Mahesh Bank virtualizes storage to consolidate infrastructure and up its IT game
Mahesh Bank establishes itself as an IT trendsetter in co-operative banking circles by opting for virtualized storage as part of its infrastructure overhaul program, helping it support business growth and efficiency
Mahesh Bank establishes itself as an IT trendsetter in co- operative banking circles by opting for virtualized storage as part of its infrastructure overhaul program, helping it support business growth and efficiency
Mahesh Bank is one of the first co- operative banks in the state of Andhra Pradesh to implement a computerized system and can be considered a pioneer. However, several cracks were showing up in its long-running legacy system, not the least of which were its daily limitations in handling reporting, regulatory and customer needs. In addition, the interfaces currently in place required older IT skills that were increasingly hard to come by.
Mahesh Bank presently has 38 branches across India. Most branches are located in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, but the bank also has a branch in each of the cities of Jaipur and Mumbai. Its future growth goals include plans to broaden its presence in these and other states.
THE BUSINESS NEED
According to Milind Rajhans, Senior Manager IT and CISO at Mahesh Bank, to fuel this growth, the bank underwent a technology transformation to meet business goals and to adhere to RBI regulations. Before the technology transformation, Mahesh Bank’s IT was operational on modular storage from HP with the server hardware in different silos. Its core banking application along with five supporting applications were run on HP servers. HP tapes, networks and VMware formed the other parts of the primary IT system.
Since Mahesh Bank was introducing many technologyenabled 24x7 add- on services like IMTS, RTGS, NEFT, CBS etc, the volume of transactions had increased multi-fold. Given that all transaction activities are time bound, the response from the CBS needed to be appropriately fast. The old storage implementation was not able to provide the required performance to meet the response times, leading to a business need to revamp the storage.
The bank needed to eliminate data silos residing on disparate servers and align its applications to operate on a centralized and unified platform, in addition to reducing the complexity and the carbon footprint in the data center. Accordingly, Mahesh Bank decided to go for consolidation of all the silos of the application using VMware, with the image slices being stored on the enterprise storage solution.
To upgrade its storage infrastructure and move from legacy to virtualized storage, Mahesh Bank chose a Hitachi solution. The aim was to support the transition with negligible impact on operations, allowing the bank to access and manage its growing volume of data.
IMPLEMENTING VIRTUALIZED STORAGE
Rajhans informs that he chose a solution from Hitachi because all the components in the enterprise storage system were manufactured in-house by Hitachi, unlike some other enterprise storage solutions. Mahesh Bank considered two other vendors before making its purchase decision. Hitachi’s solution scored over the others on the key criteria of ease of implementation, data availability, flexibility, compatibility and performance. The 100 percent uptime guarantee that came with the solution was attractive for the bank, given its hectic pace of operations and sustained application usage. “Also, given that three-way replication has become mandatory for the BFSI sector, this solution made perfect sense,” he says.
Rajhans feels that for banking, storage is something critical for which every type of reliability must be ensured. According to him, anybody going for a revamp is faced with the challenge of data migration without taking production systems offline. Rajhans and team managed the migration to virtualized data storage seamlessly with zero data loss and minimal downtime.
Rajhans informs that the entire production data from 2002 onwards on the bank’s legacy systems was migrated on to the new platform
within 40 minutes, without any downtime, further vindicating his decision. The high-speed mirroring technology with quick restore capabilities gave Mahesh Bank the critical protection from data loss or corruption. Additionally, the ongoing access to data during the copying allowed the bank to continue its reporting and other operational activities in a seamless fashion.
The solution takes care of needs like 3-D scaling, dynamic provisioning, flexibility, redundancy and all addons. “Given that all the components of the solution were manufactured by the same vendor, they were able to guarantee 100 percent uptime on the solution, which was provided in writing by the vendor in the SLA,” he says.
In addition, the solution has provided an add- on in the form of an IT operations analyzer software, which helps Rajhans gain visibility of his compute and network components to some extent, through a single metrics window. The solution is managed for Mahesh Bank by a third-party global vendor, while technical monitoring is managed by Hitachi via their network operations center.
Mahesh Bank has a 24x7 support agreement with Hitachi under which Hitachi helps Mahesh Bank in capacity planning for its future initiatives in addition to helping Rajhans’ team in defining requirements for the bank’s application stack.
REAPING THE RETURNS
The non- disruptive migration involved 80 percent less effort and cost as compared to the industry average. So the cost savings from just the initial migration were significant. Ongoing cost savings were largely realized through automated and dynamic data placement and reduced power consumption in the data center. Having consolidated all the silos, the bank was able to achieve a reduction in power consumption by up to 40 percent, part of which comes from the storage, which is aligned with the consolidated application server host, according to Rajhans.
The implementation resulted in a more agile, scalable storage infrastructure allowing Mahesh Bank to optimize the return on its storage assets.
“The IO capabilities of the current setup is huge, which has increased the productivity by close to 25 percent in the first year,” says Rajhans .
The system has not faced any teething problems and has been smooth sailing throughout. Further, the system has helped Mahesh Bank fulfil recent RBI requirements with respect to three-way replication, which will pave the way for planning a near DR site in the future with minimal cost (close to 25-20 percent reduction in cost).
Improved performance from 3-D scaling, dynamic provisioning and other features of the virtualization platform delivered a storage environment that is highly reliable. The implementation also made it easier to scale for growth and greater complexity while using fewer resources. At the same time, it performs well on data protection and availability, which are all critical attributes for the customer- centric activities at Mahesh Bank.
While migration is a cost factor in some cases, Mahesh Bank did not have to face this cost as it was part of the overall solution implementation.
“It was not easy to convince the management as to why such a monolithic architecture was required. But close to 8 months of due diligence paid off and we were able to demonstrate a reasonable TCO,” says Rajhans.
Mahesh Bank has cemented its status as an IT trendsetter in cooperative banking circles with this implementation. Its experiences are likely to prompt other co- operative banks to look at enterprise- class storage systems to consolidate their infrastructure.
Having consolidated all the silos, the bank was able to achieve a reduction in power consumption by up to 40 percent, part of which comes from the storage, which is aligned with the consolidated application server host
Milind Milind Rajhans, Rajhans,
Senior Manager IT and CISO, Mahesh Bank