Published on 19-Nov-2010
Validated on 04 Jun 2012
"XIV was absolutely the right choice: we needed the fast performance of the XIV system to be able to complete the FLEXCUBE migration within our targeted deadline." - Marius Bosman, CTO and CIO, ubank
Business Resiliency, Enabling Business Flexibility, Energy Efficiency, Optimizing IT, Optimizing IT
IBM Business Partner:
With deposits of over ZAR 3 billion (US$ 400 million), ubank (formerly known as Teba Bank) is the ninth-largest bank in South Africa by assets. Founded in 1975. ubank has grown from Teba Bank, leveraging a proud heritage serving mineworkers and growing to serve the people of Southern Africa. ubank prides itself on having an essence drawn from real, spirited partnerships, and aims to build as it grows and to nurture its legacy of being a home-grown South African institution.
ubank needed to refresh its core banking environment to support annual growth of 40 percent in data volumes while delivering very fast response times to internal and external customers.
ubank migrated its core banking application to IBM® Power® 595 servers with SAN storage from IBM XIV®. The bank used the built-in XIV data migration tool to map data to three IBM XIV Storage Systems, each with 27 TB capacity.
High-speed deployment enabled the bank to meet a tight rollout deadline, and the XIV solution cut the cost of managing storage at ubank in half. The bank has also reduced run time for batch processing and backups by a factor of four.
With deposits of over ZAR 3 billion (US$ 400 million), ubank (formerly known as Teba Bank) is the ninth-largest bank in South Africa by assets. Founded in 1975. ubank has grown from Teba Bank, leveraging a proud heritage serving mineworkers and growing to serve the people of Southern Africa. ubank prides itself on having an essence drawn from real, spirited partnerships, and aims to build as it grows and to nurture its legacy of being a home-grown South African institution, a truly community-owned bank held in a Trust for the benefit of its customers and the upliftment of their communities. Today, ubank has 106 branches in South Africa and 53 agencies in neighboring countries. The bank is focused on increasing its distribution channels to ensure accessibility for its target communities, aiming to be the workers' bank of choice for South Africa. ubank is aggressively pursuing a two-pronged growth strategy: first, a large expansion of its footprint across southern Africa; and second, starting up a broader financial services group, partly through corporate acquisition.
Marius Bosman, CTO and CIO, comments: “We wanted a new IT foundation that would support our growth and enable us to compete more effectively against the bigger banks in our region. We also wanted to set up the IT function as a distinct service company to support the other companies in the group — and possibly external organizations at a later date.”
Driving the business with fast response times
To gain the flexibility and scalability it required to fulfill its expansion plans, ubank needed to migrate to the latest version of its Oracle FLEXCUBE Core Banking software, but its existing infrastructure lacked the required compute power and storage capacity to make the move to a more powerful application solution.
“We have very high demands in terms of application response time,” comments Bosman. “Our branches are very busy, and our tellers expect end-to-end response times as low as 300 milliseconds.”
To find a solution capable of meeting these extreme performance demands, ubank ran an extensive procurement exercise. After considering offers from a number of vendors, ubank opted for IBM Power 595 servers running IBM AIX for the FLEXCUBE application, with IBM XIV Storage Systems for data storage.
“When we first heard about IBM XIV, we were quite skeptical,” says Anton Giacometti, Head of Infrastructure, ubank. “We visited the local IBM Innovation Center and they took us through the XIV concept step by step. At that point, we realized that the XIV solution could facilitate the paradigm shift we needed to make in our storage to achieve our goals.”
Bosman adds, “IBM gave us confidence that we could partner to handle the potential risk together and we went straight into a test environment. On the storage side, XIV was absolutely the right choice: We needed the fast performance of the XIV system to run the FLEXCUBE application, and with the built-in migration utility we were able to meet our targeted deadline and minimize downtime and costs at the same time.”
Migrating without downtime
Working with IBM and IBM Business Partner Datacentrix, ubank migrated its existing core banking application from HP-UX to AIX on two IBM Power 595 servers, each with 24 IBM POWER6® processors. The team then used the built-in XIV data migration tool to map data from the existing HP EVA storage systems to three IBM XIV systems. The FLEXCUBE data is managed by Oracle 10g in an Oracle Real Application Cluster.
“The XIV data migration was the most impressive aspect of the whole implementation phase,” says José do Nascimento, technical specialist, ubank. “We mapped the EVA disks to the XIV system and the migration then ran in the background, with no perceptible effect on the performance of our core banking systems and no disruption to users or customers. My primary role is on AIX; I'm not a storage specialist. But the XIV system is extremely easy to manage—I think they couldn't make the interface any easier if they tried!”
In addition to FLEXCUBE, the XIV storage system at ubank supports a lending application and the Delta Integration risk management applications running on AIX. It also supports Microsoft SQL Server databases for the bank's micro-lending function, and these are mirrored in the production environment using the built-in XIV replication technology.
“Datacentrix, an IBM Business Partner, proposed the XIV solution as the best option for us,” recalls Giacometti. “They knew us and our environment well, which helped us mitigate risk from the project and provided an excellent service.”
ubank deployed three IBM XIV storage systems, each with 27 TB capacity, plus an IBM System Storage TS3500 Tape Library for data backup and archive. Two of the XIV systems are mirrored in a high-availability configuration serving the FLEXCUBE production environment, mirrored to the third XIV system which is located in a disaster recovery site. ubank is using the built-in XIV snapshot functionality to reduce risk when loading batches or making configuration changes during prototyping and development, enabling it to quickly roll back to a stable configuration if an error occurs. With the previous storage solution, snapshot functionality was an unaffordable additional licensing cost.
High performance, low costs
Over the coming 24 months, ubank anticipates doubling the size of its customer base—in part through new relationships with mobile providers—and expects to maintain its current 40 percent per year growth in data volumes. Simply moving to the new version of FLEXCUBE entailed a 35 percent growth in data volumes. The low-cost capacity and high scalability provided by the IBM XIV platform are therefore key benefits for ubank.
“In addition to the cost and scalability benefits, the XIV solution has contributed to a quite radical improvement in end-to-end performance,” says do Nascimento. “Purely on the storage side, we've cut some batch processing runs from ten hours to less than five, and the backups on the XIV run so quickly that we can no longer process the logs fast enough!”
The bank has also seen an estimated 50 percent reduction in management and maintenance costs for storage, as well as a noticeable reduction in energy consumption.
“We have definitely seen the benefits of sourcing both servers and storage from IBM,” concludes Bosman. “In particular, we see an excellent fit between virtualized XIV storage and the server virtualization capabilities of IBM PowerVM on the Power Systems™ platform. The ability to reallocate virtualized server resources on our Power 595 servers has helped us optimize our use of processing power. This all links back to the original goal of having a firm IT foundation for getting to the next level in business terms, backed by a top-tier vendor.”
Products and services used
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