MindTree Opts for Cisco IP Multicast Solution

by Ashutosh Desai    Nov 05, 2009

MindTree is an IT solutions company specialising in IT services, independent testing, infrastructure management and technical support (IMTS), knowledge services and product engineering, which comprises of research and developed services and outsourced product development.

The need to connect to employees in real-time
Since MindTree believes in a culture of openness in communication, it keeps employees regularly updated about its developments. These communications were always carried out at the ‘MindTree campus’ where everyone came together every quarter. As the company increased its footprint in terms of locations and head count, these interactions grew to be a sizeable challenge. The company did not want to change the way it kept its employees ‘in-the-loop’. MindTree wanted to leverage an IT solution which would allow the management to reach out to its employees, irrespective of the office location, in real time.

A feasible real-time communication solution
MindTree networks were already based on Cisco LAN infrastructure. This made it all the more easier for the company to adopt Cisco’s multicast solution across all its offices. Another reason the company felt that deploying Cisco’s Multicast Solution was because it came across as simple, lean, open, high available and safe. The Cisco’s IP Multicast technology also reduced network traffic, thereby conserving bandwidth and reducing server loads. With the deployment of the IP Multicast Solution, MindTree was able to use different ways of communicating with its employees.
Not only did this solution come across as a feasible solution, it also extended itself to various modes of communication. The company could hold one-to-many audio-video broadcasts, or many-to-many communications, videoconferencing, and collaboration.

Staging and deployment
The communication solution was completely designed and deployed by the MindTree internal IT team. It involved a staging process which took approximately 3-4 months. This was followed by the actual implementation, which was completed within a month.

The infrastructure was based on Cisco 6500, 4500 and 2900 switch series. To enable video conferencing, cameras, capture cards, a software-based encoder, and a media server was also deployed. On the desktop, users only needed a Web browser and Windows Media Player.

Cisco’s multicast solutions are categorised as Multi-Lite, Core Multicast, and Enhanced Multicast. Each category broadcasts over the Internet in a unique way; each one having its own application area and a slightly varying communication protocol. For example, Core Multicast is used to provide interactive campus multicasts for distance learning, software distribution or corporate conferencing. Mindtree used a couple of the available protocols, namely IGMP and PIM.

Technologies in Cisco IOS Software, Cisco platforms, and ‘triple-play’ (data, voice, and video) architectures made multicast applications over IP triple-play networks flexible, reliable, secure, and scalable. The technologies also ensured a dependable, high-quality user experience. Quality of Service (QoS) and IGMPv3 were chiefly attributed to provide scalability. The solution also maintains a secure connection. The IP video streams were secured by the PIM-SSM protocol in the network and the Internet Group Management Protocol version 3 (IGMPv3) on the hosts.

This particular implementation at MindTree used little bandwidth — as low as 56kbps-284kbps. Multicast technology in Cisco IOS Software allows a host to send packets to a subset of all hosts as a group transmission, as opposed to sending packets to every single user. Which is why this method used less bandwidth, reduced redundancy, and allowed for scalable and economical distributed broadcast video applications. MindTree already had a bandwidth of 10Mbps WAN available at each of their sites, so scalability was not going to be an issue.

Benefits of the IP Multicast solution
With the deployment of Cisco’s IP Multicast Solution, MindTree can hold its quarterly meetings in real-time and employees can continue to participate in the sessions while at their desk. This helped MindTree rope in a wider audience whenever it held a quarterly update meeting. All the audio-video sessions were held live and streamed to its offices in Pune, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. According to the company, the IP Multicast Solution deployed by Cisco has proven to be reliable and also scalable.

The solution seemed to meet the company’s requirements and added value to their exisiting networking infrastructure. The ability to communicate with employees in real-time and collaborate has also increased efficiency and productivity of employees.

- With inputs from Vasudeva Subramaniam, Principal Consultant, Information Technology, Cisco