Outsourcing network services to India is a relatively new practice, but there are a growing number of companies providing quality network management services. Several North American and European firms are realizing the potential of network outsourcing services in offshore locations like India. Several well established Indian IT companies have extended their gamut of services to include running networks operations centers for global customers. These help to not only improve productivity and cut costs on the infrastructure side, but establish that cost efficiency and quality are not mutually exclusive.
Traditionally network management services was a space dominated by names like IBM, NCR, Compaq, and HP. Recently, however, there are several Indian companies that are gradually building their skills in this area and offering great value to companies wishing to outsource their network management services. Though this sector is still in it's nascent stages, domestic demand has triggered the entry of local system intergrators, hosting providers, and facilities management companies into this area.
Though there are apprehensions about security and loss of control in offshore outsourcing network services, well established names like Wipro, Microland, Infosys, Bangalore Labs, and others are creating a path for others to follow. By setting up world class Network Operations Centers which handle monitoring networks, analyzing traffic, identifying bottlenecks, alerting and protecting customers from impending problems, ensuring 99 percent uptime for client networks, and disaster recovery, Indian companies are gradually convincing international companies that remote management from offshore locations is a great option.
Along with the well established names which currently dominate this sector, several other small and medium size companies are getting into the business. They have good reason to as IDC figures pegged the network infrastructure services market at Rs 753 crore during 2000-2001, and it is growing at 26 percent annually
Though there is still a long way to go before Indian companies make a dent in the global market there are several companies attempting to show global customers the potential of outsourcing network management.
Companies like Bangalore Labs and HCL Comnet have made significant investments in setting up world class NOC Centers. Others like Wipro, Microland, Satyam Infoway, and Global Telesystems, have added management services to their existing portfolios.
Though there are still not too many international customers, these companies cater to some of the biggest names in the domestic sphere.
Bangalore Labs now provides network management services to L&T Information Technology; systems & application management services to Skumars.com; managed security to Hathway and Cyquator.
HCL Comnet, is providing management services to Philips, Sanmar, Bajaj, IOCL, SBI, 3M, TVS-Suzuki, HomeTrade, IndiaTimes, CitibankOnline, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Fabmart, India Cements and others.
Microland manages one of the few NOCs in India that manages the infrastructure for a BPO company. It set up it's NOC in 1999 and functions 24 hours a day all through the year. Microland handles network management for customers like Blue Dart, Heinz, IDBI Bank, NetCom Systems, and a Fortune 10 customer. Around a third of these customers are in India.
Ramco Systems has established itself by catering to large customers like the Bombay Stock Exchange, Indian Oil, Ericsson, Coca Cola, Oil and Natural Gas Commission, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
Wipro started with domestic customers and then moved into the global market. Almost 55 percent of the infrastructure management services at Wipro are carried out offshore.
Though the industry is still at a nascent stage there are efforts to keep abreast of changes in the global market and cater to these.
Security: Companies like Wipro and Microland have stringent security rules in place to guarantee confidentiality and as safe guards against theft of any information.For example, Microland has everything from physical to network security managed to comply with international standards. To monitor the network as well as physical security there is a specialized team whose main responsibility is to implement the BS-7799 security standard throughout the organization.
Quality: All the vendors in the infrastructure management space are keen on following quality practices, which are required to cater to global customers. For example, Wipro follows the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) framework to develop its process framework. Satyam Infoway's has the distinction of having the first TCP/IP based network in the country, and the company has also earned the ISO 9001-2000 certification for a data center, network management and customer care
Changing Mindsets: Many companies are not comfortable outsourcing network security management offshore. Companies like Wipro and Microland have tried to alleviate this fear by combining onsite and offshore management before moving completely offshore. For example, Wipro has NOCs in the US, UK, and Japan. Once the client is confident of abilities, the work can be moved offshore.
There is also a tendency to outsource to cut costs. However, Wipro is trying to show customers how with their expertise in this industry service levels and productivity levels have been enhanced.
As one can see there is an enormous amount of potential in outsourcing network management services to India. There are several players who have already got the right formula and are consistently refining it, while others are rapidly honing their skills to be a part of this business.
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