ATI Connectivity

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Contents

The Issue

Internet Connectivity at ATI needs to be:

  1. Dependable Quality
  2. Reliable
  3. Adequate
  4. Redundant
  5. Sustained Uptime
  6. Quick Alternative Routing on systemic failure

ISP's offerings, capabilites and available levels of acceptance

  • Most ISPs including the ones that curently serve ATI - viz., NKN/RailTel/NIC and BSNL - are able to provide the first three.
  • The 4th one is upto the client (ATI) affordability.
  • Very few are able to match demanding SLAs (Service Levels) at affordable costs and infrastructure simplicity for ease of maintenance.
  • Even fewer if any, are able to manage the last one for the end user!

Current Outages and outcomes

  • Fiber Optic cables both underground and hanging on poles and trees get cut very often.
  • Political unrest, terrorism, disgruntled elements and poor workmanship compounded by uninformed and/or biased choices exarcerbate the matter at hand.
  • Failure to enforce service level agreements (if any and if well thought of).
  • Evaluation of decisions taken and their effects in hindsight should be undertaken.
  • Action on errant/incompetent advisors/decision makers that cost the exchequer huge amounts must be done
  • Lessons learned to be "Wiki-ed" so that the next generation of decision makers will benefit from them
  • Too top heavy management hierarchies prevent competent and quick action on the shop floor.
  • Most middle management are just paper pushers across the chain of command - rich in nurturing sycophants.

Solution: Satellite Gateway

  • The conduct of important e-learning sessions based out of any or all the ATI regional studios are managed out of the headend servers in ATI Chennai.
  • There should be no single point of failure to bring the entire service down.
  • Even the PM has effectively partaken of these facilities to further politically sensitive development goals in the service of the citizenry.
  • It is hence necessary to provide for the last three listed above so as to make it consistently useful to the nation especially when sufficient funds over time have been deployed in creating all other resources bringing it into existence.
  • To mitigate the risks indicated here in, it is advisable to have a satellite gateway at first in ATI Chennai and later in all the 10 regional hubs that service the scores of spokes that need to connect to them.
  • This will help in creating parallel non-telco based independent communications infrastructure that can be leveraged by the civilian and military authorities during natural calamities and in war times.

Followup

  • Sufficient manpower must be trained in it's upkeep without having to rely on any vendor or any third parties.
  • ATI Chennai has made a good start by creating and managing it's own purpose built Firewall and Physical Server that have been running for over a couple of years and a massive Cloud Server for a few months without incident.

Recent events

  1. NKN connectivity was given to ATI Chennai at the last minute (within a couple of days) when PM's speech was telecast on 2015-07-15. The officers in Railtel and NKN have not been brought to book as they have been delaying it for several months.
  2. Several BSNL outages in their fiber network has caused days of loss in connectivity.
  3. NKN outages just before critical and important sessions have failed regularly.
  4. The promised Fiber switch has yet to be delivered by RailTel - action needs to be taken on personnel who have delayed it for several months - possible diversion to others.

References

  1. Joint Secretary letter to provide NKN to 9 central Institutes View
  2. Justification submitted to NKN for connectivity View
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