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

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CIOL 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:

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.

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.

Source: Voice&Data

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