telesales representatives connect with customers on the phone to generate leads, process orders, make direct sales, support ground sales representatives by setting up appointments, or engage in customer service. According to CSO Insights, enterprises with mature lead generation and management practices have a 9.3 percent higher sales quota achievement rate. With the consultative approach, the sales person acts as a mentor, by gathering information from the prospect, weighing up the options that are available and returning with a solution.

White Space Database Generation: As per CSO Insights Study, 52 percent of sales people don’t meet their targets. While this is alarming, this is indeed not surprising. In today’s competitive business environment, everyone is gunning after the same finite set of customer database. However, there exists a huge gap between the addressed customer bases versus what really is the addressable segment. If we are able to expand the database universe and look at the newly explored contactable database of SMBs globally, this will solve the worries of the organisations tremendously. And with access to certain tools and methodologies, converting them into sales closures would no longer be an unachievable target. The future of sales enablement will see leveraging technology to generate white space database being a huge focus area. Addressing the untapped white space for increased sales closures will be a driver of higher sales impact.

Mobility: In the year ahead, mobility will continue its march into the enterprise on its way to becoming a first-class citizen, as it drives to organizational change, cost efficiencies and increased productivity. More and more consumers are dependent on mobile for commerce. A strong user experience is a key driver for adoption here. A strong experience for enterprise mobility technologies and services will drive future success.

Mobility is the fastest path to organisational change, cost efficiencies and increased productivity. Many enterprises are leveraging mobile solutions to deliver services worldwide. Mobile solutions help to automate the sales force and add on to the sales enablement process. Since the sales force is constantly on the move – be it on the ground for meetings or in office answering customer queries – mobile applications and solutions empower sales teams to perform their job better.

The ability to access information anytime, anywhere not only streamlines sales and enhances the sales enablement process, it also optimizes client/customer engagement, integrates back-end applications so that sales teams have a complete picture to resolve queries or offer personalized experiences, improves training and reporting of sales force, and offers secure access and control to sensitive information.

Cloud Computing: In a short span of couple of years, cloud computing has become an integral, perhaps even the most vital part of an enterprise’s strategy. It is acting as another add-on to sales enablement as enterprises can make content, training, etc. accessible across any part of the world, in real-time. Cloud improves mobility since enterprises can upload various applications on the cloud and provide them as services globally. When enterprises espouse a culture of agile, data-driven decision-making, it gives them a competitive edge. This is especially important for sales teams as customers today are far more empowered and knowledgeable. Hence, it is imperative that sales teams recognise the tools and techniques that will aid in improving productivity, enhancing sales and delivering value. It has helped free-up with the constrictions of legacy software and hardware licensing data center models, and has opened, revolutionized and to an extent democratized the way to delivers services and how the users access information, applications and business services.

Cloud solutions are highly beneficial for an enterprise and its sales force as they facilitate real-time communication, real-time collaboration, assisted context and information, remote and secure access to assets, and increased cost savings with a “pay-as-you-use” model.

Analytics: A key driver for sales enablement that is still growing and is largely reliant on human intervention is analytics. The right information is what enables sales success. Data-driven insights help improve sales and increase RoI. Analytics is a dominant tool for making informed decisions and discovering opportunities to improve. Enterprises can use analytics and content intelligence to tailor content to meet the buyer’s needs. By using metrics to discover the right content, leads can be converted into actual sales at a much faster rate. Content analytics also enhances visibility on the effectiveness of the content used, customers’ expectations, how the sales team is using the content, etc.

With analytics, enterprises can also discover the best sales opportunities, improve sales forecasting accuracy, identify and manage risk effectively, gauge the performance of sales representatives, etc. All these insights will give enterprises a competitive edge.

Snehashish Bhattacharjee, global CEO & co-founder, Denave

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SMS Transforms To Business As A Service: Silvio Kutic, founder & CEO, Infobip

Silvio – Infobip

SMS-Transforms-To-Business-As-A-ServiceIn the case of SMS, the Business as a Service (BaaS) not only means that a specialist will provide entire messaging platform but also manage the service on mobile operator’s behalf

SMS technology has been an important part of the mobile ecosystem for over 23 years, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Since its inception, SMS has transformed from a service information channel into one of the largest global communications platforms, and its success has inspired a wave of app-based person-to-person (P2P) messaging services including WhatsApp and Line.

However, the real value of SMS in recent years has not been its contribution to the P2P arena. Instead, it has followed the growth of application-to-person (A2P) messaging. The rise of A2P and its role in driving SMS forward is happening all across the globe, but India has become one of the largest and most important regions in terms of generating this type of messaging traffic.

A2P’s foothold on the mobile messaging market is largely due to how constant SMS has remained over the past decade whilst other technologies have seen significant changes. SMS’s unique advantage is that the operator network on which the technology runs makes it ubiquitous. This means anyone, with any device, from the latest smartphone to the most basic feature phone can receive a text message.

In tandem with widespread availability and low-cost delivery, A2P SMS is an incredibly useful tool for all businesses. For banks it can add an extra layer of security, it allows government institutions to send alerts to the public, and for brands SMS lends itself as a powerful marketing tool. Combine these use cases with exceptionally high read rates (according to recent research by Frost and Sullivan are over 98 percent) and it’s no surprise SMS has become a great asset for any business looking to better communicate with its customers.

Value of A2P SMS for India
This has never been more applicable than in the Indian market. Over the past 12 months alone, India has seen A2P SMS breathe life into a wide range of traditionally analogue industries. From India’s postal service and state railway announcing they will use SMS alerts to improve customer services, to India’s Meteorological Department introducing free SMS alerts for farmers to alert them about extreme weather conditions, adoption of this technology has been broad. Sending natural disaster warnings, advice, and instructions to the affected population via SMS is becoming increasingly common.

Thanks to the extensive networks of mobile operators, millions of people worldwide rely on SMS to receive vital information that would otherwise be difficult to access. Not only this but businesses are keen to make the most of the technology, with research from the Retailers Association of India earlier this year finding 95 percent of retailers see mobile as an essential component of their marketing strategy, thereby contributing to a huge and continuing uptake of SMS technology in the region.

Specialist companies and messaging providers have emerged over the last decade to cater for growing A2P demand, and huge investments have been made to improve the performance of A2P SMS as a growing technology. Now billions of messages are sent from computers each month with many serving an ever increasingly useful purpose.

This volume of SMS messages being sent has the potential to translate into significant revenues for mobile operators, especially as P2P messaging declines in the wake of data-based alternatives. The uptake of A2P SMS means message delivery is still a revenue generating service for operators, however in a completely different way as it is no longer users that are driving the demand, but businesses looking to reach them.

Driving the Growth of A2P
However, despite this opportunity, operators often lack the capabilities to take advantage of A2P SMS. The delivery and management of A2P SMS is time and resource intensive which may not be a priority for an operator needing to invest in new technology to retain competitive advantage in the consumer market. Specialised mobile messaging providers, in particular, have been quick to meet this demand; addressing the requirements of enterprises and helping operators rework their entire businesses – from clients and volume to integration options, back-end processing and billing tools.

Although to date this relationship has been vital in allowing operators to benefit from A2P SMS in 2016 this will shift giving operators the advantage as a result of the Business-as-a-Service model. This goes far beyond merely connecting existing messaging infrastructure with an operator’s existing systems. In the case of A2P SMS, the BaaS proposition not only means that a specialist will provide the entire messaging platform, they also manage the service on the mobile operator’s behalf.

Rather than working as separate entities, as they’ve done until now, the future of A2P SMS lies in messaging specialists partnering directly with operators. Not only to they benefit from the infrastructure the messaging provider offers but also the experience that allows an operator to benefit from the full potential A2P messaging has to offer.

SMS is able reach 6 billion mobile devices across the world and with no other communication channel able to make the same boast 2016 will be the year operators once again reap the benefits of this versatile and ubiquitous technology.

Silvio Kutic, founder and CEO, Infobip, earned MSc degree at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. Silvio took over responsibilities at Infobip as CEO in 2006 and since then, he has been the driving force behind Infobip’s rapid growth and the strategic shift towards enterprise and MNO solutions

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Smart City Needs Smart ICT Role Play By Dr Keshab Panda, CEO, L&T Technology Services

L&T – Dr Keshab Panda

Smart-City-Needs-Smart-ICT-Role-PlayGreenfield smart city projects typically imply larger ICT requirements while brownfield will require an overhaul of existing ICT capabilities

India’s urban population is estimated to grow to thrice its current size by the year 2031. This calls for vastly improved infrastructure and provision of essential services to citizens as well as businesses. Significant opportunities await the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, which, more than any other, is capable of addressing the myriad challenges faced by Indian cities in matters of physical and social infrastructure, environmental considerations and governance.

NASSCOM estimates that the total ICT spending for smart cities could amount to 10-15 percent of total budget. This translates to a potential $30-40 billion opportunity over the next ten years.

Telecom and data communication service providers ought to play a pivotal role in smart city projects for the simple reason that they are better equipped to provide ICT services than any utilities provider or cable company or service provider in the picture. Telecom and data networks together with the Internet of Things (IoT) are essential pre-requisites to the functioning of the other elements involved in the development of a smart city.

The smart cities of the future are expected, among other things, to foster socio-economic growth, integrate technology with lifestyle, improve e-governance, provide seamless consumer services, and be ecologically sustainable. It is clear that future Internet technologies and services will be at the core of the new society and economy. These include location-based services, trust and security platforms, multi-modal interfaces, and more – all of which will require common open platforms and a robust ICT infrastructure with high-speed Internet access over wired and wireless networks.

The rollout of a smart city will secure the involvement of multiple government levels and disciplines as well as business players ranging from small private firms to large multinationals. How each of these interact and collaborate will largely depend on the economic, ecological and social drivers behind the project. Working together, the stakeholders can employ ICT to significantly improve essential public and private services such as e-governance and administration, education, healthcare, public safety, real estate, transportation, energy and water.

Greenfield smart city projects typically imply larger ICT requirements while brownfield projects – which most in India will be – require an overhaul of existing ICT capabilities. Depending on the maturity and complexity of each project, some opportunities will be a natural fit for telecom and data communication service providers, while some others will need cooperation and partnerships amongst players within the smart city ecosystem. Cities are a complex interplay of people, processes and infrastructure. Re-engineering the processes and putting in place alternate institutional infrastructure will be, by any means, a tough ask.

There’s a misplaced notion that technology should be able to solve complex economic and administrative problems in the exact way it was intended to. However the experience of developed countries reflects that social requirements determine the very way in which technology is used in the first place. In fact, technological solutions and society share a symbiotic relationship in which each influences the other. ICT solutions should be designed so as to work in unison with the other building blocks of smart cities, to meet the needs of the people and, in the process, bring about a change in the populace itself.

Valuable insights can be gained into behavioral patterns of individuals and groups, and about consumption of resources by tracking and analyzing relevant data. ICT can provide the city administrators with both information about and the means to establish channels of communications with the citizens, identify patterns to aid urban planning, incentivize new behaviors and automate other forms of infrastructure within the city. It’s a role that few others can play out, a role that deserves front-row viewing.

Dr Keshab Panda, chief executive and member of the board, L&T Technology Services

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Net Neutrality: Open And Innovative Internet For All By Dr Manimohan, director, GSMA

Mani Manimohan – GSMA

Net-Neutrality:-Open-And-Innovative-Internet-For-All-By-Dr-Manimohan,-director,-GSMANo need for regulations that restrict operators to manage traffic and offer variable tariffs for Internet

The Internet has been an open engine for innovation, inclusion, expression and development and it should remain so. Managing network traffic and offering different tariffs are important contributors for open Internet.

Mobile operators want Indian consumers to make greater use of mobile networks by accessing a variety of services. Internet players want to reach more connected consumers whereas the government wants to advance Digital India agenda. The end goal is the same – to encourage investment and innovation in broadband networks and consumer choice in Internet services.

This should be the primary objective of the net neutrality debate in India. Some commentators are concerned that this goal cannot be achieved without regulation. They demand specific regulations on operators claiming that, without equal treatment of all Internet traffic, operators will favor one type of provider over another. But, is there a case for such regulation in the absence of proven harm and in the presence of existing legal safeguards? We should avoid unintended consequences of additional regulation despite the well-intentioned objectives of those calling for it.

Traffic Management
Let us start with a simple but important fact – traffic management is an essential aspect of operating a mobile network. It is essential for managing congestion. It is essential for protecting consumers from inappropriate or harmful content. It is essential for maintaining the security of the network and ensuring access to emergency services. It is essential for optimizing the delivering of different types of content. It is essential for the creation of different commercial offers with different combinations of speed and data usage allowances.

Without traffic management, the consumer experience of mobile Internet would be significantly degraded.

The need for traffic management is greater now with networks carrying not just voice calls and text messages but a myriad of different applications – e-mail, news, video, music, map, game, etc. Without traffic management, mobile operators will not be able to manage the increasing complexity and growing volumes of traffic. According to a Cisco report, India will have the fastest IP traffic growth globally with a 39 percent CAGR from 2013 to 2018.

I hope the policymakers in India recognize the importance of traffic management and the greater need for them as networks become more complex.

Operators’ Flexibility
According to GSMA Intelligence, broadband penetration in India is around 20 percent of the population, significantly lower than many other countries. All of us should work towards widening broadband access in India. Will one-size fits all decree on how operators manage their network and charge for services encourage internet adoption and broadband investment?

There is no basis to suggest that offering consumers the choice of tariffs that combine different price, quality and content is damaging. In fact the contrary is true. Consumers benefit from being able to choose what type of service they prefer at a price they are willing to pay. Protecting operators’ flexibility to differentiate also encourages innovation of new services and commercial propositions.

Operators should have the freedom to enter into partnership agreements with content and application providers. Regulation should not prohibit commercial offers such as zero-priced consumer access for certain services, which ultimately benefit consumers by encouraging them to use the internet and to try new services without unduly worrying about data consumption costs. Zero rating also provides opportunities for new content and application providers to make use of the marketing, distribution and billing platform of operators and compete with established providers in the broader Internet ecosystem.

No Additional Regulation
I am not advocating that there should be no rules. Regulators should act when there are proven cases of anti-competitive misconduct, but should not seek further regulatory intervention without a strong reason. As noted by the TRAI, the primary question is the ability of public authorities to encourage competition and to address anti-competitive behavior.

Operators are already subject to a number of regulatory obligations that protect Indian consumers and facilitate competition, with safeguards in place under the existing legal and regulatory framework. Indian consumers and businesses have benefited from a vibrant and competitive mobile industry. The mobile and Internet success story show that markets will deliver the Open Internet. This growth was not the result of specific regulations.

The Internet ecosystem is still evolving. At this stage, the best way to deal with the net neutrality debate in India is to let the market find balanced solutions through competition to meet consumer needs. Policy makers should not rush into rule making, but focus their efforts on a consultative principles-based approach that is flexible enough for this dynamic and complex environment. Effective competition, rather than regulation, is the best way to ensure that the Internet remains open, innovative and for all.

Dr Manimohan is director, Public Policy at the GSM Association (GSMA). The views expressed in the article are not necessarily the views of the members of the GSMA.

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How Data Center Operators Can Reduce Energy Consumption? By Nilesh Rane, associate VP, Product & Services, Netmagic-NTT Communications Company

Nilesh Rane – Netmagic
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Nilesh Rane, associate vice president, Product and Services, Netmagic-NTT Communications Company

Data center providers can reduce energy consumption with improved storage management practices

How does one put data center on a diet plan? Let us think of it this way, after Diwali is over and we have enjoyed all the festivities associated with it, we look somewhat repentantly at our waistlines and hope to get back in shape before the year comes to an end. We promise ourselves that come what may; we will surely cut down on our bulging waistlines for a much slimmer, vivacious and healthy look. Data center operators also face similar problems, how to cut some of the fat out of their data centers and get their energy budget in shape. Just this week I was asked the question “How can I cut down on a million KW-hours energy consumption this year?”

That sounds like a daunting, but worthy exercise, a million KW-hours sounds like a huge number, but at Rs 7.74 a kilowatt-hour cutting down on 1 lakh kilowatt-hours would save Rs 774,000 in the first year (of course, price/KW-hour varies by location/geography, so your mileage may vary).

The first point to note is that while the number seems huge, that simply reflects the size of the customer’s data center, the real question is “what changes will have the most impact on energy consumption?”

Reduce the Amount of Equipment
The quickest way to significant savings is to cut back the amount of equipment in use through technologies such as server virtualization. Let’s assume that 1/3rd of the servers in a data center are suitable candidates for virtualization and that on average a 5:1 consolidation ratio is possible (and that’s a conservative estimate for the consolidation ratio). A data center with a thousand servers would be able to virtualize 333 of them, replacing those 333 physical servers with just 67, a net reduction of 266 physical servers. Now lets assume that these original servers were 1U pizza-box servers each consuming 300 watts of power and you require 3 servers to run 3 different applications.

Now by virtualizing the same server you can able to run three applications simultaneously in one box, by doing this not only you are saving space but substantial amount of power too. Such an approach would also reduce power consumption for cooling by a similar margin (assuming 1:1 ratio between power consumed by equipment and power consumed by cooling). This step alone would save a million KW-hours, throw in some improved storage management practices and de-duplication for data and the energy savings quickly pile up.

Get Rid of Old Equipment
Some data centers continue to use equipment until it finally dies, that can mean servers that are 5 or even 10 years old. These servers are energy and space hogs and deliver very little work for the power consumed compared to a more modern system, especially if the more modern system is combined with server virtualization.

Improve Power Distribution
This can take the form of a number of improvements and upgrades. For example old UPS equipment is substantially less efficient (i.e. wastes more energy) than modern UPS systems (almost matching to unity), replacing the old UPS could yield a 10-15 percent reduction in energy consumption. Also minimize the number of voltage conversions between the power as delivered by the utility and the power consumed by the equipment, i.e. bring high-voltage power as close to the racks as possible. Data centers in the US is still using 120V AC to power equipment in the racks, need to take a long hard look at switching to 240V AC, the equipment doesn’t care and it will save energy and simplify the wiring.

Cooling Improvements
Air side economizers can deliver big savings, especially in more temperate climates. Assume roughly half the energy consumed by the data center is used for cooling, and that the airside economizer can function for half the year, then potential savings in energy consumption are pretty obvious. Also improve hot-aisle/cold aisle separation by creating containments or implement fully ducted hot-air removal from high energy consumed racks can increase cooling efficiency inside the data center.

The big lesson here is that the quickest payback for reducing energy consumption is to reduce the amount of equipment in the data center and opportunity presented by maturing server virtualization technology is too good to pass up! The downside is that to save money in the long term, one has to spend some money in the short term.

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Airtel Zero is Similar to Toll-Free Services: Srini Gopalan

Srini Gopalan-Airtel
Airtel-Zero-is-Similar-to-Toll-Free-Services: Srini-Gopalan
Srini Gopalan, director, Consumer Business, Bharti Airtel

Srini Gopalan, Direct-Consumer Business, Bharti Airtel talks on controversy related to Airtel Zero, an innovative and open marketing platform that will allow customers to access mobile applications “free of cost”

First and most important point: Airtel Zero is “free” for all our consumers and open to all marketers. Yes, open to all – big or small.

In fact, since we announced Airtel Zero on April 6, over 150 start-ups – with majority being small start-ups – have contacted to enquire about the product. For the record, every one of them told us what a great platform we will be providing to them and for a change they will have an “equal opportunity” to run with the big boys.

On an average, Airtel Zero will help reduce their marketing costs by almost three quarters. Not bad, I would say, though some may still feel otherwise. There is also a high level of misinformation surrounding the product, which is not surprising since the very concept of net neutrality is a bit misunderstood. Let us also bust some of the myths regarding Airtel Zero.

Myth: The product concept amounts to preferential access
Reality: Not at all. Airtel Zero provides universal access and is free for all our customers. Customers have the choice to decide whether they want to come there or not.

Myth: Large companies with big budgets will be favoured and smaller start-ups will lose out
Reality: No. On the contrary we have had lots of small start-ups calling us and congratulating us for building this platform, which offers them a great opportunity to market their products at very low costs. Over 150 companies are already in touch with us and want to sign up.

Myth: Smaller start-ups will not be able to afford to pay for the data charges
Reality: Why Not? Today, when a consumer downloads a new app and uses it for a day, the total amount of data consumed is roughly about 20-30 MB. Assuming a price of Rs 1 per MB of free data, this will translate to Rs 20 for the start-up. Compared to this, the average cost of marketing digitally through large media/internet companies is about Rs 50 to Rs 300 per download. So, this platform will actually make it cheaper for small companies to gain distribution as well as visibility.

Myth: Telecom companies will charge other companies for data used by customers. This is a way of making money.
Reality: Telecom companies have been working with businesses for decades to offer ‘Toll-Free’ voice services, wherein, a business pays to a customer to call in. Airtel Zero is the same concept.

Myth: Airtel Zero is against Net Neutrality and gives advantage to those who can pay for data.
Reality: As a concept Airtel Zero has nothing to do with net neutrality. It is free for each and every customer and offers the same speed to all. It charges the same amount to each company for data without any discrimination.

Myth: Speed to access the apps that are not on Airtel Zero will be throttled
Reality: Completely incorrect. There is no difference in speed to access various apps, whether they are on Airtel Zero or not.

Today, some mobile devices can store 50 or more apps, others can store five and some can’t even do so. Will net neutrality imply that all devices must be standardised and offered at the same price to make the net neutral?

There are multiple mobile technologies – 2G, 3G, 4G – to access internet. Should all speed and pricing be the same in the garb of Net Neutrality?

Some customers pay cheaper data rates based on volume purchased. Does Net Neutrality imply that everyone must pay the same rate irrespective of usage?

In the end, the debate over the past few days has brought out one thing clearly – a large number of people are still not clear on what net neutrality is all about. This gives an opportunity to the so called experts to make various as well as baseless arguments. While their point of view is important, we should have a more informed and nuanced debate without painting a picture that is based on rhetoric rather than reason.

Never before has an open and innovative platform like Airtel Zero been on offer that will help drive internet adoption through free usage (and companies and app developers being an equal partner in the process). It will also drive innovation in the internet and mobile app space by providing a cost-effective and non-discriminatory platform, in particular, to smaller companies.

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Budget 2015 : Reaction by Bhaskar Pramanik of Microsoft India

bhaskar pramanik microsoft
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Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India

The Finance Minister has presented a broad-based Budget focused on accelerating India’s inclusive growth. The Budget reiterates the major programs and initiatives that have been previously announced – Jan Dhan Yojana, Skill India, Swach Bharat, Make in India and Digital India.

The Budget retains the focus on financial inclusion, education, health and agriculture. It has increased focused on infrastructure development, housing and manufacturing in India. Overall, Budget 2015 is wide in its scope and takes into account the interests of diverse sections of society – middle class, farmers, youth, aged and the disabled. It endorses a vision of India where there is a house for every family with24 hour power, potable water, and all accessible by road, and where at least one member of the family is employed. And all by 2023, when India celebrates its 75th year of Independence. The FM also talked about building a better social security system for its citizens to provide financial security.

The budget talked about financial discipline, a monetary policy framework with RBI that will keep inflation at less than 6%, but look at possible double digit growth. The FM is looking at reducing the fiscal deficit to 3% but in three years’ time to release additional investments.

 The focus on infrastructure and housing investments is good, as it will kick-start the economy and have a ripple effect across all Industries. The FM understands the need to kick start infrastructure projects through increased investments, the need to revitalize PPP with the GOI taking additional risk.

The focus on technology as a backbone for government processes and systems is the right approach example GSTN, JAM was stressed.

Focusing on startups and MSMEs

The Government has recognized the need to support startups, and incubators and has acknowledged that a culture of innovation needs to be fostered. Budgetary allocations for incubators, a mechanism for supporting self-employment and talent utilization will allow startups and MSMEs to access the funds and talent, creating new avenues for growth and employment.

Boost to Digital India, Make in India and Skill India

Speedy implementation of the national fiber optic network will enable more rural communities to benefit from the ecosystem of services that can make governance more effective. The trinity of Jan Dhan – Aadhar – Mobile that the Finance Minister referred to, is indeed positive in a mobile-first, cloud-first India.

The Government has also shown its commitment to skill development to equip the nation’s youth to take advantage of economic opportunities. The formation of the National Skill Mission that will consolidate efforts and outcomes and budgetary allocations to financially support youth in their skilling efforts will enable the country to benefit from its demographic dividend.

The focus on job creation through the Make in India program, and providing gainful employment to India’s youth is commendable and a future oriented outlook.

The Finance Minister has focused on the ease of doing business in India. We look forward to policy moves in the coming year that rationalize and streamline approvals for setting up business that can help investments and boost economic development. I am positive about the reaffirmation of the Government’s commitment towards PPP as a key drive of infrastructure creation. This would provide more opportunities for innovation-led companies to partner in India’s growth.

 A simpler tax environment

The Finance Minister has provided a firm timeline for the implementation of GST, and this will help companies effectively plan for the next year. Deferring GAAR by two years, and the fact that the Government is looking to implement its provisions prospectively from 2017, is also a welcome move. It is an indication of the GOI thinking to make tax less adversarial.

The reduction in corporate tax, albeit over the next four years has certainly welcome. More because it also comes with the reduction of exemptions. Exemptions create confusion. I welcome the simpler framework the Government is proposing.

 There was a mention of removing SAD on components to remove the duty inversion. This can help local manufacturing of electronic goods as part of the Make for India initiative

 The reduction in tax on royalties for technical services will help greater technology adoption in industry and that is welcome.

What was missing?

We must hold the Government accountable for delivering on their budget promises.  Many of the announcements made in previous budget, which were geared to minimize/resolve transfer pricing litigation are yet to be implemented.  It is nice to make a mention of the measures for dispute resolution in the speech, but the key is implementation.

We will also need to see if some of the other Tax related concerns of the IT and ITES sector have been addressed. These include resolving ambiguities in taxation of software products and services. In that context, the service tax rate going up is a concern, because of the impact it could have of driving people to use pirated software. Especially, because of the dual tax on software – the net tax rate for software is above 20%.

(Bhaskar Pramanik is the Chairman of Microsoft India)

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