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A Phased WAN deployment

Going nationwide in phases

Federal Bank needed to share data between its Head Office, nationwide offices, branches, and ATMs. It designed a nationwide WAN called FedWide and deployed it in phases. Here's a look at the strategies used by the bank.

Soutiman Das Gupta

Federal Bank, a 70-year old private sector bank has a net worth of over Rs 560 crore. But in order to survive in the fiercely competitive banking environment of today, it had to introduce greater efficiency in its operations and workflow.

The bank realized that a good way to do that would be to share updated data across its nationwide locations. So, Federal Bank decided to link its nationwide locations on a WAN, and share data across systems.

Considering the organization's size, the entire exercise was no mean task. The bank is spread across 422 nationwide branches, 12 Regional Offices (ROs), and a Head Office (HO) in Alwaye, Kerala.

In order to link all locations in the quickest and most suitable way, the organization decided to deploy a WAN in six strategic phases. It decided to name the nationwide WAN infrastructure 'FedWide'.

Let's look into the FedWide strategy and architecture, and gain insights from KNC Nair, the CIO of Federal Bank.

FedWide design

A project plan was made with a lot of thought and care. Datacraft India Limited (DIL) was chosen as the implementation partner for the project. The plan documented the key roles and responsibilities for Federal Bank and DIL.

"Our basic goal in the initial phases was to set up a reliable leased line network with minimum expenditure. Keeping this in mind, we decided to use a hub-and-spoke WAN architecture," said Nair.

The design is such that every RO is connected to the HO through a 2 Mbps primary leased line link, and multiple 64 Kbps leased lines. This adds redundancy in the connectivity between the HO and the ROs, and acts as a fail-over path to the primary link.

The nationwide branches are connected to the nearest RO with 64 Kbps leased lines. This has reduced the per-branch cost of deploying a leased line link to the HO. The recurring charges for the backup ISDN links were optimized, because the nationwide ROs and branches were not very far from each other.

Six phases of deployment

The deployment of FedWide started in 2000 and was commenced in six planned phases.

First phase: The HO at Alwaye, Kerala was connected to the ROs at the five metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore, with 64 Kbps leased lines.

The Funds and Investment Branches at Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai, the International Banking Department, and the Ernakulam location were connected to the respective ROs with leased lines. All other branches under each region were connected to the respective ROs with dial-up links.

Second phase: In the second phase, the ROs in Kerala were connected to the HO at Alwaye with a 64 Kbps leased line.

Third phase: Most of the large automated branches (70 branches) were connected to the network with 64 Kbps leased lines. ISDN lines were also provided at each location as backups to the leased lines.

In the fourth phase, 140 new branches were connected to the network with 64 Kbps leased lines. ISDN lines were used at the locations wherever feasible, as a backup measure.

Fifth phase: 70 more branches were connected on the network at the end of this phase.

In the sixth phase, they connected the remaining branches to the network by December 2003.

The entire project was tracked by DIL on a weekly basis. Reports were generated and submitted to the bank every week on the progress and any other issues.

Success factors

All key management staff of Federal Bank and DIL were involved in the project, right from the first phase. This helped to resolve all critical issues at the earliest.

To ensure quicker availability of leased lines with minimum accounting and administration hassles, DIL partnered with BSNL for the FedWide project. The top management from the BSNL HO in Delhi was informed about the project and it's criticality. BSNL, Delhi coordinated constantly with its offices in Kerala to address issues when they arose.

FedWide now

FedWide, the network, which was initially set up for collecting data only from the few ROs, has evolved into a mammoth architecture that connects 300 nationwide branches and offices.

FedWide is currently used for connectivity between the bank's ATMs, branch servers, and data transmission from the branches/offices to the HO. It allows access to the Bank's intranet server, e-mail server, and extranet server. The newest application to run on FedWide is the 'Anywhere Banking' service. VoIP has also been implemented on the network to ease communication.

FedWide has enabled the network to offer ATM services to a vast majority of its customers in Kerala, and has increased the customer base significantly. At the end of the final phase in December 2003, the bank will have connected all its 422 branches.

Network components

The nationwide branches are connected to the network with Cisco 1760 routers. The ROs are equipped with Cisco 3600 series routers. The procurement, installation, and integration of the equipment with the existing network was done by DIL. The integrator also signed a three-year support contract with the bank.

Bandwidth monitoring is performed with the help of a customized Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG) solution, which runs on a Linux platform. The MRTG is a tool to monitor the traffic load on the network links. It generates HTML pages containing graphical images, which provide a live visual representation of the traffic. A network monitoring tool from Ipswitch is also used by the bank.

Management

The network functions with a distributed architecture in which, each branch has a dedicated server. There is no central data center. All offline bank ATMs have been connected with VSATs.

"We manage the network from a central location. And the system integrators manage the leased lines. The leased lines give an uptime of 96 percent," said Nair.

Security

The connectivity links between the HO and nationwide branches use IPsec for security. And all banking transactions take place through this setup. "We have also implemented other security devices and measures to take care of any unlawful entry into the network," explained Nair.

Future

"The bandwidth of the connectivity links between the ROs and the HO is being utilized to the maximum. We plan to double the bandwidth to accommodate new applications. However, the bandwidth of the links between the branches and ROs are yet to be fully utilized," explained Nair.

Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at soutimand@networkmagazineindia.co

In a nutshell
The company
Federal Bank has a net worth of over Rs 560 crore. It is spread across 422 nationwide branches, 12 Regional Offices (ROs), and a Head Office (HO) in Alwaye, Kerala.

The need
In order to survive in the fiercely competitive banking environment of today, the bank had to introduce greater efficiency in its operations and workflow.

The solution
Federal Bank realized that a good way to stay competitive would be to share updated data across its nationwide locations. So, it decided to link its nationwide locations on a WAN and share data across systems.

The benefits
The bank is able to share updated data across its branches, ROs, and HO. This has allowed it to introduce greater efficiency in operations and workflow. The bank has increased its customer base.

 
     
- <Back to Top>-  

Copyright 2001: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Limited (Mumbai, India). All rights reserved throughout the world.
This entire site is compiled in Mumbai by the Business Publications Division (BPD) of the Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Limited. Site managed by BPD.
Going nationwide in phases - Case Study - Network Magazine India
 Archives ||About Us || Advertise || Feedback || Subscribe-
-
Issue of January 2004 
-

  -  
 
 Home > Case Study
 Print Friendly Page ||  Email this story

A Phased WAN deployment

Going nationwide in phases

Federal Bank needed to share data between its Head Office, nationwide offices, branches, and ATMs. It designed a nationwide WAN called FedWide and deployed it in phases. Here's a look at the strategies used by the bank.

Soutiman Das Gupta

Federal Bank, a 70-year old private sector bank has a net worth of over Rs 560 crore. But in order to survive in the fiercely competitive banking environment of today, it had to introduce greater efficiency in its operations and workflow.

The bank realized that a good way to do that would be to share updated data across its nationwide locations. So, Federal Bank decided to link its nationwide locations on a WAN, and share data across systems.

Considering the organization's size, the entire exercise was no mean task. The bank is spread across 422 nationwide branches, 12 Regional Offices (ROs), and a Head Office (HO) in Alwaye, Kerala.

In order to link all locations in the quickest and most suitable way, the organization decided to deploy a WAN in six strategic phases. It decided to name the nationwide WAN infrastructure 'FedWide'.

Let's look into the FedWide strategy and architecture, and gain insights from KNC Nair, the CIO of Federal Bank.

FedWide design

A project plan was made with a lot of thought and care. Datacraft India Limited (DIL) was chosen as the implementation partner for the project. The plan documented the key roles and responsibilities for Federal Bank and DIL.

"Our basic goal in the initial phases was to set up a reliable leased line network with minimum expenditure. Keeping this in mind, we decided to use a hub-and-spoke WAN architecture," said Nair.

The design is such that every RO is connected to the HO through a 2 Mbps primary leased line link, and multiple 64 Kbps leased lines. This adds redundancy in the connectivity between the HO and the ROs, and acts as a fail-over path to the primary link.

The nationwide branches are connected to the nearest RO with 64 Kbps leased lines. This has reduced the per-branch cost of deploying a leased line link to the HO. The recurring charges for the backup ISDN links were optimized, because the nationwide ROs and branches were not very far from each other.

Six phases of deployment

The deployment of FedWide started in 2000 and was commenced in six planned phases.

First phase: The HO at Alwaye, Kerala was connected to the ROs at the five metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore, with 64 Kbps leased lines.

The Funds and Investment Branches at Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai, the International Banking Department, and the Ernakulam location were connected to the respective ROs with leased lines. All other branches under each region were connected to the respective ROs with dial-up links.

Second phase: In the second phase, the ROs in Kerala were connected to the HO at Alwaye with a 64 Kbps leased line.

Third phase: Most of the large automated branches (70 branches) were connected to the network with 64 Kbps leased lines. ISDN lines were also provided at each location as backups to the leased lines.

In the fourth phase, 140 new branches were connected to the network with 64 Kbps leased lines. ISDN lines were used at the locations wherever feasible, as a backup measure.

Fifth phase: 70 more branches were connected on the network at the end of this phase.

In the sixth phase, they connected the remaining branches to the network by December 2003.

The entire project was tracked by DIL on a weekly basis. Reports were generated and submitted to the bank every week on the progress and any other issues.

Success factors

All key management staff of Federal Bank and DIL were involved in the project, right from the first phase. This helped to resolve all critical issues at the earliest.

To ensure quicker availability of leased lines with minimum accounting and administration hassles, DIL partnered with BSNL for the FedWide project. The top management from the BSNL HO in Delhi was informed about the project and it's criticality. BSNL, Delhi coordinated constantly with its offices in Kerala to address issues when they arose.

FedWide now

FedWide, the network, which was initially set up for collecting data only from the few ROs, has evolved into a mammoth architecture that connects 300 nationwide branches and offices.

FedWide is currently used for connectivity between the bank's ATMs, branch servers, and data transmission from the branches/offices to the HO. It allows access to the Bank's intranet server, e-mail server, and extranet server. The newest application to run on FedWide is the 'Anywhere Banking' service. VoIP has also been implemented on the network to ease communication.

FedWide has enabled the network to offer ATM services to a vast majority of its customers in Kerala, and has increased the customer base significantly. At the end of the final phase in December 2003, the bank will have connected all its 422 branches.

Network components

The nationwide branches are connected to the network with Cisco 1760 routers. The ROs are equipped with Cisco 3600 series routers. The procurement, installation, and integration of the equipment with the existing network was done by DIL. The integrator also signed a three-year support contract with the bank.

Bandwidth monitoring is performed with the help of a customized Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG) solution, which runs on a Linux platform. The MRTG is a tool to monitor the traffic load on the network links. It generates HTML pages containing graphical images, which provide a live visual representation of the traffic. A network monitoring tool from Ipswitch is also used by the bank.

Management

The network functions with a distributed architecture in which, each branch has a dedicated server. There is no central data center. All offline bank ATMs have been connected with VSATs.

"We manage the network from a central location. And the system integrators manage the leased lines. The leased lines give an uptime of 96 percent," said Nair.

Security

The connectivity links between the HO and nationwide branches use IPsec for security. And all banking transactions take place through this setup. "We have also implemented other security devices and measures to take care of any unlawful entry into the network," explained Nair.

Future

"The bandwidth of the connectivity links between the ROs and the HO is being utilized to the maximum. We plan to double the bandwidth to accommodate new applications. However, the bandwidth of the links between the branches and ROs are yet to be fully utilized," explained Nair.

Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at soutimand@networkmagazineindia.co

In a nutshell
The company
Federal Bank has a net worth of over Rs 560 crore. It is spread across 422 nationwide branches, 12 Regional Offices (ROs), and a Head Office (HO) in Alwaye, Kerala.

The need
In order to survive in the fiercely competitive banking environment of today, the bank had to introduce greater efficiency in its operations and workflow.

The solution
Federal Bank realized that a good way to stay competitive would be to share updated data across its nationwide locations. So, it decided to link its nationwide locations on a WAN and share data across systems.

The benefits
The bank is able to share updated data across its branches, ROs, and HO. This has allowed it to introduce greater efficiency in operations and workflow. The bank has increased its customer base.

 
     
- <Back to Top>-  

Copyright 2001: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Limited (Mumbai, India). All rights reserved throughout the world.
This entire site is compiled in Mumbai by the Business Publications Division (BPD) of the Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Limited. Site managed by BPD.