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Issue of February 2007

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Disaster Recovery

Automated against disaster


Bank of India wanted to automate its branches across the country. The bank also needed to introduce a core banking system and centralised data since data access in each branch was limited to city level servers.

This was why BoI decided to shift from branch-specific automation to overall bank automation along with business continuity and disaster recovery, according to P A Kalyan Sunder, GM, IT.

BoI currently has more than 2,000 branches across the country. Of these 1,000 are considered as strategic branches. To fulfill its deployment objectives BoI chose HP as consultants and network integrators for the project.

Objectives and Challenges

Apart from business continuity and a redundant disaster recovery set-up, BoI wanted to upgrade its banking infrastructure. It wanted to offer better services to its customers.

The challenges included network management of strategic branches. The other major hurdle faced by BoI was with regards to poor infrastructure and change management.

We had to face severe power failures, at times for eight to 10 hours at some branches. We carried out our activities with the help of UPS and diesel generators

As Sunder puts it, “The poor infrastructure was a major hurdle during the deployment along with change management among employees. We had to face severe power failures, at times for eight to 10 hours, in some branches. We had to carry on our activities with the help of UPS and diesel generators.”

The challenges were jointly tackled by the bank and HP. The deployment project was completed one year before the scheduled date. It kicked off in August 2004 and was expected to be completed by June 2007. By June 2006 deployment in about 750 branches was completed. This was a milestone since the bank celebrated its centenary on September 7 2006.

Technologies Deployed

The management decided to tackle change management with continuous training on various banking technologies and business aspects. This exercise was jointly executed by BoI and HP.

The BoI datacentre is located in Mumbai and forms tier-one. The tier-two set-up consists of a disaster recovery centre in Bangalore. The DR centre lies in a different seismic zone. The connectivity between the two and across branches is established through dedicated Leased Lines (LL). These lines are leased out from MTNL, BSNL and Bharti Enterprise.

Branches terminate at Network Aggregation Points (NAPs) that are connected to both the BoI data centre in Mumbai and DR centre in Bangalore. The inter-connectivity is established based on point-to-point protocol.

Data travels through multiple leased lines from the data centre to the disaster recovery centre. The Finacle core banking application uses an Oracle database. The application runs on multiple HP Superdome servers while the storage solutions have been migrated to a HP StorageWorks XP1024 disk array. This is further connected through leased lines to various Cisco switches and routers deployed across the country in various branches forming a hub and spoke topology. This topology uses a central point to co-ordinate activities between the various branches and the data centre.

Apart from project management, HP also holds the responsibility of managing the bank’s infrastructure including mainframes, Web and data servers, network devices and desktops. The responsibilities also include upgrading the applications and the software for core banking, telephone and Internet banking. The deployment and implementation leaves room for growth in the bank’s customer base and upgradation of deployed systems and network.

The Benefits

BoI has updated its database through data mirroring and remote auto backups. Management Information System and various critical functions of controlling offices have been computerised.

At present, the operations at 2,433 branches are computerised of which 108 operate in partially-computerised mode. The bank is a member of the RBI’s VSAT Network and has installed about 39 VSATs linking strategic branches and offices adding redundancy.

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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