On Comeback Trail



It’s the day after the day after the party. Yes, the day after the hangover–and
the post-celebration blues have lifted a bit. It’s time to think rationally
and brush away some of the yarns that the depression had spun. 

The IT boom had created certain holy angels–buzzwords that drew companies
and professionals to software projects. The proliferation of dot-coms put
Web-based technologies and software language Java–in all its forms–on a
pedestal. Software projects in all other geographies apart from the US were
viewed as ‘not so significant’ and software professionals made a beeline for
companies with the maximum number of US-based projects in the bag.

Aditi Technologies
Client: Microsoft, Redmond, US 
Nature of project: Offshore plus on location
Duration of project: Ongoing
Manpower deployed: 100+
Technology used: Almost every emerging MS technology–.NET, BizTalk, Content Management Server, Commerce Server 2000, Exchange Server, Win CE.

Aditi has been providing software services for Microsoft for the last seven years. Currently, Aditi is a primary onsite and projects vendor for Microsoft, executing a stream of projects for various groups. Aditi is one of the elite few designated project development vendors for Microsoft. Since Aditi works so closely with Microsoft, the company gets exposed to new technologies much earlier than others – right in the concept stages — and its employees are familiar with using these technologies when they actually get released. For example, Aditi delivered solutions on Exchange 2k, BizTalk server etc…even before those products were officially launched.

Cognizant Technology Solutions
Client: Drivelogic
Drivelogic is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CCC Information Services Inc focused on providing Internet and wireless-enabled technology solutions to the accident management industry. Cognizant developed a comprehensive, end-to-end Internet based, collaborative interchange focused on providing large-scale efficiencies to the automotive collision supply chain. Cognizant’s B2B solution for Drivelogic links key participants in the industry, including insurers, collision repairers, appraisers, salvage yards and parts suppliers in an integrated network.

By streamlining collaboration among industry players, and providing ‘just in time’ predictive information at critical points in the accident management supply chain, Cognizant’s Internet and wireless solutions have helped Drivelogic reduce the amount of time needed to get the driver back in his or her car after an accident. These new efficiencies cut cycle time in half, resulting in significantly improved customer satisfaction and retention.

Geometric Software Solutions
Project: Virtual Try-On
Client: ePeople Technologies

The project involved the development of a web-based solution for beauty and fashion products that simulates the real shopping experience. Online shopping offers customers the advantage of shopping at leisure, but falls short in matching the satisfaction of experiencing the product. The Dynamic imaging technology, which is developed in this project, offers customers the experience of an interactive try-on/makeover session, on their own photograph or standard photographs. With simple ‘click and point methods’, customers can instantly try-on clothes, shades of cosmetics, jewelry, hairstyles and hair color. The Try-On technology replicates real world color perception to a high degree, by using image processing techniques.

HCL Infosystems
Client: Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore
Nature of project: Predominantly onsite in Singapore
Duration: 12 months
Technology used: Operating System: HP-UX, HP9000, HP4000 Series with VA7400 Virtual Array, Oracle 8.1.7 database,
ABAP/4, ASAP Tools, R/3 Resident Tools, PC Based Tools, MS Project.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is Singapore’s national planning authority, and has a crucial role in planning the nation’s future. The HCL Infosystems’ project achieved benefits like improved data accuracy and localized information, freed up HR staff to improve service business and provided continuous and direct access of information to managers.

The SAP R/3 solution interfaced with the Integrated Land Use System (ILUS), Car Park System, TOL System, etc. These systems were supported with the following services: maintenance and support, documentation, training services, and data conversion and migration.

The introduction of integrated financial system will generate benefits like elimination of manual invoicing and posting efforts, reduce inter-company reconciliation efforts. Timely and accurate posting of cost and liabilities, automated payment due date tracking and reduction of paper work is another benefit. Cash forecast is automated, allowing for sufficient working capital at the right time. The general ledger entries are carried out as an integrated part of the normal system routines, which will speed up closing and provide for flexible reporting.

Earlier, business information was available in
URA, but fragmented across disparate systems, across functional units. Having an integrated ERP system allowed URA a corporate view of the business and address the issues of duplication and interfacing between operational systems resulting in lower cost, higher performance, quality and speed.

Kale Consultants
Project: Enterprise Cargo Solution 
Client: Asiana Airlines, Korea
Nature of project: Offshore/onshore, on location 
Duration of project: 1.5 years 
Technology used: Case tools from CA (Computer Associates) called Advantage Gen 6.0, Eureka Servers for reports, n-tier architecture. 
Manpower deployed: 38 personnel from Kale Consultants, 15 from
Asiana.
Revenue: $5 million 

The project involves replacement of the inflexible legacy systems of Asiana with Kale’s flexible, modular and scalable cargo solutions- CSPâ„¢ and AMBERâ„¢ and enhancement of the CSP product. The project will achieve the following: 

n Provide a complete end-to-end enterprise cargo solution to Asiana 
n
Enable tighter control of flight planning through the allotment process and facilitate exchange of data within the cargo business community including customs; also cover areas such as ULD Tracking, e -Business, Data warehousing etc.

The project is a 24 x 7 x 365 online real-time solution, mission critical to
Asiana. The application will cater to over 450 users – located at Asiana offices and airports in more than 50 cities across the globe. Asiana is also promoting the usage of Internet for booking, track and trace functionality, bringing large number of on-line users to the application. This project development is being carried out across three continents (London, Mumbai and Seoul), covering three time zones, with three different cultures. The project is managed from UK, with the development team based at India and the user teams from Asiana based in Korea. It also involves setting up the necessary communication links across different continents. The cargo solution is expected to generate a business of over $20 million for Kale Consultants over the next five years, as it is rolled out to other carriers worldwide.

Hughes Software Systems
Client: Hughes Network Systems
Nature of Project: Offshore (Gurgaon)
Duration: 3 calendar years
Manpower deployed: 240+ man years
Revenues: 22.4% of total revenues
Technology: GSM, GEM Air Interface-based system, NM, (SNMP, CMIP). Software developed was both for Real time
[VXWorks] embedded systems and high availability host based system (Sun Solaris). 

GEO Satellite based mobile communication system for offering voice and circuit switch Data and Fax services. HSS had the following key responsibilities in the projects: 

Adaptation of GSM air interface protocol specifications for satellite communication and validation of these; Implementation of the air interface protocol on Gateway Station Sub System; Building simulators for the Satellite Gateway and for the user terminals; Development of modules of Traffic Control Subsystem; Building a network management system for the Gateway Station. The Thuraya system was successfully launched for service operation and has more than over 50,000 subscribers across different countries.

Infosys Technologies
Project: Injection molding machines
Client: Van Dorn Demag Corporation (VDDC)
Technology: J2EE architecture, Development platform-ATG Dynamo Enterprise Portal Suite 5.6 on Sun Solaris, Verity Search Engine, iPlanet Directory server and Web Server and an Oracle 8i Database.

Van Dorn Demag Corporation (VDDC), part of a joint venture between Siemens AG and Robert Bosch, is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of injection molding machines to the North American plastics processing industry. Injection Molding is a repetitive process in which melted or plasticized plastic is injected or forced into a mold cavity where it is held under pressure. Injection molding can be used to manufacture a wide variety of products. Injection molding without rejects is the objective of a molder.

The relationship with VDDC started with a project to convert paper drawings to Pro/Engineer models/drawings in September 1999. Later on, Infosys was provided an opportunity to design a new vertical Injection molding machine, which was to be exhibited in an international plastics exposition. This paved the way for VDDC recognizing Infosys as a partner in their design and development projects. Presently Infosys is partnering VDDC in the development of new range of machines called ‘ZAP’ and ‘Praxis’. These projects are mission critical, since these are the future ranges of machines of VDDC. Praxis is a vertical Injection molding machine with a rotary table configuration. ZAP range of machines are electrically operated Injection Molding machines. Launching ZAP is mission critical for VDDC to regain its lost market share.

The concept design phase was given paramount importance. Though a perfect design is far from reality, more the number of alternatives tried out at design stage, better the design. Various alternate designs were evaluated for each of the sub-systems, before a concept was taken up for detailed design. Major components and sub-systems were optimized. Infosys offshore and onsite teams worked round the clock resulting in compressing the development time.

NIIT
Client: Toshiba
Technologies used: Solaris platform using JAVA technologies, with Oracle 8.0 

NIIT’s foray into the automotive sector started in 1996. NIIT worked with Toshiba on two projects for a Japanese auto major. In 1999, the same auto major asked Toshiba to take on their most ambitious global project for convergence of their worldwide operations on the web. The project involved the complete restructuring of global operations and web-deployment of complete information and management systems involving product planning, ordering, demand and supply, inventory tracking, pricing, sales and logistics management. The task defined for NIIT was development of an interface wherein apart from product and parts pricing, anytime-tracking could be made for any shipment from anywhere in the world. This meant developing a really superior communication platform, for 24x7x365 global connectivity. The prime concerns were control and security followed by the total cost to completion. NIIT joined the project in April 2000, and developed the project on Netscape. Using simulation logic for bringing a balance between production and out -of-the port consignments, NIIT has developed the entire processes, cycles and systems with Netscape Application.

Mastek
Project: Connexions Card
Company: Capita Business Services, UK
Nature of project: Offshore/onsite
Duration: 5 months
Technology: Hardware: E4503-RR1 Rack-Ready Sun Enterprise 4500 Servers, Operating System Solaris. Software:
XML, J2EE, iPlanet, Oracle 8i

The Connexions Card project was conceived, as a part of the government’s strategy to encourage young British school students to continue beyond their compulsory schooling and was backed by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. Students would be rewarded for learning by earning points, which could later be used to claim rewards. The Connexions Card was designed as a multi-purpose smart card with a chip to store basic information about the student, such as date of birth and details of the Learning Centre. Mastek was required to help interface this card with the Connexions card reader software that had been developed to capture the attendance records and transfer them to the central system for processing. Points would be automatically credited to a student’s account everytime the card is swiped for marking the attendance in the classes. Thus enabling the cards to be used to monitor and track the student’s progress. Besides, cases of low attendance could now be highlighted and attended to. Mastek worked on this project with its business partner, Capita Business Services in the UK.

RMSI
Project: NetGIS
Client: OYO Corporation, Japan
Nature of project: Offshore + onsite
Duration: 18 months (Phase I)
Technology used: Windows 2000 Server with Java enabled WebBrowser (IE). Mapping Server–Mapinfo’s MapXtreme for Java Database. Oracle 8i(Spatial)

OYO had an immediate need to develop a fast and scalable solution, that would allow access to its centralized spatial data store to enable data sharing across the enterprise spread over 40 locations in Japan. The solution developed had to be flexible enough to allow access to their key clients via extranet, or over the Internet at a later stage. A large proportion of users would be using GIS technology for the first time. Hence the system had to be intuitive and user-friendly, and yet be capable of performing advanced functions. The solution developed for the client was feature rich, robust, scalable and completely user configurable with sophisticated access control layers providing data protection. The system is bilingual, highly parameterized and user configurable, robust, scalable and fast–tested for 100 concurrent users with an average response time of 3-5 sec for various functionalities.

Oracle India
Client: Ashok Leyland Ltd (ALL), Chennai
Centralized deployment of applications Better administration, Maintenance, lower cost of deployment
Oracle9i Database, Oracle9i RAC, Oracle9i Application Server Oracle 11i E-Business Suite and technology skills
Spider Systems
Client: Indian Seamless Metal Tubes 
Nature of project: Onsite 
Duration of project: 4 Months
Technology used: Linux, Oracle 9iAS, Oracle 8i, Forms6i, Reports6i
Manpower deployed: 4

The tube manufacturing company wanted to web enable its legacy application. Spider Systems did the conversion of the legacy application and its migration to Oracle 9iAS. The software, developed on Oracle Forms, was converted to the latest Forms 6i and migrated onto Oracle 9iAS to web enable the forms. The Oracle 9iAS was installed on a Linux server. Spider Systems installed the Oracle9iAS (Application Server) using a Linux Platform, which majorly reduced the cost of IT setup for the company.The existing application included over 500 forms and reports, which were then converted to the latest Oracle 6i version and migrated onto the Oracle 9iAS server to web enable them. This conversion enabled other branches to log on to the head office server, again resulting in huge savings on cost. On job training on conversion of forms was also provided to the customer. The entire project was delivered using Linux as the platform for the Oracle 9iAS Server and Oracle Database. Using Linux majorly reduced the cost of ownership for the client and provided the client with a cutting edge technology solution at a low cost.

Tata Consultancy Services
Client: Government of Andhra Pradesh 
Duration: 12 months
Manpower deployed: Peak team size of 100
Technology used: Lotus Domino application server and a web server, Oracle
RDBMS, and unstructured documents and textual information in Lotus Domino Doc.

SMARTGOV is a framework for automating the functions of any government department at all levels of the administrative hierarchy. TCS has implemented the framework at the secretariat of the state government of Andhra Pradesh. There is a lot of information flow in the form of files among government officials. Some of the problems associated with the manual methods of information flow at the secretariat were: multiple levels of processing, repetitive processing of files at different levels, inability to prioritize and organize the files and inter-departmental consultations that resulted in inordinate delays. TCS was required to develop an electronic workplace that would: create an office management system, prevent duplication of work and enable better communication through a network.

Around 500 applications were required to be developed to meet these objectives. TCS proposed a network management system to manage the network resources, security controls, switches, servers, and other network-based applications such as messaging. The system was planned to cover both the central information system and the departmental information system, and to control the access privileges within a department or across two departments. The technical solution suggested by TCS was a groupware environment based on an IBM platform with the high-level architecture. Team Studio, a third-party tool, was used to manage the development environment. The overall project management was handled through MS-Project, IPMS and PROMPT. Key members of the team were provided additional guidance on Lotus Notes products through training sessions conducted by experts from the US and Japanese offices of Lotus. The payoffs included enhanced productivity, reduced paperwork, easy access to information, automatic prioritization of work.

Zensar Technologies
Project: Integrating worldwide systems
Client: Trimble Corporation, USA
Duration: Launched in January 2002, the project is in its second expected to be complete by Novemeber 2002.

The Trimble Corporation makes navigation systems and software based on the Global positioning System (GPS) satellite network. Having grown through the acquisition route, Trimble had inherited a wide array of disparate IT systems. It faced fractured internal systems; the financial management infrastructure was not uniform with different databases making varied interpretations of business data. 

For unifying Trimble’s diverse systems worldwide, Zensar suggested a web-based solution for Trimble’s ERP systems. One part of this entailed migrating Trimble’s systems from a 10.7 Version of Oracle to the 11i platform, while for the rest of the systems, it had to be fresh implementation of the 11i Version.

Polaris Software
Project: Global Banking
Solutions(GBS)
Client: NEC Solutions
Duration: Started in April 1999. To continue for a few more years.
Revenues: Annuity business in excess of $5 million
Manpower deployed: 175 associates
Technology covered: C++ in the Unix platform with Oracle as the backend and Tuxedo as middle ware. Rational Rose.
Predominant IT skills used: C++, Unix, UML, Rational Rose

Polaris is major player in the multi vendor multi location (MVML) environment and has a share of close to 65% of volume of work on the development of this Global Banking Solution. Close to 90% of project team members are working offshore. The rest are onsite at Tokyo and San Jose (USA). The company’s key achievements lie in being able to absorb Japanese banking domain knowledge and culture, demonstrating the capability to ramp-up and ramp down resources as per project needs. The project is based on open system architecture so that it is viable to be implemented even with small and medium size banks.

Sonata Software
Client: Franklin Templeton Companies, LLC
Technology used: J2EE architecture. Development platform-ATG Dynamo Enterprise Portal Suite 5.6 on Sun Solaris, Verity

Search Engine, iPlanet Directory server and Web Server and an Oracle 8i Database.

Franklin Templeton Companies is a US based global asset management company, employing over 6,000 people, with a presence in over 28 countries. The client was undecided and deliberated on his technical requirements for about two years. The need was for a solution to handle global distribution and the ever-increasing amount of information available for investment management and to centralize research data to make it more readily available and provide forums for discussion, collaboration and knowledge sharing across the globe. A web-based solution–a research portal was developed for the customer to consolidate and integrate global research information into a single web based system. This portal system provides seamless access to all investment research related information, internal and external, structured and unstructured for portfolio research Analysts and portfolio managers. The company wide system is extensible and scalable to facilitate handling of global distribution and ever-increasing amount of information available for investment management. The solution provided a single point of access to aggregated information across many business units along with the personalization capability option to the end user.

Wipro Technologies
Client: Lattice Group
Nature of project: Onsite 
Manpower deployed: Current team size 90; Peak Team size: 170
Revenue: $ 70 million. This was the largest contract won by Wipro Technologies.
Duration: 14 months

The Lattice Group of UK, has built a state-of-the-art national fiber network for providing carriers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and businesses with a range of cost-effective, secure, reliable, high-speed telecom and data services. The company has laid around 2,000 kilometres of
fibre-optic cable across the UK. The business goal of the customer was to spearhead the establishment of a broadband economy. This project is for the implementation of end-to-end OSS and BSS system to support the entire suite of network and services and in the process facilitate customer’s strategic intent. The broad challenge for the project has been to achieve the functional richness combined with optimized architecture and flexibility. Wipro adopted the TOM model as the guiding framework of the architecture. The project passed through the AMDOCS design scrutiny, commissioned by the customer.

WiproWebsecure implementation helped in blocking intrusion attempt by professional hackers. Technology used:
CRM- Clarify suite from AMDOCS, Service Provisioning- E*Insight from
SeeBeyond. Sun Microsystems’ iPlanet, ATG’s Dynamo Commerce suite, Wipro’s Web Secure for the Web portal. GE SmallWorld network management products for inventory management.

XacctUsage, Infranet and Interconnect for billing.

When the downturn hit the celebrations, the very same buzzwords became
untouchable overnight, seen as spirits that hindered survival. As it has turned
out, the fears were misplaced–the dot-com bust was mainly a result of unviable
revenue models and unrealistic expectations… and there’s nothing wrong with
the Internet itself, or Java for that matter. In fact, as things begin to look
up, a blend of offshore and onsite deployment of resources, Web-based projects
and the need for integration have emerged as the hottest commonalities among
software projects.

And though depending exclusively on the US is a bad idea, the reality is that
even today, a bulk of the software projects executed by Indian software
companies come from the US. However, Japan is fast emerging as a favorite
destination and the demand for software professionals with a knowledge of
Japanese is on the rise. Zensar Technologies has executed a project for Nifty
Corporation, Japan’s largest Internet service provider. Hughes Software
Systems has developed a next-generation HLR (home location register) for a
Japan-based telecom equipment manufacturer. Polaris Software and RMSI are other
significant companies involved in projects in Japan.

It’s a small world, after all
Indian software companies deploying droves of Indian IT professionals on
overseas projects is history. Companies realized early in the slowdown that the
best way to cut costs was to adopt an offshore model and move project
development back home. Paying Indian salaries and providing infrastructure here
was far more economical, no doubt. Besides, the growing number of benched and
sacked professionals overseas was a disturbing phenomenon.

As things stabilized, software companies and their overseas clients zeroed in
on a seamless onsite-offshore model, which proved to be cost-effective and also
utilized the geographical time-difference to the hilt. For instance, Cognizant
Technology Solutions’ project for First Data Corporation involves the use of
Cognizant’s offshore development facility in India to provide the majority of
the day-to-day software development, maintenance and support activities–using
split project teams onsite (at FDC facilities) and offshore (at Cognizant’s
India facilities).

Even Pune-based Kale Consultants has been using dispersed teams across te UK,
Korea and India, working in synchronization.

The positive sign–India is fast shedding its image as a low-cost, back-end
destination. Software companies are quick to point out how overseas clients
involve them in decision-making, right from the early stages of any project–and
the multi-center partnership continues right through.

All’s well with the Internet
Despite the bad press that the dot-com bust inflicted on all ventures that
had an ‘e’ as a prefix, the fact that the Internet itself is a sound concept
has been reiterated. A bulk of software projects today involve Web-based
applications. Mastek, along with Schlumberger engineers, a leader in oilfield IT
products and services, and Malaysian national oil company Petronas, are
developing a Web-based production information management system (PIMS).

Sonata Software developed a research portal for US-based asset management
company Franklin Templeton Companies, LLC. The Web-based solution was developed
for Franklin Templeton to consolidate and integrate global research information
into a single Web-based system. This portal system provides seamless access to
all investment research related information for portfolio research analysts and
portfolio managers.

The Aditi Technologies team is currently developing an online rnrolment
application and integrating it with the Washington Dental Service (WDS) website.
WDS, a dental benefits company based in the US, needed to integrate its website
with the National Delta Dental Portal.

 

Aditi is also developing an online system that allows individual members to
view and print identification cards for WDS and DeltaUSA from the WDS website.
The cards display important policy attributes such as name, employer group name
and number, and plan type. When users need identification cards, they just need
to log on to the WDS site and print their cards after authenticating themselves.

Zensar Technologies is building an e-commerce portal for Nifty, Japan’s
largest ISP. The site– codenamed @pay–is a shopping and auction site that
enables the creation of an Internet-based individual sales system. Spider
Systems, for instance, Web-enabled the legacy applications of a
tube-manufacturing company.

 

Cognizant Technologies was involved in the development of a Web-based supply
chain management solution for Drivelogic, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CCC
Information Services of the US. Cognizant developed a comprehensive, end-to-end
Internet collaborative interchange focused on providing largescale efficiencies
to the automotive collision supply chain.

Spider Systems developed a Web-based ERP system for a client in Pune. This
has been created especially for SMEs.

Java is not dead
Java was a key player in the boom-bust roller coaster. This much-wanted and
then much-shunned software language too has reiterated its strength, especially
J2EE.

For instance, Zensar’s @pay project for the Nifty commercial portal uses
the MVC (model-view-controller) architecture of J2EE. EJB (Enterprise Java
Beans) is used as the model layer of @pay system. @pay uses Java 1.3, Servlets
2.2/JSP, Interstage Application Server 4.0, Enterprise Java Beans 1.1 and Oracle
8i.

For its most important project till date for risk management solutions, RMSI
is using J2EE specifications on the Java platform.

But when it comes to databases, Oracle8i emerges as one of the most popular
ones–the Otis project by Wipro, Infosys’ Van Dorn Demag Corporation project
and Sonata Software’s US project–are but a few examples of the popularity of
Oracle 8i. No doubt, Microsoft technologies are the norm, but Linux is
increasingly gaining popularity, given its stability and the resultant cut in
costs.

Connecting islands
The need for curtailing costs is also being reflected in the kind of
projects getting commissioned. Be it getting legacy systems to talk to one
another or ensuring seamless interaction between the old and the new, everybody
is talking integration. Zensar’s project for Trimble Corporation is a classic
example of the need for integrational assignments in a post-M&A (mergers and
acquisition) business scenario. Having grown through the acquisition route,
Trimble had inherited an array of disparate IT systems and Zensar was called
upon to integrate them.

In its project for Otis, Wipro needed to collate massive amounts (50-80 GB)
of historic maintenance data from different Otis locations and incorporate daily
data feed into the GDR. This information had to be presented through the
e*service portal.

The e*service portal had to be integrated with Otis.com (the global website
of Otis) and other internal legacy systems.

Similarly, Cognizant’s project for Royal & SunAlliance involved the
consolidation of four legacy systems and the development of a new Web interface.

Spider Systems was asked to develop an application by an international
logistics major to connect the tracking application to its accounting software.

Zensar, in its project involving the creation a knowledge management system
for United Utilities (UU), based in north-west England, addressed issues like
access and availability of accurate data, linking the isolated islands of
information, time lost in searching for information, and tracking the status of
ongoing projects.

When tomorrow comes
As Zensar’s project shows, knowledge management is emerging as one of the
key areas today. Driven by the need to cut flab, the endeavor is to make the
most of existing systems and create applications that are highly scalable. While
companies are wary about making huge one-time investments, they want to ensure
that they are ready to deal with ever-growing volumes of information and for the
next boom, when it happens.

Also high on the agenda is the need for security of applications. RMSI’s
Climetrix project, for one, stresses on highly secure transactions using
Verisign authorization and checkpoint firewalls.

Among the verticals, it is banking, healthcare and government that are
emerging strong. And in keeping with the buzz in the IT industry, the focus on
ERP and supply chain management (SCM) continues, but customer relationship
management (CRM) solutions remain the prime contender. Wipro Technologies, for
instance, states that the greatest achievement of its solution for Otis is that
it saved as much as 20 minutes per customer viewing, and 2 hours per e-mail
report. Over to the customer.

Manjiri Kalghatgi in New Delhi

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