Bank improves services by implementing a management
tool to streamline its network and monitor it through
a single window. by Minu Sirsalewala
Bank offers a wide range of banking services covering
commercial and investment banking on the wholesale side,
and transactional/branch banking on the retail side.
With its headquarters in Mumbai, the bank has a network
of over 215 branches spread over 111 cities across the
country. All branches are linked on an online, real-time
basis. Being a clearing/settlement bank to various leading
stock exchanges, the bank has branches in centers where
NSE and BSE have a strong and active member base. It
also has over 675 networked ATMs across these cities.
Naturally, HDFC Bank has a huge complex, dispersed computing
network to enable the offering of its wide range of
banking products and services in both the wholesale
and retail segments.
The bank's top level management understood that, to
continue the company's growth and provide efficient
services to its customers, the IT infrastructure had
to be streamlined and tightly managed. The bank's IT
team evaluated a number of available options and chose
Computer Associates' (CA) Unicenter TNG solution to
fulfill its network management needs.
HDFC Bank was incorporated in August 1994 and
set up its headquarters in Mumbai. The bank offers
a wide range of banking services covering, commercial
and investment banking on the wholesale side and
transactional/branch banking on the retail side.
It also serves as a clearing house or settlement
bank for India's two largest stock exchanges,
and participates in depository operations. The
bank has a network of over 215 branches spread
over 111 cities, with more than 675 ATMs across
HDFC Bank has a complex dispersed network, with
a number of servers, applications and databases.
The network needed to be streamlined and monitored
for better performance and reduction of downtime.
A network management tool that would enable one
to efficiently monitor and manage the entire networkthrough
one common window. It should also provide for
the maintenance of Web infrastructure to ensure
high quality service to online customers, and
Monitoring and management of the entire network
from a single window console without the need
to visit remote locations.
on image for larger view
HDFC Bank's network has a hub and spoke design. There
are around 12 hub locations connected on a 2 Mbps link
to the main site at Chandivili (Mumbai). The locations
around the hub are connected via multiple 64 Kbps links.
A few local branches that have heavy transaction loads
are connected via 512 Kbps or 2 Mbps links, either to
the central site or to the nearest hub site of that
All major cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai and
Chandigarh have two hub locations for redundancy and
load sharing purposes. Every hub and branch location
has an ISDN backup link. In remote locations where leased
lines or ISDN cannot be provided, connectivity has been
provided through VSATs. Most of the bank's offsite ATMs
have VSATs as the primary link. There are 250 odd 64
Kbps links and around 25 x 2 Mbps links. A few 512 Kbps
links are also available. The bank has over 400 VSATs
servicing the various branches/offsite ATMs.
S.R. Balasubramanian, Vice President, Information Technology,
HDFC Bank explains, "Hardware redundancy has been
established wherever possible. We have taken care of
all the failure points; we have leased line with ISDN
backups. In case a line fails the connectivity is still
available to the user through an ISDN link. The remote
locations are connected through VSATs which are on PAMA
IT plays a crucial role in building the bank's competitive
advantage. But there were some specific problems in
the set-up that needed to be addressed. With bank's,
especially those with online applications, system downtime
can severely affect business. Additionally, for a bank
providing online banking services to its customers,
it is essential to minimize downtime of Web resources,
and provide optimal performance for its Web servers.
HDFC Bank, it was not technically and economically feasible
to manage assets, solve problems, and distribute and
update applications on the network across the country.
Additionally, the ever-increasing data also needed to
be backed up and restored. It required a tool that could
analyze the network, upgrade the links and servers,
and add more disk capacity when required. And the robust
network that HDFC Bank needed had to be managed from
one single window.
Such a robust and complex network needed to be streamlined
and managed from a common point and CA's Unicenter Web
management solution provided the services the bank's
IT team was looking for.
"We did consider the more popularly known network
management products but settled for Unicenter TNG for
various reasons. We wanted a solution that was widely
used in the market by Fortune 500 companies, with strong
customer support through a partnership with a local
systems integrator. It had to be compatible and integrate
with different servers, applications and databases running
on the network. All this was available to us on Unicenter
Unicenter, which comes in a number of modules, was implemented
for better planning of capacity, to manage the IT infrastructure,
and to secure and maintain assets centrally.
BrightStor another solution from CA was used to protect,
backup and restore data.
Before adopting Unicenter the bank was using a semi-automated
system developed in-house to control and monitor the
entire network. The bank spent approximately Rs 5 crore
on the product and its implementation. The solution
was put to test at the end of 2000 and rolled out by
"Technically we did not face any implementation
problems. But any solution has to be customized to the
enterprise needs; this involved configuration at various
levels. The only issue we really faced was the initial
configuration for the solution to work efficiently.
The in-house technical team worked in close association
with the vendor and the implementation partner (Wipro)
and ensured that the solution was customized to the
bank's needs without any glitches."
Unicenter Web Management solutions were implemented
on the bank's Web servers. These solutions provide detailed
reports on the performance of Web servers as well as
traffic statistics and analysis.
Among the modules deployed, the Remote Control capability
of Unicenter was implemented on all desktops, enabling
network engineers to configure or diagnose any problem
from their control room. Bala explained, "Earlier,
if an engineer from a remote branch faced a problem,
he or she would typically contact the regional office
where the engineers would try to solve the problem.
This would at times require some traveling, which was
time-consuming and expensive."
Another module called Unicenter Software Delivery enables
engineers to effectively manage software applications
on end-user systems. Instead of manually installing,
managing and uninstalling software applications; software
upgrades and maintenance are performed from a central
location without visiting the individual users' desktop.
Bala explained, "If we have to upgrade an application
for 40 locations, I can start the process after office
hours or late in the night and the next morning all
users start work with the upgraded version of the application
on their desktops."
The Asset Management module ensures that the bank has
an accurate and current inventory of all the desktops
and NT, NetWare and Solaris servers. The automatic discovery
of the hardware and software inventory throughout the
enterprise helps the bank to provide improved service
levels to its end-users.
The Network and Systems Management solutions module
was deployed on all network devices to manage the health
and availability of operating systems and provide basic
status management of infrastructure elements. It informs
the network manager about past events and object status.
This helps identify potential bottlenecks in the systems
and applications automating actions to prevent them.
Further, the Performance Management module aids the
administrator in collecting network performance metrics,
to analyze network performance and provide automated
baselines and thresholds. It can also post alerts when
performance problems occur in the client/server environment.
After deploying a new IT solution, the benefits could
come by way of cost savings, improved processes and
efficiency levels, or competitive business advantage.
But Bala says the benefits in this case cannot be quantified
in terms of money.
"We cannot quantify the benefits directly in terms
of money, but there has been considerable reduction
in our cost and the solution saves us time and resources,"
opined Bala. He added, "Though the modules were
performing satisfactorily, we felt the need to upgrade
to the new Unicenter version 3.0 as it had modules with
enhanced features, which would help us increase our
efficiency levels. Version 3.0 has been purchased and
is being tested at the center. The solution should be
customized to our processes and deployed for use by
end of April 2003,"
Sirsalewala can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org