"I have a bad habit. I love cracking practical jokes on my team. Just the other day, while I was at an airport waiting to board a flight to Mumbai, I logged on to the public Wi-Fi network, tunneled through VPN into our enterprise network. I used the VoIP softphone on my laptop to dial out to one of my team members. Not expecting me in the office, but seeing the call routing from my extension, rattled my team members. I, indeed, had a mighty laugh at their expense," he smiles.
S. Hariharan, senior vice president of infrastructure support services at Oracle Financial Services Software (OFSS), the erstwhile i-flex Solutions, piggybacked on the organization's extensively revamped communication and IT infrastructure. Just to have a little fun. This is quite obviously one small side-effect benefit of a never ending list of perks that the company's innovative deployment brought in.
A list that included 80 percent reduction in telecom costs.
But how did the company get there? The answer lay in necessity. A necessity that would foster innovation sitting on virtualization and VoIP.
The communications infrastructure situation at OFSS had grown pretty gloomy. The organization had a conventional infrastructure to meet its communication and data networking requirements. With about 14,000 employees spread across multiple locations around the globe, the cost of communicating between various offices increased in material and frequency.
"The international long distance (ILD/ISD) and national long distance (NLD/STD) intra-office communications increased and emerged as one of the biggest annual infrastructure expenditure," recalls Hariharan. A lot more than the company would like.
Moreover, as the number of internal projects at OFSS grew, the set of server and other IT inventory, in addition to the domain servers, grew phenomenally. This put pressure on the IT infrastructure support group in the organization as the completed projects left behind a barrage of unused and underutilized servers. "To sustain competitive advantage and enhance productivity, we had to enable frequent global connects among our locations. This stressed our endeavors to keep a tab on costs, and improve user productivity at the same time," says V. Srinivasan, chief of staff and corporate development at OFSS.
Hariharan knew he had a job on his hands. He embarked on a painstaking journey of revamping the operational facilities and bringing in newer technologies. The need to have zero downtime and minimal business disruptions during the entire overhauling process was imperative. But that made the task even more demanding and onerous.
"A complete rip-and-replace scenario would have set us back astronomically. Hence, whatever solution we had to come up with, had to optimally leverage the existing infrastructure and protect the investment," recalls Hariharan.
A detailed study of the existing network infrastructure was undertaken to understand the call volumes and patterns. The IT team collated data on telephony usage and the growth pattern across various offices over a period of six months.
"To enable people to communicate in an optimal manner, we decided to introduce enterprise-wide VoIP and invest in large telephony infrastructure," says Hariharan.
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