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Setting New Standards - Business Standard raises the technology bar

November 15, 2009



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Published from 14 centres in India, Business Standard, a reputed national business daily, was quick to recognise the potential of telecom as a strategic business tool. The aim was to create a value chain encompassing everyone involved in the production process and streamline information flow. tele.net takes a look at the company's telecom-related initiatives...

Background

Started in 1975 as part of the Anandabazar Patrika Group, Business Standard was hived off as a separate company in 1996. It was thereafter bought by Mumbai-based financial investors.

The daily is brought out in both English and Hindi. The English editions are published from 12 centres –­ Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Pune, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar and Kochi –­ and distributed across 1,000 towns and cities across the country. The Hindi edition was launched in February 2008 and is published from seven centres.

Legacy system

Initially, the business daily had a relatively simple communications infrastructure, comprising a tower-based server, limited connectivity links provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and a few desktop computers.

However, in view of the company's rapidly expanding business profile, it realised that its telecom infrastructure was insufficient to meet its professional goals.As the load demand had increased at the same time, the technology was outdated and had very little room for scaling up applications. It also did not have the required robustness for future growth.

The shift

To start with, the company turned its attention to enhancing its wide area network (WAN). Several technologies were implemented –­ MLLN provided by MTNL; ISDN provided by Bharti Airtel and MTNL; high speed internet from Sify Technologies and Tata Communications; and MPLS provided by Sify. For last mile connectivity, Business Standard opted for optic fibre connectivity and wireless local loop.

Several components were used for ensuring network security by implementing security devices like firewalls with UTM facility in the gateway; anti-spam devices for mailing solutions and antivirus applications to protect the Business Standard network from any potential threat.

In order to balance the load on the telecom infrastructure and evenly distribute various tasks across the system, software applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and Lotus Domino were implemented in cluster mode across two hubs. ERP, using a common database containing all the data for various modules pertaining to functions such as HRIS, finance, media-specific modules like ad-booking, daily sales reports and circulation, posed a challenge for remote users. This was resolved by deploying MPLS links and terminal servers for faster access. The online ad-booking module and pagination software needed more bandwidth and was managed by routers, UTM and rigorous monitoring of network utilisation.

In terms of enterprise applications, video and audio conferencing has provided the company with an economical and convenient communications medium. The company's online news portal also provides fast and easy access to the latest news, opinion pieces and features. In fact, the media major provides RSS feeds and a WAP portal with news links and updates on users' mobile handsets.

Challenges and benefits

A few lingering concerns for the company have been the cost of telecom equipment and keeping pace with rapid technology advances. With numerous developments in telecom and the need for faster access, remote access to servers posed a huge challenge in terms of network security. This was managed by implementing selective security solutions at the gateway and client levels.However, these demand regular monitoring and upgrades in infrastructure.

All in all, by stepping up its IT and telecom infrastructure, Business Standard has been able to cut the cost of communication, enhance overall productivity and efficiency, and disseminate news faster via new mediums. By scaling up its IT infrastructure, the business daily has been able to cut the cost of communication, enhance productivity and disseminate news faster via new mediums.



 
 

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