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Issue of May 2004 
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User Case Studies

A data center to bank upon

IndusInd Bank has a large nationwide network of branches and ATMs. With an acquisition venture on the cards, the anticipated growth required it to deploy a data center, one that would provide centralized management, better business control, and significant cost savings. By Soutiman Das Gupta

IndusInd bank was growing fast. From the time it began business in 1994, till now (March 31, 2003), the bank has built a net worth of 602 crore. Its service infrastructure now includes 57 branches, 12 extension counters, and 78 nationwide off-site ATMs. It further plans to grow, with the acquisition of Ashok Leyland Finance Company.

The bank ran several applications, which took care of various business areas like core banking processes, databases, backups, and various other financial functions in order to support the business processes.

In the face of such exciting business growth and opportunity, GPV Rao, the Senior Vice President & CIO of the bank had to devise ways to ensure better control and management of the IT infrastructure. And at the same time, he had to ensure that costs did not get out of hand.

Rao decided to centralize the functioning of these vital processes and built a data center, out of which he ran the various business applications. Ever since the data center was made, he has been able to ensure that the organization's business demands are adequately met, and the bank is ready to take on any future growth with ease.

Do we build silos?

“Since many bank-related applications use independent platforms, there are chances that an organization will build silos of technology architecture. And that would be a major hindrance, which would only grow with time,” explained Rao.

In today's business environment, the customer's needs are very dynamic and demanding. In such a scenario, IT should give the organization the ability to match the customer's changing requirements.

“But a single technology platform cannot address all the changing requirements of the customer. In order to provide the entire solution range, the IT infrastructure and environment must be heterogeneous,” Rao said.

Since building technology silos was surely not the correct approach, the bank decided to consolidate the technology architecture into a single IT backbone and framework. It thus built a data center in 2003, in Andheri (Mumbai).

Benefits

IndusInd Bank realized a number of benefits by using a data center. The major ones were in terms of manageability, control, security, and cost.

Heterogeneous applications that run in different areas of a large network take up a lot of time and effort of the IT administration personnel. The team tends to lose control over the systems as the size grows. And this brings to the forefront other concerns like physical and network security.

Since the bank had a number of applications that performed vital business functions, the act of consolidation into a single dedicated data center space reduced a number of management, monitoring, and security concerns.

“If you deploy heterogeneous solutions, the cost of maintenance of the individual solutions will add up to a very high amount. Most organizations will want to avoid these costs. The only way to cut costs and spend reasonably will be to move all these heterogeneous solutions to a common place, like a data center. In the data center, cost considerations like power supply, alternate power solutions, air conditioning, fire safety, network security, and physical security will be much less. And the monitoring and maintenance costs will come down a lot,” explained Rao.

At the data center

The data center uses IBM AS/400 hardware for the core banking application, which is a suite of Midas Kapiti International's products. Other servers include IBM's eServer iSeries 870 and 825 and xSeries products. The data center runs business applications like a VISA gateway, e-commerce servers, and Internet banking. Retail lending applications use Oracle on a Windows 2000 platform. The mail and messaging system reside on Linux servers.

All IBM hardware run on an 'on-demand' model. By using this model, the bank has deployed 16 processors but use only eight. In case of high traffic or business growth, the other processors can be 'switched on' when needed.

Unique features

Rao feels that the data center at his company has two important unique features. They are layered security and continuous power availability.

“We have provided separate work areas for the administration personnel. The different layers of security offer different access levels, like lower level, middle level, and high level. And the core servers are kept in a high security zone where even maintenance personnel require special permission,” said Rao.

Power supply is sourced from two service providers, Tata Power and BSES. This provides two different lines and acts as failover for each other.

Other than these, the data center uses two different leased lines for connectivity.

Implementation problems

Since the organization used IBM hardware before, it did not face any major issue when setting up its data center. “We did not need a consultant, but received a lot of help from IBM to set up the data center,” said Rao.

The bank has also deployed a Disaster Recovery facility in Hyderabad, which is in a separate seismic zone.

Future

The bank is ready for expansion and feels that the IT infrastructure at the data center can easily handle the acquisition of Ashok Leyland Finance company. The acquisition will add a customer base of 50,000, and assets worth Rs 3000 crore.

 
     
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