Bank has a nationwide network of branches and ATMs spread
over 68 cities. It chose Linux to run its core banking
applications to save substantially in software licenses
and hardware costs. With Linux it has the ability to
modify the source code to suit organizational needs.
by Minu Sirsalewala
Bank has a vast network that covers more than 91 branches
and 258 ATMs spread over 68 cities nationwide. And in
order to support the magnanimous volume of daily transactions
the bank has created a robust and
reliable IT infrastructure comprising dedicated hardware
and software elements.
IDBI Bank has 91 branches and 258 ATMs spread
over 68 cities nationwide. In order to support
the magnanimous volume of daily transactions the
bank has created a robust and reliable IT infrastructure
comprising dedicated hardware and software elements.
A secure, reliable OS to run its core banking
applications and other essential services.
Linux as an OS for most of the backend core banking
applications and other essential services.
Huge savings in terms of software licenses and
hardware costs. The ability to script and modify
the source code to suit organizational needs.
at the network's core
All the financial and business transactions of the bank
are performed by the core banking application software.
A minute of downtime or break in service can cost the
bank several lakh rupees in lost revenue, and irrevocable
damage to reputation. The IS team at IDBI Bank had to
be very particular in choosing the server OS platform
that would run the applications optimally with zero
The bank chose Linux as the server platform for its
core banking applications and deployed it on the application
servers around five years ago. IDBI Bank currently uses
products like Red Hat Linux Advanced Version 2.1, Slackware,
Red Hat 7.0, and Red Hat 7.2.
The bank also uses Linux as the server platform for
Oracle Financials 11i - which includes general ledger,
fixed assets, accounts payable and procurement
Oracle HRMS - which includes core HR, recruitment,
training and administration, and employee self service
The phone banking system (IVR)
Jabber - a chat software
Intrusion Detection Systems
Other applications run on platforms like Sun Solaris,
HP-UX, and Windows NT.
The use of Linux
Neeraj B. Bhai, CTO, IDBI Bank explained, "The
core banking applications are the lifeline of the business.
And the bank's entire electronic communication depends
on the mail server. If the mail server is down, communication
with the outside world will be critically hampered and
thus affect business."
The company felt that Linux was the OS platform of choice
because it is easy to script and could be customized
to its exact requirements. Another important aspect
was cost. "Linux being open source enables us to
modify and change the source code according to our needs.
And it is very cost effective since we can do away with
software licenses and hardware cost as compared to other
OSs," said Neeraj.
Initially when the bank opted for Linux to run its backend
applications, there was very little support available
because there was no specific distribution vendor with
a support mechanism in India. A few like Red Hat were
available but did not provide complete support. "But
we had faith in our in-house technical team and decided
to brave it. The support aspect is not an issue anymore.
With the user community in India growing, and support
from industry giants like IBM, Sun, and Oracle increasing,
Linux has turned out to be a good option," said
IDBI bank has a heterogeneous environment with various
hardware and software solutions. The open source nature
of the OS allows the technical team to fix OS bugs immediately.
There are many communities contributing to Linux development
worldwide, who help users fix vulnerabilities. "One
can subscribe to advisories and get information on patches
to apply in order to harden the system. It is also protected
by the GNU Public License (GPL) whereby one can resell
the OS/application with or without modifications. This
makes Linux highly affordable
for any organization. It is free, stable, secure, and
bundled with a large number of software," said
The bank has an arrangement with Red Hat Professional
Consulting for support services. It covers implementation,
OS tuning services, consulting, and engineering services
through site visits. During site visits, the support
team will conduct OS health check audits, create audit
and inventory reports of applied patches, and relevent
upgrades. Additional OS tuning exercises and detailed
OS audit reports are included.
Security and vulnerability
Neeraj claims that the bank has not faced any server
platform vulnerability issues at all. "Any OS with
a standard configuration has to be hardened and tweaked
according to an organization's needs," explained
Neeraj. He added, "Security also depends on support
provided by the distributor and a company has to sign
a formal arrangement with the vendor."
The application vendors installed most of the Linux-based
applications. This ensured that the bank did not incur
any additional cost other than the cost of procuring
the application. The hardware configuration of the Linux-based
servers did not need to be special. This ensured that
the cost of hardware for the Linux-based servers was
low. The bank was able to save a lot of cost in terms
of software licenses and hardware.
Neeraj said, "We are totally satisfied with the
applications that have been implemented on Linux, and
we do not plan to migrate to any other OS. We are also
in the process of implementing Oracle Financials for
some operations in finance and HRD on a Linux platform.
Minu Sirsalewala can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org