India center keeps Orange services running
India center keeps Orange services running
Technology journalist Anne Morris visited the Orange Business Services Major Service Center in Delhi, India recently. She reports back on how the extensive operation supports customers around the globe.
Nestled away in a room buried amidst the vast surroundings of the Major Service Centre in Gurgaon just outside of Delhi in India, 180 trained engineers are engaged 24 hours a day in a mission-critical operation: to monitor and manage the global backbone network of Orange Business Services.
The staff work eight and 12-hour shifts to ensure that the global network remains up and running in face of any disruption. This includes ships accidentally breaking sub-sea cables - which happens even though cables are often 3,500m to 5,000m deep - natural catastrophes such as recent earthquakes in Japan and Taiwan, and local political unrest.
It's a significant task, when you consider that the company's network in Asia-Pacific alone spans 157 points of presence in 101 cities in 40 countries and territories. The Orange Business Services international IP VPN reaches 24 countries in Asia Pacific, with 133 PoPs in 53 countries. The backbone service centre also helps monitor and support 500 carrier interconnections as well as France Telecom's wholesale carrier business. Around 2,000 people support the backbone network globally, including the 180 people based in Gurgaon.
Importantly, France Telecom/Orange boasts a fully redundant network infrastructure within Asia as well as to and from Europe, Russia, the Americas and EMEA: 10 diverse cable paths link the Asia-Pacific network to the rest of the world, and diverse interconnections with carriers, including a cooperation with NTT, ensure a high level of resiliency should global events cause networks to break down.
"The high level of resiliency and redundancy means that any downtime is not detected by the user," commented Paul Joyce, senior vice president of international operations within customer services and operations at Orange Business Services. "We have a very detailed business continuity plan that is replicated elsewhere by a mirror support centre," he added.
Joyce gave one example of Merck AG, which along with many others was left without any connection to the PSTN or mobile networks for several days after the earthquake in Japan this year. "Our VoIP network was the only way they had of communication; they were 57 km from Fukushima," said Joyce, noting that these kinds of experiences are now driving an increased shift of voice services to VoIP networks.
Even the Major Service Centre itself is fully redundant in case of local infrastructure problems: it has two entrances in case the road outside is dug up without warning as well as its own power generation facilities and several carrier fiber cables running to and from the building.
international customer support
Sitting in the open-plan offices outside the highly secure backbone support centre, more than 1,000 sales, operations and customer support staff are engaged in the equally essential task of supporting more than 350 of Orange Business Services' multinational companies (MNC) as well as regionally based companies. The Gurgaon MSC supports 1,200 customers in total. The centre has around 3,000 tasks on its books on any given day, with all tasks at a different stage of project development.
Joyce said Orange Business Services has been operating a Major Service Centre in Gurgaon for six years. The MSC, which was built over a period of seven months during 2005, is of one of four such centres globally: the other three are in Egypt, Mauritius and Brazil. The MSCs also act as back-up for each other in the event of local problems: for example the Gurgaon centre took over the Egypt support operations within 30 minutes when riots first broke out in Cairo in January this year.
The four global MSCs and five other regional support centres were built to support France Telecom/Orange's growth strategy in the emerging markets of Asia-Pacific and Africa.
"The company's traditional base was MNCs in Europe and France, but there are many outside Europe so we need to support them," Joyce said. "We are looking to support major companies that want to expand internationally," targeting MNCs that are looking for growth in emerging markets as well as local companies that are expanding and developing internationally.
wide range of services
Orange provides an extensive range of corporate communication requirements ranging from a basic need for connectivity in less developed regions through to the management of IT services.
"We believe we are the leader in international integration solutions on a global basis," added Joyce. "We are also the number one IPVPN provider in APAC."
In APAC, Orange Business Services believes it has an edge because of its proven track record in the region: thanks to its background with the network that serves airlines and airports all over the world, OBS has been present in both APAC and India for over 50 years. It now employs a skilled team of specialists in the region including sales, professional services, CS&O and other support functions. Of its 3,000 staff in APAC, 400 are IT, professional services and project specialists.
In India, the company employs 2,300 staff and runs 12 PoPs across Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Hyderabad. The MSC is shared between Gurgaon and Mumbai, with the majority of the 1700 staff based in Gurgaon.
A key focus for Orange Business Services in India is staff retention: Joyce noted that staff turnover rates in Indian customer service centers is typically over 60%, but "our attrition rate in Gurgaon is 18-19%," he said, adding that "some attrition is needed in order to remain competitive."
Sandeep Murgai, who is responsible for running the MSC in Gurgaon, said the staff in the centre mainly handle MNCs that originate from APAC and the Americas, as well as customers that operate on a global basis, such as airlines.
"We also provide dedicated service desks to large MNCs with very complex global networks," said Murgai, adding that the MSC currently runs 80 dedicated customer support desks that develop very close relationships with large MNCs.
In order to ensure staff loyalty and long-term employment, Orange Business Services places a major focus on staff development and training. Murgai noted that the need for training has increased over the past few years as OBS now recruits engineers straight from university and puts them on one-year training programs.
He added that around 48% of the employees have now been working at the Gurgaon MSC for three to five years; 10% have been working there since the centre started operations.
Find out more about Orange Business Services in India here: http://realtimes.blogs.orange-business.com/business/slow-and-steady-path-for-the-worlds-fastest-growing-economy.html#main