The two 'M's of business
UTI Bank had to scale its network infrastructure to match
its rapidly growing business without compromising on quality. It decided that
the best way to do this would be to focus on the two 'M'smonitoring and
maintenance. by Soutiman Das Gupta
Imagine that a transaction worth
a million dollars was pending because the network was down as a result
of slackness in monitoring and maintenance. It is a loss of a million
dollars worth of business for the bank
V K Ramani, President of IT, UTI Bank
Business at UTI Bank was growing rapidly. The company had
to add 50 to 60 branches, broaden its retail base of 250,000 customers by 80
percent, and bolster its ATM network by the year-end. To support its growth,
the bank's President of IT, V K Ramani decided that his department had to focus
upon the quality of its IT systems.
"Now that the physical infrastructure is in place, it's important to offer
quality in terms of information availability and scalability. To put quality
in place it's important to focus upon the two 'M'smonitoring and maintenance."
In sync with this decision, the bank is focussing upon monitoring and maintenance
of its IT systems as a key measure.
Business at the bank
From its inception in 1994, UTI Bank has reached a number
of milestones. The company has gone public, introduced Internet banking and
e-commerce initiatives, offered cash management services, has 250,000 retail
customers, over 330 branches and locations, and 1,250 ATMs.
The bank now aims to increase its retail customer base, as
well as the number of its nationwide branches and locations and ATMs in a big
way. These initiatives need to be supported by a robust IT infrastructure that
is scalable and reliable. At the same time quality has to be maintained.
The two 'M's
Ramani decided to focus on the need to introduce quality in IT systems specifically
through the aspects of monitoring and maintenance. Monitoring IT systems ensured
that the performance levels of various network services are optimised. It also
ensures that there is no extra load or under-utilisation of hardware and software
Maintenance ensures that the upkeep of infrastructure elements such as connectivity,
servers, and operating systems happens and downtime is minimised.
"Imagine that a transaction worth a million dollars was pending because
the network was down as a result of slackness in monitoring and maintenance.
It is a loss of a million dollars worth of business for the bank. So it's a
business need, and not only that of IT," explained Ramani.
Monitoring for performance
The bank already had an outsourcing relationship with Wipro Infotech since 2001.
Ramani decided to complement the monitoring and maintenance efforts of the in-house
IT staff with services from Wipro Infotech.
"Our network monitoring operations are driven by the understanding that
if you can trust the network you can trust the bank. So the bank is as good
as the network," said Ramani.
In the realm of IT infrastructure, monitoring these are the
areas that the bank focussed upon with help from the service provider.
24x7 monitoring of all leased lines, ISDN and VSATs from the data centre for
all nationwide locations. Proactive action at affected locations without reducing
24x7 pending mail queue monitoring for the main hub and SMTP servers of the
Lotus Domino set-up at the data centre. Monitoring critical parameters of the
Domino servers such as disk space and mail database quotas.
Monitoring vendor performance in terms of calls logged, responded to, and resolved.
Wipro conducts regular branch visits to UTI Bank locations as a proactive measure.
Asset tracking through mechanisms such as intelligent software.
Maintenance of infrastructure
In the realm of IT infrastructure maintenance these are the areas that the bank
focussed on with help from the service provider.
Maintenance of leased line and ISDN links at all nationwide locations. Commissioning
links and related activities for new proposed locations of UTI Bank and its
business partners. Annual maintenance of Cisco routers. Integration of new technologies
into existing infrastructure.
Maintenance of the entire Lotus Domino infrastructure including servers, address
books, and mail databases. Installation and configurations of new servers into
the infrastructure. Integration of new technologies into existing infrastructure.
Vendor co-ordination and follow-ups to resolve issues pertaining to the bank's
relationship with companies. Creating vendor performance reports.
Server and operating systems management
Maintaining the server infrastructure at the bank. Maintaining operating systems-related
activities including security by means of the latest operating systems and anti-virus
patches. Backup and restoration services for all business-critical servers.
How the two 'M's helped
A major benefit has been that related services of the
bank are now scalable in line with future business requirements—without
significant cost implications
"Focus on monitoring and maintenance has helped the organisation
achieve better control over its IT infrastructure. The increased control has
helped us extract optimal performance levels from various resources," Ramani
A huge benefit for the business has been that the related services of the bank
are scalable in line with business requirements. Any future expansion or reduction
in the number of branches can now be carried out without significant cost implications.
The network offers high levels of availability with around 99.85 percent uptime
and almost 100 percent responsiveness. Server uptime is around 99.95 percent.
These let the bank meet the requirements of its business continuity plans, and
users have even gained an additional 114 hours of network availability for banking
The recurring cost of maintaining backup links has come down on account of better
utilisation and the combined focus on monitoring and maintenance along with
service provider help has resulted in significant cost reductions. "We
have saved on IT infrastructure costs by around 30 percent and hope to save
more in the coming years," said Ramani.
Many of the bank's ATMs are hooked up by VSAT links but Ramani plans to deploy
CDMA at a few branches and off-site ATMs. As CDMA doesn't need a satellite dish
to be placed on the roof, it cuts real estate costs, not to mention the fact
that CDMA bandwidth is cheaper than VSAT connectivity.
"Outsourcing lets UTI Bank sustain and service business critical IT Infrastructure
with fewer personnel in its internal IT team," said Tapan Bhat, General
Manager, Managed IT Services, Wipro Infotech.
Down the road
In future, the bank wants to continue to focus on monitoring and maintenance
activities to provide the desired service quality levels. Ramani also wants
to shift more monitoring and maintenance responsibilities to the service provider.
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at email@example.com