Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd focusses on its core competency and leaves its IT infrastructure to its service provider.
Founded in 1987 as a sub-broking unit with just two people, Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd (MOSL) today has a 1,600-member team in 555 cities and towns, with 1,563 business locations. As of December 31, 2011, the company had 738,156 registered customers. It has a whole portfolio of financial services ranging from wealth management, broking and distribution, commodity broking, portfolio management services, institutional equities, private equity, investment banking services and principal strategies. The company also has a diversified client base – from retail customers, mutual funds, foreign institutional investors, financial institutions to corporate clients.
In an interview, Anuragi Raman, BPEX Deployment Leader & Head-IT, Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd, talks about the role technology plays in a company like his and where cloud features in the picture. Excerpts:
What kind of IT infrastructure needs does Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd have?
We have our own Data Centre and connectivity of all sorts. Our Branch network is a full-fledged network connected via VPN, VSAT, MPLS and so on. I am also proud of the fact that we have been able to provide a lot of customer-friendly applications such as single sign-on and a very advance contact centre that is one of the first in the industry. Through these, we have been able to keep ourselves ahead of the competition. Our uptime for our main application has been 99.9 per cent plus month-on-month for nearly two years. We are constantly working towards increasing the robustness of the apps so that our customers have a seamless experience.
Where does cloud come into the picture?
There are a lot of things running on cloud. For instance, we have a large set-up on our private cloud. Internet-heavy apps that are similar to online apps are there. Also, when feeds (stock prices) get updated, we send it to the customers through cloud. Other apps that are on cloud include part of email services and a part of our broadcasting apps as well. We have been using cloud for about five years but augmented it three years ago.
What were some of the hurdles that came in the way in the initial phases?
Management of the infrastructure was the initial hiccup. My interpretation of cloud is that something that I don’t own and I don’t manage. So, whenever there was an issue with the server, we would have to take the server on remote. So we changed our SLA so that the provider would manage the services, too. Now, the service provider has to provide networking, firewalls and so on having single-point accountability for the infrastructure, which is paramount.
How has cloud impacted the company in terms of monetary benefits?
For us, monetary gain isn’t the major reason. The biggest advantage for us has been the scalability. When I talk about management of the infrastructure, I give it to someone who are professionals available to them and are better equipped at keeping it running smoothly.
Here’s an instance. We need to offer online trading infrastructure. Network bandwidth is not something that is used 24X7. Heavy usage is between 9 am and 3.30 pm from Monday to Friday. If I had to purchase bandwidth of this kind, there would be limitations. Even a 25 Mbps like would support only so many customers. Or I would have to work on a prediction model for the usage. With cloud, I am totally free from the worries about the infrastructure. I contract the service provider for data transfer on a monthly basis and get upto 1 gig burstable bandwidth, if it was dedicated, it would have cost me a lot. It also means doing away with owning dedicated infrastructure that we won’t be using.
What about the security concerns cited by many?
I feel security concerns for cloud are no different from the risk with own data centre. Ask any big IT company and they will reveal that their data has been hacked some way or the other. When it comes to data stealing, even your own employees can do that. I feel security concerns are lesser, and not more. Also, the service provider is an expert in managing and protecting the data. I feel the misgivings about the service are in the minds of the people.
At the same time, cloud service providers need to improve. They need to take a larger ownership of uptime and not get into a blame game when it comes to discussing the downtimes.
What next for the company when it comes to cloud?
Our effort is to move to private cloud as much as possible. As far as the public cloud is concerned, when we are sure the service providers have the wherewithal for our apps to be on the public cloud, we will go for it.