Anand Rathi Group is one of India’s leading financial services with over 24 years of experience in wealth creation. Its services include wealth management, investment banking, corporate finance and advisory, broking and distribution services. Here, Kamal Goel, Senior VP & Head IT, Anand Rathi Group, talks about how the company understands when to move its network forward. Excerpts:
DQ: How do you understand and align strongly with location- or branch-specific needs to ensure support for legacy networks?
Kamal Goel: We are having large number of branches having fewer number of users per branch and are required to connect with Enterprise network for trading application that feed on raw multicast stream from the HO. Since this connectivity is very critical we do not want to rely primarily on the Internet, which, to some extent, is still an unreliable option. Legacy devices that support older, tested and reliable technologies like MPLS on private leased circuits are always preferable choice for connectivity.
DQ: How do you decide when is the right time to move your network forward?
Kamal Goel: Change is inevitable. But it has to be planned and tested beforehand. Any new technology should be allowed to grow mature enough to be able to adopted in trading environment. Also the current infrastructure should not be a bottleneck to harness the features of new technology. There has to be a clear analysis of borderline of impact when new technology is introduced to the traditional infrastructure.
For example, migrating to 10G physical network is just not enough if your other hardware like server NICs, network uplinks to different segments of network are not able to carry the same bandwidth. It’s a step-by-step upgrade of your segments and providing new as well as legacy interface for other segments which can later be upgraded as and when required. Only in this way we can achieve a complete transition.
DQ: When and how do you manage the transformation? How do you create a future secure network platform?
Kamal Goel: Transformation is purely based on business requirement and ability of current infrastructure to adapt to newer technologies. Not every part of the system can be changed at once. The old and new technologies are required to co-exist.
We have to analyze how the new technology can fit into our environment and to what extent. Tried and tested WAN technologies like MPLS and traditional dynamic routing protocols helps to simplify management, troubleshoot and even expand to new devices. Even the new players accept the fact that legacy protocol and connectivity still occupies a major space in critical business operations and they cannot completely wipe out these features. This enables us to create a future-ready network platform.
DQ: When and how do you start to develop a more flexible, dynamic network?
Kamal Goel: Flexible and dynamic networks are need of the time. We cannot rely on single point of connectivity be it leased circuits, internet links or 3G/4G options or maybe, 5G in future. With the increasing requirement of more consistent connection to central resources we need to adapt technology that can seamlessly transition between them.
We have to also consider all this has to be achieved without sacrificing the stability of application connectivity. As more and more products are launched across different platforms we ensure these are tested across devices before enlisting them for customers.
DQ: How do you manage the overall network transformation?
Kamal Goel: There are few key points that we understand should be reviewed before undertaking any network level transformation.
– Cost of implementation of current infrastructure and its return over the years and its maintenance.
– Portability of application to run on new infra
– Size of Impact it is going to have
– Optimized for near future needs
– Backward compatibility with certain components that can?t be replaced soon
– Expertise to handle configuration changes and troubleshooting.
Once we answer these, we get a high level clarity on the pathway to undertake such transformation.
DQ: What are the key challenges on your network to make it virtualised and fully secure?
Kamal Goel: Use of legacy devices and protocols are the key challenges. Even though we have nearly 95% of our server infrastructure virtualized, we still prefer the legacy technology for WAN as they are time tested and does the required job with efficiency and low latency. The applications too are running traditional protocols for our direct trading platform which makes it even easier to implement.
As far as security is considered, implementing best practices in configuration and deploying WAF and IDS/IPS along with endpoint security at network perimeter rather than the WAN devices helps to provide maximum security to trading environments without sacrificing on performance.
DQ: What new services would you like to have on your network?
Kamal Goel: We would like the ability to get deep insights into network traffic in a smarter way rather than heaps of alarms and log files. We also need the ability to identify security lapses and classify them as critical, moderate and low.
DQ: How evolved is your network in terms of virtualization and moving it to cloud?
Kamal Goel: We believe our network is mature enough to adapt to virtualized environment though we are reluctant to move our critical infrastructure to cloud purely out of concern over security, control over the content and its storage.