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Concrete Systems: Hirco deploys a multilayered communications set-up

July 11, 2013
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The Hirco Group is an international group of public and private entities operating in the areas of real estate, construction, infrastructure, hospitality and health care. The group is currently engaged in several projects in the roles of developer, financier and builder. Hirco Developments, the group’s construction and project management arm, is involved in executing large-scale projects.

The real estate sector in India is on a high-growth trajectory. Itsa total revenues stood at $66.8 billion in 2010-11 and are expected to reach $180 billion by 2020. The demand for real estate is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19 per cent during 2010-14, with Tier 1 cities projected to account for about 40 per cent of this demand. Looking to tap the business opportunities this growth entails, Hirco systematically upgraded its communications infrastructure. The idea was to meet changing business requirements and stay ahead of the competition.

tele.net tracks the development of the real estate major’s telecom set-up…

Communications infrastructure

According to Akhilesh Laghate, chief technology officer, a robust communications network has always been a priority for the company. However, in its early days, each of the company’s departments was using stand-alone systems, with limited connectivity. In order to provide a common platform and ensure ease of integration, Hirco standardised the core infrastructure on the Microsoft platform for its telecom set-up. Thereafter, all other systems were implemented based on this platform.

In 2007, the company established a data centre with high availability, which housed state-of-the-art systems for information security and storage. This data centre is connected to all the company’s project sites. Access to systems and applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and document management systems (DMS), is provided depending upon the requirement and the employee’s area of function.

In 2008, the company implemented the SAP platform to manage its overall operations including its finance, procurement, inventory management, contracts and project control functions as well as management information systems. Since then, the company has periodically upgraded the software for the SAP, Microsoft and DMS platforms.

For its marketing, sales and CRM functions, the company implemented the Microsoft CRM platform. For corporate communications and human resource management, it established an intranet set-up based on the Microsoft SharePoint platform. In addition, a DMS system was implemented to manage documents and technical drawings, which play a vital role in the construction industry. All these systems were implemented on a common platform, thus making integration between each system possible.

With regard to its wide area network (WAN), the company has a multi-tiered communications infrastructure in place. It has deployed 10 Mbps multiprotocol label switching connectivity and high-bandwidth internet in a “hub-and-spoke” format. This technology has been provided by Tata Communications.

The WAN is used by the company for all its communication and data requirements, which include email, messaging, video-conferencing and system access. In order to provide external connectivity, the company uses ISDN for videoconferencing and the internet for other requirements.

For last mile access, Hirco has opted for wireline and wireless technologies. To secure its network, the company uses a three-tiered system comprising various security prevention and detection systems and firewalls.

Interestingly, while the company has built redundancy for its servers and key applications, it has not done so for the WAN. “Our network uptime is in the range of 99.4-99.6 per cent. As the business does not require online transactions, we have not invested much in redundancy links for the WAN,” he notes.

Challenges and benefits

According to Laghate, Hirco does not face any major challenges with regard to its communications set-up. Since all of the company’s servers are centrally located, the network is accessible from any location within a worksite. This enables standardisation of systems and processes all across the company’s project sites and offices. It also offers a high degree of scalability, which helps quick deployment of systems and processes at new project sites. Other advantages include a lower cost of ownership; and enhanced workflow efficiencies, security and network control.

This year, the company plans to undertake further network upgrades. “We are looking at upgrading various applications that are currently deployed on our network as well as the intranet. These will be undertaken in August and September respectively. We also plan to move various applications to the cloud platform by end-2014,” he says.

Net, net, the deployment of a multilayered communications set-up has helped the real estate major streamline

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