Despite the recent cable cuts affecting Internet traffic to several Middle East countries, including India, major Indian outsourcers claimed they saw minimal disruption to their businesses.
Unlike the widespread disruptions in Internet browsing for consumers across India, big outsourcers like Tata Consultancy Services, Satyam Computer Services and Infosys Technologies saw no significant disruption in their ability to communicate with global clients, the companies claimed.
For TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), that’s because business continuity planning is part of the outsourcer’s DNA, according to Abid Ali Neemuchwala, TCS vice president of global delivery and services for North America. TCS business continuity plans have already been seriously tested in other crises in different parts of the world.
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“TCS has always provided services from remote locations. Irrespective of what happens in our remote sites, service to the customer is guaranteed. We’ve actually helped our customers put their own business continuity plans in place,” he said.
Both TCS and competitor Satyam have dual WAN links traversing the Atlantic and the Pacific. When service is disrupted over one link, traffic is automatically rerouted over the secondary link.
“When we provision network (connectivity) for a customer, we provision both links. If anything goes wrong on the Pacific link, all data is automatically sent to the Atlantic router,” said Vikram Kommareddy, head of network infrastructure for Satyam Computer Services.
An Infosys spokesperson also said that it uses redundant links to avoid such outages. “We have diversity in path and providers globally, and hence we have not lost any connectivity to our offices or customers. The traffic is automatically routed on alternate paths when there is a service or connectivity loss from the providers,” said the spokesperson.
That ability to automatically reroute traffic onto a backup link means that both circuits are provisioned to operate on an “active/active” basis. Having that option is a requirement, Kommareddy said.
“We take a very deep dive into our carriers and insure this kind of routing is in place when we provision circuits to customers,” he said.
TCS has already been tested
That level of service is important, because often different carriers or network service providers may offer services on the same physical cable, Neemuchwala said.
“As a part of our network design we focused more on what is the physical fiber and we make sure for the primary and secondary links they are not on the same fiber. So we take two different routes altogether,” he said.
Of the 200 different WAN links that TCS uses, only 15 links were affected. Still, traffic rerouted to a secondary link did see increased latency because the secondary link only provides half the capacity of the primary link.
Neemuchwala said for the most part customers did not notice the latency, although as a part of TCS’s business continuity plan, the outsourcer did notify customers of the switchover.
“We informed those who had a primary link outage that we switched them to the secondary,” he said.
The automatic rerouting typically took five or 10 minutes to execute, although in one instance a carrier took three hours to do it circuit by circuit. That manual effort was meant to insure that the huge amount of traffic that needed to be rerouted would not all end up on the same secondary circuit.
As a part of its business continuity plan, TCS builds in multiple layers of redundancy into its infrastructure as well as with its service personnel. “And we insure there is no single point of failure,” he said.
As a global outsourcer, the undersea cable cuts were not the first time TCS’s business continuity plans were tested. Over the past several years, the company has used its business continuity plans to avert business disruptions in China during the SARS health crisis, in its headquarters in Mumbai when heavy rains washed out connectivity, and in the Eastern United States during a widespread power outage over the last several years.