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

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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

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