Group Credit Agricole of Morocco banks on IBM XIV

Counts on XIV storage for core banking and efficient disaster recovery

Published on 09-Jun-2011

Validated on 05 Dec 2012

"The XIV management console is incredibly powerful and easy to use. Creating and allocating storage volumes used to take a long time. Now, it takes just five minutes, so we can respond rapidly to new business requirements." - Abdelmounaim Dinia, Director of Operations, Group Credit Agricole of Morocco

Customer:
Group Credit Agricole of Morocco (GCAM)

Industry:
Banking

Deployment country:
Morocco

Solution:
Business Resiliency, Cloud Computing, Transformational Account, Virtualization, Virtualization - Storage, Optimizing IT

IBM Business Partner:
Forum International

Overview

The state-owned Group Credit Agricole of Morocco (GCAM) is a universal bank originally founded to finance agricultural activity and the social and economic development of rural Morocco. Today the fourth largest bank in Morocco, GCAM continues to strongly support the agricultural and food sectors through financing, advice and technical expertise. Equally, it operates a network of more than 400 retail and commercial branches throughout the country, with 50 new branches opening annually.

Business need:
To support business growth and drive competitive differentiation, GCAM needed a more resilient, efficient and flexible storage infrastructure offering greater performance and easier administration.

Solution:
Implemented two IBM® XIV® Storage Systems, synchronously mirrored using the included IBM XIV Remote Mirroring, providing high-performance, cost-effective storage for all of GCAM's business applications.

Benefits:
High-speed data migration; database response times halved; six-hour batch runs cut down to 3.25 hours; reduced electricity consumption; easier administration; faster response to business requests.

Case Study

The state-owned Group Credit Agricole of Morocco (GCAM) is a universal bank originally founded to finance agricultural activity and the social and economic development of rural Morocco. Today the fourth largest bank in Morocco, GCAM continues to strongly support the agricultural and food sectors through financing, advice and technical expertise. Equally, it operates a network of more than 400 retail and commercial branches throughout the country, with 50 new branches opening annually.

As GCAM continued to grow, it naturally needed additional information technology resources to support the expanded business requirements. The bank also recognized that adding proven enterprise virtualized technology would help differentiate its services and offerings from those of its competitors. Seeking greater agility and flexibility, GCAM decided to completely refresh its applications and infrastructure.

Abdelmounaim Dinia, Director of Operations, explains: “The bank requires rapid-response capabilities, and our existing systems simply didn't offer enough speed. We planned a new approach based on consolidation and virtualization, using proven dynamic technologies that would improve our efficiency, speed and reliability. Data storage was a key element—we needed it to be just as sophisticated, reliable and secure as the rest of the infrastructure, which is why we chose the IBM XIV Storage System.”

Setting up for end-to-end virtualization

GCAM's previous storage environment lacked performance and required significant maintenance, making it difficult for the bank to support high-speed services for its external clients. When the bank deployed new centralized business applications, it needed to ensure excellent performance both for real-time transactions and for overnight batch jobs.

“Part of the reason for choosing the XIV Storage System was to create an infrastructure that was virtualized from end to end,” says Dinia. “Today, our entire application landscape—core banking systems, branch operations, front-office, credit management, accounting, disbursements—is on the XIV Storage System.”

To support its applications, which run on IBM AIX® on IBM Power Systems™ servers, GCAM installed two XIV storage systems in its Rabat data center, adding to an existing IBM System Storage® DS4800 in its Casablanca data center 100 km away. The two XIV systems in Rabat synchronously replicate to each other using the built-in XIV mirroring software. GCAM uses the built-in XIV snapshot functionality for high-speed backups from the primary XIV environment.

GCAM has two IBM TS7650G ProtecTIER® Deduplication Gateways to cut the volume of data that needs to be sent to the backup site in Casablanca, and uses IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager to manage the backups. The bank uses clustered instances of IBM WebSphere® Application Server Extended Deployment to run third-party and in-house applications, with IBM Tivoli Monitoring and IBM Systems Director providing tools to manage the entire infrastructure from a single point of control.

Previously, the bank had five distinct storage environments, each with two arrays on the production side for resilience and its own dedicated administrator. Each environment was duplicated at the backup data center, adding up to a total of 20 disk arrays. Today, leveraging the XIV system’s capacity and management efficiencies, GCAM has just two XIV systems in Rabat and one DS4800 in Casablanca for all its storage needs, while achieving far greater performance and resilience at much less overall cost.

First-mover advantage

The migration of the bank's data to the XIV systems ran smoothly and extremely fast. Using the built-in XIV migration tools, the entire process was completed within a week: two days for preparation and three days for the actual migration, all while the bank was still in production.

“With the XIV systems, the migration couldn't have been simpler,” says Dinia. “We completed the process in record time, and needed just 10 minutes of downtime to re-map the servers to the new volumes. The bank has very strict SLAs around availability, so that was an enormous benefit. IBM Consulting Services and Forum International, our IBM Business Partner, provided excellent advice and technical support, and have helped us to build our skills in both AIX and XIV technologies.”

Banking on high performance

Deploying the XIV systems gave GCAM immediate and dramatic performance improvements: response times for database requests were cut in half, and batch runs that previously took six hours now take 3.25 hours.

“The performance gains with the XIV systems were immediately noticeable,” says Dinia. “We have also made great efficiency gains in administration, so we can spend more time responding to business requests and less time on technical issues. The XIV management console is incredibly powerful and easy to use. Creating and allocating storage volumes used to take a long time. Now, it takes just five minutes, so we can respond rapidly to new business requirements.”

In addition to providing simple management tools, the XIV systems include advanced monitoring and reporting software as standard, helping GCAM view its storage usage and easily carry out capacity planning.

“The XIV systems are easy to administer without compromising on performance or data safety,” says Dinia. “We've had three power cuts, but zero loss of data on the XIV systems—which was not the case with our other storage devices. All the data is spread across all the systems, so we're less exposed to risk, and there are no hotspots—performance remains high even when multiple servers are concurrently accessing data.”

The XIV systems are also far more efficient than the bank’s previous platforms, consuming less electricity and requiring less cooling. This makes them a perfect fit for GCAM, which places a strong emphasis on sustainable development in business.

Clouds for new business

GCAM also plans to use its new virtualized infrastructure as a platform for offering cloud-based IT services to its many subsidiaries. To support this, the bank will build up a new VMware and Microsoft HyperV environment to enable it to deliver virtual Microsoft Windows servers. Whether the subsidiaries choose virtual Windows or AIX servers, all storage will be on the XIV systems. Native integration between VMware/HyperV and the XIV systems will enable unified management of storage and virtual servers, and simplify replication of entire virtual machines to the backup data center for disaster recovery purposes.

“The XIV systems will enable us to get the maximum value from VMware and HyperV,” says Dinia. “With all our servers virtualized and stored on the XIV systems, GCAM has an efficient, flexible, high-performance infrastructure that also provides superb protection for mission-critical banking data.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power 520 Express, Power 550 Express, Power 570, Power Systems, Storage: DS4800, Storage: DS5020, Storage: TS7650G ProtecTIER Deduplication Gateway, Storage: XIV, System p, System p: Power 520, System p: Power 550, System p: Power 570

Software:
AIX, Tivoli Storage Manager Extended Edition, PowerHA, Tivoli Storage Manager, PowerVM, WebSphere Application Server, Tivoli Monitoring

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011. IBM Systems and Technology Group, Route 100, Somers, New York 10589, U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America, June 2011. All Rights Reserved. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, Power Systems, PowerVM, ProtecTIER, System Storage, Tivoli, WebSphere and XIV are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. IBM and Forum are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Forum makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. Offerings are subject to change, extension or withdrawal without notice. All client examples cited represent how some clients have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. The information in this document is provided “as-is” without any warranty, either expressed or implied.