Over the years, Kotak Group had accumulated a mixed IT environment, as each group company requisitioned and implemented its own technology platforms. This was expensive and high on maintenance and management. It decided to look at all group companies
as one entity with the objective of achieving a single source of information and authentication, along with a standardized platform for enhancing communication and collaboration. After considering its options, the Kotak Group IT teams chose to upgrade to Microsoft
Exchange Server 2010, Active Directory 2008, and also deploy Microsoft Lync Server 2010. As a result of standardization and consolidation, the group now has a comprehensive communication and collaboration infrastructure that has transformed its business culture.
Communication capabilities such as presence, instant messaging and audio/video/web chat make employees more productive.
||The solution is instrumental in improving and revitalizing our communication and collaboration processes. As employees across the group share information effectively, it creates a stronger sense of community that delivers higher productivity.
| Aruna Rao
Executive Vice President, Kotak Mahindra Bank
Kotak Group, one of India's leading banking and financial services organizations, offers a wide range of financial services. From commercial banking to stock broking, mutual funds, life insurance and investment banking, it caters to the diverse financial
needs of individuals and the corporate sector. The group’s net worth is approximately U.S.$2.8 billion (as of 31 March, 2013). Its distribution network of branches, franchisees, representative offices and satellite offices spans across cities and towns in
India. It also has offices in London, New York, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Mauritius and Singapore, and is servicing around 10 million customers.
Until 2010, all group companies independently procured, deployed and maintained their own infrastructure. This included various versions of Windows Server and Active Directory to manage identities and relationships across its network. The communication platform
ranged from Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 to 2010.
The mixed IT environment brought complexity in management. Employees were spending valuable time switching between applications and managing multiple contact lists. Kulin Thaker, Executive Vice President, Kotak Mahindra Bank says, “Managing an infrastructure
for 16,000 employees growing at eight percent each year is a complex job. Lack of single sign-on resulted in limited collaboration across group companies, which resulted in less than optimal productivity.”
As a group, it is important for employees to have strong relationships with their colleagues. Moreover, with better collaboration tools, the group entities can cross-leverage strengths to grow more efficiently.
Kotak Group believed that consolidating and standardizing the IT infrastructure would deliver a simpler management and robust communications technology that would foster growth via better teamwork and collaboration.
As a reputed financial conglomerate, Kotak Group has always been among the first to adopt the latest technologies that enhance employee productivity. In 2011, when the group analyzed its options, it was clear that re-investing and upgrading the hardware
would be an expensive approach. Earlier, all group companies had their own independent Exchange Servers and Active Directories. “Rather than each entity investing individually, we looked at the entire bill of material (BOM) and agreed that consolidation would
be the most effective solution. It would deliver the required productivity and also have an advantage on cost for the group,” says Aruna Rao, Executive Vice President, Kotak Mahindra Bank. “We therefore decided to bring our whole Active Directory domain into
a single forest.”
As the group formed a clear vision for what they wanted to offer employees, it decided to deploy Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Active Directory 2008 and Microsoft Lync Server 2010. Kotak Group selected Microland Limited, a leading provider of IT infrastructure
services to implement the solution, in conjunction with Microsoft Consulting Services who would review the design and architecture.
With the move to a single forest Active Directory 2008 and Exchange Server 2010, the Kotak Group is creating a single gateway for all its businesses.
The pilot began in February 2012 and lasted 12 weeks with over 300 employees. Arif Khan, Vice President, Kotak Mahindra Bank says, “The pilot phase was very comprehensive. We set up a helpdesk specifically for this project to respond to employee queries
and issues. Additionally, we sent mailers to spread awareness across the group, and regular communication to users about the features of the new solution, including larger mailboxes, mail tips and Lync integration. Our main objective was to generate a huge
amount of interest amongst users about the new infrastructure and have a smooth migration with minimal or no downtime.”
||While the number of people in IT management hasn’t gone down, we are in a better position to manage the growth efficiently, without the need for new resources.
| Kulin Thaker
Group IT Infrastructure Head, Kotak Mahindra Bank
The migration was completed in a stretch of 16 weeks in August 2012. The pilot phase was extensive and dealt with all issues that could arise; however, this phase was smooth. It had zero unplanned downtime and didn’t disrupt any application access. Arif Khan
says, “Migrating desktops was fairly simple. However laptop migration involved some challenges as users were not always available in office.”
During the implementation of Active Directory and single sign-on, the group had to ensure that applications and resources across the group were available to employees. The goal was not to hamper business as usual. Also, the process must not isolate employees
based on old and new technology platforms.
Microsoft ForeFront Identity Manager 2010 was used to enable global address book, password and identity synchronization during the migration phase. It helps to synchronize identity information.
Kotak Group was able to achieve single sign-on, server consolidation, greater manageability and a more functional, hierarchical structure. Microsoft Active Directory is an integral part of the new solution and provides a central location for managing and
securing user accounts, computers and applications.
On the other hand, Exchange Server 2010 implementation improves messaging management, storage and usability. People search across group companies is very easy. In addition, employees can connect easily and with less effort to Exchange from anywhere. Employees
can access the full-featured Outlook Web App email client using all major web browsers. Enhancements to Outlook Web App provide better performance, the ability to share calendars and overall email navigation improvements. The group is also able to increase
the user mailbox size from 30/40 MB to 100/500 MB.
The IT team also upgraded the unified communications solution by deploying Microsoft Lync Server 2010. Lync Server provides enhanced communications capabilities as compared to Office Communications Server 2007 R2, including presence, instant messaging, robust
conferencing, desktop sharing and enterprise voice. The unified client interface makes it easy to initiate ad hoc collaboration and on-line meeting capabilities with a single click. Employees can view presence information of colleagues or click to start a
chat session/audio-video call, based on their availability.
“With all the new capabilities we now have a more comprehensive collaboration and communications solution,” says Aruna Rao. “We are seeing an improvement in collaboration and internal communications across all companies. With a consolidated and standardized
environment, we are working to optimize the company’s existing IT infrastructure while also reducing costs.”
||Time is of the essence and time is money.” Close to 50 percent of the dozen conference calls would have required travel for many people. Video Conference through Lync helped us save time and costs. At the same time, it had a tremendous
| Shanti Ekambaram
President ─ Corporate and Investment Banking
“The solution is instrumental in improving and revitalizing our communication and collaboration processes. As employees across the group share information effectively, it creates a stronger sense of community that delivers higher productivity,” says Aruna
For Kotak, the migration has resulted in an integrated communications environment that promotes collaboration and helps employees to be more efficient. Employees have access to efficient and cutting-edge tools that assist in day-to-day business activities.
They can thus work seamlessly across units. Kulin Thaker says, “With a single forest and subsequent consolidation, employees can locate relevant information easily and quickly. They can make efficient use of time and resources.”
Additionally, with the unified Lync 2010 client, more employees are beginning to rely on the ad hoc collaboration and online meeting capabilities. They no longer have to switch applications to communicate with one another or with a group.
Lync 2010 demonstrates the impact such a tool can have, giving the benefits of telepresence instead of requiring physical presence, thereby ensuring lower costs as well as efficient time management by reducing travel time. Shanti Ekambaram, President − Corporate
and Investment Banking says, “Time is of the essence and time is money. In our busy work schedule, we have to focus on working efficiently to save time (and thus save money), by utilizing efficient technologies. We at Wholesale Banking have benefitted by utilizing
Microsoft Lync. Until now, we have used Lync in close to a dozen video conference calls with teams across India, apart from the individual calls, including interviews. Close to 50 percent of the dozen conference calls would have required travel for many people.
Video Conference through Lync helped us save time and costs. At the same time, it had a tremendous impact.”
She continues, “We see value in the utility of such tools to a large extent and are excited about continuing to look at such products adding value to a fast paced, cost conscious and technology organisation like ours. Thanks to the Group IT team for their
support throughout the roll-out of Lync, as well as their repeated support at every event/meeting when required.”
Eases Management with Consolidation
The Kotak IT team can easily scale and manage its new solution with the more flexible architecture and management options. The solution simplifies IT management by supporting a more secure and reliable environment. With Exchange Server 2010 and Active Directory
2008, the environment is much more tightly integrated, which results in a gradual reduction in the time spent on administration. Kulin Thaker gives an example: “We have consolidated Blackberry, CAS, HUB and email gateway infrastructure. Now we have one incoming
and one outgoing gateway and a single URL for internet web access across the group.” He adds, “While the number of people in IT management hasn’t gone down, we are in a better position to manage the growth efficiently, without the need for new resources.”
With the migration, Kotak Group is experiencing substantial cost savings. It sees many ways in which costs are reduced, the most obvious being the consolidation of servers.
Additional cost savings result from deploying a communications solution based around Lync Server 2010. Employees can now place calls through Lync 2010, which reduces toll charges and long- distance call charges. Also, they can remotely connect through conferencing
or desktop sharing, instead of having to travel.
Kulin Thaker says, “The savings also come from a variety of sources, including hardware and lower power consumption.”
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