Author's Picture Issue: India 2008
Article no.: 7
Topic: Networks – sustaining the global economy
Author: Neeraj Gulati
Title: Vice President and Managing Director
Organisation: Ciena India
PDF size: 229KB

About author

Neeraj Gulati is the Vice President and Managing Director of Ciena India. Mr Gulati has held various management positions at Ciena, which he joined when Ciena acquired Lightera Networks. At Nortel, he participated in the development of the Passport product line. Mr Gulati started his career at Bell Northern Research as a Network Architect. He is currently on sabbatical from his MBA programme at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Mr Gulati has published three papers and has been granted seven United States patents. Mr Gulati holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from University of Saskatchewan, Canada and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from NIT Trichy, India.

Article abstract

Global connectivity makes information available at the click of the mouse. Connectivity makes global collaboration possible, bringing greater efficiency and productivity. The world’s economy depends upon reliable and secure connectivity. Communications networks are essential to the businesses that support the world’s economies handling billions of dollars of real-time financial transactions, so much so that even a few seconds of network failure can cost millions of dollars. Innovative uses of telecommunications have pushed economic development in even the remotest parts of India.

Full Article

The exponential growth of global communication networks is diminishing national boundaries, making information stored across the world readily available at the click of the mouse and connecting people across disparate locations. The globalisation of networks is also bringing the world ‘together’ more quickly, enabling mankind to collectively harness the benefits of global connectivity such as global demand, supply, education, research, entertainment and so forth. The benefits of network globalization are most evident in the business world. Communications networks are an essential business requirement to support the globalization of the world’s major economies, including billions of dollars of real-time financial transactions. It is no surprise that today’s dependency on the network for mission-critical business applications can have devastating economic implications if the network is crippled. Even a few seconds of network failure can cost large financial organisations doing business in world markets millions of dollars. Let us take the undersea cable cuts earlier this year as one example. Seventy per cent of the Internet traffic between Europe and Asia was disrupted for nearly two weeks when three undersea cables in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf were accidentally cut within days of each other, followed by two further incidents a week later. In Egypt, this resulted in a loss of 70 per cent of its Internet connections. In Dubai, which is heavily reliant on electronic means for financial transactions, the cable cuts crippled its business sector and caused a slowdown of Dubai’s stock exchange. In India, where bandwidth was slashed by 50 per cent, the cuts not only affected the local economy but also had major secondary consequences for the rest of the world. Our outsourcing industry was left scrambling; this subsequently disrupted business in the U.S. given the number of companies that outsource customer-service call centres and other back-office operations to India. Furthermore, this network globalisation is not limited to the world’s businesses. Government and research and education networks worldwide rely on terrestrial networks and undersea cables for global data interchange and cutting-edge research and development. Distance radiology is becoming a commonplace method for handling off-hour emergencies using global networks to transport medical imaging scans to radiologists halfway around the world. Endless benefits of seamless connectivity However, the benefits of globalized communications networks extend far beyond the macro economies. The technology innovations enabled by networks have given a new dimension to the concept of collaboration. Seamless connectivity has given rise to new possibilities of working together – toward common objectives of greater efficiency and higher productivity. This, in turn, has brought along a spirit that transcends boundaries to invoke innovation as the next engine of growth in this highly competitive world, thus giving a new meaning to entrepreneurship. With India being the fastest growing telecoms market in the world – worth around US$40 to $45 billion by 2010 with an expected 500 million subscribers and 20 million broadband subscribers – it is clear that we, as a nation, must harness the benefits of technology-led innovation to speed go-to-market capabilities and gain additional competitive advantage. For example, the ubiquity of mobile phones has allowed ordinary Indians to use the technology in very innovative ways to improve the quality of their lives. Fishermen working off the Alappuzha coast discovered that their handsets’ range was good enough for a few kilometres offshore and quickly networked among themselves so that they could all benefit from the seasonal marine bounty known as chakara. In Delhi, some enterprising youngsters pushed a handcart through crowded colonies offering a chalta-phirtha PCO (mobile telephone booth). In the hilly Malappuram district of Kerala, wireless Internet has been deployed in a people’s participatory effort known as Akshaya to kick-start an ambitious e-literacy campaign. In the town of Malappuram itself, driven purely by consumer self-interest, the total number of telephones – fixed and mobile – quickly exceeded the total population of 5,900, a phenomenon rarely seen anywhere in the world outside big metros. Ensuring seamless connectivity It is evident that network globalisation, and thereby seamless connectivity, can bring about innovation in global economies, businesses of all sizes and in our communities. However, for these benefits to be realized, there is a need to ensure that the next generation infrastructure is in place to enable this seamless network connectivity – especially in India as a country where progressive infrastructure development is often the primary reason for frequent ‘network-down’ situations. Thus, it is a huge challenge today for not only large corporations but also service providers, carriers and network designers to ensure that we plan and construct an intelligent network architecture that is immune to network-down situations. Next-generation converged networks that deliver seamless connectivity need to demonstrate: • Multiservice flexibility; • Economics that scale appropriately; • Common control for all traffic types; • Guaranteed performance; and • Practical and customizable transition. Moreover, resiliency, scalability, reliability and robustness are governing imperatives of a seamlessly connected assured network. The network specialists of today need to keep these at the top of network architecture while taking decisions of creating a seamless network that promises and rises up to the said SLAs (service level agreements) and QoS (quality of service) parameters: • Resiliency – Operators need to ensure continuous, reliable operation, including access to network resources for both end-users and critical operations; • Secure Operations – Operators must prevent unauthorized access and disruption to network elements and management systems, and protect data carried over the network; and • Trusted Network Systems – Network elements and architectures must be validated to ensure reliable operation and continuous data integrity. Service providers, government agencies, utilities, transportation companies and financial services are examples of organisations demanding flexibility in their networks without compromising any of the attributes mentioned above. There is a dire need to design networks that meet such specific demands through intelligence and automation while supporting all attributes of assured network architecture. To play in the globalized networking domain, and benefit from growing worldwide connectivity demands, network operators have to recognise that the future belongs to those who can provide its user base with a secure and high performing network. The business conditions in India, specifically, are conducive and there is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of developed countries. It is an interesting path ahead and a great opportunity to be part of the connectivity revolution.