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Telecom Management: XLRI upgrades its communication set-up

July 03, 2014
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The XLRI - Xavier School of Management, established in 1949 in Jamshedpur, is amongst the country’s leading business schools today. The institute offers study programmes in business management, general management, industrial relations welfare, human resource management, financial management, retail management, and sales and marketing management. The institute’s initial focus on being technology friendly has paved the way for the introduction of several e-initiatives. The upgradation of infrastructure at XLRI includes making the entire campus a Wi-Fi zone, introducing new online courses, conducting workshops and seminars, implementing live projects and setting up an e-business centre that aims to facilitate industry-academia interface.

Being a leading B-school, the institute has been making significant investments in its telecom set-up to create a whole new batch of technology-savvy managers.

tele.net takes a look at the institute’s communication set-up…

Communications infrastructure

According to S.K. Tiwary, information technology officer, XLRI, the institute has been spearheading IT initiatives for the past 28 years. In 1987, it assisted the State Bank of India to computerise its operations for various loan schemes and used the infrastructure developed for research, consultancy and administrative functions within its campus. “Each year we upgrade our IT infrastructure, both hardware and software, as well as our other digital resources in order to groom our students to keep up with the ever-changing technological requirements of the industry,” says Tiwary.

In its early days, the campus had just four minicomputers. However, over the years, it has adopted new-age technologies to create a holistic communication set-up. At present, XLRI has an integrated campus-wide voice communication system with an SIP-enabled and IP-based communication server. This set-up gives the institute the flexibility to upgrade its existing network to meet its future communication requirements. For connectivity, XLRI has opted for high-end multi-tier switching architecture, which supports 10G connectivity between the core network and the distribution switch and 1G connectivity between distribution and edge locations. Meanwhile, XLRI’s 22 lecture halls are equipped with high speed internet connectivity.

The computing resources at XLRI include high-end servers, which host the XLRI web page, mail and SNTP server, Oracle, Lotus notes, SAS, DB2 and other software. Further, the institute’s telecom set-up, which is based on the wide area network, offers connectivity speeds of 310 Mbps. In addition, it has opted for a Gigabit-based fibre backbone, which supports the institute’s local area network. Students are equipped with laptops/desktops and have round-the-clock access to the intra-net as well as the internet. Academic activities such as e-bulletin boards, e-discussion forums, grades and feedback, on-line leave applications, course outlines, electives, handouts and class schedules are available to the faculty, students and the administration on their desktop. XLRI also provides a web-hosted SAP solution for hands-on enterprise resource planning through the University Alliance programme.

The institute has evolved various virtual interactive learning (VIL) programmes on business management, human resource management, logistics and supply chain management, etc. These programmes are offered across the country, with technology support from Hughes Communication India and Reliance World. In the near future, XLRI plans to launch VIL-based programmes in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

According to Tiwary, “Apart from individual nodes, more than 500 units of the latest Pentium workstations, scanners, laser printers or desk jet printers, close circuit cameras, multimedia projectors, digital cameras, etc. are provided to meet the communication requirements of students and faculty. XLRI also has its own videoconferencing facility, supported by dedicated ISDN lines.” At present, the institute’s IT infrastructure is being utilised by over 800 students and about 66 faculty members. XLRI has secured its internal infrastructure by deploying high-end UTM and controller-based CISCO Wi-Fi access points.

Challenges and benefits

Commenting on the challenges faced by the institute in upgrading its infrastructure, Tiwary says, “Institutions typically face challenges in terms of scaling up their IT infrastructure.” He further adds that while IT infrasructure continues to be a critical element in the functioning of an organisation, the costs associated with managing IT assets at the required service levels are far too high. Thus, there is a need for robust IT infrastructure, which offers high reliability, round-the-clock availability, remote manageability and optimum scalability at affordable costs. In addition, emerging concepts like cloud computing, hosted environment, on-demand services, virtualisation and software-as-a-service are changing the way institutions set up and manage their overall IT infrastructure, thereby resulting in new opportunities and challenges.

Going forward, XLRI plans to make significant investments in cloud computing and online resource sharing with leading global universities. In addition, the institute is focused on strengthening the security of its existing infrastructure in order to provide a wide range of services in an unrestricted environment.

 
 
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