Dishtv is a division of Zee Network Enterprise (Essel Group Venture). EGV has national and global presence with business interests in media programming, broadcasting & distribution, speciality packaging and entertainment. Zee Network incorporated Dishtv to modernize TV viewing. Dishtv is India’s first direct to home (DTH) entertainment service.
Dishtv Chooses Netmagic's Hybrid Cloud and DRaaS Solutions to expand their IT Infrastructure, Enable Higher Growth and Manage IT Better
Challenges Facing Dishtv
Digitization has changed how Indian operators function today. It has put DTH players in the hands of technology to provide superior services and best-in-class content to subscribers. Within Dishtv, digitization brought about a dramatic change in the business model, and the technology managers played a key role in ensuring the success of newer business models, explains VK Gupta, Chief Operating officer at Dishtv.
The newer set-top boxes, as a result of digitization, came with new-age technologies such as interactive TV and movie-on-demand, thus making the paradigm shift a reality. Subscribers now had more options and services on par with that provided in the western countries.
Most of the technology challenges faced by Dishtv were related to hardware and infrastructure.
Dishtv's IT setup was hosted with another Indian service provider where they faced 3 key-challenges:
Lack of support from the provider:Based on the business that Dishtv was running - their most important need from the setup was uptime of the hosted infrastructure - which was provided much below the committed levels by the service provider
Expansion: With digitisation in the pipeline, their IT setup was impending expansion which the provider was unable to give adequate support on. They were looking at an agile service provider that could manage their growth or expansion of their infrastructure, as well as supplement their future growth.
Besides hardware related challenges faced by Dishtv, they had growing concerns about monitoring and IT infrastructure management - their technical team was based at New Delhi in North India whereas their IT setup was hosted at Mumbai in West India. So IT monitoring &management and disaster recovery were also some key technology challenges and impending actionables for them.
At that time, they were also planning their Disaster Recovery (DR) strategies and wanted their setup to have a DR site as well. For the DR setup, they were looking at a flexible and robust DR solution so that the challenge of managing their DR site would bemitigated as well as evaluate any cost advantage they can derive.
Given the state of affairs at Dishtv, IT deployment and investments in IT was a concern - but Deputy Vice President of IT, Manpreet Singh Sabharwal at Dishtv deliberates, "the challenge was not IT investments or costs primarily, it was about meeting our growing needs, monitoring and management of IT infra as well as technical know-how and people issue."
Technical expertise that goes into managing a growing business was daunting Dishtv. Newer strategies required extensive focus on Information Technology as the backbone to the business. As Manpreet puts it,"the technology know-how and expertise that comes with outsourcing to a technology provider is certainly an important consideration since we lacked the same."
What Did Dishtv Do To Address These Challenges?
Mandate came from the top management, VK Gupta, Chief Operating Officer of Dishtv to look at outsourcing their IT setup on a pay-per-use model and go the cloud way, as they did not want to invest on the infrastructure piece and manage the same.
Led by Manpreet Singh Sabharwal (DVP of IT) from the IT team, Dishtv decided to invite infrastructure and cloud providers into the picture. They decided to evaluate options of outsourcing their infrastructure to a service provider – specifically looking at a cloud solution.
They had active discussion with multiple vendors - Amazon, Microsoft, Wipro and Netmagic.
In all the interactions that Dishtv had with all vendors, the key was the vendors's technical know-how and how much of the DTH business that they understood. Cost or commercials weren’t the key part of the initial discussion.
What Solution Was Provided To Dishtv And How Has It Affected The Dishtv Business?
The solution was to look at a complete cloud solution so that they derive benefits of flexibility, expansion on-demand, better manageability and cost advantage.
Netmagic realised that in providing a full cloud model for Dishtv, another challenge was that a few home-grown, legacy applications were not tuned due to their I/O requirement. They had storage with high I/O requirement, which made more sense to provide a dedicated storage infrastructure. This would work well for Dishtv since they had huge number of SQL servers running and a dedicated/Hybrid solution would help in reducing licencing cost – with SQL servers running only on dedicated hardware.
The architecture suggested was to have at least 2 servers running per application with a load balancer. Their earlier setup used to run 1application on a dedicated server. The new architecture would ensure resilience at an application level.
The hybrid approach helped them meet their technical requirements as well as manage the cost aspects. So even after investing in a physical cluster to run their databases, they could save costs on the SQL licencing that they would incur.
Dishtv also wanted storage level replication where locally data gets replicated, creating storage level resiliency and redundancy, a perquisite for the industry. Netmagic was able to provide this using the EMC Recover Point technology.
From a security stand point, Netmagic provided them with a dedicated Firewall with IDS and IPS solutions to meet their security requirements.
A completely managed DR solution was provided by Netmagic in DR-as-a-Service (DRaaS) model. The solution included a complete DR solution plus high availability at primary location – helping them complete their Business Continuity requirements.
Netmagic provided an extended Proof-of-Concept (PoC) for Dishtv which helped them solve a lot of smaller issues in managing and hosting all their legacy applications, their Websites and mission-critical applications as well as a dedicated server cluster running their databases. The PoC ran into almost 8 weeks.
The objectives of PoC were:
To test if all the applications worked optimally on the infrastructure setup provided by Netmagic – since they had legacy applications running
Do the legacy applications that Dishtv runs have sufficient I/O from the infrastructure?
And, To fine tune the applications to meet the infrastructure requirements - so that the applications can take advantage of the resiliency and redundancy from an infrastructure perspective
During the PoC they figured out a few challenges such as some legacy applications that would not work with a load balancer, etc. Netmagic experts were able to advise and help Dishtv in managing / change the applications to suit the new model.
Apart from the expertise on infrastructure, Netmagic also helped Dishtv with their replication strategies. Dishtv was running SQL 2005, a version that had inherent issues during replication – from a data transfer time and cost perspective. By opting for a higher version of SQL, they were able to reduce the bandwidth usage during replication, thus helping them reduce bandwidth costs.
Today, infrastructure that caters to all their business applications (5-6 home grown applications) as well as all the websites that Dishtv hosts, run on infrastructure provided by Netmagic. Close to 10 websites are hosted at the Netmagic datacenter. The main website Dishtv.in is accessed by over 100,000 registered users each day.
Revenue-backed mission-critical applications such as the customer relationship management (CRM) are also hosted on a cloud server provided by Netmagic. All in-house and outsourced call center agents deployed by Dishtv, totalling to over 1200-1500 users, access the CRM application regularly.
Over 15 VMs (Virtual Machines) are hosted on Netmagic SimpliCloud and about the same number for the DR location.
All applications for SitiCable, part of the Essel Group, are also hosted at the Netmagic datacenter - which went live in February of 2013.
Hybrid Cloud model with Applications and Websites hosted on a public cloud solution and a dedicated cluster for their databases
Storage replication solution using EMC Recovery Point
Security solution – Dedicated Firewall with IDS and IPS
Complete tool-driven managed DR solution – DRaaS
Why Did Dishtv Close On Netmagic Solutions To Become The Technology Partner To Outsource Their IT Infrastructure?
Choosing the right provider is key, and here, the partner's clear understanding of the client needs is critical to providing the right solution, and delivering desired results and benefits.
"Our key focus on choosing the vendor - I say vendors because the partnership hadn’t been formed at that point - was about the deep understanding of the DTH business and flexibility. This is exactly what we appreciated when we had the discussion with the Netmagic management team," explainsManpreet.
Another key reason which prompted Dishtv to choose Netmagic as their technology partner was the provider's ability to respond to customer needs quickly. The Proof-of-Concept (PoC) that Netmagic team were able to quickly put together was the game changer in being chosen as the preferred partner.
By the PoC,Netmagic was able to prove agility and performance that was required by Dishtv. Netmagic infrastructure was able to provide about 2500-3000 IOPS in the shared storage. Since their requirement was about 5000-6000 IOPS the option for dedicated storage was provided. The ability of the partner to mould solution to the requirement of Dishtv was a clear advantage in choosing them as the preferred partner.
"One of the key aspects which helped us choose Netmagic was the knowledge bank that the technical and business teams at Netmagic possess - as well as the understanding of our business criticality. To quote an example, we have a few in-house developed applications that had some issues porting onto the cloud model. Netmagic’s timely advice and support to smoothly manage this challenge and get optimum performance was commendable," adds Manpreet.
A key advantage received from the Cloud setup is the availability of immediate instance for all infrastructure needs - agility is key to the business at Dishtv and this is clearly a plus.
Dishtv is able to have a fully resilient IT setup with a robust and managed DR setup, redundancy and resiliency at application as well as storage level, and high availability at their primary location completing their Business Continuity strategy.
One of the key benefits that Dishtv derived was the ability to manage their technology obsolesce riskby being able to quickly upgrade their older infrastructure to newer, state-of-the-art infrastructure provided at Netmagic datacenter. They were able to quickly ramp up at a fraction of the costs, using the cloud-based model that they adopted - plus mitigating the challenge and cost considerations of hardware refresh cycles and avail benefits of better performing infrastructure.
A key benefit that Dishtv has been able to derive is to manage performance of their mission-critical revenue-generating areas on the cloud, that is managed and monitored with ease, and has flexibility to quickly ramp up and down services and computing on the fly, on-demand.
Advent of High Definition and Digitization has impacted the way DTH players have been perceiving and using IT. With SmartTVs, broadcast content on Mobile devices, there is expected to be another wave of technology change in this space. Dishtv is all set to meet the challenges of the market, grow and acquire more customers in India with the robust and scalable infrastructure that they have architected in partnership with Netmagic. Within Dishtv, the technology team now is all set to focus their efforts on enhancing their analytics engine and communications infrastructure to reach out to customers better, faster and more efficiently.