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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
"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,"
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached
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.
In order to survive in the fiercely competitive
banking environment of today, the bank had to
introduce greater efficiency in its operations
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
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