by January 29, 2013 0 comments

Being a pan-India distribution company for top vendors from across the globe has its own set of challenges, least of which is fast network connectivity across locations. Neoteric Informatique is an IT distribution company that does distribution of everything from components, to PCs, to enterprise business hardware. Having 48 branches, distributing more than 45 product lines and made up of 750+ people around the country, connectivity between vendors and channel partners is an essential need. Working as distribution partners with the likes of Acer, Apple, they have distribution reach across all parts of India. Given this situation, they found it imperative to have reliable networks working at all their major branches, with a simple management system to go along with it.

Business challenges faced

Starting their distribution business in 1997, neoteric has grown at a rapid pace and faced a few problems that needed help.

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Connectivity To Data Centre: Since there were so many branches of neoteric across the country, there was an essential need for connectivity to their data center, off which their own ERP software was running. They also needed a solid connection to support intranet, especially in their major branches across the country

Feasibility of Connectivity: Anup Nair (Head IT) told us that “Many of our warehouse locations are outside the city areas. In such locations, connectivity can be an issue. Although we had multiple service providers for redundancy purposes, airtel was the first operator to step up and do a feasibility study of all the 25 locations we needed”. This way, airtel went the extra mile to give feedback to neoteric, and managed to install network services in all of the warehouse locations.

Troubleshooting: neoteric had an architecture where they were using multiple service providers, so local branches were tied up with local ISPs for their internet connectivity. A lot of time was wasted in troubleshooting network problems and identifying usage of bandwidth at the local level. Since routers were outsourced from local ISPs, time was wasted in contacting them to come and fix network issues.

Loss caused by downtime: With previous dependence on multiple providers, neoteric had to deal with downtime caused by network issues. Their intranet, ERP and mail depended on the network, and this caused much loss in work throughput when the network was down.

No Centralized Account Management: neoteric was also struggling monitoring bandwidth usage because each branch had their own solution for network. Billing was also a problem because distribution centres in each part of India had their own billing and account management system, so there was a lot of overhead gathering data and keeping account of all the branches’ usage.

The solution

After going through an evaluation process and considering three different service providers, neoteric decided to go through with airtel’s services.

Bouquet of services: neoteric wants to roll out MPLS connections to its major branches in a stage-wise rollout, and airtel was the only provider that understood the needs of neoteric as an SMB, having to adopt a staggered approach. airtel offered them the services and account management needed only for the services they had needed, and the locations they wanted.

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Account management: airtel also provided the best account management to neoteric, treating them as enterprise even though, according to Nair, “they saw themselves more as an SMB.” They got the full support in terms of pricing from airtel, and most importantly, could manage all of their locations from a centralized account. This meant that the overhead dealing with multiple accounts and payments were reduced dramatically.

Transparency: airtel was the only service provider providing total transparency with their services in terms of pricing and features. Although neoteric themselves get the best prices for hardware (being distribution partners for hardware manufacturers), they actually decided to go with airtel even for the hardware because of the attractive package they were offering.

Eight major locations of neoteric are running on airtel’s MPLS (certified by CISCO) right now, and the rest are using slower versions of local Internet. Nair pointed out that they encountered absolutely no downtime with airtel services, and that the ease of getting help really impressed neoteric. Whenever any network is down, the head office contacts an airtel account manager, who immediately sends support to help fix the situation. Also, using airtel services, neoteric has been able to get uninterrupted coverage for their warehouses outside city areas. Nair was keen to point out that the biggest improvement was in the centralized account management, as neoteric’s head office is able to track bandwidth usages of all their branches from a single location, which has been critical to control the balance of use across all their locations.

Business impact

airtel has offered neoteric the flexibility of experimenting with their network connections. If neoteric wanted to adjust their network speeds from 4 MBPS to 8 MBPS for a period of 2 months, airtel has been willing to offer them a trial period initially for them to check if the adjustment is necessary. Nair also recounted an incident about 2 years back, when neoteric’s head office met with a fire accident, and their server rooms got damaged. They had to relocate their office for a period of one and a half months, during which they desperately needed voice and network connectivity. While they contacted multiple service providers to help them, airtel was the first operator to jump in and help setup the networking services needed in their office. Instead of becoming a time-consuming process, the airtel executives took care of everything at the back-end quickly so that neoteric got their network connectivity back on track.

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