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Telecom Management: IIM Ahmedabad keeps pace with the latest communication technologies

July 11, 2013

The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad was established in 1961 as an autonomous body through collaboration between the central and Gujarat governments. The institute offers study programmes including a fellow programme in management, a postgraduate programme in management, a postgraduate programme in agribusiness

 

management, a one-year postgraduate programme in management for executives, a postgraduate programme in public

management and policy, and a faculty development programme. IIM Ahmedabad’s partner institutes include the Chicago Graduate School of Business, the Anderson School of Business, the Stern School of Business (New York University), Institut de Empressario, ESSEC and the Stockholm School of Economics.

In order to streamline connectivity within the campus and improve the delivery of educational and research content, IIM Ahmedabad has taken steps to upgrade its telecom infrastructure.

tele.net takes a look at the business school’s communications set-up...

Existing infrastructure

According to Sunil Garg, manager, IT services, IIM Ahmedabad, keeping pace with the latest trends in technology has always been a priority for the institute. “We have systematically upgraded all components of our communications set-up. Today, a state-of-the-art telecom system is in place; only the salary management system is part of the old set-up,” he says.

At present, the institute has a multi-tiered infrastructure in place. Leased lines form the backbone of the communications system and are used for external communication. IIM Ahmedabad has deployed a 45 Mbps leased line sourced from Tata Communications, a 100 Mbps leased line provided by the National Knowledge Network and a 16 Mbps leased line delivered by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.

The institute has also deployed over 100 high-end managed network switches to accommodate internal data traffic. All locations on the campus including dormitories, faculty offices and classrooms have network connectivity. The institute has deployed a wireless layer (Wi-Fi technology) on this network. “Each student has access to this network as well as a wired connection,” says Garg. Further, the institute has deployed mediums such as firewalls to secure the network. It uses ISDN/IP-based connectivity for videoconferencing. Faculty and staff residences have also been provided intranet connectivity through long-range Ethernet technology.

Last mile connectivity is being offered through an optic fibre network, which offers multiple benefits. “This platform provides very high bandwidth as compared to other cable-based data transmission mediums. Further, it is flexible and meets high bandwidth requirements. With new variants in optic fibre cabling, equipment can be added to the inert fibre cable which can provide an expanded capacity over the original fibre network. Dense wavelength division multiplexing gives optic fibre cabling the ability to turn various wavelengths of light travelling down the fibre on and off, as per requirement. Fibre also enables dynamic network bandwidth provisioning to accommodate data traffic spikes and lulls.”

Besides standard telecom applications, several IT applications are being deployed. These systems are being installed in a compartmentalised manner on the basis of departments or activities. We have deployed different systems for our postgraduate programmes and accounting functions. We also have a separate system for our management development programmes,” notes Garg.

For academic facilities such as e-learning, the institute has deployed the open source moodle learning management system. The institute uses  the human resource management software for all activities related to human resources. “We also have separate software to manage the grading system used in our postgraduate programmes,” says Garg.

A state-of-the-art computer network with more than 2,000 nodes connects all members of the institute. It uses its official website to reach out to a wide audience by offering information on the courses available, research and exchange programmes, papers and publications, etc.

For network security, the institute uses the Fortigate firewall, while system redundancy is ensured through its existing servers.

Challenges and benefits

IIM Ahmedabad did not face any major challenges while upgrading its network. As per Garg, the existing infrastructure offers the education major improved connectivity and high bandwidth enables it to better utilise its existing telecom and IT resources. “Also, the network helped us achieve significant operational efficiency, reduce costs and streamline communication channels between our various departments,” says Garg.

Going forward, the institute plans to purchase a core L3 switch to replace the old switch in its communications network. “This will help us enhance the speed offered by the network,” adds Garg.

Therefore, IIM Ahmedabad’s decision to overhaul its IT infrastructure was a timely one and this has allowed the institute to reap the benefits of a flexible and scalable infrastructure.

 
 

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